We all know that water is essential after a great bike ride for rehydration. However, apart from water, there are two major categories of foods your body needs after the rigours of a ride: proteins and carbohydrates. Proteins are essential after a bike ride to repair worn-out muscles and build new ones. Consumption of carbohydrates is vital to replenish glycogen reserves, which are almost always depleted after a long bike ride. Glycogen is stored in your muscles, and liver informs of sugar, and your body needs it to power your next bike ride.
For an efficient after-ride recovery, a protein to carbohydrate ratio of 1:4 is sufficient. When planning a meal or snack to help in your post-ride recovery efforts, consider the 1:4 ratio by blending different food alternatives. Here is a comprehensive list of foods to eat after a long bike ride and the benefits they bring in your body:
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1. Baked or grilled chicken
Chicken is recommended after a long ride because it’s loaded with lean protein. It’s also a great source of phosphorous, which is essential for supporting the body nervous system. Other essential nutrients found in chicken include selenium, which is a vital trace element and vitamin B6.
2. Sweet potatoes
Sweet potatoes are loaded with carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are vital during the beginning 30 to 60 minutes after a long bike ride. During the first 30 to 60 minutes, your body is rigorously working to replenish the lost glycogen store, so eating food rich in carbohydrates will help. Sweet potatoes are equally loaded with vitamin C, which has a whole lot of functions including helping your body to smoothly recover, and speed up the wound healing process. Potassium is another vital nutrient present in sweet potatoes, which the body expends via sweat.
Nuts are rich sources of protein, so they are great for post-long distance rides. Nuts are particularly advantageous because of their easy-to-carry attribute, meaning, you can carry them along and consume if you don’t intend to head home right away after the long ride. Nuts are also bountiful of plant sterols and unsaturated fats, all of which assist in weighing down bad cholesterol. You can always magnify nuts’ benefits by blending with dried fruits just to obtain the required ratio of protein to the carbohydrate of 1:4.
4. Nut butter
Nut butter, just like nuts, is rich in proteins. Almond butter, in particular, is a great source of calcium responsible for bone strength. Almond butter also contains vast quantities of potassium and magnesium, which assist maintain nerve and muscle functions. Cashew butter, on the other hand, is rich in iron and contains minimum levels of fat compared to other nut butter. Blending nut butter to fruits boosts the benefits accrued by your body. To obtain the 1:4 ratio of protein to carbohydrates, incorporate nut butter in your slice of bread and top it all off with bananas.
5. Chocolate milk
Chocolate milk might sound like a kid’s after-school snack, but successive studies have substantiated that chocolate milk is, by far, the best recovery food any athlete can use. Consumption of one glass of low-fat chocolate milk comes close to the recommended 1:4 protein to carbohydrate ratio. The benefits of chocolate milk go beyond that. The chocolate milk contains sugars, which are classified as simple sugars and are easily broken down by the body. Also, chocolate milk contains high amounts of vitamin D, calcium and significant amounts of water. If you are a Do It Yourself enthusiast, then you can make your own chocolate milk by just adding the raw cocoa powder to milk. This way, you benefit from the added antioxidant and anti-inflammatory attributes linked to raw cocoa.
6. White rice
White rice is advantageous since it contains simple carbohydrates compared to the whole grain options. Simple carbohydrates are broken down a lot easier by the body compared to other rice alternatives. In addition, white rice is rich in amino acids are well-known to aid in the development of muscles. To elevate the nutritive value of your white rice, cook it with coconut milk or chicken broth in place of water.
Eggs have over the years carried the bad tag of containing high levels of cholesterol. However, successive studies have punched holes on the tag and stated that consumption of eggs does not impact your overall cholesterol level. Eggs are rich sources of proteins, which makes them ideal for a post-ride snack. Eggs also contain overwhelming amounts of amino acids and are considered to be the most digestible to humans. This puts eggs high up the list of foods rich in dietary fibre. Choline, a substance know to minimize inflammation, is also contained in eggs.
Fruits like melons have high amounts of water, making them ideal fruits after a ride for rehydration. Cantaloupes, on the other hand, are rich sources of potassium, so mulling over them will help in replenishing lost electrolytes. Cantaloupes also contain vast amounts of beta-carotene and vitamin A that are essential for the perfect working of the immune system.
Berries are known to contain vast quantities of carbohydrates, which makes them a perfect choice to eat after a long ride. They also bear 90% of water making then even more advantageous to any bike rider because they assist in rehydration. The presence of anthocyanins in berries can help minimize joint pain and inflation.
If you are looking for an awesome post-ride recovery snack, then smoothies should be high up on your list. Smoothies are advantageous because you can prepare then upfront and customize them to your immediate needs. Add nuts or whey protein powders to your smoothie to get the best out of it. Inject a touch of carbohydrate by including honey, fruits, and fruit juices to your smoothie.
As a base for your smoothie, consider using coconut water because it’s loaded with electrolytes. As an alternative, you can incorporate low-fat milk or coconut.
Cycling is an energy-draining pursuit and uses up glycogen stores on your body. After a long bike ride, your body needs refueling. With that said, foods and drinks after a long bike ride will get you back up faster. However, before grabbing that food, it is paramount to understand which foods are ideal for effective and quick refueling and recovery. With this list, you don’t need to look elsewhere.