Don’t know what to eat and drink when cycling? The correct nutrition strategy will help you get the most out of your next bike ride. Getting your nutrition right can make all the difference to getting across the finish line and enjoying your ride so here’s a guide to help you plan your nutrition strategy for your next Sportive or long ride. 

Fuelling your bike ride

Carbohydrate is your high-energy fuel for endurance events. It will help you go faster and further. Unfortunately, you only have a limited amount of carbohydrate stored in your body and it’s depleted after less than two hours of cycling. Carbohydrate re-fuelling will substantially extend your endurance by providing the extra energy you need. You’ll enjoy your event more and feel stronger, particularly later on. You can consume energy bars, gels and drinks for carbohydrate.

HIGH5 EnergySource is an advanced sports drink that contains a revolutionary carbohydrate formulation known as 2:1 fructose to extend your endurance. Find out more about 2:1 fructose drinks and how you can benefit here.

Staying hydratedHydration

You lose fluids and electrolytes when you sweat. If you don’t replace these, then you become dehydrated which can really affect your performance. Sport drinks, like HIGH5 ZERO and EnergySource, contain electrolytes to enhance the absorption of water and help you to re-hydrate.

Good to know

These guidelines are based on the latest science and real world feedback from thousands of athletes to help you perform better and enjoy your bike ride more. Research shows that by simply following these guidelines on the day of an event, cyclists were able to maintain their pace 26% longer. This was compared to their existing brand of nutrition consumed as normal. Find out more here.


An ideal pre-race breakfast is light and high in carbohydrates with a little bit of protein too. Porridge, toast and rice pudding are good options for carbohydrate. A poached egg or omelette would be a good source of protein.


Caffeine gives you both a physical and mental boost. When taking part in tough sport events like a sportive, it helps to increase your endurance performance. This means you can go faster than before without any extra training!

The scientific research has shown an effective dose is 3mg caffeine per kg bodyweight for increased endurance performance when cycling. Below you can see how much caffeine1 you need to take depending on your body weight and an example of what you could take to get there.

Caffeine Sports Performance

It’s recommended to consume caffeine 60-90 minutes before the start of your ride. However, some cyclists prefer to take this later on in the ride, just before it starts to get tougher and fatigue kicks in.

Your body removes caffeine from your bloodstream over time. Once you have loaded up with caffeine, you should top up with 30mg every hour. EnergyGel Plus and IsoGel Plus each contain 30mg caffeine per sachet.

Are you sensitive to caffeine? If you have a medical condition or do not wish to use caffeine for another reason, then you can simply switch each of the caffeine products with the non-caffeine equivalent from HIGH5.

During your ride

Start to drink and eat as soon as you have settled down into your rhythm after the start to keep your Cycling Nutritionenergy stores topped up. You might not feel it straight away but it will make a difference later on. How much you are able to drink during your event will depend on weather conditions. In warm / hot conditions, the 2:1 fructose and electrolyte formulation in EnergySource means that you can drink up to one litre per hour. This will provide fluids, electrolytes and carbohydrate for energy. Some riders also prefer use an electrolyte only drink like HIGH5 ZERO. This is a hydration only drink that will not provide you with carbohydrates for energy.

Depending on which drink you use and how much you drink, you also need to take on carbohydrates from bars and gels. You should be aiming for 60-90g of carbohydrate per hour. If you are drinking ZERO then one EnergyBar and a gel per hour will provide you with just over 60g of carbohydrate. If you are drinking EnergySource, you can take the following number of gels or bars shown per hour to provide you with 80-90g of carbohydrate per hour:

Sports Drinks Cycling

It’s important to focus on drinking to remain hydrated. For gel intake you can use either EnergyGel or IsoGel depending on personal preference.

Sensitive to caffeine?

If you have a medical condition or do not wish to use caffeine for another reason, then simply switch each of the products detailed above with the non-caffeine equivalent from HIGH5 and ignore the section on caffeine loading before your event.

Anti-cramp strategy

The American College of Sports Nutrition states that:

“Muscle cramps are associated with dehydration and electrolyte deficits and muscle fatigue.”

Adding ZERO Neutral Tabs to your drink boosts the electrolyte content and provides magnesium. This might be a good strategy in hot conditions.

After your Ride

Protein Recovery - ChocolateWhen we exercise your muscles become energy depleted and break down. A long bike ride really pushes your body to the limit so expect soreness and stiffness afterwards. Consuming protein and carbohydrate afterwards will help to replenish your muscle energy stores and kick start the recovery process.

Drink 400ml Protein Recovery as soon as you finish. This contains a unique blend of whey protein isolate and carbohydrate. It gives you the time to have a shower and relax a bit before eating a balanced meal one to two hours later.

Good luck!

sports nutrition

1We do not recommend caffeine for children and pregnant or breast feeding women.