Jan 29

Race day nutrition

Using Bike Radar and cycling books Mark Walker has put together a guide to what you should eat on race day.


Nutrition is often something that is easily overlooked leaving you to fatigue, cramp and bonk (aka ‘hunger knock’). Get your nutrition right and you can have a great ride. Below is a guide as to what to do on a race day.


Breakfast before

Breakfast should be light and high in carbohydrate, cereals, toast and porridge are good examples. With 90 minutes to go you should be mainly focused on hydration, carbohydrate intake, caffeine and beet juice (yuk!).


Now is not the time to eat high fat or high protein foods as they take more time to empty out of your stomach and won’t serve you during your event. The focus would be on easy to digest carbohydrate-based foods or sports drinks, depending on your preference.

During the event

During the race you are looking to keep energised and hydrated by ensuring you have enough carbohydrates and minerals in the body in order to perform at your maximum. A general rule is to take on one gram of carbohydrate per kilo of bodyweight, per hour. This would equate to approximately 75 grams of carbohydrate per hour for a 75 kilo rider, although the body struggles to cope once you start ingesting more than 60 grams an hour.


Carbohydrate is the preferred source of energy for the body and should you run out, fat can be converted into a long term sustainable energy source. This chemical conversion process is however slower and you should therefore avoid this where possible and plan to fuel your body correctly for the duration of your event. So if possible try and eat an energy bar on the hour every hour.


When it comes to keeping hydrated through the race, how much you are able to drink during your ride will depend on the weather conditions and your sweat rate. The rule of thumb is to start your ride well hydrated, and to adopt a regular pattern of drink intake, aiming for 125ml every 15 minutes. This will help to maintain fluid balance. Some riders panic and drink as much as they can on the bike which isn’t necessarily the worst thing you can do; the worst thing is not drinking enough.


The basic principle behind this hydration theory is that there’s no harm in drinking more, but you will do yourself harm if you are not drinking enough. You’re more susceptible to suffering in the heat when dehydrated and if you don’t drink enough it can take you a long time to recover and make you feel unwell.

Anti-cramp strategy

We’ve all had cramp at some point when racing and it’s the worst of feelings knowing that your muscles just won’t work and the pain won’t go away. Stretching can remedy the situation but there are ways to prevent cramp occurring.


The American College of Sports Nutrition states that: “Muscle cramps are associated with dehydration and electrolyte deficits and muscle fatigue”. Adding Zero tablets to your drink boosts the electrolyte content and provides magnesium. This might be particularly useful in hot conditions.

After the event

Drink a bottle (750ml) of Protein Recovery as soon as you finish. Follow this up by eating a balanced meal one to two hours later.


In the late evening drink 750ml Protein Recovery. When mixed with milk, Protein Recovery is absorbed more slowly and provides a long-lasting feed while you sleep.


Good luck!


Mark Walker
Road Race Secretary