Cycle Tour

Cycle Tour: Race fuel

2012-02-16 14:46
What to eat (Slingshot Media)
Sarah Scott

Cape Town - According to race doctor Basil Bonner, the number one reason for losing energy mid Cycle Tour is not necessarily about dehydration alone, but a lack of sustenance.

Bonner recommends taking boiled baby potatoes or brown bread sandwiches with Marmite, peanut butter or even cheese along to snack on during the ride. In addition, he suggests eating a proper breakfast and a snack before race start - two if you’re in the last bunch - to provide the body with proper, sustainable energy for the hours on the road.

“You cannot only rely on the goos alone - one or two are ok, but for a race like this you also need some real food with carbs and salt.” He adds, “Everyone is worried about their time, but time is about training, about conditioning - physiological, psychological and metabolic conditioning - not only energy drivers.”

He also recommends consistency; “Don’t switch to some new powder that someone is trying to sell you just days before the race. Stick with what you already know works. You need to condition your metabolism over time with a healthy, varied diet.”

Hydration is important, he stresses, but some people drink too much, and eat too little. “On a hot day, the average guy doing the Cycle Tour needs 400-800ml of water per hour. I always say to people that they don’t have to stop at every water point - we have so many water points. If you have an odd number, stop at the odd numbered ones, an even number stop at the even numbered ones; more or less as you feel the need.

1. The pre-race breakfast:

Eat a meal one to two hours prior to the race, focusing on carbohydrate-rich foods with a small amount of protein. This meal should be light and easy to digest. Avoid foods very high in protein and fat as they will not provide you with the necessary energy, and too much fat will make you feel uncomfortable. If you do not have an appetite in the morning or suffer from pre-race nerves, try a liquid meal supplement such as Nestle Nutren Active (made with milk) or Ensure (milk-free and only needs water added), or even a fruit smoothie.

Meal examples:
» Cereal or porridge with low fat milk
» Toast with jam/honey or cheese/peanut butter or jam/honey
» Plus, depending on your carbohydrate requirement and appetite: bread, muffins, scones, raisin bread, crumpets/pancakes with jam or syrup, fruit (fresh or dried) and fruit salads, fruit juice, low fat yoghurt, sports bars and sports drinks

2. Remember to drink fluids with your pre-race meals and snacks: on the way to the race top up your fluid stores with water or a carbohydrate drink (depending on your carbohydrate requirements). Aim to consume about 300-400ml immediately before the start of the race - this helps to prime the stomach and improve gastric emptying.

3. Plan to take in between 30-60g of carbohydrate per hour during the race and keep up your fluids.

For more information, please contact the Pick n Pay dietician on 0800 11 22 88 or via or visit the Health Corner of the Pick n Pay website for fabulous meal-plans and recipes:


Read News24’s Comments Policy publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.
Live Video Streaming
Video Highlights
Sport Talk


Are you riding this year's Argus Cycle Tour?

Love 2 Meet
English Premiership flutter

Take Sport24's "expert" tips at your peril...


The 2018/19 Absa Premiership season is in full swing. Will Mamelodi Sundowns retain their title? Or can one of Kaizer Chiefs, Orlando Pirates, Wits, SuperSport United - or another team perhaps - snatch glory from the Brazilians? Be sure to visit Sport24 for all the latest news!

Latest blogs

Twitter Follow Sport24 on Twitter

Facebook "Like" Sport24's Facebook page

WIN Enter and win with Sport24!

BlackBerry Stay in the loop on your BlackBerry

RSS Feeds Sport news delivered really simply.

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.