Bike Commuter Nutriment

There’s always room for coffee in the bike bottle cage, but what about putting real fuel in your bike’s tank? Protein shakes, granola bars and bananas! Oh, my!

As it warms up here in the great plains, I’m slowly switching over to bike-only commuting mode. By heart rate calculations, my 28+ mile round trip burns more than 1500 calories all by itself. That means I have to start fueling my commute a bit more diligently. In my case, eating more of the same stuff I’ve been eating over winter wouldn’t be too good for me, so I’m adjusting my diet a bit, but without feeling like I’m dieting.

I’m not much of a morning person, but in order to make my day work out the way it needs to, I have to be up dark and early. I usually kick off the day with a banana or citrus fruit about half an hour before I leave. I split my on-bike hydration between an isotonic drink and water, then usually cool off after my commute while drinking a mocha. Instead of having a big lunch, I snack throughout the day, have a larger snack portion for lunch, and make sure to get more fruit 45-30 minutes before leaving work. For the most part, this has been working really well. My snack schedule usually lines up with the migration of my co-workers to the parking garage for their smoking breaks.

Frequent favorites include:

  • Half sandwich (Peanut butter or a combination of ham/turkey/cheese)
  • Yogurt cup
  • Orange or half grapefruit
  • Banana
  • Small bowl of hot cereal
  • Granola bar
  • Soup
  • Carrot or celery

I’ve found that a frequent snack at my desk helps keep me focused and alert. Avoiding things high in enriched sugar keeps the energy roller-coaster leveled out, too. I don’t generally eat in the middle of a bike ride unless I’m on a ride that’s longer than 3 hours. Electrolyte drinks are fine for almost all of my shorter rides from 45 minutes to three hours.

At $110 USD per barrel of oil, food is cheaper and tastier than gasoline. Plus, you’d eat anyways; You just get to eat more now. How do you fuel your bike commute?

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0 thoughts on “Bike Commuter Nutriment”

  1. Mike Myers says:

    I eat like a bodybuilder, but add some extra carbs when I’m commuting. Here’s a commuting day’s menu:

    Breakfast—-oatmeal with dried fruit, a mug of tea, and a 16 oz glass of water. Upon arriving at work, I drink a meal replacement powder. It’s important to get some protein in after exertion, and the one I use has 42 grams.

    10AM—Another MRP mixed with skim milk

    Lunch—-Natural peanut butter sandwich on the grainiest bread I can find, a cup of plain fat free yogurt, and an apple

    3PM—-Another MRP or a protein bar of some sort

    Dinner—–Some sort of lean meat(chicken, fish, lean beef), brown rice/whole grain pasta/baked potato, and as much leafy green vegetable as I can stand

    9PM—–5 egg white omelet topped with salsa, and a 16 oz glass of water

    On days I don’t ride I lift weights, so the diet is pretty much the same. I lift before work. The MRP thing seems weird, but I work in a dental office and I don’t have “scheduled” breaks. I get a couple of minutes between patients, so it’s easy to mix up a shake and slam it.

  2. Mark says:

    Hmmm, I did the math and I’m not sure what foods I could get for less than $2 per gallon but I get your point and agree that food is tastier than gasoline (I had a childhood friend drink some gas and it wasn’t pretty though in the end he was fine.).

    I fuel my commute with a breakfast that is a selection of coffee, granola & yogurt, fruit, string cheese or oatmeal. I keep various nuts in the office, no not my coworkers (though that sometimes applies as well), I’m talking Almonds, Cashews, Pecans, Peanuts. I also keep some Clif Bars etc. in case I need a bit more. Lunch is generally a protein-rich salad and/or soup with crackers & cheese, perhaps a cookie. Mid-afternoon snack might be string cheese or nuts, maybe some crackers. Generally some sort of snack within an hour of leaving. As for dinner, well I generally eat healthy foods but I love ALL foods and figure an over-indulgence once in a while just gets balanced out with a longer ride the next day.

