Recovery after a Cycling Session: What Food does your Body Need?

ciclismo indoor

It wouldn’t surprise anyone to hear us say that hydration and nutrition are basic to recover properly from an intense cycling session: several hours of effort in which our body burns calories and loses fluids, which must be balanced both throughout the training and as soon as we stop pedaling.

In an indoor cycling session it is exactly the same, perhaps putting more emphasis on hydration: being in an enclosed area, we sweat more, so it’s important to drink more often than outdoors.

However, let’s take a closer look at what kind of food your body needs to recover better.

The glycogen window

The first important point after you finish cycling, whether on a ride with friends or giving it your all on a group ride at BKOOL, is the first thirty minutes after you finish, the so-called glycogen window.

This term, or metabolic window, is known as that impasse of time immediately after finishing training where our body undergoes physiological changes that result in an increase in calcium absorption.

This results in a better input of nutrients, including glucose.

Glucose is essential for recovery as it is responsible for rebuilding muscle glycogen stores.

To refuel, the best option is carbohydrates, especially in the form of fruit. You can also opt for recovery shakes, almost all sports nutrition brands have their own, and their great advantage is that they combine carbohydrates, electronic and amino acids in the necessary amount.

It is important to avoid proteins and fats in this thirty-minute phase, since they require a greater digestion process, and the body would activate other processes other than glycogen loading.

Protein, in the next two hours

However, we must not forget about protein, which comes into play over the following two hours.

It is responsible for repairing the muscle damage suffered during the session. Either we opt for another recovery shake, but this time with protein, or we can have a complete meal.

This first meal after training will help us to satiate our appetite, and will be responsible for providing our body with all the fuel burned, recovering the calories burned.

In it, we can opt for many varieties of products, but having as a base the protein and carbohydrate. In the case of protein, poultry or white fish are perfect.

How much protein to consume?

For every hundred grams of chicken we receive 27 grams of protein, a very high figure, while in the case of white fish it is 24.

You can also opt for eggs, always prioritizing the white (less fat), than the yolk. If we opt for a boiled egg, it has 13 grams of protein.

carne de pollo

To know how much protein to consume, you have to take into account that what is recommended for an endurance athlete (and a cyclist is one), is to consume between a gram and a gram and a half of protein for each kilogram of weight.

You yourself will have to calculate how much protein you have consumed throughout the day, and how much you have left in this post-training meal.


Antioxidants are possibly the great forgotten part of our nutrition, but they are very important in recovery. Some time ago people started talking about the importance of nitrates to improve sports performance, and now virtually no one disputes their benefits.

Why is that? Cycling, like any other endurance sport, involves significant oxidative stress, which also needs to be recovered. Red and purple fruits are the ones that can help us the most: strawberries, blackberries or cherries, as well as beetroot.

Beetroot, thanks to betaine, is a superb antioxidant.

The most important thing when finishing an indoor workout is to eat healthily and consciously. Avoid cravings, as well as alcohol – although giving up beer post-session is complicated – and focus on carbohydrates in the first half hour, and protein in the meal afterwards.

If you follow these guidelines, you’ll be helping your body recover faster, as well as more efficiently, for the next session.


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