Cycling has become a popular not just an outdoor, but also indoor recreational activity. This low impact aerobic exercise enhances fitness level and improves mental well-being. It also varies in intensity, making it suitable for all levels.
After those long or intense rides, your body requires refuelling. Like most successful professional cyclists, recovery is taken very seriously. Without recovery your body does not have time to repair muscle damage and you can’t get back on track stronger.
If you are planning on your next ride, you need to replenish your glycogen stores – glycogen being the fuel for your cycling. By consuming carbohydrates in that optimum window of around 30-60 minutes after a ride, this generates the glucose needed for the body to start the glycogen replenishment process.
In addition, protein is vital for the growth and repair of muscle tissue which has been broken down by hard riding, so both carbs and protein alongside good re-hydration should be a major part of your recovery strategy.
Before you aimlessly grab something to eat, it is important that you understand how certain foods work the best for proper recovery.
Recovery is a vital part of a cyclist’s schedule. Cycling drains glycogen stores in your muscles. Glycogen fuels the body for your cycling workouts. Immediately after cycling, you must ingest nutrients such as carbohydrates and protein to stimulate glycogen synthesis and muscular repair. The best way you can quickly replenish muscle glycogen is to consume 1.5 g of high-glycemic carbohydrates per 1 kg of body weight immediately after cycling.
Carbohydrates and protein are the most important nutrients you need to refuel. It’s best to get something in your system between 30 to 60 minutes after ecycling. For proper recovery from the demand cycling places on your body an optimal 4:1 ratio of carbohydrates and protein works best and initiates an optimal recovery after cycling.
Your refrigerator may contain one of the highest quality recovery foods available. Chocolate milk contains an optimal 4:1 carbohydrate-to-protein ratio. Another recovery benefit includes the simple carbohydrates, or simple sugars found in chocolate milk. Simple sugars like sucrose, fructose and table sugar provide fast energy and insulin for the body. Although simple sugars have a poor reputation, these types of carbs provide a method for fast and immediate carbohydrate loading after cycling. Thus, a pack of chocolate milk from the nearest convenience store offers a faster and cheaper alternative to a sports recovery drink.
A plate of white rice and baked or grilled chicken offers the blend of nutrients to enable cycling recovery. White rice falls under the simple carbohydrates category which provides glycogen at faster rates compared to complex carbs. After your long ride, your body requires a faster delivery of carbohydrates for recovery. Grilled or baked chicken breast provides lean protein to assist in muscular repair to prepare you for that next ride.
A fruit smoothie blended with whey protein powder offers another option for recovery from your rides. A smoothie consisting of a banana, a few mango slices, fat free yogurt, a tablespoon of honey and a serving of your favourite whey protein powder packs a perfect protein and carbohydrate blend. Whey protein digests and provides nutrients faster than any other protein method.