  3. JMN says:

    5:40AM – Alarm goes off
    6AM – Bowl of hemp granola w/hemp or soy milk, glass of orange juice
    6:30AM – 7AM – Commute (7 miles)
    7AM – Coffee, oatmeal scone
    9AM – Banana
    10AM – 1/2 peanut butter or almond butter sandwich
    12PM -2PM – Sandwich(usually some type of faux meat or sometimes a veggie burger),cliff bar,
    soy yogurt, mixed nuts, orange or apple, sometimes a sweet (cookies)
    3:30PM – 4pm – Reverse commute

    Dinner varies too much to list everything here but it adheres to all my dietary(vegan) needs. I also drink at least 3 – 16oz bottles of water a day. My weight has been holding steady at 173 (6′ tall)

  4. Anonymous says:

    I note the taking eating during other people’s fag breaks. My office colleagues eat a cake and it stays on them forever. I wait for them to go somewhere before I scoff yet another ‘danish pastry’. I only wish I could eat ‘five a day’ pieces of fruit – I get through ten – and that is on top of the cakes, ‘whole loaf of bread’ lunch and other goodies. These price hikes on food are making the cycling life quite expensive though!

  5. Choke says:

    I eat frosted cinnamon poptarts and wash it down with a 16 oz Monster Assault for breakfast.

  6. Choke says:

    Oh yeah, then I usually have a 20 oz. Mt Dew and a can of speghetti-Os w/meatballs for lunch.

    For supper it’s usually some variation on meat, bread, & cheese with a veggie or two thrown in.

  7. kaz_kougar says:

    Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday:
    Daily Multivitamin
    vitamin C

    8 Mile ride to work

    8am-Protein pancakes (taste just like normal pancakes) w/ sugar free syrup
    Cayenne pepper pill
    Black Tea
    10:30-4 egg white omelet, potatoes and salsa
    Black Tea
    Noon: Lift Weights
    1:00-Meal Replacement (Florida’s Natural Orange Juice mixed w/100% whey protein and creatine)
    3:30-1 cup lowfat cottage cheese mixed w/1light yogurt, grapenuts, sweetened with sugar free/fat free cheesecake pudding mix)
    5:00-Bike Home
    6:00-Whole Wheat lasagna w/ground buffalo, Celery w/Adams peanut butter
    8:30-Protein Shake

    Wednesday- No weights, Just increase cardio during commute to work

  8. Mike says:

    Sweeny from Bike Commuters emailed me the link to this article. This is exactly the information I was looking for as I have had some serious afternoon bonk issues on the ride home. Thanks for all the help!

  9. DaitiMor says:

    10 Miles of flat roads to work.
    I tend to stay away from the granola bars as they are a bit high in refined sugars.
    I overdose on the nuts throughout the day.
    I use apples rather than bananas as the apple is a slower release into the system. (according to Dr. Patrick Holford)
    Generally put the apples into the porridge in the morning, before I get on the bike.

    I use brown rice and pasta plus and stay away from breads as a rule.
    Lean pork chicken and oily fish is the meat for the week.
    If a yoghurt is low in fat, it generally is high in sugar / glucose etc. The taste has to come from somewhere.
    Might be worth having a look at the Glycemic Load (GL) of the product when making your food choice.
    Multi Vitamins I get from Douglas Labs.
    Oily Fish or Omega 3 oils help with joint flexibility and recovery after injury. It also is a boost for the Cardiovascular system. (The best I have found are Nordic Naturals and Barry Sears products).

  10. Jett says:

    My 17+ mile round trip bike commute eats up about 1000 extra calories. I eat quite similar to Mike Myers except no MRP. I find powdered milk works great and is cheap. Also, I keep a big can of mixed nuts nearby. For supper I often make a smoked salmon omelette with spinach and cream cheese but burritos are always welcome. Before my long weekend rides, I often eat pancakes layered with oatmeal and walnuts. My recovery drink is a homemade protein smoothie: eggs, bananas, dry milk powder, peanut butter and fruit juices.

    Probably the most significant thing I’ve found is making sure the B-vitamins are eaten at the same time as the rest of the meal. For example, my morning oatmeal with walnuts and raisins carries me further when I drink 4-6 ounces of V-8 juice with it. If I try having the V-8 juice as much as an hour later, it’s not as effective.

  11. Patrick says:

    Choke will realize when he’s 40 that that diet will land him with diabetes and a heart attack. Please tell me you are joking!

  12. Patrick says:

    DaitiMor , on the other hand, is an inspiration!

  13. Fritz says:

    I almost always have oatmeal (cooked, not instant) for breakfast from the cafeteria at work, usually with a little bit of brown sugar and a lot of raisins and cranberries thrown in, with either OJ or milk (soy or dairy as the mood strikes) to wash it down. This morning was just a banana and a Clif Bar and some water though.

