To recover faster after cycling, you must prioritize post-ride nutrition. Within 60 minutes of finishing your ride, aim to consume 45-90 grams of carbohydrate to replenish depleted glycogen stores, 25-40 grams of protein to promote muscle synthesis, and one ounce of fluid (~30 mL) for every one ounce of body weight lost during the ride.
Carbohydrate: Depending on your body weight and the intensity and duration of your ride, you will need between 45-90 grams of carbohydrate . The longer and harder you work the more you need. Rapidly absorbed sources of carbohydrates like sports drinks, fruit, smoothies, and bread are ideal. Pairing your post-ride carbs with protein is also more effective than either nutrient alone. In fact, research suggests that skipping the carbs and consuming only protein after endurance exercise (like cycling) reduces the rate of glycogen storage and delays recovery .
Protein: Consuming25-40g protein (0.4 to 0.5 g/kg of bodyweight) immediately after your ride will optimize muscle synthesis and promote recovery . Protein sources rich in leucine (a branched-chain amino acid) are especially effective for muscle protein synthesis. Natural sources of leucine include dairy products, eggs, and beef, as well as whey protein supplements.
Fluid: To replenish fluid losses during your ride, weigh yourself before and after your workout. You need roughly 1 fluid ounce for every 1 ounce of weight lost. If you don’t have a scale, you can always use urine color as an approximation of hydration status. Urine the color of lemonade or lighter generally means that you’re hydrated.
Fatty acids: Omega-3 fatty acids (such as those found in fatty fish) fight inflammation and may help promote muscle recovery post-exercise. If you’re not eating fatty fish at least 2x/week, a supplemental dose of omega-3s (EPA and DHA) may help you recover faster from cycling and benefit overall health .
Ivy, J. L., Katz, A. L., Cutler, C. L., Sherman, W. M., & Coyle, E. F. (1988). Muscle glycogen synthesis after exercise: effect of time of carbohydrate ingestion. Journal of applied physiology (Bethesda, Md. : 1985), 64(4), 1480–1485. https://doi.org/10.1152/jappl.1922.214.171.1240
Schoenfeld BJ, Aragon AA, Wilborn C, Urbina SL, Hayward SE, Krieger J. 2017. Pre- versus post-exercise protein intake has similar effects on muscular adaptations. PeerJ 5:e2825 https://doi.org/10.7717/peerj.2825