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Nutrition Tips for Cyclists

Nutritious food board

Hello again ESR riders.

Our world as we know it has changed since I wrote the last blog. There’s so much uncertainty in what will develop in the next couple of months and the challenges we will be faced with. But in the midst of it all is the certainty of our commitment to the ESR’s mission, our health and well-being. So, let’s move forward and not let what is out of our control interfere with all the things we can control. As of today, ESR is happening and we continue to prepare our mind and body for the challenge.

Nutrition and the Empire State Ride 22 Week Training Plan

The focus of this blog is nutrition but first I want to briefly go over the next training block of the ESR 22 Week Training Plan.

Nutrition for Endurance Training

Now let’s get into nutrition … fuel for your machine.

The primary goal of the training diet is to provide nutritional support to allow the athlete to stay healthy and injury-free while maximizing the functional and metabolic adaptations to a periodized exercise program that prepares him or her to better achieve the performance demands of their event.

Athletes need to consume energy that is adequate in amount and timing of intake during periods of high-intensity and/or long duration training to maintain health and maximize training outcomes. Low energy availability can result in unwanted loss of muscle mass; menstrual dysfunction and hormonal disturbances; sub-optimal bone density; an increased risk of fatigue, injury, and illness; impaired adaptation and a prolonged recovery process.

The following charts will help guide you to consume the right amount of daily carbohydrates, carbohydrates during exercise and daily protein to maximize the training adaptations of the ESR 22 Week Training Plan.

Moving into the Tempo Interval Training Block

The next 3-week block of training begins Monday, March 23 after the recovery week you’re in now. The goal of this block is to begin increasing your aerobic capacity with interval training. With this kind of work, we begin to train your Glycolytic Energy System. ‘Tempo Intervals’, as described in the Table 7.2 Summary of the Six Key Cycling Workouts, are the first level of intensity you will do in this plan. This level of intensity should result in labored breathing from about the middle to the end of the prescribed interval time. Please refer to Table 7.1 Workouts, RPE, and Breathing Rate to guide you to the right intensities.

The rest of your workouts will be in that nice and easy conversation pace Endurance Miles zone and continuing to develop good pedaling mechanics with some Fast Pedaling (FP) intervals.

Daily Carbohydrate Needs for Fuel and Recovery


Carbohydrates – During Exercise

Carbohydrate ingestion during exercise can improve exercise performance even during shorter duration, higher intensity exercise (for example, approximately 1 h at 75 % of maximal oxygen uptake; VO2max).” (1. Jakendrup)

Now that we begin the level of intensity that requires glycolytic energy metabolism, we need to make sure we replenish the fuel in our muscles during training. For this type of work, carbohydrates will be your primary source of energy. To estimate the amount of carbohydrates we need for the work we have to take into account the duration (and intensity) of exercise. The table below is a guideline to help make sure you have enough fuel for the workouts.

Please note that these recommendations are for well-trained athletes. Aspiring athletes may need to adjust these recommendations downwards.


Carbohydrates – During Exercise

Current data suggest that dietary protein intake necessary to support metabolic adaptation, repair, remodeling, and for protein turnover generally ranges from 1.2 to 2.0 g/kg/d. Daily protein intake goals should be met with a meal plan providing a regular spread of moderate amounts of high-quality protein across the day.

At 1.5 g/kg/d, the middle of the range, this is what you would need to consume daily based on body weights of 125-200lbs:

Daily Protein Needs for Adaption and Recovery

Recommendations are currently to consume 20-25g of protein per meal. This is the maximum amount of protein your body can use for protein synthesis at one time. Amounts greater than this will just be stored as energy in your body, a.k.a. fat.

So, the key to maximizing protein benefits is to consume 20-25g, 4-6 times per day with at least 3 hours in between each consumption.

Nutrition itself does not make you fitter on the bike. What it does however is provide significant contributions to the adaptations we are trying to achieve from training.

Train right, eat well and be well!

CTS Coach Charlie Livermore


  1. Asker Jeukendrup, A step Towards Personalized Sports Nutrition: Carbohydrate Intake During Exercise, Sports Med (2014) 44 (Suppl 1): S25-S-33
  2. MEDICINE & SCIENCE IN SPORTS & EXERCISE 0195-9131/16/4803-0543/0

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