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Before cycling, it’s important to warm up, check your equipment, hydrate, and fuel up. By taking the time to prepare, you ensure a safe and effective ride and get the most out of your cycling workout.
Speaking of fueling up, it’s important to choose a suitable drink before riding off. By replenishing your fluids, your body will work better and harder while cycling.
So what should you drink before cycling or a long ride? You can drink water, a sports drink or a pre-workout supplement. These are packed with the nutrients needed to hydrate you and boost your energy for your ride.
In this article, we will explore what you should drink and why you should drink it (according to existing body of research) to ensure you are powered up and ready for your ride.
Let’s get started!
Drinking water before cycling is important because it helps to hydrate your body. Plus, it prepares you for the physical activity ahead.
After hydrating, your body is better equipped to perform better. You can cycle for longer distances as well.
When you cycle, your body temperature rises and you sweat to help cool down. Drink water before cycling so your body has the fluids to regulate your body temperature.
That’s because dehydration causes symptoms, including dizziness, fatigue, and muscle cramps. Drinking water ensures that your body has enough fluids to function. Thus, doing so before cycling prevents dehydration.
Since cycling can be intense, drying up increases the risk of injury. Hydrating before cycling keeps your joints lubricated. Your muscles will appreciate the hydration, thereby reducing the risk of injury.
In general, it’s a good idea to drink water before any kind of physical activity. This is especially true if it’s hot outside or when exercising for an extended period.
You should note that plain water isn’t nutritious, but it’s essential in absorbing nutrition from other drinks. Make sure to drink enough to feel hydrated, but avoid overhydration, which is harmful.
Scientists term overhydrating as hyponatremia. It’s a condition that occurs when you drink too much water. Hyponatremia causes the sodium level in your body to become diluted.
You should figure out how much water your body needs to stay hydrated. Body weight, activity level, and the environment can affect your hydration. As a general rule, only drink enough water to keep your urine a pale yellow color.
It’s important to drink enough water to hydrate, but be wary of overhydration. Learn how much water your body needs and listen to your body’s signals. Doing so will help you avoid overhydration and stay healthy during physical activity.
Your body will let you know it needs water when you feel thirsty. If you’re thirsty, drink water until you feel hydrated, but avoid drinking excessively.
Drinking a lot of water all at once can overload your body’s ability to process fluids. Instead, drink water in small amounts throughout the day.
Symptoms of hyponatremia include nausea, headaches, and confusion. If you experience any of these signs, immediately get medical help.
Drinking sports drinks before cycling provides many benefits that can enhance your performance. Here are some reasons why you might consider drinking a sports drink before cycling:
- Hydration: Sports drinks contain water, electrolytes, and carbohydrates, which help replace fluids. This mix keeps your body hydrated and powered through long rides.
- Energy: The carbohydrates in sports drinks provide your body with energy for cycling. Your body absorbs the sugars rather fast, providing a quick boost of energy.
- Electrolytes: Electrolytes are essential minerals for many bodily functions–for example, muscle function and nerve impulses.
Sports drinks contain electrolytes like sodium, potassium, and magnesium. This helps maintain the PH balance in your body during exercise.
- Delayed fatigue: Sports drinks delay the onset of fatigue and improve your endurance.
The carbohydrates and electrolytes in sports drinks help fuel your body. Plus, they maintain your energy levels throughout your workout.
That said, it’s important to note that not all sports drinks are equal. Some may contain high amounts of sugar. Others may have artificial ingredients that are harmful in excess.
It’s important to read the label and choose a sports drink that’s appropriate for your needs and goals.
The carbohydrates in sports drinks come from one or more sources of simple sugars. These starches are glucose, fructose, and sucrose, to name a few.
Glucose and fructose will provide a quick source of energy for you. Better yet, sports drinks with maltodextrin can sustain your workout longer.
The amount and type of carbohydrates in sports drinks can vary. Each brand and each of their drinks may have different recipes.
Why Supplement With a Pre-Workout Before Cycling?
