Last week we talked about pre-ride and during-the-ride nutrition. Here’s what to do post-ride.
Hydrate after the ride. No matter how much fluid you ingest while on the bike, in summer weather you’ll finish the ride with a deficit. There’s a simple way to be sure you rehydrate sufficiently: Weigh yourself before and after the ride, then compare the figures. If you’ve lost weight, it is, unfortunately, water you’ve sweated out, not fat. Drink 20 ounces of fluid for each pound of bodyweight you’re down. Keep drinking until your weight has returned to normal.
Use the glycogen window. One other step—but it might be the most important. Studies show that your muscles replace their fuel (glycogen) much faster and more efficiently if you eat carbohydrate immediately after a ride. The longer you wait, the less eager your muscle cells become to refill with glycogen.
The goal is to eat 60 grams of carbohydrate if you’re an average-size woman, or 80-100 grams if you’re an average male, as soon as possible after you get off the bike. Your muscles will re-fuel best if you down this chow within 15 minutes. The re-fueling process becomes progressively less efficient during the two hours post-ride. Notice that the amount of carbohydrate is the same that’s recommended before a ride.
Some recent research indicates that if you mix four parts carbohydrate with one part protein, your glycogen stores will top off more quickly and more fully. In fact, several post-ride recovery drinks are based on these findings.
It should be noted, however, that the results of at least one of these studies has been challenged. Doubters argue that the protein/carb mix produced greater glycogen levels only because the subjects getting that mix received more total calories than the subjects who got only carbohydrate (no protein) after exercise.
So the jury is still out. But in a practical sense, it’s hard to eat only carbohydrate. Most riders prefer post-ride meals like cereal or a turkey sandwich. As long as there’s ample carbohydrate in the food, it’s probably best to heed your body’s cravings.
If you follow these (and last week’s) strategies, you’ll feel great while riding and recover faster. Just think of riding as a license to eat heartily! Refuel properly and you’ll be able to ride faster and stronger for longer, thus getting a better workout and building superior fitness.
Here are some foods that provide about 50 grams of carbohydrate per serving:
• Two slices of bread and 8 oz. low-fat milk
• English muffin, 1 tbs. jam, 8 oz. low-fat milk
• Fruit yogurt (1 cup) and corn tortilla
• Popcorn (4 cups) and 8 oz. fruit juice
• Cold cereal (1 cup), 8 oz. low-fat milk, piece of fruit
• Pasta (1 cup) and marinara sauce (1 cup)
• Pancakes (3 large) and syrup (2 tbs.)
• Pretzels (1 oz.) and 8 oz. fruit juice
• Rice (0.5 cup) and beans (0.5 cup) and corn tortilla
• Thick pizza (1 slice) and 12 oz. soda
• Rice (1 cup) and broccoli (1 cup)