Nutrition for MTB Adventures – Breakfast

By Jiri Kaloc

Are you planning a cycling holiday where you want to ride your bike every day? Or are you signing up for a multi-day MTB race? Either way, your adventure plan should include a fuelling strategy. Having enough energy and being able to recover well is important if you want to enjoy the ride. Let’s start with the first thing – breakfast.

Think about timing

Whether it’s a race or a holiday you will probably be on your bike relatively early in the day. That leaves you with two options for how to deal with breakfast time. If you want a big breakfast that will keep you fuelled for longer, plan on a very early morning as you should eat 2-3 hours before you get on the bike. If you can’t eat that early then aim for a lighter breakfast about 1 hour before you get in the saddle but be ready to start eating on the bike sooner too.

MTB cycling
Timing is everything

The early big breakfast

If you go with breakfast 2-3 hours before then you can get away with almost any of your favourite breakfast foods. You will have plenty of time to digest and feel light and full of energy at the start. Just make sure to have at least 20 g of protein because that will improve muscle recovery over a multi-day adventure. The rest should be made up of mainly slow, complex carbs. Don’t overdo it with vegetables or fatty foods because those slow down digestion and could weigh you down. Save your salad for the evening.

A good example of a big early breakfast would be an omelette, a few sandwiches with ham and cheese, pasta, and oatmeal with nuts and fruit. Add fresh juice and a coffee later and you will be ready to go.

Don’t shy away from coffee. © Profimedia

The late light breakfast

If you choose to have a meal 1 hour before the start then you have to be more careful. You should opt for easy to digest foods that give you a lot of carbs and a little bit of protein. That means no pancakes, bacon or sausages. A good example of a late light breakfast would be yoghurt with some cereal and fruit. Fresh juice and coffee will come in handy as well.

With this approach, you should keep in mind that you have to do more of your eating on the bike. Ideally, start eating within the first 30 minutes of your ride and snack regularly to keep your energy levels high.

The next thing we will look at is hydration. Are bottles better than a hydration pack? Should you adjust your fluid intake when the temperature changes throughout the day or stick to a schedule? The next article will answer those questions and more.