Is there anything more important than nourishing your body during a bike ride? Setting out without the right sustenance can more than affect your performance. It can affect the way that your body processes the exercise that you are undertaking. It’s no secret that eating the right snacks and fueling up on supplements can help you when you ride, but what about choosing the best cycling drink? Consuming drinks both before and during your ride can give your body all it needs and more to ensure that you get the absolute best out of your ride.
Best Cycling Drink for Short Rides
When we cycle for short periods of time, our main concern nutritionally is hydration. This means that you need to arm yourself with nothing other than water when you cycle for under an hour. Water is undoubtedly the best way to hydrate your body without adding any unnecessary sugars, fats, vitamins and even carbohydrates, which simply won’t get used in time to help you on the ride.
As a general rule you should always take a bottle of water or two along on your ride, no matter how long you plan to be out and about.
Carbohydrates for Medium Length Rides
While utilizing your best cycling drink is hugely promoted for longer bike rides, they are also great for medium rides too. While some may argue that the body’s need for carbohydrates is slim on medium-length rides, ingesting carbohydrate during any amount of exercise has positive effects on the central nervous system. While carbohydrates are a primary source of fuel (and not necessarily required for medium length rides), many cyclists feel that drinking energy drinks containing them for the mental boost is more than worthwhile.
Electrolytes for Longer Rides
A good rule to follow when drinking on a longer ride (90 minutes and up) is to use energy-based drinks because they are high in carbohydrates. Carbohydrate is the best source of energy when you are planning to be riding for a long period of time, so energy drinks offer an effective mix of carbohydrates from sources such as sucrose and fructose to ensure maximum output from the body. In addition to this, energy drinks contain water and electrolytes to keep you going for even longer.
Electrolytes are a key ingredient in energy drinks, and are essential to keeping your body hydrated during longer periods of exercise. They also work to:
- Regulate nerve and muscle function
- Balance blood pH levels
- Maintain blood pressure
- Rebuild damaged tissue
Electrolyte drinks that contain six to eight per cent carbohydrate are known as isotonic drinks and these contain the same concentration of dissolved salts and sugars as body fluids to promote better overall hydration. Isotonic drinks are a better alternative to energy drinks if you are going to be riding in particularly hot conditions as they are targeted to go that extra mile for hydration purposes.
The Caffeine Debate
Many cyclists won’t drink energy drinks that contain caffeine whilst riding because caffeine is believed to dehydrate the body but in recent times this fact has come under scrutiny from experts and keen cyclists alike. Although it is a known diuretic, it doesn’t actually mean that it will dehydrate the body as you ride. In fact, it may actually help you to burn carbohydrate-based calories instead!
There are many studies that are currently showing that caffeine actually works to lower the rate that you believe to have exercised (perceived exertion), and this works to improve strength, stamina, endurance levels and even mental performance on longer rides! The jury is still out on whether caffeine is good or bad though, so make sure to do some research of your own before you make any decisions.
What to Bear in Mind when Choosing the Best Cycling Drink for Your Rides
Sports drinks are designed to give your body exactly what it needs as you ride, so that you can simply ride. Carrying a couple bottles of the right energy drink for your ride’s needs will be easier and much less complicated than carrying pouches, packets and bars of high energy foods.
One of the most important things to consider when choosing the best cycling drink for your needs is that often, many of us are not properly hydrated before we actually leave the house! This means that no matter how good your energy drink is, it isn’t going to be able to fully help you if you are not fully hydrated in the first place.