Grab a bite and refuel within 30 minutes of your cycle

June 19th, 2017 11:00 AM

By Southern Star Team

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Nutrition is a complex thing, but is of paramount importance, so my advice to you is to find out what supports your training best by experimenting with different foods. 

Fitness with Paudie O’Donovan, Neuromuscular Physical Therapist

NUTRITION is a complex thing, but is of paramount importance, so my advice to you is to find out what supports your training best by experimenting with different foods. 

Dabble with different fruits, breads, bars and drinks while training to find out what works for you.

Soon you’ll see if you are getting more energy when you eat carbs like bread or rice cakes while out on your bike or when you eat sugary things like chocolate bars and sweets.

But it’s not just as simple as that – it all depends on how hard you work over the length of the cycle. 

If it’s a slow long spin your body consumes the food you eat while on the bike, plus your body fat that you’ve already stored around your waist. 

But if you go faster then your body uses a different source. 

Our bodies use three energy sources to produce energy and no matter what sport you’re involved in whether it’s running, football, rowing or cycling the process is always the same. 


Main energy sources

1. What we eat during the day (the food in our tummy)

2. Our body fat

3. Glycogen that we store in our muscles and liver

Exercising at a low heart rate (HR) burns body fat, while exercising at a high HR burns glycogen. That’s why you eat like a horse after the long steady cycles because your body wants to replace the fat that you burnt. 

When we run out of carbs and glycogen in training or during a race, that’s when we bonk.

Basically the fitter you are, the more body fat per hour you can burn at a higher pace. Your energy levels and your cardiovascular system become more efficient at converting body fat to energy for burning. So the fitter you are the longer you can keep going. You have to train your body to dip into each system equally and that way your energy levels will last longer. If you run out of one source too soon, you will suffer until it is replenished.

Steady cycles 

That’s why long steady cycles are better than short fast ones because they train your body to burn body fat. You will also lose some of those unwanted pounds during these steady cycles but you have got to be careful that you don’t lose lean muscle. 

That’s why it’s really important to eat after cycling. People think, ‘I’ve done my cycle, I ate well and I didn’t bonk -job done’ but no, you have to eat within a 30 minute window of exercise. 

Carbs are vital to replace the energy that you just burned and proteins will help repair the muscles that you used.

 If you wait any longer than this, your body will disassemble perfectly good muscle to convert into glycogen to replenish your energy stores. 

A healthy sandwich or even an omlette will do or a recovery powder that you can buy in a sports shop would also work in this situation. 


Good food

Over the next two weeks, not only do I want you to concentrate on your cycle plan and your tapering down, I also want you to eat the best of food. 

That means real food for breakfast instead of some processed cereal, fruit at 11am, some healthy option for lunch, fruit again at 4pm and then cook a meal at 6pm that comprises meat (protein), sweet potatoes (carbs) and buckets of veg (broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus) followed by snacks at 8pm if you are still peckish like a sliced apple with cashew butter or almond spread. 

Try to incorporate super-foods like avocados and beetroot as these food have some of the best fats in them. Most important of all drink plenty of water.

To recap, get plenty sleep and rest, drink plenty fluids, eat as healthily as possible and follow the cycling program. 

You don’t have to follow it like your life depends on it as like I always say, there’s nothing written in stone when it comes to exercise. If you’re not feeling fatigued and your body is feeling good then go for it. 



Week6: Plan Monday June 19th – Sunday June 25th

Monday - 15k cycle

Tuesday - Rest

Wednesday - 18/20k cycle

Thursday - Rest

Friday - Walk/crosstrain or Rest

Saturday - Rest for long cycle tomorrow

Sunday - 40/50k cycle

Total cycled this week - 73/85k over three cycles. 


Paudie O’Donovan is a qualified neuromuscular

physical therapist specialising in pain relief and improvement

of mobility/flexibility.

He is masseur to the Cork senior football team and runs a

sports injury clinic at Quarryvale, Coolnagrane, Skibbereen.

Fully registered with Laya and Aviva

Contact: 086-2339618 or follow him on Facebook

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