Here's an overview of the three types of eating for cycling with suggestions:
Pre-Workout Energy Exercise and heavy eating don't mix, but you need calories to fuel your workouts because not eating can cause you to quickly deplete your energy reserves. Plus, some athletes get an upset stomach exercising on an empty tank. An energy drink specifically formulated for pre-workout can provide easily digested liquid calories designed to enhance endurance. Look for an all-purpose supplement that supplies healthy complex carbohydrates and protein with low sugar and fat. You may find that energy bars, fruit and cereal make good pre-workout meals, too.
Energy Replenishment During Workouts and Events Your body can only store a one- to two-hour supply of glycogen (muscle fuel). Once this is depleted, if you keep riding, you risk bonking (also known as hitting the wall). So, it's important to carry food or stop for snacks while riding.
What you eat and drink depends on what works for you. Energy drinks are easily consumed and provide fuel in the form of steady complex carbohydrates, as well as replenishing electrolytes and minerals lost through sweating. But, you'll also want edibles. Energy bars require more effort to eat than drinks or gels and are best for long, low-intensity training rides. Energy gels (similar in form and taste to cake frosting) have become very popular the last few years. These are easy to eat and absorb and provide concentrated carbohydrates that deliver immediate energy during intense efforts. Some varieties include vitamins, amino acids, caffeine and electrolytes. Whatever you eat, be sure to drink plenty of water, which helps your body more quickly absorb the essential ingredients in energy foods.
Eating to Recover There's a one-hour window of opportunity immediately after workouts when the muscles absorb the most nutrients and when glycogen, an energy reserve in your muscles, is replaced most efficiently. You don't have to eat a big meal, but you should eat something soon after training to recovery quickly and store energy for your next ride. Lots of people get good results with a small, high-protein-and-carbohydrate shake. But other carbo-rich foods work well, too, such as a vegetarian burrito. Experiment to see what works best for you.