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  • Writer's pictureRiley L. Hughes, PhD, RD

Fuel Your Ride: Off-Season Nutrition Strategy for Cyclists


Fuel Your Ride: Off-Season Nutrition for Cyclists Main Banner with Healthy foods displayed


Goals

   

  Learn how to …

  • Shift nutrition strategies to account for differences in lifestyle and training during the off-season.

  • Expect, accept, and respect changes in your body (performance, appearance, etc.) that may occur due to changes in training as normal and healthy.

  • Experiment and cultivate new nutrition habits and strategies or reinforce previous habits that were difficult to maintain during the season.


With the end of the cycling season comes the opportunity for rest, recovery, and reflection as well as a lower frequency and intensity of training. This change in training and lifestyle during the off-season has its own unique nutritional needs to support overall health and well-being in addition to long-term performance goals. Some things to focus on during this time are shifting nutrition strategies to match lower intensity training load, shifting expectations and goals for our bodies (performance, appearance, etc.), as well as allowing for more flexibility in our lives and nutrition. 


Shifting Off-Season Nutrition

Off-season training is typically lower in frequency and intensity and more focused on rest and recovery. This means that our training typically falls more on the spectrum of light-to-moderate (see text box).


Training Intensity Meter showing Rest to Hard with an arrow pointing in between light and moderate


Off-season nutrition follows this same shift. This means a higher emphasis on fruits and vegetables (half of plate), less emphasis on carbohydrate intake (quarter to third of plate), and maintenance of protein intake (quarter of plate). Day-to-day needs will vary depending on activity, but this is the overall trend. 


Expectations and Goals


Female Cyclist in front of city backdrop drinking out of water bottle with the word "Goals" displayed prominently

Expecting, accepting, and respecting the changes in our bodies (weight, appearance, etc.) that may occur alongside shifts in training as normal and healthy is also an important component of off-season well-being. 


Assessing your goals for this time as separate from your goals during the season can help shift expectations and strategies. So ask yourself: What are your goals for this time or for next season? Do you have injuries that need to be addressed? Are you doing a different sport that still requires performance-focused fueling (see Moderate and Hard training plates)? Are you trying to gain muscle, lose fat mass, or maintain weight? Keeping your goals in mind will help direct your off-season nutrition and training plans.


Flexibility

During in-season, it is often best to stick to the “tried and true” routines rather than experimenting with too many different fueling or training strategies. Additionally, it is often more difficult to adopt new habits when you are busy training in-season. While you may have goals for the off-season, this time provides much more flexibility for wiggle room or to experiment with different routines, foods, supplements, or products both during and outside of training. From adopting habits such as drinking more water or eating breakfast daily to trying out new fueling strategies during your rides, the off-season is the time to experiment and establish new habits and routines for health and performance. 


So this off-season, support your body with quality nutrition that is aligned with your goals and your training while also enjoying a little more flexibility in your life. check out my Instagram page for information and insights on nutrition



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