5 Tips to Refuel After a Ride

What do you consume after your ride? People say that you are what you eat. This becomes more emphasized when it comes to post-workout or post-ride meals.

Your body burns the calories you have consumed when you work out or go out for a ride. Depending on how long or how hard you ride, your body also burns your fat stores after burning your caloric stores. So if you've finished your ride, it is likely that your body is now running on practically an empty tank. But remember! Your body's also still in exercise mode so you're still burning calories and fat post-workout, for hours and sometimes even a day. You will notice that your resting heart rate is higher post-ride than before. Your body's metabolism is also at its highest because your muscles are recovering and your body wants to refill the calories you've lost.

It is therefore very important to refuel after a ride, or your body might feel lethargic for hours and days even. Your muscles will also not recover quickly and in fact, might even deplete. This obviously affects your performance and might even affect your daily activities.

So refuel after your rides. Here's a couple of tips to fully optimize your body and your ride.

1) Refuel as soon as you finish riding

Okay maybe not while you're still dripping sweat. Experts recommend having refueling within an hour after your ride. Your body's at its 'emptiest' or 'hungriest' and your metabolism is at its highest. Therefore refueling an hour within the end of your ride will ensure that your body absorbs as much as possible. Failing to do so might affect your recovery.

Eating with friends after a ride is often an activity people look forward to

2) Carbs and protein

Carbs replenish your used up glycogen stores. This is what gives your body that 'energy'. A depleted glycogen storage can cause you to feel lethargic. Proteins repair your muscles. Your muscles go through very minor 'tears' when you work out and thus require proteins to repair and recover. Failing to consume carbohydrates will cause you to feel weak and have no energy and might even throw your hormonal levels off balance. Failing to consume proteins will hinder your muscle recovery and possibly even deplete your muscles if your overall protein intake is too low. Experts recommend 1g of carbohydrates per 1kg of bodyweight. For cyclists looking to maintain their muscle build-up should look to consume 1.3-1.7g of protein per kilogram of bodyweight. However, do note that your body can only absorb a limited amount of proteins at any one time so you should look to spreading your overall protein intake throughout the day (but still have a bit of protein after your ride!!!!!!).

3) Your body is hungry even if you don't feel it

Yep. You've just expanded all that glycogen, fat and energy. Your body wants to replenish and you need to refuel. If you don't feel like it, you don't need to have a full 3-course meal. Some milk or a smoothie will do. You can give your smoothies a protein boost by adding protein powder (whey or plant-based) or add some greek yoghurt.

4) Make it accessible

If you think that you might probably crash after your ride, prep your fuels beforehand!! Prepping a smoothie before your ride allows you to simply grab it for consumption after your ride when you're a bit tired. If you drive, freeze your smoothies overnight and bring your smoothies out in the car. By the time you finish riding, the smoothies would've melted just right for you to consume.

It doesn't get more accessible than this

5) 3:1 is the golden ratio

3:1 is the ratio of carbs to protein that you should consume post-ride. Research has found that eating carbs and protein at the same time is important in the optimization of protein and glycogen synthesis. Basically they work best when consumed together. At the same time. In the ratio of 3-part carbs to 1-part protein.

That said, if you maybe you don't have the time or can't stomach much food, just take something. Anything. Try to follow the tips above. But anything. A little something goes a lot further than consuming nothing and not refueling.