Spring & Summer Cycling Snacks

By Charlotte Murray

If you dared to venture outdoors for your bike rides over winter, you’ll have likely avoided snacks altogether. You may have taken food that is easy to eat whilst riding or in a short time period – like gels, avoiding long snack stops and ensuring you keep warm. But as the snowline retreats and the shorts and sun make an occasional appearance, your snack stops will likely get longer as do your rides. This means your refuelling method will need some consideration if you don’t already have your go-to cycling snacks.

The boring bit

As a sportsperson, you’ll know that nutrients are important to fuelling long stints of energy output to ensure you feel in good condition the whole way round and avoid the dreaded ‘bonk’.

Carbohydrates are the king of foods for energy as your body will convert carbs into glucose (blood sugar) that your body uses for energy in cells, tissues and organs.

When we think of carbs, we think of pasta, potatoes, bread etc. but these days, you wouldn’t be seen carrying around a loaf of bread for your ride. As these are ‘slow-release’ foods, they don’t digest quickly enough on your ride and would instead be eaten a few hours before your ride. You should opt for high-GI (glycaemic index) foods such as sugary foods and drinks that contain fructose and dextrose. Though you should be careful to find the right balance of sugar and fat as fuelling only on sugar can lead to a ‘crash’ or energy dip later on in your ride.

Cyclist eating
You can use your new home cooking skills for the usual three meals of the day as well as for making the food you will eat on the bike. © Profimedia, AFP

How should I be fuelling?

Any ride that lasts up to 1 or 2 hours shouldn’t need any mid-ride snacks per se. Unless, of course, you’re one for indulgence in which case make that cafe stop at the 1-hour mark and get yourself a slice of cake and a coffee!

Over 90 minutes, studies show that the optimum intake is 30 – 60 g of carbohydrates per hour. Since we’re all different, this can, of course, vary but you’ll soon figure out what works for you if you get it wrong on occasion.

The important bit 

Below are some cycling snack ideas and their correlating carbohydrate and calorie content to inspire your next ride. It can be useful to start off with more ‘proper’ food and save the high-sugar snacks for later in the ride when you’re really suffering and need the boost to make it home.

Snack Serving size Calories Carbohydrates
Haribo Star Mix 16g bag 55 12.3g
Kind Dark Chocolate Nuts & Sea Salt Bar 40g bar 180 16g
High 5 berry energy gel 40g 91 23g
Pretzels (Penn State- Sour Cream and Chive) 30g 127 23g
Frozen grapes 150g (1 cup) 104 27g
Banana Medium banana 105 27g
Crunchy peanut butter Clif bar 68g bar 240 40g
Peanut butter & jam sandwich 1 sandwich 330 43g
Dates 100g/14 dates 277 75g


These will give you an idea of the levels of carbs and calories in certain types of foods so you can find what works for you, be that fruit, energy bars and gels or a whole sandwich if that’s what you want to carry. Alternatively, you might choose to make your own snacks.

Whatever you decide to eat, enjoy the ride! And don’t forget that post-ride snack too for an effective recovery so you can go out and do it all again the next day.