Cycling Fitness with Adam Copley: Nutrition Basics

Hello and welcome to the ADAM COPLEY: PERSONAL TRAINING blog. Over the coming weeks I will be introducing you to the world of cycling specific fitness. Highlighting the importance of training on and off the bike. As well as covering mindset, nutrition and all things cycling.

As a keen cyclist and mountain biker. It is my passion to see cycling become as inclusive as possible. welcoming people into the world I love and also doing my bit to help these people be the best version of themselves.

Whether you ride for fun, fitness or to compete, I hope this blog will provide you with some interesting reading. Let’s get into it:

This week I am going to talk about one of my favourite things in the world, food.

It is no secret that I love food. In fact, one of my main motivations for putting in big miles on the bike is that I will burn a lot of calories and be able to eat more without gaining weight. I make no lies about that!

But when it comes to nutrition for your cycling you really do get out what you put in and as such. It is important to correctly fuel your body for riding. This blog will cover the basics of on the bike nutrition and cover a few good foods that are perfect fuel sources for your pre, during and post ride nutrition. Let’s get started:


The basics:

Fuelling your body can seem like a complicated process, Youtube videos and coaches will give you so many numbers that you feel like you are sitting a maths exam, essentially you need to think about two things: Calories and energy.

From the calories side of things, you want to take on board enough calories before a ride, so that your body can move without feeling weak, dizzy or bonking on the bike.

And from the energy side of things, you want to make sure you get the right types of food in your body so that you can stay fuelled while exercising.

For example:

Protein is a great nutrient for recovery and rebuilding muscle fibres burned during your rides. However, it isn’t a fuel, so for instance. If you ate some chicken wings before a ride you would be full of protein. But you would probably feel hungry quickly into your ride.

When you look at the foods you should eat, a good source of protein with slow-release carbs (more on this later) is the way to go.

When it comes to calories. These will dictate how fuelled you feel but also how well you will recover, too much and you will gain weight. Too little and you will destroy your energy levels, and your recovery. So how do you work this out?


Calorie intake:

To work out your calorie needs per day (BMR) you can follow this equation:


BMR = weight in kg x 24.

BMR = weight in kg x 22.

You then need to look at your physical activity levels (PAL) and be honest with yourself here!

Mostly inactive x 1.2:

Fairly active (exercise 1-2 x times a week daily) 1.3:

Moderately active (exercise 2-3 x a week daily) 1.4:

Active (exercise hard 3x a week) 1.5:

Very active (exercise hard daily) 1.7:


Your daily calorie needs are your BMR x PAL:

So for myself:

80kg x 24 = 1920 x 1.7 (I train in the gym 3 times a week, ride 3 times a week, with one rest day when I will walk the dog or ride steady) = 3264 calories per day.


What to be careful of:

When you look at your calories per day it is easy to think that you have it sussed. But if you're trying to lose weight then you need to remember different days require different amounts. More, or less. As I have mentioned, nutrition can be a minefield and I would say to any beginner. Just stick to the basics, work out your calorie needs and roll with that. Weigh yourself once per week, if you are gaining weight or staying the same, subtract 100. Also, never go lower than 500 calories on a deficit.

So, we have bamboozled your brain with calorie chat. What about the fun stuff, the food you should eat?

Let’s get into that:

Pre ride:

Before the ride, foods that have a small amount of protein and a high amount of slow-release carb are king. For me, it’s oats. Whether they are in porridge or mixed into yogurt you can’t go wrong with oats, throw some berries in there or some jam and you are onto a winner.

If you ride later in the day, or don’t perhaps like oats then other slow releasing carb sources are:

Beans, grains, apples, sweet potato, yams and wholemeal (fresh baked) bread.

So, a bagel with peanut butter and apple slices with some honey would also be a good pre ride meal.


During the ride:

During the ride your body wants to take on fast release carbohydrates, with small amounts of proteins. Fast release provides a more potent energy burst but with less duration. Jam in the porridge mentioned above for example.

Research suggests your body needs between 17-30g of carbohydrates per hour on the bike. That is why when you look at a lot of energy bars that are cycling specific, they are usually 25-30g of carbs in them. A lot of people say no to these products but personally. I find them brilliant. I also would recommend a homemade flapjack. These can be cut into segments that give you the exact amount of carbs you need. There are plenty of recipe’s online and I even have one of my own. Which I may share with you soon!


After the ride:

After the ride is when protein becomes important. This is when you need to think about the recovery process. Protein and carbs are important here as they both work in sync when digested.

Also, it is easy here to pig out on cake, burgers and all manner of poor-quality food. One tip for helping end this is dark chocolate. Have a small amount of this after riding and it can help curb those thoughts.

When it comes to post ride meals, I am a huge fan of quick and tasty things. So chicken, with some rice cooked in nando’s marinade is a winner for me, that or a chicken wrap with some salad and mayo on there. If you are meat free you could also make chickpea fajitas. I also have some recipe’s here that I will share with you soon too.

Essentially think about these things:

1: Taste, a post ride meal should taste good to help keep junk food cravings at bay.

2: Protein and carb content, you want the meal to help with your recovery. It has to serve a purpose!

3: Nutrients, you want to make sure you have plenty of veg and salad in your post ride meal. I am a huge believer in the power of food and vegetables are key post workout for nutrients and protein.


When it comes to nutrition on the bike. It can be overly complex. Hopefully, this blog has simplified it a little for you but, as always. Feel free to email me at if you have any questions, or head over to my Instagram @acopleypt

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