It is common for cyclists to feel the burn after a long ride or even a short one depending on the intensity. Muscle soreness, general fatigue and mounting pain are part and parcel of being a cyclist but putting the right recovery strategies into place can help alleviate the pain and in the long run, improve your cycling performance in general. One of the most effective ways of keeping muscles in the best possible condition and to avoid damage and strain, is to look at your nutritional plan.
Scientists have been aware of how effective protein can be for muscle recovery for decades but it seems like it’s only recently reached the public eye. Whilst you may choose a protein rich meal because it’s good for your diet, it is also good for repairing and protecting your muscles.
Following up from our five top tips on cycling nutrition blog this one looks more closely at the power of protein when cycle training.
Protein for Cyclists
Protein is essential for cyclists because it is packed with amino acids and these are used to help muscle repair and keep muscle loss to a minimum. Cycling is an endurance sport and this type of activity pushes your muscles to their limits and a high protein level will help your body sustain the energy levels you need to succeed when cycle training
The best time to take in protein as a cyclist is either during or immediately after a cycle training session, as your body will be craving this additional energy boost and your muscles will be looking for help to repair. Popular amongst professionals and enthusiastic amateurs is the dairy derivative whey protein which immediately sets to work on your muscles and aids your recovery as soon as it is digested. Whey protein can be enjoyed in a shake or a cereal-type bar. If you’re looking to up your immediate protein intake after a ride and don’t want to use supplements consider pumpkin seeds, mixed nuts or hard boiled eggs, all portable and add that instant protein into your system.
How much Protein?
If you want the protein you’re ingesting to have an impact on your muscle recovery you need to be having approximately 20 to 25g post-ride. To put this into perspective, experts recommend a rider weighing around 11 stone should try and keep their protein intake at 80 to 100g per day which is why so many people opt for supplements and shakes, at 100g of protein is akin to 3-4 average sized chicken breasts. However, it is important to remember that too much protein is as risky as not enough as it can suppress your appetite and make you feel like you’re bloated and uncomfortable when riding.
Every enthusiastic cyclist wants to be able to keep going and remain on the roads for as long as possible but without proper recovery there is a much higher chance of injury and lengthy recuperation time.