July 29, 2018 4 min read

I’ve spent quite a bit of time trying to work out what exactly I need to do to keep myself from fatiguing during or after a strenuous ride. And whilst what’s right for me won’t necessarily be right for you, I think my basic formula might be something you can draw on.

When I first starting riding I would spend 3-4 hours after each strenuous ride feeling absolutely torched and could do nothing but lie down and wait until the fatigue wore off. I wasn’t sleeping….just lying…(I actually can’t remember when that last happened to me, which is nice.)

And so although I admit  that a part of that fatigue was due to a basic lack of cycling fitness (although I had a reasonable base level of fitness already as I had been playing netball and jogging) it was as much about how to adequately fuel my body.

I have researched this topic for hours and hoursand I’ve found it all to be incredibly confusing. There is an inordinate amount of info out there on the role of carbohydrates and protein in sport. Most of it contradictory! (Well…maybe not most…but by jingoes!)  My initial understanding was that all you needed was carbs, carbs, carbs! But apparently not.

Emerging evidence suggests that endurance athletes should also consume protein in addition to carbohydrate during exercise to prevent the breakdown of lean muscle mass. Kind of important I guess!

Now I know a lot of cyclists like to rely on “gels” when they are on the bike (gels are rapidly and easily absorbed goop with a high carbohydrate level in the form of sugars). I’ve only ever had one (and I absolutely needed it) but it was a filthy thing to have to digest and my bowel protested about it for days. Super sweet and super yuck.

So in order to avoid the gels here’s what I’ve worked out through trial and error.


Don’t eat anything that you wouldn’t ordinarily eat. For example, porridge or oats are a great slow release carb making them a terrific way to prepare for a ride (with 23g carbs per serving) but can be very heavy if you’re not used to it. I like to have a small bowl of Gluten free muesli (or just the regular stuff is fine if you can handle wheat) with a small banana and 2 heaped tablespoons of natural yogurt. I prepare one water bottle with plain water and one with an electrolyte powder in it. I also throw down a glass of high protein powder mixed into water, which I purchased from the local Pharmacy (22g protein per serve).


Ingesting carbs during and after a ride has been shown to improve muscle glycogen levels thus improving performance and reducing fatigue. In my pocket I have a peanut butter sandwich and a Carman’s muesli bar (Classic Fruit and Nut is the best for carbs – 25.1g but I can’t go past the dark choc, cherry and coconut at 22.4g…near enough!!). If I’m riding for any more than 90 minutes I need to eat at the 60 minute mark and then every half an hour thereafter. I’d probably have half a bar or half a sambo at a time. The experts reckon b/w 30-65g carbohydrate is required every hour. I figure I’m no elite anything so I aim for the lower figure in the range. Unless I’m really smashing it that day and then I upscale a bit.

And don't forget to drink that water and electrolyte mix that you've prepared! Especially in cold weather when you're more likely to forget to drink. Aim to consume 500ml per hour!

(Image Source)


Within 30 min of getting home I have another glass of the high protein powder and then within 45 min of getting home I have a couple of eggs on toast and some more fruit ie. banana, stewed apple, 3 or 4 dates, 5 prunes or 5 dried apricots etc. etc. Whatever floats your boat.

But there’s also strong evidence to support “carb loading” the night before a big ride. Meaning it’s worthwhile chowing down on some carbs of your choice the night before a strenuous ride (of 90 min. or longer). But don’t just assume that that means pasta or potatoes or something heavy. You could just have your normal meal and then after dinner have a cup of stewed apple. Much easier for the body to digest and you’ll feel lighter too. But I’ll leave that up to you to decide.

Here’s a list of foods that I like to eat and their carbohydrate content. Legumes and fruit are pretty carby so that’s probably a good place to start. And if you have any quirky little tips for me, I’d love to hear from you!

In the meantime…happy cycling!!

Kate x

Carbohydrate content of foods:

Dates (x 4) - 75 g

Apples (I cup stewed) - 46g

Chick peas (1 cup) – 45g

Banana (average sized) – 25g

Mango (1 cup fresh slices) – 25g

Corn cob – 25g

Pasta (1/2 cup cooked) - approx 20g

Sweet potato (100g) – 20g

Potato ( 100g) – 17g


Source List:






Kate Hewett
Kate Hewett

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