What Should You Eat After Cycling? How Far Before Or After To Eat!

Cycling is an aerobic activity that works out both your heart and the large muscles of your lower body, burning approximately 450 – 750 calories per hour. To replace these lost calories, post-workout fueling is necessary.

So that brings us to the question, “what should you eat after cycling?”

After cycling one should eat a meal with a good proportion of at least 100 – 300 calories of carbohydrate and protein in the ratio of 3:1 with lots of fluid to speed up your recovery process.

Now let’s give you more details about your food consumption when it comes to cycling.

How Much Should You Eat After Cycling?

Cycling for long hours can cause muscle tears, especially in the large muscles of your lower body. Also, your metabolic rate is high 30 mins to 1 hour after cycling. To take advantage of this anabolic window for rapid muscle recovery, you need to take at least 100-300 calories of carbohydrate and protein mixed in a ratio of 3:1 or 4: 1 (Carbohydrate : Protein).

More carbohydrates are usually recommended than protein because too much protein could hinder the body’s ability to absorb carbohydrates food. (Source)

Should You Eat Before or After Cycling & How Far?

Honestly, it is good to eat both before and after cycling, but if you are to make a choice between the two, I advise you choose to eat before cycling. While you should have your post-workout meals to aid recovery, it is also important you something to keep your body fueled before a long strenuous ride. This will prevent a decrease in your riding performance.

You should eat 2 – 4 hours before cycling if you are consuming a large meal or eat 30 -20 hours before cycling if it’s a smaller meal. Eating before cycling will help boost your sugar and energy level to cover the miles set for the day.

Should I Eat High Protein After Cycling?

Protein is highly recommended as it plays a role in building up your muscle mass and speeding up your recovery process. However, the amount you ought to consume depends on the intensity and miles of your cycling. Although protein is good, it is advisable you take it at a ratio of 1:3 (Protein to carbs) as the body can only absorb so much protein at a time.

So, try tospread your protein intake throughout the day.

According to the IAAF (International Amateur Athletic Federation), you should consume 1.3g – 1.7g of protein per kg per day if you wish to maintain muscle mass.

Advice on How to Aid Fast Recovery After Cycling

Eat at the right time in the right proportions. 

The best time to maximize your nutrition is during the 30-minute anabolic window after cycling. During this time, you should eat something that contains a good proportion of carbohydrate and protein. The fastest way to do this is by taking in a recovery drink. Note that a recovery drink is not enough, so you should eat a more wholesome meal. 

Take lots of fluids

With cycling, you should make hydration a priority. A good way to measure the right amount of fluid intake is by weighing yourself before and after a ride. Note that for every 1/2kg lost, you need to take approximately 500ml of fluid.

Take the right proportion of food calories

According to research, a good way to speed up recovery is to eat small meals and often. Your meal should be taken at least within 2 hours of a ride and should be able to replenish the carbohydrates stored and provide the amino acids needed to help build and repair the muscles. 

Take adequate rest

Asides from taking in the right nutrients, rest is very important. After cycling, taking at least 6-8 hours of sleep will help speed up recovery. Research shows that when you eat after working out, your muscle recovery process skyrockets.

Medically when you sleep, one of your pituitary glands releases growth hormones that promote tissue repair and building. This can aid muscle growth, cycling performance, and speed. 

What to Eat After Cycling to Lose Weight?

Cycling is a good calorie burner so your muscles need time to recover after cycling for hours. Its recovery is made effective with rest and adequate calorie supply. A recovery drink is not usually enough as you need an abundance of carbohydrate stores to replace the fluid and electrolytes lost.

Just because you wish to lose weight doesn’t mean you should cycle yourself to weight without taking in some food afterward. You still need food with the right calories to avoid nutrient depletion while maintaining muscle mass.

Here are 10 food examples that can help fuel your body, fill your body and give you the nutrients you need while still low in fat. (Source)

  1. Salmon: This fish is low in calories yet satisfying. It also contains a good amount of iodine that regulates your thyroid hormones and speeds up your metabolic rate. It is rich in protein, so it promotes muscle repair and building. 
  • Sardine: This fish type contains much protein, vitamins, and minerals such as calcium, iron, magnesium, and phosphorous that can aid good muscle repair and bone growth. 
  • Mackerel: This food is essential as it is very high in protein but low in fat, so it plays a role in building up your lean muscles. In addition to this, it contains omega 3 nutrient that help promote good brain health and aids proper mental coordination as a cyclist. 
  • Vegetables such as sweet potatoes, carrots, and cucumber are low in calories but rich in fiber. This is wonderful in filling your stomach when hungry while still providing the necessary nutrients such as calcium, magnesium, vitamins, etc. Carrots, sweet potatoes, and cucumber are rich in beta carotene, which aids in promoting better vision after it gets converted to vitamin A. As a cyclist, it is essential that you are able to see what is ahead of you to avoid crashing. 
  • Avocados: This food staple helps suppress hunger pangs because it keeps you filled up for a long period. It also contains a healthy amount of monounsaturated fat that slowly burns your energy. 
  • Peanut butter: Another stomach-filling food that can aid weight loss is peanut butter. This will keep you full for a long period, so you don’t need to worry about eating frequently.  (Source)
  • Oats: This is a high-fiber meal that fills you up while providing a good supply of energy. An added advantage is that it helps lower your cholesterol level preventing medical conditions such as stroke.  
  • Broccoli: This vegetable is rich in nutrients, protein, and fiber, but fat-free. This will fill you up and keep you satisfied for a long time. 
  • Spinach: This is a good vegetable that can help increase weight loss. It also stimulates your brain to produce a particular hormone called thylakoids that lowers your appetite.
  • Fruits: Fruits such as apples, grapes, berries, and oranges contain substances such as antioxidants and vitamin C that increase the production of a compound called carthinine that helps oxidize fats efficiently. Banana is another fruit type that boosts blood flow resulting in a faster metabolic rate and weight loss as it is rich in potassium. 

Final words

Taking in the right nutrients is important after every workout, including cycling. Even if you desire to lose weight, you need to take in the right foods to avoid nutrient depletion.

After every cycling session, You should eat at least 100 – 300 calories of carbohydrate and protein in a ratio of 3:1 within the anabolic window of 30 minutes to 1 hour.

Examples of food to include in your diet are salmon, avocados, oats, spinach, etc. Lastly, don’t forget to stay hydrated!


A medical student with passion in health and sports-related topics that discuss the optimization of one’s overall health through healthy nutrition, fitness, and adequate rest

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