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Nutrition for Cycling

Jan 8, 2003
Nutrition for Cycling Eat for success





Use the carbohydrate requirements calculator to work out how much carbo you need this winter - get this right now and you may prevent early fatigue in training and competition due to poor glycogen stores.

Use kit bag ideas and 50g carbohydrate info to ensure you meet your carbo targets.

Remember these important points:

· Fluid - you need 8 glasses fluid / day. You should be well hydrated prior to training and competition

Pre training 500ml - 1 litre per hour 2 hours before.
During training: carbo drink (6% carbo content) 500ml - 1 litre per hour.

Replace fluid at a rate of 500ml per hour first 2 hours after race, normal fluid intake thereafter.

· Carbohydrate: Use the charts for this - you should always be taking 60% of you total calories as carbo. After exercise aim to get 50g carbo in within 30 minutes. Aim for 50-100g carbo every 2 hour thereafter until you eat your next meal.

· Alcohol dehydrates you and affects your performance. The occasional glass of wine/ beer is ok but definitely avoid on the eve of a race / hard training session.

· Fat intake: Should be 20% total calories i.e. low fat. Avoid fried, creamy foods, pastries, choose low fat cheese, milk, margarine. The occasional meal out is ok but still try to choose low fat options if eating out regularly! Foods with a fat content of <4g/100g are low in fat.



· Breakfast cereals (with skimmed/semi-skimmed milk)

· Bread (with low fat spread)

· Pasta and noodles

· Potatoes (not fried)

· Rice(")

· Crispbreads, oat cakes, rice cakes, crackers

· Pizza bases-especially deep pan

· Cereals - bulgar wheat, cous-cous, oatmeal, millet

· Beans, including baked beans, kidney beans, refried beans

· Peas, lentils (lentil soup), chick peas

· Sweetcorn

· Popcorn

These foods should form the main basis of your diet, they are particularly useful for carbo loading prior to training and racing as they are slowly digested providing carbohydrate for energy for long periods. Include a BIG HELPING of bread, pasta, potatoes or rice at each meal. There is a limit to the amount of starchy foods you can eat due to their high fibre content (especially when carbo-loading for a race) and some sugary (choose low fat sugary snacks) snacks may help to achieve carbo target.


· Sweetened breakfast cereal, fruit and cereal bars

· Biscuits eg, Rich tea, Digestive, Fig roll, Garibaldi, Jaffa cakes

· Cakes - scones, fruit cake, fruit loaf, tea cakes, fruit buns, swiss roll, iced buns. These also provide starchy carbohydrate and are lower in fat than chocolate cake, cream cakes.

· Pancakes, drop scones, welsh cakes

· Puddings - bread based puddings eg, summer fruit pudding, fruit crumbles, milk puddings (low fat), jellies with low fat custard or ice-cream

· Jam, marmalade, honey, chocolate spread, syrup, treacle

· Sweetened soft drinks (eg, cola, lemonade,Lucozade)

· Confectionery (sweets)- gums and jellies are ok but chocolate is high in fat

· Sugar - add to drinks, breakfast cereals

· Sports products (Glucose drinks, sports bars)

Sugary foods are an excellent source of carbohydrates during and after training and competition as they are pleasant, easily digestible and rapidly absorbed, helping to quickly replace the body's store of carbohydrate and allowing quicker recovery. Try not to include too many high fat types e.g. chocolate, fatty puddings, cakes and chocolate biscuits. Go for scones, pancakes, plain biscuits, low fat puddings and jelly sweets.


· Yoghurts, fruit, natural - choose low fat

· Fruit - dried, tinned, fresh


A cyclists dietary requirements vary from that of the general population. There is a greater energy (total calorie) requirement because of greater energy output and an increased requirement for carbohydrate:

60% of total calories should come from carbohydrates

20% - 30% of total calories from fat - this is to allow for the increased carbohydrate intake. The remaining 10 - 15% should come from protein. (normal diet = 50 % carbo)

Most athletes need 400-500g carbohydrate a day.

