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How should I time my carb intake after cycling to boost my recovery?

Aim to consume carbs within the first 30 to 60 minutes post-exercise to maximize glycogen resynthesis and muscle recovery. This "glycogen window" is crucial for initiating this process. When you have enough time to recover (>24 hours) opt for frequent meals to maintain consistent carb intake and enhance recovery.

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Written by: The Athlete’s FoodCoach, on 22-05-2024
Banana and kiwi syrup

Why is the timing of my carb intake after cycling relevant?

  1. Acute recovery: Studies show that consuming carbs immediately after exercise boosts glycogen resynthesis by about 45% within 2 hours compared to delaying intake. This is crucial when recovery time is limited. For longer recovery periods (>24 hours), timing is less critical. However, if you need to maximize glycogen resynthesis for another exercise session within 8 hours, time your carbs strategically to ensure adequate energy reserves and maintain performance levels.
  2. Support immune system: After intense rides lasting 90 minutes or more, especially with limited recovery and low energy intake, the immune system can be temporarily weakened. By strategically timing your carb intake after cycling, you support glycogen replenishment and provide energy for immune cells, helping to reduce the risk of immune suppression and overreaching. This supports overall immune health and facilitates recovery.

How do I get the timing of carbs in my meal after cycling on point?

  1. Build a routine:
    - 0-30 minutes after cycling: Take your first carbohydrate rich snack(s), such as a banana and a glass of lemonade. Log these products within your first meal after cycling in your FoodCoach nutrition plan.
    - 30-60 minutes after cycling: Take the rest of your recovery meal with a focus on carbs, according to the guidelines of FoodCoach.
    - > 120 minutes after cycling: Opt for frequent meals to maintain consistent carb intake, reach daily carb goals and enhance recovery.
  2. Include drinks: Especially direct after an intense training session, appetite can be suppressed. Opt for a sugary drink to reach carb goals close after exercise.
  3. Split larger meals into smaller ones: When appetite is suppressed it can be helpful to split your recovery meal into smaller meals and spread it over time. For example, take half of your recovery meal when you get home, take a shower, and finish the second half of your meal afterwards.

Use The FoodCoach App to structure your training and receive customized post-cycling meal recommendations. The FoodCoach App will guide you daily to bring focus and translate personal carb needs into real food and meals. Experiment with timing and different types of carbs and pay attention to how your body responds. This allows you to tailor your nutrition to your unique needs and preferences. Keep in mind, every meal is a chance to enhance your performance!

Example of FoodCoach app

Popular carb-rich meals after cycling

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