To prevent banking, where you deplete your body's glucose reserves (stored as glycogen in the liver and muscles), you must consume at least 250 calories per hour of brisk riding, with some before and a few times that after your ride. Eat more at high altitude or if riding hard, as both increase caloric requirements dramatically. Eat regularly to avoid the brutal swings in your blood sugar.
Some stick to conventional foods, such as bananas, and merely keep an energy bar or two stashed for emergencies, which is partly psychological in giving you the energy you need to not eat it.
Turkey sandwiches are a common favourites, having the protein and fat to act in concert with the essential carbohydrate component.
Here are some good snack foods:
- 3 medium-sized apples: 255 calories
- 2 medium-sized bananas: 244 calories
- 2 medium-sized pears: 244 calories
- 6 large, dehydrated, raw prunes: 258 calories
- 6 large, fresh, raw figs: 240 calories
- 5 oz of potato salad: 264 calories
- 2.5 small, baked white potatoes without skin: 238 calories
- 3/4 medium-sized, peeled avocado: 251 calories
- 2 medium-sized hot dogs: 248 calories
- 3 medium-sized boiled eggs: 234 calories
- 2.5 oz of American or Swiss or Monterey Jack cheese: 265 calories
- whole-wheat sandwich with 2 tbsp of peanut butter: 284 calories
- 1 oz of roasted peanuts: 229 calories
- 3.5 oz piece of pepperoni pizza: 250 calories
- 5 fig newton cookies: 275 calories
- 1 stick of Oat Energy Bar recipe: 188 calories
- 1 stick of Corn Syrup Energy Bar recipe: 250 calories
- 1 Raspberry Nutri-Grain(tm) Cereal Bar: 140 calories
- 1 PowerBar(tm): 225 calories
In the commercial snacks section is a nutritional comparison of Fig Newtons, PowerBars, Nutri-Grain bars, and a recipe for energy bars.
- 5 slices of whole-wheat bread: 280 cal
- 10 medium-size plain or graham crackers: 250 calories
Especially in digestion-disrupting summer heat, plain crackers and white bread can help to settle an upset stomach.
Fig newtons are great, as they are small and light, but have 11 grams of carbohydrates and about 50 calories each. They are also a great source of sodium and potassium, to replace the electrolytes depleted through sweat. As newtons only have about a gram of fat and 0.4 grams of protein per cookie, it is good to combine them with commercial sport foods and gels, or the energy bar recipes which are high in fat and protein.
If you have a source for real bagels -- not dry wonderbread ones -- they are a great food, especially with some high-calorie cream cheese or peanut butter. Raisin bagels are excellent eaten raw, but avoid garlic or onion bagels as they seem to cause some digestive distress during cycling.