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It can be confusing knowing what to eat before a bike ride to lose weight. Nothing? Protein only? Light carbs?
There’s conflicting advice all over the place. Here’s what the research says…
For weight loss, if you are going to be cycling for an extended period, then beforehand you want to eat foods that will keep you feeling full for longer, while also being low in fat. Foods that contain both some carbs and are low-fat are a good choice.
There is a balance to be had between weight loss, cycling performance, and digestion. To get the best out of all three, and to get these three things working in unison, the answer is light carbs and low-fat.
But what sort of foods are we talking about?
In this post, I’m going to outline the best 15 things to eat before riding a bike for weight loss.
When riding for weight loss, you want to consume foods that take longer to digest to keep you full for as long as possible —in other words: Carbs.
On the other hand, you want these foods to be low in fats or even fat-free.
A bit of a difficult combination there, but you get a lot of options.
Here’s the list!
|Low-fat milk||100 in a cup|
|Whole-grain cereals||100 in 0.5 oz.|
|Low-fat muffins||23 in one|
|Vegetables||65 in 3.5 oz.|
|Pasta||174 in a serving|
|Low-fat ice cream||130 in a serving|
|Nut butter fruit smoothies||266 in a cup|
|Bananas||105 in one banana|
|Rice cakes||35 in one|
|Chicken salad||48 in 0.4 oz.|
|Yogurt||59 in 4 oz.|
|Avocado||240 in a whole avocado|
|Fish||206 in 4 oz.|
|Nuts||607 in 4 oz.|
|Eggs||155 in 4 oz.|
1. Low-Fat Dairy
Low-fat dairy, like skimmed milk, doesn’t cause dehydration, unlike whole milk variants. Not to mention, it spares you from the slow digestion caused by the saturated fats in whole milk.
Generally, low-fat dairy products such as cheese or yogurt aren’t tied to obesity or weight gain.
This is good news for dieters, as consuming low-fat dairy while watching your calorie intake will help you lose weight.
There’s certainly no harm in consuming low-fat dairy before bike rides, and it ticks the boxes for carbs and low-fat, so it’s all good.
2. Cereals (Specific Kinds)
Cereals are an excellent contender if you’re looking for a good source of fiber yet low in calories and fats.
Many kinds of cereal integrate oatmeal, especially whole-grain, to provide a healthy snack. Look for “all-bran” options as well as whole-grain labels.
The best part? Cereals are so much fun to eat, they don’t even make you feel like you’re on a diet!
3. Low-Fat Muffins
Another fun yet healthy option to consume before your bike ride is a low-fat muffin. You can buy them ready or make them yourself.
In all cases, low-fat muffins are an excellent way to stock up on energy for a bike ride. Yet, it doesn’t leave you with any unwanted input that causes weight gain or makes it harder to lose weight.
Vegetables are at the top of the list for anyone that’s trying to lose weight. Some options are ideal for energy boosting and losing weight.
Go for cruciferous vegetables. These include kale, cabbage, collard greens, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, spinach, and broccoli.
They’re high in fiber, which makes you feel full. Research shows that an ounce of fiber every day can help in weight loss and obesity reduction. (Source)
5. Pasta (Particularly Certain Types)
Understandably, trying to lead a healthy lifestyle doesn’t stop us from having cravings and wanting to indulge. Despite the reputation pasta has, you can consume whole-grain or whole-wheat pasta without worrying about weight gain!
This is because whole-grain pasta comes with fewer calories and higher fiber content. This incredible combination is everything a cyclist needs to get energy before a ride without consuming something hard to burn.
Not to mention, pasta is an indulgence, so you’re pretty much getting a reward before even going on your ride.
Just make sure you make it with a healthy recipe with low overall fat content.
6. Low-Fat Ice Cream
Who says you can’t have dessert when you’re trying to lose weight?!
Ice cream has a stigma of being a diet disruption, but that’s not always accurate.
But some low-fat ice cream to enjoy an indulgent dessert while staying true to your diet.
It’s also a good way to get some energy before starting your bike rides.
7. Nut Butter Fruit Smoothies
Looking for low-fat, high-carb drinks to energize yourself before a bike ride but to keep your weight loss goals? There’s no better option than a nut butter fruit smoothie.
