Winter fueling: how to match your cycling nutrition to the demands of cold weather riding

Getting the most out of your winter training means making sure you are optimally fuelled for every ride - here's what you need to know about the specific demands of cold season nutrition

Cyclist drinks from bottle on the bike
(Image credit: Future)

The days are getting shorter and the mercury is plummeting. Winter is here. Maintaining a consistent training load during the winter can be difficult. The cold, dark days envelop us in a battle with both the elements and motivation to cycle. As the weather worsens and your training load changes as you embrace winter routines, there is something else to consider beyond keeping warm and dry: Should your fuelling habits change too? 

With fewer events on the calendar until spring – unless you’re a fan of cyclocross – most cyclists tend to reduce the intensity and focus on building their endurance base. With a switch to endurance cycling training, nutrition changes too. There is a tendency among cyclists to under-fuel on the bike, all year round. For endurance rides, the minimum recommended intake is 40g of carbohydrate per hour. So unless you’re deliberately limiting carbs (or calories) to burn fat whilst cycling or lose weight, then aim to eat the equivalent of two bananas per hour on the bike – it’s a useful rule of thumb.

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Joe Laverick
Full-time cyclist & part-time writer

Joe Laverick is a professional cyclist and freelance writer. Hailing from Grimsby but now living in Girona, Joe swapped his first love of football for two wheels in 2014 – the consequence of which has, he jokes, been spiralling out of control ever since. Proud of never having had a "proper job", Joe is aiming to keep it that way for as long as possible. He is also an unapologetic coffee snob.