Here’s What to Eat Before a Bike Ride—and What You Should Skip


By Molly Hurford |

If you’re in a rush in the morning but still want to eat breakfast right before heading out to ride, there are some great, easy options. (And here’s why you shouldn’t skip breakfast completely.) However, the main nutrition goal for your first meal of the day should be to top off your glycogen stores, not mess up your system.

With that in mind, here’s what to eat before a bike ride—and what you should skip.

What to Eat Before a Bike Ride

Go with these quick and easy fuelling options before those early morning rides.

1. Coffee or Espresso

“I’m a big supporter of caffeine,” says Anne Guzman, holistic sports nutritionist and former pro cyclist. “There’s so much data to prove it’s performance-enhancing.”


“But the thing is, some people get anxious, and some people get the runs after drinking it,” she notes. If you feel like coffee is a must, though, Guzman suggests opting for an espresso instead: Its lower volume means it’s less “pee-inducing,” and you’ll still get a decent caffeine kick.

2. Instant Oatmeal or Low-Fibre Cereal

If you’re a fan of oatmeal but short on time, there’s good news: Guzman says instant or “quick” oatmeal is a great choice, not only because it’s quick to make, but also because it’s lower in fibre than slow-cooked oatmeal. When it comes to oats and cereal in general, stick to less fibrous options for faster digestion and less gastric distress.

3. Fruit

You only want a small meal—think 100 to 200 calories, Guzman says—right before you ride, and those calories should be easily digestible carbohydrates. Fruit is a great option.

What Not to Eat Before a Bike Ride

There is such a thing as overdoing your fuelling, especially if you’re cramming it in immediately before a ride. Here’s what you should skip—or at least save until after your ride.

1. That Second (or Third) Cup of Coffee

Between the coffee’s volume and caffeine content, you’re setting yourself up for a bathroom emergency if you don’t leave enough time between your morning French press and your ride. That’s even more true if you typically drink more than one cup of coffee—you’re better off capping it at one (or opting for an espresso as mentioned earlier). Save the hydration for the bike.

2. High-Fat Breakfast Meats and Eggs

Eggs are a great nutritional choice in general, but if you’re pressed for time, give the fatty and protein-packed meals (i.e., anything made up of bacon and eggs) a pass.

Bacon is the worst offender, says Guzman. Since it’s almost pure fat, it’s hard to digest, and will sit in your stomach well after your meal is over; it takes about two hours before you can use the fat as fuel, she warns. This will force your cycling muscles to compete with digestion as you pedal, which is not a good way to start your morning ride.

3. High-Fibre Oats and Cereals

Definitely pass on anything high in fibre if you’re rolling out of bed and onto the road.

“You’re just going to hold everything up and expand whatever you put in there,” says Guzman, adding that steel-cut oats are one of the biggest offenders here. They’re great if you have time to eat slowly and hit a restroom before you ride (but not if you don’t want to pull over to jump in the bushes after breakfast).

4. A Lot of Anything

Guzman says any large meal can leave you feeling backed up and sluggish, as your digestion takes energy away from your legs. That might mean skipping the perfect breakfast bowl. “Let go of ‘perfect eating’ pre-ride, if riding is what’s important to you,” says Guzman. You can always save your perfect breakfast for a post-ride celebration.

READ MORE ON: breakfast emergency breakfast fuelling strategies Healthy Eating nutrition

Copyright © 2024 Hearst