Honey, what should I eat… on my bike?

ravito sur le velo

You can keep for later your Tupperware of ratatouille and your 8.6 Original beer.

To avoid cravings on your bike and because you are definitely not there to play Uno ®, you must feed your body enough with energy. Also, I’m not a food expert and the article is based on my researches, experience and readings (you cand find the whole list on the French article).

So now: what are we eating?

The art of turning your jersey into a delicatessen

During the effort, your body will need more energy (note: the alkaline battery in the as**  does only work for the Duracell Bunny) and to be hydrated.

During a bike ride but also according to its intensity and both your physical and physiological characteristics, the energy needs of your body will increase because of the expenses generated by the exercise. Your body will (to make it short and because I’m not a nutritionist either) draw from your stocks of glycogen. So you have to give him more glycogen by eating.

So what should you eat when cycling?

Gels (to be tested: Gu caramel salted butter to remind you of your holidays in Trébeurden), energy bars (apparently the Cliff ones are pretty tasty) and fruit jelly.

Focus: the energy bars to kick cols’ ass

All the bars are not “energetic”. You must take the ones to eat during the effort because the post-ride ones are basically protein bars, and they do not have the same goal.

Secondly, cereal bars are also not “adapted quantitatively and qualitatively to the needs of the effort (Nicolas Aubineau, Dietetic Nutritionist for the L’Equipe magazine). In the article, the specialist also explains that to be qualified as “energy”, the bars must “have carbohydrates, sodium and vitamin B1 in certain proportions” (in accordance with Regulation (EC) No 953/2009 of the Commission of 13 October 2009 on substances which may be added for the specific nutritional purpose of foodstuffs intended for particular nutritional uses). You can also consult the comparative table of the energy bars of the specialist on his website (link in the resources).

Natural options: Dried fruit to Go bananas and avoid a pear-shaped ride

You can also choose for unprocessed foods such as dried fruits full of nutritional qualities (carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, nutrients). Banana is an excellent option (source: the sports nutrition specialist Asker Jeukendrup in a Q/R session by Global Cycling Network). Chose the ride ones because the carbohydrates contained in the green are not well absorbed by your organism. Be careful Donkey Kong: before your ride, ask your friend to avoid banging your back during your trip, it’d be a pity to turn your jersey into banana-split.

Dried fruits such as apricots are also a good option. They are easily eaten on the bike. Before your ride, open widely the packet so you can pick your fruits easily whenever you want. My advice is to avoid prunes (don’t be shy: you know what could happen if you’re eating too many prunes…) It would be a pity to make a tire trace … in your bibs. Remember you are here to draw lines on asphalt.

You can also take a little more for the buddies you’re riding with. Just in case.

Let’s grab a drink!

I might disappoint you: the Picon in the can, the anisette in the musette and the Pinot (Thibaaaaauuut) in the jersey will not help you to keep a sufficient level of hydration. First, start by drinking water (if your can is empty, find a cemetery because there is always water, in France) regularly. It’s a good start.

You can choose to drink effort drinks (not to be confused with energy drinks!).

The so-called energy  drink must be composed of carbohydrates, vitamin B1 and sodium. Depending on the brand, other substances may be added to this mandatory base.

Also please note that the choice of the drink must be adapted to the temperature (basically: Pastis in summer, Picon in winter). There are drinks called isotonic, hypotonic (good for high heat) and hypertonic. But stay on the one we know and use the most because we do not live in Libya. So a so-called isotonic drink “aims to promote the intake of water, minerals and nutrients to facilitate the replacement of what the body uses during the effort” (source: Aptonia). So Gin Tonic on Saturday and isotonic on Sunday!

For sodium intake, you can also put some salt in your water. Or lick your armpits.

Another question: when should I eat during a bike ride?

From my own experience: before getting hungry.

Because as soon as you start to feel tired, it’s already too late. Which means that you have not compensated for energy depenses. You have no more energy, and as flat as a punctured tire. And your friends will wait for you at the top of the hill.

We are all different on these notions of nutrition and endurance. Some of us support fasting long bike rides, others are KO after 35 miles. So get to know yourself and identify the key moments in your ride to adapt your diet. With time and practice, your needs will change; your body “gets used to” the effort and its needs, and you will end up eating less quickly compared to your cycling journey’s start.

Also if you have eaten before a bike ride, you can wait a bit more before eating your first food while if you left fasting, I invite you to eat earlier. But afterwards, as I said above, we are all different.

Even if you don’t eat it, my advice is to always have something to eat in case you have a small hypoglycemia issue.

Also you must adapt your diet according to the environment you are facing: you spend more energy on climbing hills and cols than when you are on the flat.


Nutrition and food, it’s personal, we’re all different. The most important thing is to have fun and find the food that is not only good for your body but also for your mood.

The quantity should be adapted according to the duration of your ride, your body, age, sex, and the intensity of the effort.

If you have brands, food and advice to share, or just wanna to say coucou: feel free to comment below the article.

Thank you. Kisses and goodbye.

Force and derailleur.