Are you a keen cyclist looking to improve your nutrition? Great stuff, you are at the right place because for this Lexham Cycle Insurance blog I’ve teamed up again with none other than British cycling supremo chef Alan Murchison for some more top nutritional advice.

Previously Alan gave us four fantastic cycle nutrition meal suggestions, and this time we have got even more great tasty meal recipes aimed at pre-ride nutrition!

If you enjoy Alan’s fantastic recipes make sure to check out his book – The Cycle Chef: recipes for performance and pleasure which is available now. So without further ado, I'll let Alan talk to you about the importance of pre-ride nutrition.

The importance of pre-ride food

Pre-ride food is a bit of a black art as it is truly dependent on a number of factors:

  • What did you do the day before?
  • How well did you recover?
  • How intense will your ride be?
  • What are you looking to achieve from the ride?

If you look at maintaining fitness, health and well-being then it is always best to look at a well-balanced diet over a period of time.

Inclusion diets (alongside a vague idea of what to look for when riding your bike) will help you optimise your goals, any ‘quirky’ menu should be avoided, and most foods should be available from your local supermarket.

Working out what your body needs

As a general rule on the bike when riding medium/hard, you should look at taking on board 1g of carbohydrate per KG of bodyweight per hour. You should also look at hydration - as this, again, can vary hugely depending on both the temperature and intensity of your ride.

If you follow these simple guidelines then you should finish your ride strong and not be totally destroyed for days afterwards irrespective of how hard your actual ride is.

Personally, I try to take in 36g of carbs via 500-750ml of fluid per hour, then have a home-made energy bar and a gel per hour. This comes in at just over 70g of carbs per hour given my bodyweight which works well for me.
A good idea is to keep a food diary alongside your ride/training metrics, this will allow to track how certain foods make you feel and this can form the basis of a meal plan moving forward.

When planning pre ride food it is best to look at food that it is easy to digest and avoid strong flavours as these can repeat on you.
In an ideal world this is the sort of food plan I would have the day before a hard ride, lets assume it is a ‘honest’ 3hr ride with some madness thrown in for good measure.
The recipes and overall plan listed below is well practised and has been used on cyclists of all levels, from beginners to Olympic champions.
Real food with interesting flavours and textures. I think you'll love it.

Ride plan - 24 hours before

Breakfast
Bircher
50g oats
50g greek yoghurt
125ml milk
25g raisins
pinch of cinnamon
1 large apple grated
Mix all together and allow to sit for 10 minutes

or

Pancakes (1 person)
2eggs
125ml milk
115g self raising flour, gluten free
Makes 3 good sized pancakes @ 125g

Lunch
Spiced Chicken with Quinoa, Mango & Pomegranate (Serves 2)
250g pre cooked quinoa.
8-10 chicken mini fillets, approx 200g of chicken PP marinated in cajun or BBQ spices.
1/2 cucumber, 2 tomatoes, 50g green beans, 50g mange tout, handful baby spinach.
Salsa, 1 ripe mango, pack of pre prepared pomegranate, small bunch of fresh mint & fresh coriander.
Dressing,1 tbsp fish sauce,1 tbsp soy sauce,1 tbsp sweet chilli sauce and a splash of olive oil.
Finish with chopped cashews.
Combine cooked quinoa with a dressing made from 1 tbsp of fish sauce, soya sauce & sweet chilli sauce and olive oil, diced cucumber, tomato, green beans, mange tout.
Make salsa by dicing one large mango and mixing with one pomegranate (buy this already preprepared as its a pain to do yourself) & chopped fresh mint and coriander.
To make spiced chicken, dice up 200g of chicken per person and marinate with cajun or BBQ seasoning and olive oil, grill.
Combine the quinoa salad, salsa and spiced chicken. Sprinkle over chopped cashew nuts at the end, serve with a load of baby spinach leaves for the perfect balanced meal.

or

Tuna & rice Salad with Avocado
High protein, medium fat and high carb, easy to digest and easy to make up if travelling whilst racing.
Tuna with avocado and rice. mixed salad
100g of tinned tuna, 125-150g cooked rice, 1 medium avocado, unlimited salad.

Dinner

Supergreens Risotto
Please allow 50g of rice (uncooked weight) & 150-200g of chicken mini fillets per person.
Make standard risotto base, parsley puree/pesto, pre cook mixed green veg, broccoli, leeks, courgette in saute pan. Once risotto is cooked, stir in fresh spinach, peas, then add the pre cooked veg. Last minute add the pesto to retain freshness, serve with grilled white meat or fish. Spring onions, chopped parsley or chives all work really well in the risotto.

Ride Day

Breakfast 3hrs before, make the night before to save time.
optimally 3 hours pre race, if you have a later/afternoon ride then eat this at normal breakfast time for you and add an additional snack 2-3 before ride start (e.g. jam/PB on bagel or a bar)

Coffee obviously… 

Before ride

Car boot birchir - Peanut Butter, Soya Milk, Honey and Oats (serves 1)
simple and effective breakfast
On the hoof breakfast that is easy to make when you are travelling or when you have an early start in a hotel and have no access to any cooking facilities.
All the ingredients are ambient hence it can be thrown together literally in the back of a car.
Ingredients
60g glutenfree oats or one mug of oats if you don’t have
1 tablespoon crunchy nut butter
100ml soya milk
1 tablespoon honey
Good handful of mixed nuts
1 chopped banana

90 minutes before your ride
500ml beta fuel or SIS GO electrolyte

30mins before your ride
SIS caffeine shot

15 mins before your ride
1 SIS GO Isotonic energy gel

Ride duration of 60 mins of more
70g of carbs per hour & up to 750ml fluid inclusive

Post Ride

Have a recovery smoothie or Rego

3hrs later
Have another 20g of protein in some form, ideally ‘real food’ nuts, beef jerky, biltong, high protein yogurt all good high protein snacks!

Nutty slack (2 portions)
500ml rice or cows milk
20g glutenfree oats
20g brazil nuts
1 tsp ground cinnamon bark
1 tbsp almond butter
20g honey
1 ripe banana

Summary

So there you go, great advice and recipes from the man himself Alan Murchison. It is key - as Alan states early on in the article - to plan ahead. Try to think what you'll be doing tomorrow, and how you have been recovering after rides. If things aren't right look into what changes can be made, there is some great information from Alan about carbohydrate intake too, so overall if you are really into your cycling you'll hopefully learn something about planning, or at least get some great nutritional recipes to help your performance.

I would like to express my deepest thanks to Alan again for taking the time to offer this advice. A reminder again, if you would like to get your hands on more of Alan's recipes to check out his book The Cycling Chef.

About Alan Murchison

Alan is the dietary consultant and team chef for the Great Britain Cycling Team. The Michelin Chef is an ex-Scottish international runner as well as a European and World Duathlon Champion! Alan is still an extremely active competitor in cycling, taking part in the high level TT circuit in the UK.

Working with Olympic athletes who can train as much as twice a day; Alan not only has to make sure he is getting the athletes diets correct with the right nutrition for each individual, but he is always planning for the days and events ahead in order to optimise the performance of everyone involved.