Nutrition for the working cyclist

Nutrition for the working cyclist

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Knowledge Level: Beginner

Commuting to and from work on your bike is an incredibly time efficient way to get your weekly miles in and, for many riders, is the only realistic option for fitting training around job and family commitments. Knowing what and when to eat to maximise your commuting fitness gains is key so follow this advice the Great Britain Cycling Team nutritionists

Alarm goes off

  • It is unlikely that you will want to set your alarm early enough to be have a full breakfast before riding in.
  • A cup of coffee/tea and a snack such as a banana or an energy bar should be enough to get you going.
  • If your commute is longer than an hour you might want to consider using a sports drink and/or taking on some additional fuel during the ride.


  • Porridge is an ideal way to start the day. You get quality carbohydrates to keep you fuelled through the morning, B vitamins, protein from the milk and calcium. You can add some fruit such as blueberries to get an anti-oxidant and vitamin C boost but go easy on the sugar and golden syrup.
  • If you are watching your weight or not riding home, you might want to reduce the serving size of your porridge or maybe substitute for an omelette or similar egg based breakfast.

Mid morning snack

  • Maintain your blood sugar levels with a healthy mid morning snack.
  • A banana and natural yoghurt or a handful of nuts and seeds with an apple are great choices and definitely better than chocolate biscuits.


  • You are far more likely to eat well if you bring your own lunch in with you and avoid the canteen or the dash to the sandwich bar.
  • A good idea is to make an extra portion of your evening meal and bring that in to work.
  • If you are unable to do this, always look for carbohydrates, such as rice, potatoes, bread or pasta along with some quality protein like chicken or some lean meat.

Mid afternoon

  • A mid-afternoon snack is always a good idea to maintain blood sugar levels but what and how much you have depends on your evening riding plans.
  • If you are not riding or will be taking it easy, a modest snack, similar to mid-morning will be sufficient.
  • If you are going to be incorporating some training into your commute home or adding on some extra miles, you will need something more substantial.
  • A banana and some yoghurt would work well or a flapjack.

The ride home

  • If your commute home is under 90 minutes, you shouldn’t need any extra fuel but, if you are going longer than this, you will want to take on small snacks every 20-30 minutes right from the start of the ride. You can use bars, gels or energy drink but equally food such as fig rolls or filled wraps will work.

Back home

  • Before diving into the fridge, think about the ride you have done and when you are going to be eating dinner. If you have ridden hard or long and you won’t be eating dinner within 60 minutes of getting in, use a protein drink or have some milk and a banana.
  • A piece of chicken, fish or steak weighing about 200g is going to provide ample protein or look for a vegetarian or vegan alternative. If you’re watching your weight, then you should really keep pasta or rice accompanying the meat to no more than about a 100g raw weight. Part of your meal will be side of vegetables or salad. Get in your bright coloured vegetables peppers and tomatoes, these are really high in the phyto nutrients and anti-oxidants and boost recovery, health and performance.

Check out our recipes for on and off the bike




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