Pre-workout supplements provide several benefits that help improve your performance and endurance. Five main reasons for supplementing before cycling are as follows:
1. Increased Energy
Pre-workout supplements contain stimulants like caffeine and creatine. These components boost your energy and focus during a ride. This is especially useful for cyclists. Stimulants, if used right, help you stay alert and maintain a steady pace during long rides.
2. Improved Endurance
Many pre-workout supplements also carry beta-alanine, citrulline, and nitrates. These add-ons help increase blood flow to muscles as well as reduce and delay the onset of fatigue.
3. Faster Recovery
Some pre-workout supplements have BCAAs and glutamine as well. These particular amino acids help you recover between rides. Thus, you maintain a consistent training schedule and avoid injury.
4. Increased Strength and Power
Pre-workout supplements can include creatine and beta-alanine. These amino acids help you push yourself harder on hills or sprints.
5. Better Hydration
Many pre-workout supplements contain electrolytes for hydration. This is especially important for cyclists in hot or humid conditions; more so for those who are going on longer rides.
The best time to drink your pre-workout is when you’re getting ready and hyped for your ride. Each pre-workout has its recipes and instructions, so it’s best to follow what’s on the label.
Besides the written guide, your body reacts differently to your pre-workout compared to others. It’s best to get a routine by listening to your body over time and adjusting accordingly.
You should note that pre-workouts are best utilized for hardcore workouts. If you’re off to a casual ride across town, your body will be better off with a sports drink.
Suppose you’re planning sprints or tackling hilly routes, take your pre-workout after a meal. Give it a half hour to process and take effect before cycling.
Being an intense form of cardio, cycling demands a surge of nutrients to support your body. Without these crucial elements, you’ll tire faster and longer.
Hence, we have to replenish this liquid as needed. Water keeps us cool and helps our joints move better. Plus, H2O supports muscle and nerve functions.
Carbs, or carbohydrates, are the gas or diesel in your body. To pedal hard up and down trails, you need carbs ahead of time and during rides.
To store enough carbs before cycling, drink maltodextrin. This sugar is complex so it fuels you longer at a steady rate.
Simple carbs, in contrast, are best used during short breaks between tough milestones. Have drinks with sucrose, fructose, or glucose ready for a quick boost mid-route.
If you want to maximize your prowess on the bike, remember these elements: Sodium (Na), magnesium (Mg), and potassium (K).
These electrolytes will keep your body running at top speed for longer periods. To make it easier, look for odd words ending in (-ium) under the nutrition label.
Simply put, sodium and potassium balance the pH and fluids in your body. In turn, they help you control how your body uses sugars and water.
Magnesium helps produce ATP, the wattage in your body. That means this mineral supports your metabolic functions.
Besides, electrolytes improve muscle structure and bone density while nurturing your heart and kidney.
Amino acids play an essential role in your body and its processes. Pre-workout supplements have BCAAs, beta-alanine, and arginine, among others.
Annexed with electrolytes and water, amino acids are superb for muscle and organ health. They help with blood flow and oxygen loading throughout your body.
BCAAs are known to support muscle repair and hinder fatigue during intense cardio workouts, like cycling. We can’t recreate these elements naturally, so we get them from eating and drinking.
Here is an outline of the 3 nutrients cyclists need in a sharable infographic. Feel free to share it with your biking friends.
A Quick Comparison of Pre-Cycling Drinks
Have a look at the three categories of drinks you should consider. You can base your choice on the level of your cycling.
|Nutrient||Flavored Water||Sports Drinks||Pre-workout|
|Carbohydrates||Added sugar or flavoring||Simple and complex sugars||A high amount of simple and complex sugars|
|Electrolytes||Added to some||Fair amount||Plenty|
|Amino Acids||–||–||Stacked with amino acids, including BCAAs|
I also found this video to have good tips on how to fuel yourself before a long ride:
To sum it all up, you’re wise to prepare your body, along with your gear, before cycling. This means hydrating enough and fueling up with complex carbs for a sustained spark.
Promote better performance by working amino acids into your diet before cycling. Additionally, follow proper timing in whatever you eat or drink to avoid issues in digestion.
You can use stimulants, too, like caffeine or creatine, to aid you during extensive rides. These additions are similarly great boosters for short, but more intense, rides.