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The meal before a ride should be low in fat and with no big lumps of protein. Both will tie up body resources in digestion, resources which are really needed for powering your legs. Also, cut down on fiber, which will absorb water and sit in your stomach. This is the only time where you don't want fiber in your system.

Eggs are a terrible choice, and milk is a poor beverage. Pasta or pancakes are great pre-ride meals, while whole-grain cereal with milk is much less so.

Try to pick a food with a low glycemic index, such as pasta, grains like all-bran and oatmeal, or maybe rice and sweet potatoes. These will release their energy over the duration of a long ride, rather than twenty minutes after the meal. Avoid such cereals as corn flakes and cheerios, white breads, and sugars. Check out our article explaining the mysteries of the glycemic index.

The "Sugar-Right-Before-The-Ride" Myth

You are seriously hindering yourself by drinking a heavily sugared drink minutes before an event. Within five to seven minutes, the sugar enters your bloodstream, increasing glucose concentrations beyond what your body will tolerate. Your body's response it to dump insulin into your blood, to neutralize the sugar.

This would be fine if the glucose was all stored as glycogen in only the quadriceps, but the blood is drained of energy to stock up the arms and back with non-transferable glycogen. Meanwhile, your blood sugar is lower than before, and the insulin interferes with using fat for energy.

Not a pretty picture.


Don't eat anything within an hour of the ride. If you leave less time, you will sabotage your blood sugar with an insulin reaction. An hour leaves enough time for insulin and glucose levels to return to normal, but leave more for solid foods and even more for hard-to-digest proteins and fats.

Don't eat anything for the first half hour of the ride. Despite PowerBar Inc.'s marketing, you are not doing yourself any favours.

On the other hand, eating during the ride is critical for endurance -- otherwise you'll bonk after about two hours. The sugars are used directly by your muscles, sparing their precious stores of glycogen.

Carbohydrate Loading

I'd advise against it. "Carbo loading" does not mean eating a big pasta dinner the night before. Rather, it is a program which attempt to temporarily increase the muscles' appetite for stored glucose by completely draining them a week before the big race, teasing them for a few days with a low-carb diet, and spending the last couple of days pouring on the pasta.

Carbohydrate loading doesn't always make you ride faster, and it is easy to screw up. Further, there are negative side effects, such as overall tightness, bloody urine, and cardiac abnormalities which could lead to a heart attack.
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