En route essentials

The petrol station snack stop is a necessary evil on the way to your favourite trail – here’s our guide to forecourt fuelling

1. Walk past the chocolate line

Forget about crisps and chocolate — they’ll give you a sugar spike and leave you knackered about an hour after you start riding. Steer a wide berth around anything big or heavy before your ride too, says dietitian Laura Tilt from tiltnutrition.co.uk. “Blood flow will be directed away from your stomach towards the working muscles which means digestion takes a back seat,” she says.

So your list of no-goes includes foods high in fat, such as sausage rolls, cheese croissants and egg mayo and bacon sandwiches. Sadly, sugary, fatty stuff is equally bad after riding.

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2. Head to the chiller

Don’t get obsessed with the labels on the back of sandwiches because you’ll be there all day, says Laura. “Instead, remember the basics; before riding you want foods with carbohydrate to top up your energy stores. Post-ride you want carbohydrate to replace glycogen stores and protein — around 20g will help muscle recovery.”

In essence, then, you should look for food with good carbohydrate content like bananas, fruit smoothies, sandwiches, porridge, or pots of pasta and couscous. Healthy eating ranges are a good starting point, as they tend to be lower in fat and sugar.

>>> How to make a homemade energy bar

3. Fast food is slow

Lard Burger

If there are no sandwiches and fast food is beckoning, try and resist — it’s full of fat and sugar that’ll slow your riding and your recovery.

When Laura’s in this situation she gets creative: “I think about what I can put together myself — yoghurt, banana and some dried fruit, or a wholegrain roll and some sliced chicken or cheese for a DIY sandwich. It might not be perfect but it’s better than opting for a burger.”

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Before your ride

Pick up a banana, fruit smoothie or one of those porridge/cereal pots. Add a piece of fruit and some milk and you’ll have carbs to fuel your riding. Starbucks porridge provides 250 calories and 40 grams of carbohydrate. Stir in a portion of its dried fruit mix for an extra 20 grams of carbohydrate.

>>> These are the worst things to eat before a ride

For mid-ride refuel

Grab an isotonic sports drink like Lucozade for during your ride — it gives 30g of carbohydrate per 500ml (30-60 grams of carbohydrate an hour is recommended). If you prefer solid food then bananas, dried fruit or fig rolls are a good option. One banana equals 30g of carbohydrate.


After your ride

A bottle of chocolate milk is a convenient option — milk is very effective for rehydration and contains a blend of proteins to support muscle recovery. If you prefer solid food, a cup of soup with a chicken sandwich or bagel would work well. Couscous or pasta salads (in tomato rather than cream sauces) can be followed with a yoghurt drink for protein.