Eating For Endurance

July 6th, 2018

This post was originally published at

Burning over 500 calories per hour, mountain biking is an intense and demanding workout.  Whether you’re training for the ride of a lifetime or simply wanting to go further, faster, what you eat and drink plays a vital role in how your body performs. Getting to peak fitness by eating the right foods will let you focus on the breathtaking scenery rather than catching your breath. Focus on nutrition that builds strength and increases stamina and fuel your body for sustained periods of activity (sometimes over a number of days).  In other words - eat for endurance.  

Shed in the months ahead

In the weeks and months leading up to a ride, shedding excess body fat and building lean muscle will mean you’re fit, agile and ready to take on the tracks. Power your body with carbs on training days and stick to high protein meals, rich in good fats for muscle development and recovery when you’re resting. But take care to eat enough complex carbohydrates to support your training, otherwise, the effects can be counterintuitive, and you’ll slow your metabolism.

Training for endurance means developing better muscles not bigger muscles. Protein is vital for lean muscle development and recovery so build lean meat, fish, nuts, and pulses into your diet. Make healthy swaps in your everyday diet and consider shakes and supplements which, when researched and taken properly, can kick-start and maintain a nutrition and training plan. 

Superfoods for stamina

A study by Nevada University found that the stamina of a group of cyclists increased by 15% after consuming beetroot juice, proving that for endurance training not all foods are equal. Quinoa, for example, is rich in vitamins that help transform food to energy and was consumed by ancient Inca warriors to increase their stamina. Marathon runners are known to load up on chia seeds to stave off fatigue and pickle juice can reduce recovery time.

How to fuel your ride

As your ride gets closer it’s time to start planning how you’ll fuel your body for the event. The day before is all about hydration – taking on lots of water in advance is essential for riding long distances and can limit toilet stops on the day. Don’t eat late in the evening and consume foods that are easily digestible – red meat and curry are out of the question! You’ll also need carbs for energy.

On ride day, aim to eat at breakfast about two hours before you set off and choose foods that release energy slowly – fruit, oats, and porridge are ideal. Once you’re on the bike think micro meals, which means eating little and often.  Pack low fat energy-filled snacks for on the go.  And remember to keep hydrated by taking small sips of water as you ride.

Food for recovery

When you reach your destination, energy spent and exhausted, you may feel the need to binge but try to avoid the post-ride gorge.  Recovery nutrition is just as important as what you eat in advance, especially if your event lasts over a few days.  You’ll need a quarter of a plate full of carbs (whole grain rice or pasta), the same amount of protein (lean meat or fish) to help your muscles recover and the rest vegetables and pulses. Avoid anything too heavy that’ll make you feel sluggish or sick.

Going on a mountain bike adventure is challenging yet rewarding, and good nutrition will mean you’re strong, fit and able to enjoy the ride of a lifetime.

Written by Jennifer Dawson at

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