You can use multiple fruits like blueberries, strawberries, and bananas. You can also mix them with several nut butter like peanut butter or almond butter.
The optimum mix is peanut butter and banana, but you can go for other options if you don’t like the taste.
There’s a lot of nutritional punch packed into a single banana. The average banana contains:
|Nutritional Value||Amount In Ounces|
I found an excellent Youtube video on the channel of a chiropractor, and he recommended a banana is the very best food you can eat before jumping on your bike.
Here’s that video here (it’s really short!):
9. Rice Cakes
Rice cakes are an excellent choice if you’re following a regular carb diet. They provide you with a good amount of energy but don’t significantly increase your calorie intake.
However, you have to be careful with how you use them. Don’t substitute meals with rice cakes, as it could have adverse effects.
Rice cakes are a staple of Tour de France cyclists. (Source)
10. Chicken Salads
If you know from the night before that you’ll have a bike ride the next day, having a salad with chicken for dinner is a good idea.
Lean meats, generally, provide the benefit of high protein content with less saturated fat content.
Do you want to go all out on a food item without worrying about weight gain? You can have yogurt before, during, and after your bike ride with no issues.
It’s worth noting that experts don’t recommend eating during bike rides that last less than an hour. Sufficing with a water bottle will do.
Avocados are the perfect food to make you feel full for longer. They’re a guilt-free addition to any meal as well as a light snack.
Eating an avocado for breakfast before a ride makes you feel less hungry and satisfied with fewer calories than other options with less fat and fiber content.
Fish is the MVP (most valuable player) when it comes to overall health benefits. They give you protein and omega-3 fatty acids with as few calories as can be.
The high protein content makes you feel full quicker and for a longer time.
Not to mention, there is a myriad of choices out there, including cod, halibut, salmon, tuna, and tilapia.
You’ll never run out of options when thinking of your next high-protein, low-calorie fish meal.
Like plenty of the options on the list, nuts have high fat and fiber content. They’re a good choice to munch on before a bike ride as they make you feel full and give you energy.
When you consume them in moderation, nuts can help your weight loss journey in the long run.
Eggs, especially egg whites, give you the benefit of weight loss with the bonus of minerals and vitamins.
Eggs fill you up for a longer time, deterring you from overeating and consuming too many calories.
They also have the added perk of diversity. You can have boiled eggs, scrambled eggs, or omelets.
The latter will give you a suitable fat content next to the protein as well.
Yes. You should avoid coarse food as it requires more energy to digest than the energy it provides you.
You should also steer clear of processed foods like:
- Apple pie.
The mix of protein, sugar, and fat in them can take a long time to digest, which meddles with your performance on the bike.
Of course, soft drinks and sodas are a big no-no. They have a lot of sugar as well as some caffeine —which also isn’t ideal before a bike ride— and only cause the insulin levels in your blood to increase drastically.
Should You Fast Before Cycling?
Fasting before cycling has the danger of you losing muscle mass as well as body fat through cycling. Though I know lots of people that do this successfully, the research doesn’t seem to recommend it.
To lose weight by cycling —or any activity for that matter— is only feasible up to a certain limit.
If you go from not cycling to cycling, you’ll lose a lot of weight. Even more so, if you switch to a healthier diet.
Typical example – Cycling for 30 minutes would burn around 200 calories for a 25-year-old that’s 5’5 and weighs 143 pounds.
However, this only happens to a point, and then losing any more weight would be hard. This is especially true the leaner you get.
The more sedimentary the lifestyle you used to lead before cycling was, the higher the calories you’ll burn. As a consequence, the more weight you’ll lose.
Depending on a lot of calculations, some people can lose weight with one hour of cycling. It can be as high as 2.2 pounds per week or as low as 0.55 pounds.
If you haven’t been active before, cycling alone can help you lose weight. However, following a diet will help you lose weight even faster.
So, carbs aren’t so bad. What a surprise, no?
The food you eat when you’re looking for weight loss, especially when you’re planning on vigorous exercise, should be a “go fast” option.
In other words, it should be something that doesn’t sit in your body. It only serves to give you the energy you need to be as rigorous as you are during your activity.