Meal Plan for a Cyclist

Cycling is very much an endurance sport which, particularly at long distances, can place a very high demand both on the muscles and on the cardiovascular system. Typically, top cyclists will train with maybe two moderate distance sessions during the week, and one or two long distance sessions at the weekend. Roads will vary with flat and hills. In addition to the cycling training, the cyclist may visit the gym and train with weights and light machine cardiovascular work once or twice per week; the object of which is to help power, particularly in the legs. Indeed, the object of any training and diet regimen is to improve the cyclist's power to weight ratio.

Longer distance training sessions or events are very enduring and are a high demand on energy levels and will need to be followed by a couple of days rest with a high carbohydrate intake to help replenish stores.

Cyclists generally do not carry a deal of muscle mass, but will have strong leg tendon strength and excellent fitness. Following a meal plan like the one below will be ideal for a typical week's training, but both pre- and post-event carbohydrate loading is recommended in order to maximise the muscle and liver carbohydrate stores.

Here's a sample meal plan for a long distance cyclist to follow for a typical training day:

Porridge: 100g oats + tbsp ground linseeds + 300ml skimmed milk + tsp sugar
2 slices granary bread, toasted + olive oil based spread + natural crunchy peanut butter
250ml fresh fruit juice
6 oatcakes + 200g cottage cheese or quark
Item fruit
Mug green tea
2 sandwiches made with granary bread + olive oil based spread with lean ham/chicken or large mackerel fillet
100g mixed nuts, seeds & dried fruit
Mixed salad
Low fat, low sugar yoghurt
2 squares Easy Flapjacks
100g mixed nuts, seeds & dried fruit
Large banana + 200g low fat natural yoghurt
Mug green tea
30 minutes pre-training
6 oatcakes
Running / gym training
Sip plenty of water or isotonic drink where possible
Immediately post training
20g maltodextrin + 20g dextrose in water
Evening meal
(45 mins later)
Lean red meat or chicken breast or fish + herbs to taste
Boiled new potatoes or basmati rice or dry roasted sweet potatoes or wholewheat pasta
Loads of vegetables
Low fat, no added sugar yoghurt
100g unsweetened muesli + 250ml skimmed milk
Item fruit
1 hour pre-bed
2-3 Satsuma's
Small handful mixed nuts & seeds

The above plan provides sufficient levels of all nutrients, however do bear in mind that the plan is merely a general guide, and there is no mention of portion sizes on purpose so that you can adapt it to suit yourself; remember men will generally require larger portions than women. You must eat a variety of different meats/fish, complex carbohydrates, fruit and vegetables every day, and drink plenty of water. This plan is based around sustained slow released low glycaemic carbohydrates to help provide energy for exercise sessions. Oatcakes and granary bread will top up this slow released energy through the daytime. See our Glycaemic Index Tables for GI values of foods.

Plans for people with illness or medical conditions in no way should override advice provided specifically for you by your doctor, clinical dietitian or other clinician. We advise that you seek the advice of a suitably qualified physician before commencing any exercise regime, following any dietary or nutritional regimen or beginning the use of any dietary supplements, legal or otherwise. The information provided on the Website is intended as information only and does not constitute advice. Therefore, it must not be relied on to assist in making or refraining from making a decision, or to assist in deciding on a course of action.