FUEL: What to eat PRE and POST Ascend ride

Learn what to nosh on for top-notch performance

Learn what to nosh on for top-notch performance


To get the most out of each and every Ascend ride, it’s important to properly fuel your body before and after class. You want to feed your body what it needs to bring intensity on the bike, recover well, and reap the most benefits for your efforts. Not to mention the ability to push forward when you want to quit has both mental and physical rewards. We’ve got some tips on how to fuel your fitness—including what to eat and when—for optimal results.

But first, everybody is different, and what does one bod some good may not work as well for another. We each have unique preferences for what we enjoy eating, along with different goals (i.e. improve athletic performance, weight loss, weight gain, build strength), sleeping habits, digestion sensitivities, etc. Those training for a triathlon have different needs than body builders or weekend warriors. Here, we’re offering general guidelines to help compliment a 60-minute sweat session. Experiment to find what works best for your body, goals, and lifestyle.



Hydration is important before, during, and after a workout. The dog days of summer (and off the charts humidity) make hydration even more essential to keep things balanced and running well. Drink up and include hydrating foods in your diet to replenish losses. Water is sufficient for workouts lasting under an hour but if you are exercising for longer periods of time, you may need to also replenish electrolytes. (Get the 411 on H20 here).


Pre-ride guide: energize with carbs + protein

A pre-ride bite should provide you with enough energy to help you peak—not putter—through your workout. Gas up your tank to curb hunger and prevent running on fumes.


What: Choose mostly carbohydrates with a little protein. Carbs will give your muscles quick energy (glucose) to smash those hills and drills and protein will help minimize muscle breakdown. Go light on fat and fiber, as they take longer to digest, and avoid sugary or fried foods.

A few considerations for fueling up pre-ride, include:

·      Instead of eating more food, plan your existing meals or snacks around your workout (unless you’re weight lifting or exercising at high intensity for longer than 60-90 minutes when calorie needs are higher). If you’re exercising moderately (walking, yoga) for less than 60 minutes, you may skip the pre-workout fuel altogether.

·      Consider portability when planning. If you have a long commute, late work meetings, or need to carpool the kiddos before you exercise, having a healthy bite on the go can save you in a crunch.

·      What about caffeine? Ditch the energy drinks and go for the standard cup of coffee or tea for your caffeine boost. Studies show that caffeine can enhance your workout, but limit to 1-2 cups to avoid unwanted jitters. 

·      Can’t stomach anything before your 5:45 am ride? Don’t sweat it, early bird. If you feel ok pushing through your (60 min or less) workout and can refuel with a good breakfast afterwards, that’s fine—but make sure not to skimp on hydration beforehand. If you do feel low on energy, try eating a small handful of almonds or a banana and see if your stamina improves.

When: If you can schedule a more substantial meal around your workout program, then aim to eat about 2 hours beforehand to prevent a full stomach and ensure digestion is well under way. That’s not always possible with early morning classes or evening classes after work; here is where smart snacking comes in. Try to consume a light snack at least 30 minutes before you ride. When exercising for an hour or less you don’t need a lot of pre-workout fuel, so try limiting your snack to around 150 calories. You don’t want to overcompensate for the calories you burn!

Try munching on these for pre-ride energy:

·      Banana with peanut butter or nut butter of choice

·      Apple and a handful of almonds

·      Light smoothie that’s easily digestible

·      Toast with nut butter and berries or honey

·      Fuel for fire (available at the studio)

·      Energy bites

·      Good quality protein bar (eat half beforehand and the other half afterwards if nutrient dense)

·      Dried fruit

·      Greek yogurt with fruit


Post-ride guide: recover with protein, carbs, a little fat + water!

You’ve hit the studio and put in some hard work. Now it’s time to replenish what you’ve lost and rebuild.


What: A post-ride meal or snack should include protein, carbs, some fat, and water for rehydration. Protein is essential to support muscle growth and repair. Carbs will help you replenish glycogen stores and a little fat will help you absorb nutrients as well as keep you satiated until your next meal. Replenishing your fluids is crucial, especially for those of you who leave puddles under your bike or if exercising outdoors in high heat and humidity.

When: If you can eat a balanced meal within an hour or two of your workout that’s best, but if not, plan to consume a snack 20 min – 30 min post workout.

Post-workout foods can include:

·      A meal consisting of whole foods such as chicken, salmon or quinoa, veggies or fruit and some healthy fat

·      Smoothie (with whey or plant protein)

·      Eggs, avocado and toast (hard boiled eggs are easily portable)

·      Baked sweet potato, sautéed spinach and roasted chickpeas

·      Overnight oats or oatmeal with fruit and a spoonful of nut butter or hemp seeds

·      Chocolate milk

·      Matcha or energy bites

·      String cheese with whole grain crackers and grapes

·      Hummus, pita bread and veggies

·      Watermelon, feta, and arugula salad

Keep in mind that your goals dictate your needs—but for most, the quality of your daily intake is more important than what you eat surrounding a workout. Make sure to include lean proteins, healthy fats, whole grains, greens, and plenty of fluids and you’ll likely be giving your body exactly what it needs to ascend. Giddy up!


-Blogpost written by Ascend content expert, Ashley H