After cycling, you should eat a combination of quality carbohydrates and lean protein to replenish glycogen stores and promote muscle synthesis. It’s also important to rehydrate with water or a sports drink to replace fluid losses.
Within 60 minutes of finishing a ride, you’ll want to consume 45-90 grams of carbohydrate, 25-40 grams of protein, and drink 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 g of carbohydrate after cycling . 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. Additionally, skipping the carbs and consuming only protein after endurance exercise (like cycling) reduces the rate of glycogen storage and delays recovery .
Protein: Consuming25-40g quality 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.
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.19184.108.40.2060
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