Fueling: Which carbs when?

Immediately before, during and after riding, a faster-acting high-glycemic carb is best for fueling. At all other times, carbs that are derived from low-glycemic and highly nutritious foods are best to replenish energy and optimize an athlete’s health. Here’s a list of 12 good options.


Eat these carbs before & immediately after riding

Fueling: Which carbs when?
Potatoes

Potatoes are an excellent source of carbohydrates that are packed with vitamins, minerals and fiber too. Their relatively high glycemic index will boost your energy levels quite rapidly. Known to regulate blood pressure and reduce inflammation, potatoes also contain alpha-lipoic acid which boosts cognitive health. Use before, during or after your ride.

Fueling: Which carbs when?
White rice

With a higher glycemic index, the carbs in white rice are rapidly converted into blood sugar and ideal for an immediate lift in energy. While white rice lacks some of the nutrients found in other rice, it is very easy to digest, stabilizes blood sugar levels and is a great source of fuel. Use before or after your ride.

Fueling: Which carbs when?
White bread

White bread scores low on the nutrition rate card yet it contains easily digestible simple carbohydrates which the body can break down quickly. It’s ideal for quick fueling and re-fueling but keep the quantities low and keep it as an alternate source for instant fuel as opposed to your go-to option. Use before, during (if you are on a very long ride) or after your ride.

Fueling: Which carbs when?
Oats

Oats are high in complex carbs and are a very nourishing food for your body. Oats are high in Vitamin B, rich in antioxidants and packed with minerals. Oats are easy to digest and are an ideal and popular breakfast option before riding.

Fueling: Which carbs when?
Banana

Packed with fast-acting carbohydrates, bananas are ideal for instant energy lifts. Raw banana contains 23% carbohydrates, moderate amounts of Vitamin C, Potassium and fiber with negligible fat. Use bananas before, during or after your ride.


Eat these carbs at all other times

Fueling: Which carbs when?
Fruit

Most fruits are good sources of vitamins, nutrients and minerals that support immune, cardiovascular health and brain function. They mostly have a low to moderate GI level and are therefore an excellent slow-release fuel. Try adding two small portions of fruit to your meals.

Fueling: Which carbs when?
Brown rice

Highly nutritious with a lower glycemic index, brown rice is a staple amongst endurance athletes and anyone looking to improve overall health. High in antioxidants, minerals and plant compounds, brown rice protects the body from oxidative stress, premature aging and research shows it reduces inflammation. Use after your ride or at all other times as part of your meals.

Fueling: Which carbs when?
Sweet potatoe

Sweet potatoe has a slightly lower glycemic index than white potatoes plus good levels of potassium, magnesium and calcium which are all crucial minerals for athletes. Their high Vitamin A content assists your immune system and they are known as an anti-inflammatory powerhouse and good regulator of blood pressure. Use after your ride and at all other times.

Fueling: Which carbs when?
Sourdough bread

The fermentation process with a sourdough bread makes it easier to digest than most other breads and renders the final product more nutritious. It usually has a low gluten content,  contains around 50% carbohydrates and if you go for the whole grain option you’ll prop up your mineral intake as they are loaded with potassium, phosphate, magnesium and zinc. Use after your ride and at other times in your daily meal plan.

Fueling: Which carbs when?
Carrots

Carrots are packed with polyphenols, flavonoids and carotenoids which are all antioxidants linked to living well. Their high levels of potassium help balance electrolyte levels in your body. Packed with immune-boosting beta-carotene and high in fiber they are high on the ‘clean-carbs’ list and a must-have for endurance riders. Use carrots as part of your daily meal plan.

Fueling: Which carbs when?
Pulses and beans

Pulses and beans are seeds from a plant family and are highly nutritious offering a wide range of health benefits. Lentils, chickpeas, beans and field peas provide a healthy source of slow-release energy and are an emerging ‘superfood’ for athletes. They also promote a healthy gut biome, regulate bowel movement and lower cholesterol. Best used as part of your daily meal plan.


If you have a medical condition or specific dietary need always consult a specialist for the best advice, for you.

| Images: Pexels | References: Journal of the American Dietetic Association, Department of Medicine in Nashville, Ohio State University, Columbus |


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