Behind the bars 



By Christie Johnson aka @thefitnutkitchen 

As cyclists we all love a good mid-ride or post ride brew, but did you know it can be an important part of your nutrition?

As endurance athletes (or enthusiasts), optimal nutrition is vital for improving performance, and enhancing recovery. But what is optimal nutrition?

Well to keep it simple, optimal nutrition is about fuelling the body with wholesome foods, getting a balance of carbohydrates, protein, healthy fats and a variety of colours. What I want to focus on here is the importance of basic nutrition for your rides – especially those weekend long ones.

1.     Carbohydrates: FUEL + RECOVERY

WE NEED THEM to fuel our muscles both before we ride and after to repair the broken down glycogen stores. Preferably we want to aim to eat 1-2g/kg/body weight of carbohydrates 1-2 hours before our ride. Now leaving for rides at 5am can make this difficult, however if you had a big meal the night before and are going to eat on the bike sooner rather than later, that may be okay. We need these carbohydrates to give us energy – both quickly and over the duration of our ride. When we don’t eat enough prior to commencing a ride / training session / race, it is important we fuel throughout. This way our muscle stores can be topped up, reducing the body’s reliance on protein stores for energy (which we don’t!).That’s why we need to think ahead, pack something on the go and then make sure we eat later on our coffee stops or whilst on the bike.

 It is also important to refuel with snacks and meals containing carbohydrates within the first hour as they aid in improved recovery and help our bodies absorb protein

2.     Protein: REPAIR + BUILD

Helps repair and build strong muscles, along with building the immune system – so we can ride all year round and fight off sickness! Protein is essential after exercise to enhance recovery (the time when our muscles repair and can build). It is recommended to aim for 0.3g/kg/body weight within the first 30-45 minutes after exercise (if you are not having a main meal within the next hour). However, if you are riding every day and training hard, it is important to consider consistent protein consumption  across the entire day – but we’ll save that for another time!

So what does this have to do with my coffee stops you may be asking?

Well, good news! Our coffee stops can provide an opportunity for us to fuel our bodies optimally, especially if we are not eating before we head out on the road or if you don’t like to eat on the bike.

Milky coffees can provide some carbohydrates to keep you going, whilst also giving that extra boost especially on days when fatigue levels are high! However on those long rides it’s important to have some more fuel in that tank to hit it hard home. Here are my top picks for easy go-to nutritious snacks:

·       Café protein balls

·       Oat bars / muesli slices

·       Banana bread

·       Sports / energy bars – e.g. Science In Sport, Megabake, Winner’s bars, Clif bars

·       Banana

·       A few dates or a handful of trail mix

·       Homemade energy and protein balls

So get prepared for your next ride – think ahead and pack my favourite Choc Peanutty protein balls (2-3 balls) for your next long ride. They go down great with a good ol’ brew! 


Choc Peanutty Protein Balls

Average per ball: Carbohydrates - 7g / Protein - 4g


1 cup raw almonds (or a combo with walnuts)

½ cup unsalted roasted peanuts

½ cup rolled oats/ quinoa flakes/ GF rolled oats

¼ cup shredded coconut

2 tsp chia seeds

20 small pitted dates

2 Tbs cacao powder

1 Tbs sweetener (maple syrup/honey/agave)

1-2 Tbs water

1 Tbs of plain buckinis (optional)


1.     Soak dates for 10 mins in hot water.

2.     In food processor/ blender, blitz nuts, oats, coconut, chia seeds until fine.

3.     Rinse dates and add to blender with cacao powder and maple syrup, 1 Tbs water. Blend well.

4.     Check if mixture is sticky and easy to roll into balls, if not, add another Tbs water. Repeat until desired consistency (some people prefer dry, others gooey).

5.     Once mixture is ready, stir buckinis into mixture (if you want a crunch) and roll into 12 balls. 

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