What to Eat For a Powerful Indoor Cycling Workout

We all know it’s about the challenge when it comes to indoor cycling workouts. When we get on that bike and start winding up the legs, we’re there because we want to test ourselves and see what we can do. Wether it’s power-based, heart-based, or cadence-based, we all have goals we want to achieve, and indoor cycling is a fantastic way of doing it.

Something many people don’t understand is how to fuel an indoor cycling workout correctly. When you’re hammering away at those spin bike pedals, and you start to feel like your not going to make it, a lot of the time, that’s actually down to your cycling nutrition. Just like outdoor rides, indoor rides need fuelling too. The session may be less than an hour, but if you haven’t got the proper nutrition, how will you beat a hard spinning workout?

Before we get into this article, though, it is essential to understand that everyone is very different. This can only be taken as advice rather than a professional nutritionist recommendation. If you feel you would like advice tailored to you personally, seek and credible nutritionist.

Why do we need to fuel our rides?

Fuelling your rides is vital for so many reasons, and you can get some nasty effects from not doing it adequately, such as;

  • Low blood sugar
  • Tiredness
  • Lack of energy
  • Lack of power
  • Bad mood
  • Loose Muscle
  • Giving up on a workout

By fuelling correctly, you can not only avoid these, but you will also be able to train harder and get fitter quicker. We need food for our bodies so we can create muscle glycogen. Our bodies naturally hold this in our glycogen stores, and it’s what helps your muscles to the best efficiency possible while we ride.

How do you fuel an indoor cycling training session?

So typically, how do we fuel a spin bike training session? In my opinion, it is about your body having everything it needs to complete the workout but also without having too much. If you are trying to lose weight, finding the balance of being fuelled but having every can be challenging, but just keep an eye on your calories, and you will be fine.

Pre Cycling Nutrition

complex carbs for Pre ride fuelling

So you have your indoor cycling kit on, your spin bike is on and ready, the family is all out the way, and it’s time to get on the bike. The first thing you need to be thinking of is when did I last eat? If you haven’t eaten for a long time, it might be worth having a small snack like rice cakes, maybe before you start to ride, so you have some pre-ride fuel.

If you have a long session coming up, you might want a pre-ride meal to make sure you can get through it, making sure not to overeat and be bloated. Having a substantial meal or some real food before a long spin workout is vital to training correctly. The best foods for a last substantial meal before a big ride would be complex carbs, and make sure you give it plenty of digestion time before you start pedaling.

Mid Cycling Nutrition

carbohydrates for mid ride fuelling

Mid-ride fuelling is challenging, and while riding a bike can be very tough, trying to spread cream cheese on your bread while in a sprint is something I wouldn’t want to see someone try often. Mid-ride fuelling is vital for your cycling performance on certain rides, especially longer ones. There are a lot of different ways to fuel mid-ride, and these are my top picks;

  • Bananas
  • Energy Gel
  • Sweets
  • Dried Fruit
  • Any Simple carbohydrates

Certain foods like these will give you the best bang for your buck when it comes to your indoor training and keep those energy levels high and your body with enough fuel. I would recommend carbohydrates as these are your best energy source when it comes to mid-ride fuelling. I see many people suggesting things like nut butter, but the body needs too much time to break down anything with too much fat and protein. Sugary goods keep the blood sugar high, and the glycogen stores full.

Post Cycling Nutrition

protein for post ride fuelling

You made it to the end of your indoor cycling session, and now you’re feeling hungry. Now it’s time for the recovery foods. What your body needs now isn’t heavy amounts of carbohydrates, it needs protein. Many athletes have protein after a workout as it helps muscle recovery from a tough endurance cycling workout.

A very common practice is having a recovery drink after a hard workout, commonly known as a protein shake. Some other forms of protein are;

  • Eggs and Chicken
  • Beef and Fish
  • Soya Protein Powder
  • Lentils and Quorn
  • Cottage Cheese
  • Whey Protein Powder

Eating the right foods after an indoor cycling workout is often overlooked, and people tend to think because they’re not training anymore, they don’t need the fuel for the body when actually it is the most critical time. It’s the protein that will help you get back to the bike sooner, training again at total capacity. We use recovery nutrition not only to get back on the bike sooner, but so the workout really counted, and we did some effective training.

Staying Hydrated

Drink water pre, mid, and post indoor cycling sessions

Now here’s a crucial thing, drinking while on the bike. It can be so easily overlooked, but it is essential. You can eat all the foods and energy gels you want, but if you don’t have enough water in your system, your screwed. Water has a lot of responsibility when it comes to indoor cycling.

It has to flush the body of toxins, carry nutrients and oxygen to cells, lubricate joints, and many other things. You can imagine how awful you might feel if you don’t have enough water in your system. I would recommend while training about 500ml per hour or more if required.


Indoor rides are a lot of fun, but they can be made pretty miserable by not fuelling right. Keeping on top of those muscle glycogen stores in the training process is vital, and making sure you get a recovery drink afterward will be very beneficial also.

Although you might be riding for a short period of time, making the most of what you are doing will help so much. There’s no point having training plans if you can’t fuel them.

Do athletes focus a lot on nutrition?

They have a massive focus on nutrition; I remember seeing an article on cycling news with a head coach from British cycling about how many of the athletes are required to study nutrition alongside their training.how to lose weight cycling indoor and what to take

Should I have Pre Workout before indoor cycling?

If you don’t know what Pre Workout is, it is an energy supplement and it has a lot of caffeine in it and is meant to give you extra energy levels. I wouldn’t recommend it as your body is just going to be in overdrive, and it is going to make you feel very uncomfortable. It has a place in the fitness industry but not indoor cycling, in my opinion. If you are trying to gain muscle with indoor cycling, make sure read my nutrition instructions.complex carbs for Pre ride fuelling

Do I need more or less food when riding outdoors than riding inside?

Several factors govern it. It depends on how hard you are riding. The harder you work, the more calories you will require. I recommend getting a heart rate monitor to track your effort level. Indoor or outdoor riding is more about your body’s effort level.how indoor cycling can enhance your outdoor cycling performance


One of the most common indoor cycling mistakes is not eating properly and expecting results quickly. The truth is without eating the right type of nutrition and number of calories, not only you won’t lose weight, you will probably also end up not cycling indoors at all. More than 50% of your fitness goals depends on what, when, and how you eat. Start eating the recommended foods to ride your spin bike efficiently and to get results quickly.


Hi there, I'm Sayed Hamed Hosseiny, the founder and one of the authors at yourexercisebike.com (YEB). I am a former indoor cycling instructor and personal trainer with nearly 20 years of experience. With a passion for indoor cycling, I have spent years designing cycling parts, repairing, and importing exercise bikes. All the articles, tips, guides, reviews, and comparisons on YourExerciseBike.com (YEB) reflect my personal opinion and expertise in the field. I'm excited to share my knowledge with fellow exercise bike enthusiasts and help people find reliable indoor cycling information and the best exercise bike for their needs. If you have any questions or suggestion, you can contact me at sayed@yourexercisebike.com.

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