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What Should a Mountain Biker Eat?

Updated: Sep 11, 2022

By: William Sanders RD, LD, ACSM-CPT

Mountain bikers, like other athletes, vary in terms of their nutrient needs compared to the general population. Mountain biking is one of the most energy demanding sports in existence (Ainsworth, et al. 1993); therefore, these athletes require greater amounts of energy to support their endeavors. Additionally, these athletes may also have greater micronutrient (vitamin & mineral) demands (Burke, 2001). It is possible to meet all nutrient requirements through a balanced diet, but some athletes may benefit from the addition of supplements. To meet these marco- and micronutrient needs, there are some dietary strategies athletes can use to maximize their performance on and off the trail.

These strategies are:

· Never stop hydrating; replace electrolytes in extreme conditions and prolonged activities

· Keep snacks and meals simple (high carb, low fiber, low fat) before and during your ride

· Sports drinks (Gatorade, Powerade, etc..) and snacks (high carb) if riding more than an hour

· Supplements (protein powder) may be a good choice for recovery if no access to food for 30mins or longer post-ride

· The harder the ride, the more you need to eat to recover

· Listen to your body and do what will work best for you (eat intuitively)

· Keep your diet balanced off the bike

Speaking from experience, meeting your nutritional needs after a hard day of riding makes the difference between feeling like you fell down a flight of stairs or like you’re fresh and ready to send it. I utilize the tips above so that I’m always ready for whatever challenge I plan to undertake. As a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN, RD), I aim to simplify nutrition so that my clients can best understand it, utilize nutrition to their advantage, and be prepared for whatever challenge faces them. I offer nutrition counseling and exercise/physical training services to keep my clients healthy and performing to their best ability. If you want to learn more about nutrition for athletes and/or my services, check out my website. I can also be found shredding the local trails near Saint Louis, MO.


AINSWORTH, B. A. R. B. A. R. A., HASKELL, W. I. L. L. I. A. M., LEON, A. R. T. H. U. R., JACOBS, D. A. V. I. D., MONTOYE, H. E. N. R. Y., SALLIS, J. A. M. E. S., & PAFFENBARGER, R. A. L. P. H. (1993). Compendium of physical activities: Classification of energy costs of human physical activities. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 25(1), 71–80.

Burke, L. M. (2001). Energy Needs of Athletes. Canadian Journal of Applied Physiology, 26(S1).

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