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What To Eat Before and During A Long Distance Endurance Cycling Ride

by Anshuman Sen
Food for long cycle rides

Food For Long Distance Endurance Cycling Rides

Nutrition before and during a long endurance cycle ride is very crucial. What you eat for breakfast before you long endurance ride could help you set the correct pace for your ride. Thinking about what to eat before your BRM ride? Read more.

What Food do you need for long distance endurance rides

Our body primarily depends on carbohydrates for energy. Sugars to be very precise. The muscles and the brain consume sugar to function. Breaking down of stored fats and then their consumption for body processes is a long process.

So Our breakfast should typically revolve around carbohydrates. We ideally would not want to eat a lot as it would make us feel bloated and also we would not want to consume sugar in a lot of quantities as it would simply spike the blood sugar levels. We would want to invest in something which would release energy slowly, something that has a low glycemic index. Complex carbs take time to be digested and hence take time to be converted to glucose.

Read about HR Training Zones for Better Endurance

1. Oats

Oats prepared anyway is a great pre-ride meal. Rolled Oats are low on the glycemic index and are an excellent source of complex carbs. Oats release energy slowly and hence could help you for an initial couple of hours.

Read the recipe for Oats Poha

Sprinkle Some Water and Roast

2. Poha or Idli

Poha and idli are made up of rice. Though these do not classify as complex carbs but still pack a punch for your ride.

Long Ride Breakfast

idli, sambar,vada and coconut chutney, south indian breakfast

3. Sandwiches

Sandwiches use bread which is simple carbs. One could use multigrain bread to make them a better pre-ride meal. Probably you could add eggs or chicken to your sandwich to add the proteins.

4. Potatoes

Potatoes are excellent complex carbs which are easy to digest. You could add potatoes to your oats, sambhar, or to your sandwiches.

5. Fruits like Banana and Apple

Fruits are rich in sugars. Probably this could be best to have them around just before starting the ride or during the ride.

Long Endurance Cycling Breakfast - Banana

Also Bananas supply a very important mineral, potassium.

What Food to Eat During the ride

While you are on a long ride, read more than 3 hours, let’s say a BRM ride, you should consume 30-40 grams of carbohydrates every hour. It is important to keep eating in smaller quantities because your system can process the food and break it down into sugars to supply to your muscles in a regular manner. Eating too much would exert on the GI system to process and absorb the food which it would not be able to at a rapid pace, in turn creating situations of bloating etc.

While you are on a long ride, it is better to have simple carbs which are easy to digest and absorb rather than complex ones. Complex ones would help too but I would prefer having simple carbs for two very basic reasons

  • Complex carbs because of their process of digestion in the intestine can cause bloating and gas.
  • I like the small snack breaks in between as it eases the pressure off the butt.

My goto food and snack during long cycle rides

-Bread and sandwiches

– Dry fruits like almonds and dates

– Dal rice with curd

– Hydrating tender coconut water

– Bananas

– Tea with milk and sugar

Pandharpur Pune Cycling

– Fizzy cold drinks. (A lot of people might debate on this. However, the sugar spike is really helpful in my case). Probably one could replace this with a more healthy glucose drink or an energy drink

– Hydration with electrolytes is very important.

– Chocolates

– Cheese cubes

– Though I have experimented with a lot of energy bars and protein bars, however, I am slowly moving away from them because of the issue of bloating and gas I have faced during multiple rides

– Chiki is an excellent ride snack with jaggery and peanuts


During rides, it is important to focus on overall nutrition. Carbs are what we need to fuel however the body does need fats to function and also needs protein for recovery.

Key is to keep eating in small quantities during the ride. Overeating and undereating, both could create problems.

Looking forward to comments on what do you use to fuel your long cycling rides.



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Amit Vernekar September 17, 2018 - 1:14 pm

Hey Anshuman, Nice article and helpful. Hope to see more of such articles. One question on BRM. I usually cycle and currently cycle continuously for 40 – 50 KM without stopping. What do you think is an optimal rest time and the frequency during Brivets?

Anshuman Sen September 18, 2018 - 2:45 pm

Thank you Amit.
Your break frequency and duration would totally depend on your riding style. I usually might ride for 1-2 hours at stretches and then might take a bio break or a small snack break. Though I do eat and drink while riding but I do force myself into a break to give some butt relief. My bio breaks are limited to a couple of minutes and my small tea or drinks breaks to 7-8 minutes. Our lunch and dinner breaks might go into 30-40 minutes.
Try to keep your small breaks to less than 10 minutes so that your body and muscles do not cool down.

Abhijit Buchake September 19, 2018 - 2:28 pm

Nice write-up. I usually refrain from processed foods for obvious reasons. You have provided many good alternatives.
Idli/wada make a complex carb meal when eaten with sambhar (dal, hence, protein) and chuttney (coconut, hence, fats). When consumed alone without the suppliments (sambhar/chuttney) can cause bloating and indigestion.

Anshuman Sen September 25, 2018 - 8:02 am

Thank you, Abhijit. That is some excellent information.

Yogesh Bhat March 28, 2019 - 4:04 pm

Very well written and very informative article. Thanks for sharing

Ramesh September 9, 2021 - 11:57 am

Though these comments are more on food. . . i am sorry for asking about this one here. i am experience crams after about 75-80 km. what should i do. . .

Anshuman Sen October 30, 2021 - 4:03 pm

Sorry, didn’t login for a bit. Cramps are usually due to dehydration. Water with ORS works best for me. Or try rock salt.

Pankaj March 8, 2022 - 10:35 am

nice article. Could you please give your opinion for food during 600 km BRM . that will be almost 30-40 hours ride. Requesting you to please respond with complete plan if possible.

Anshuman Sen June 26, 2022 - 4:38 am

Hi Pankaj
The nutrition and hydration is a tricky thing. Something that you will have to test yourself. However, here are a few basics
1. Keep eating something small every 20-30 minutes.
2. Never try and fill your tummy completely
3. Keep drinking every 10-15 minutes. Check your salt levels and add ORS/ Enerzal etc alternatively
4. Check what kind of food suits you. Proteins take a long time to digest and might give you flatulence.
I generally avoid peanuts, eggs etc during or before the ride. These are great post ride.
For me this is what I do
1. Oats/ bannana before the ride
2. Dry fruit energy bars every hour (depends on how I feel)
3. Have a sandwich, poha, dal rice, khichadi, curd rice every 4-5 hours.


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