What should a commuter eat?

big stack of pancakesI’m that guy that usually skips breakfast for a cup of coffee then heads out the door. I’ve never thought much about how it could effect my commute until yesterday. My wife picked me up so we could do lunch as a family and I opted for the “Belly Buster Stromboli” at the local Italian joint. I was a little worried about being to full for my ride back home but all that meat, cheese and bread was way to enticing.

For the ride home a few hours later, instead of feeling sick… I felt great! My route is pretty hilly so by the time I roll in I’m usually beat, however yesterday I felt like I could turn around and do it again.

So this got me thinking… is there some eating I could be doing in the morning or even the night before to get me in a better state for my daily commute? What’s your commute by bike diet?

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0 thoughts on “What should a commuter eat?”

  1. Derek L. says:

    Always, always, ALWAYS eat a breakfast! From what I’ve been told, its what gets your metabolism going for the day. Plus, you metabolise food like crazy when you are asleep, and that keeps going up to about 2hrs after you wake up. So if you eat a large meal w/in 2hrs of waking up and head out the door, most likely it won’t go straight to your beer belly.

    I usually eat 2 scrambled eggs and some turkey bacon or some cereal and fruit to give my body some high octane fuel to burn during my long climb to work.

  2. Ghost Rider says:

    The beauty of being a bike commuter is that you can eat WHATEVER you want…sure, complex carbs are probably better for “pre-loading” your energy stores, but pepperoni, cheese, steak, veggies, chocolate and every other goodie powers our “meat motors” just fine!!!

  3. _Russ_ says:

    I don’t mean to contradict Derek L. but I have heard slightly opposing information regarding metabolism. I have heard that you metabolize food slowly during sleep and that a brief bit of exercise on an empty stomach generates a high metabolism rate for the rest of the day. My experience seems to follow that trend, but I am only one person.

    Getting back on the subject. My commute is small (4miles) so I don’t generally eat a large meal or breakfast. I wait until I get to work to eat anything. For larger commutes I go for a moderate meal of banana’s and oatmeal. I can’t handle the grease.

  4. Val says:

    Check out Ken Kifer’s page for the proper mode of ingestion for a True Cyclist: http://www.kenkifer.com/bikepages/lifestyle/trucycle.htm As for me, my commuting diet is generally: A steady influx of high quality calories. I couldn’t do it without breakfast (serious cereal, with butter, milk, brown sugar, and peanut butter, tea and O.J. on the side) and I can feel the hooks of hunger pulling at my gut if I go more than four hours without a bit of something. I tend to ride with a bag of various types of enregy bars and a jar of dry roasted peanuts, just in case. Also, be aware that this sort of activity cannot usually be sustained on a low salt diet. On hot days after long, hard rides, I have been known to down a shot glass of soy sauce, and it was ambrosia. Try as many things as you can; you’ll find your ideal fuel.

  5. I always make a point to have breakfast before I head out in the morning. I’m not 100% sure it makes any real performance difference, but if I don’t then I my stomach starts growling on my way in, and I’m starving by the time I actually get into work, shower and change.

  6. Matt says:

    Before my 6.5 mile commute in the morning, I’ll generally have a banana and either some milk (sometimes chocolate milk) or OJ.

    Then at work I have a granola bar after I’ve been at my desk for an hour or so. I also bring in a thermos of latte/cappucino I make at home. Some days if I am really hungry, I’ll go to the lunch counter downstairs and get a bean/egg/cheese burrito.

  7. Fritz says:

    My commute starts at 6:45 a.m. I’m still asleep. I don’t eat breakfast until after I arrive at work. Breakfast is usually cereal with milk, though I’ll splurge once a week or two and get eggs, bacon and potatoes from the company cafeteria. I’ll post more about “eat what you want” later.

  8. Evan says:

    My breakfast almost always consists of peanut butter on either whole wheat bread or a whole wheat bagel. Then it’s out the door and straight to climbing.

  9. Dan O says:

    Cheerios, banana and orange juice will usually get me the 17 miles to work. Once I arrive, I wolf down a Clif Bar or peanut butter and jelly sandwich – the old standby.

    I eat a big lunch – more like a dinner really. Then afternoon snack of fruit, pretzels and another Clif Bar – for the 17 miles back home.

    When I arrive home, eat a normal sized dinner with the family. Then sometimes popcorn or some other snack that night.

    When I ride 4 – 5 days a week (136 – 170 miles), I’m amazed how much I can eat and not gain weight.

  10. Warren T says:

    I’ve never been a big breakfast eater. Honesty, my morning routine starts with a mocha latte with whipped cream for my morning alternative fuel. Once I get to the office, I hate to admit, I down a sports water and then once I’ve cooled down a couple frosted pop-tarts and a bag of M&M’s along with another cup or two of coffee. Mmmmm. Healthy.

