Fuel for cyclists

“Which one would you choose?” one friend asks me in front of the huge energy bars and chews display of the store we visit. I must admit it is easy to get lost, with the phenomenal offer increase of ready-to-eat products! The market is full of choice. Every ones claim, loud and strong, through nice labels and slogans, to be the GOOD one.

But where is the truth? With the specific cyclists’ needs in mind, I did my little investigation. My suspects: energy bars. My goal: define criteria that allow you to make the right choices in an informed manner!

To perform such an exercise, it is necessary to first learn the needs of our cyclists. I will take the example of a bike tourer who must, for a long time, keep energy level quite steady to arrive on time. As in all endurance event, the main danger, here, is to run out of “juice”. And to pedal without energy for a full day makes it very long… So, to avoid disaster and have a pleasant day, our wheeler will need to favour carbohydrates. And what does that mean, in plain text? It is pretty simple, it is the human body main source of energy! Indeed, it takes much more time and energy, for the body, to transform the other nutrients (fats and proteins) in elements that can be assimilated by the organism. To keep our energy reserves high enough and avoid digestion troubles, our ideal energy bar should contain between 25 and 45 grams of carbohydrates.

If we take the packaging of a food and look at the Nutrition Fact table (you know, this small white table on the back of almost every commercial food product, the one that we read not often enough!), we can identify carbohydrates through their “little names”: fibers, starch and sugars.

Even if they are not central in our investigation, it is nevertheless important to consider other nutrients contained in our snack. In excessive amounts, fats and proteins (our little muscle builders) may cause some unwanted digestive discomfort… Because they are longer and difficult to assimilate by the body, ingestion of a large quantity can indeed cause cramping or bloating. To prevent this kind of unpleasant situation, one should therefore avoid exceeding 7 grams of fats and 10 grams of proteins per 200 calories serving.

With the criteria defined above, I hope it will be easier for you to choose your sugary snack. Up to you, later, to do your own tests to find the perfect frequency or quantity to eat. As every human body is different, it is possible that you have to slightly adjust the quantities to meet your own needs. The most effective is still trying. So get to your bikes and go!

Marjorie Chabot Article by Marjorie Chabot, dietetic technician and outdoor passionate.



  1. Mario
    March 15th

    Allo Marjorie j’aurai 2 question ,1er tu conseil combien de grammes à l’heure de glucide avec une intensité élevé entre 7à 9 h de vélo la 2em que préconise tu barre ou fruit sec tel que date ,kiwi sec mangue etc eau ou style gâtorade merci

    • Bonjour Mario,
      En fait, lorsque l’on travaille en endurance sur un longue période de temps, il faudrait idéalement consommer entre 30g et 60g de glucides par heure. Comme le métabolisme de chacun est différent (il diffère selon l’âge, le sexe et la condition physique), il importe de faire des tests pour savoir ce qui est le plus efficace pour nous.
      Pour votre 2e question, je dirais que je n’ai pas de favoris. Par contre, si l’on opte pour des fruits secs, il faudra compléter avec une source de protéine (des noix ou un morceau de fromage par exemple)
      Pour ce qui est de l’eau, dans le cas d’une longue activité, je propose souvent d’alterner entre eau et boisson pour sportif avec électrolytes pour éviter la déshydratation. Il est également possible de faire sa propre boisson maison (j’en parlerai bientôt dans un article!)

      J’espère que cela répond à vos questions!

  2. Sophie
    March 17th

    Bel article! C’est clair et bien résumé! J’ai hâte de choisir ma prochaine collation! Merci.

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