    Lunch is usually whatever leftovers are in the freezer. I traveled light today, though, so today I’ll buy lunch from the cafeteria at work. Maybe I’ll have some Pho, or sashimi, or maybe a salad.

  14. Choke says:

    The American Diabetes Association (ADA) recommends maintaining a healthy weight, getting at least 1/2 hours of exercise per week (a brisk sustained walk appears sufficient), having a modest fat intake, and eating a good amount of fiber and whole grains. The ADA does not recommend alcohol consumption as a preventative, but it is interesting to note that moderate alcohol intake may reduce the risk (though heavy consumption clearly increases damage to body systems significantly). There is inadequate evidence that eating foods of low glycemic index is clinically helpful.

    I get plenty on exercise, don’t consume alcohol at all, my fat intake is pretty low, & I”m not a big fat guy (currently 190lbs. 6′ 1″), but I must admit I prolly don’t get enough whole grains and fiber. But, no, I’m not joking.

  15. dh42891 says:

    I do about 13 miles round-trip, all year in Denver, CO. Warm weather days I can get away with 1.5 breakfasts and smaller meals; winter time… eesh… I eat all freaking day.

    Cereal in the morning (raisin bran, granola-ish, with whole organic milk)
    Oatmeal with a bit of wheat germ when I get to work
    all morning- bananas, nuts, crackers, chips, apples, granola, cheese, yogurt, heavy juices, rice cakes- pretty much anything I can get my hands on
    avocado, cheese, turkey/ham, honey sandwich for lunch, with any of the above that I haven’t already shoved in my face
    more of the above all afternoon
    chicken, fish, or pasta usually for dinner
    beer, whiskey, and SleepyTime tea throughout the evening!

    I weigh in at a monstrous 140 on my heaviest days, and am hungry 90% of the time. I don’t think I get enough protein… Occasional protein shake, meal replacement, and always a recovery drink if I do more than 50 miles. If I do a long ride (75 – 150) I’ll eat energy bars, gels, granola, fruit, candy and drink water with an occasional sports drink or exercise drink throughout the ride.

  16. Fritz says:

    DH, I suspect you’re young. Even cycling you can get fat from overeating as metabolism slows with age. (I’ve done it and had to cut back).

    Today the employee cafeteria served corned beef & cabbage, so that was lunch for me today 🙂

  17. Ghost Rider says:

    I’m late to the party here, but I’m right there with DH…I’m 40, and on a good day I weigh 135 soaking wet. On a bad day, I can drop to 129 (mostly water weight loss), even with a high-calorie diet full of luscious goodies like exotic cheeses, meat of all kinds, brown sugar, eggs, real butter and cream (in my coffee, on my cereal, drinking small glasses of it…yummy!). Sure, a lot of it is genetic. Mostly, though, it is the other things I do in my life:

    One of the reasons I ride is so that I don’t have to worry so much about what I eat. I get my cholesterol checked yearly (my highest ever was 140), I have less than 3% body fat, and I feel great. Living an active lifestyle is what it’s all about — if you walk and bike everywhere, take the stairs wherever you can and do other physical activties, it can be safer to splurge on the finer foods in life!

  18. matthew booth says:

    It’s astonishing the variation (and at times lack of knowledge) about how to feed yourself properly when increasing your activity levels.

    For all those who replied with a diet consisting mostly of pre-processed, high-sugar, high fat foods ask yourself this question: even though most athletes burn way more than an average human, what do their college trained nutritionists have them eat?

    Just because we commute to work and burn more calories doesnt mean we eat worse than sedentary people. On the contrary you need more whole and unprocessed foods. Plus vitamins and even more hydration.

    I usually stop eating around 830 at night then wake up and get showered. My commute is small so I wait till I get to work (if I eat before I ride I get indigestion). I may try the advice of some granola and banana.

    When I get to work I have a water, multi-vitamin, b-complex pill, fish oil pill, two pieces of whole-grain toast and 4 pieces of small soy-sausage patties.

    I just started commuting so my diet is still under works (plus Im waiting to get paid so i can grocery shop). I plan on eating as much organic fruits, vegetables and meats.

    When I was weight lifting a lot I read in numerous places to eat small frequent meals which better accommodates a higher metabolism rate from high activity levels.

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