  11. Mike in Florida says:

    I start my morning with a bowl of oatmeal. Not that nasty slimy instant oatmeal—good old fashioned oats cooked on the stove. It only takes 10 minutes or so. Why anyone would eat the instant stuff is beyond me. I HATED oatmeal until I tried the old fashioned. Chewy, substantial, and mixed with some brown sugar and cinnamon it’s a delicious way to start the day. My commute is long, so when I get to work I have a meal replacement drink with milk to get some protein and carbs in for recovery. I eat 6-7 times a day, two or three of which are protein shakes or MRPs. Lunch is usually grilled chicken, brown rice, and broccoli(sometimes it’s a natural peanut butter sandwich on oat bread, with a cup of plain nonfat yogurt and an apple). Dinner is usually the chicken/rice/veggie thing, but sometimes it’s a steak and potato. Not very exciting diet, I know, But my POOPS are awesome. 🙂

  12. Steve says:

    I eat at least two bowls of cereal before I head out. My commute takes about an hour and a half so I need the fuel. On rides home on days that I ate light for one reason or another I really feel it. I get really sluggish and the ride becomes a drag.

  13. Tim Grahl says:

    Thanks for all the chastisement and advice… this morning I tried to eat a decent breakfast before heading out and I definitely feel better this morning.

    I went with two pieces of toast, one with apple butter and one with peanut butter. Then a package of instant oatmeal (sorry Mike in Florida, i’ve tried the real oats and can’t stand them!) and now that I’m at work I’m gonna start on my big thermos of coffee!

  14. Roadrash says:

    I eat oatmeal and a bagel before I leave, then a banana fruit bar when I get to work.I Find If I don’t eat before leaving I’m very hungry before I arrive at work.I eat Small snakes like fruit or cheese and crackers all day long,this will keep your metabolism running high all day.Just a plain turkey sandwich for lunch then I eat a small dinner. I’ve been cummuting for 15 years and I never drive a car,and I’m the most fit person I know.I’ve never been afraid to eat on the ride in if I can’t get food in me before I leave.To much caffinee is not good pre-ride, it’s better to wait untill you get to work,besides if the ride doesn’t wake you up,then you need real help.

  15. Teknohed says:

    3 tbsp of Chunky Peanut Butter
    12oz Glass of Orange Juice (w/ calcium and pulp)
    1 Banana

    The Orange Juice gives me a quick burst of energy to help my tired body through initial burn the grueling early morning sleepiness. Then the Banana kicks with some energy for the mid-ride burn. And the slow burning Peanut Butter provides just enough to see me through to the end of my ride. This can usually give me a good 1.5 to 2 hours of ride time provided I take enough water with me. I usually pack a protein bar just in case I’ve got a lot of hills or a head wind. I should also mention that I take Green Tea pills…which have some caffeine…this helps take the edge off as I am NOT a morning person.

  16. Elyse says:

    I drink an orange juice with 2-3 pieces of bread (real bread,not the supermarket kind), whole-weat six-grain, one piece with peanut butter the other with maple butter (the maple will be skipped for peanut butter soon).

    When I get at work I get my two coffees and my home-made cookies

    Which I suggest to anyone (they’re easy to make and good for a cyclist) 😉
    3 cups of flakes (mix up many kinds)
    1 cup of dark chocolate chips
    1 cup of raisins – cranberries – whatever
    1 cup of dried coconut (no sugar preferably)
    1 cup of nuts

    Then batter 1 cup of oil (sunflower or else) with 1 cup of sugar, add 3 eggs one at a time (Beaten), 2 tsp vanilla, half a cup of water. Add 1.5 cup of flour (whole-wheat) to half a cup of cocoa and 2 tsp of baking soda.

    Mix to first part… they’re 1/3 cup each, put on a baking sheet and voila, around 20 minutes at 350F.

    You can exchange any similar ingredient for another similar ingredient usually… (dry, fruits, fats, etc.). Not as sugary as store cookies… …:: enjoy ::…

  17. Anonymous says:

    I tryed the cookies they are great thanks

  18. lokeey says:

    Commute to work:
    1 egg over hard on a multi-grain muffin with cheese and Canadian bacon and fruit.
    1 cup of water and 2 cups of coffee
    Commute Home:
    Lots of water throughout the day and then I snack on kashi cereal and some watemelon or other fruit (carb load) 45 mins to an hour before I head home for the day.

  19. Mig says:

    How far is your commute? Is it better to have a protein shake before the bike commute then eat after you get to work? I tend to eat well just before my bike commute of 5 miles then have water after and good lunch. Trying to figure out what’s best. Any idea from you or other folks?


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