Carbohydrate requirements will vary depending on you body weight and intensity of training. This is how to work out how much you need:


Body weight (Kg) = ------------

Level of training (Hours per day) Less than one hour (Light) One to two hours (Moderate) More than three hours (Heavy)
Carbohydrate requirements (g carbo per Kg body weight per day) 4 - 5 g 6 - 7 g 8 - 10 g

Weight (Kg) x Level of Training = Carbohydrate Requirement per day

Work out your own requirements e.g 70Kg man:

70 x 8 to 10 = 560 to 700g of carbohydrate per day (average 630g/day) when training hard

You can calculate your carbohydrate intake by reading the packets of the food you are eating and by using the list "˜list of foods containing 50g carbohydrate'. This may be time consuming at first, but if you work out roughly the amount of carbo needed for light, moderate and high intensity exercise once you can use it for future reference.


Food portions containing approximately 50 grams carbohydrate

FOOD Weight
Handy measures

Breakfast Cereals
Porridge 500g 2 large bowls
Weetabix 75g 3-4
Shredded Wheat 75g 3
Branflakes 75g 1 large bowl
Shreddies 75g 1 large bowl
Cornflakes 50g 1 large bowl
Muesli (unsweeened) 75g 1 medium bowl

Cereals and Grains
Pasta - cooked 225g 8 tablespoons
Rice (cooked) 175g 4 tablespoons
Tinned spaghetti in tomato sauce 400g 1 large can
Noodles (uncooked) 75g 1 layer
Tinned ravioli 500g 1 large can

Baked beans 325g 7 tablespoons
Sweetcorn 300g 10 tablespoons
Red kidney beans 300g 10 tablespoons
Chickpeas 275g 10 tablespoons

Boiled 300g 5 egg sized
Jacket 175g 1 medium with skin
Mashed 325g 5 scoops
Chipped 175g 3/4 chip shop portion
Roast 200g 4 small
Crisps 100g 4 packets
Low fat crisps 75g 3 packets

Bakery products
White /Wholemeal bread 100g 3 - 4 slices
Wholemeal rolls 125g 2 soft crusty
Pitta bread 100g 1 large
Naan bread 100g 2 mini nan
Crumpets 125g 3
Currant buns/ teacakes 100g 1-2
Fruit scones 100g 2
Malt loaf 100g 2-3 slices
Welsh cakes 75g 3
Bagels 75g 1
Jam tarts 75g 3 individual
Swiss roll 100g 3 slices

Cereal bars and desserts
Jordans fruesli ( fruit and nut) 80g 2 1/2 bars
Jordans (original crunchy) 80g 2 1/2 bars
Tracker (nut) 80g 3 bars
Jelly 70g 1/2 packet

Apples 425g
Oranges 625g
Pears 525g
Bananas 225g
Dried apricots 150g
Dates 100g
Figs 100g
Raisins 75g
Grapes 325g
Peaches in juice 500g
Pineapple in juice 400g
Apricots in juice 400g

Plain digestive 75g
Ginger nuts 75g
Fig rolls 125g
Jaffa cakes 75g
Oatcakes 75g
Ryvita 75g
Crackers 75g
Rice cakes 75g

Dairy foods
Rice pudding (low fat) 325g
Ice-cream 225g
Custard low fat) 425g
Milk - whole/semi/skimmed 1000ml

Milk or plain choc bar 75g
Kit-Kat 75g
Milky way 75g
Bounty 75g
Snickers 100g
Jelly babies 100g
Liquorice allsorts 75g
Fruit pastilles 75g
Smarties 75g

Sugar / Preserves
Table sugar 50g
Jam 75g
Honey 75g

Fruit juice 550ml
Ribena (diluted) 400ml
Lemonade (not diet) 800ml
Cola (not diet) 500ml
Lucozade (original) 250ml
Isotonic sports drink (eg.isostar) 600ml


Crackers,oatcakes,ricecakes, with jam/ fruit spread

Dried fruit, raisins, currants, figs, apricots

Fruitcake,scones,muffins currant buns,teacakes,

Jaffa cakes, Welsh cakes,Jam tarts

Sandwiches, rolls, pitta bread (low fat filling)

Fruit, apples, pears, bananas, tinned fruit

Biscuits, plain, digestive, fig rolls

Cereal bars eg nutrigrain

Sweets, jelly babies,fruit gums, tooty fruities

Low fat yoghurts, fromage frais


Fruit juices


Sports drinks eg. Isostar, lucozade sport

Low fat milk shakes

Low fat crisps and snacks

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