I'm a nutritionist - this is how long a bike ride needs to be for carb loading to be beneficial, and what to eat

What to eat, and when: a fuelling specialist’s tips on maximising performance by pre-loading carbohydrate

Cyclist sit down at a table to enjoy a meal in cycling kit
(Image credit: Jesse Wild for Future)

We've all seen or heard of pasta parties preceding major endurance events, and the concept of filling up before a big ride is rarely lost on cyclists.

But, what kind of ride actually requires a dedicated carb loading approach? And, how do you ensure that you're getting the right volume of energy food in? 

Image of nutrition expert Sam Impey in Black and White
Sam Impey

Sam’s PhD focused on cellular and molecular adaptations to exercise-nutrition interactions. Follow him on X: @SamImpey_

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Steve has been writing (mainly fitness features) for Cycling Weekly for 11 years. His current riding inclination is to go long on gravel bikes... which melds nicely with a love of carbs