I've been commuting daily (Apart from holidays, illness and some other exceptions) for the past year, riding 12 miles daily (6 miles with 500ft height gain coming in, 6 miles 232ft height gain riding back) on a hybrid.

Recently there have been times when I've been feeling quite run down by the weekend, lacking energy. It could just be a virus doing the rounds, but it made me wonder if there was a specific diet or dietary supplement that would be of benefit to a daily commuteer.

  • This is a good question and it is of merit, particularly if this has applied to your commute. Jun 24, 2011 at 17:09
  • I feel that way just from working all week, are you sure it's from the riding? Jun 24, 2011 at 18:22
  • 1
    So if I'm reading your question right, your daily commute is "uphill, both ways"?
    – Ryan
    Jun 24, 2011 at 19:25
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    @Ryan When a commute includes some up and down, then it includes some up in either direction.
    – ChrisW
    Jun 25, 2011 at 2:44
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    My commute is up hill both ways too. I have about 500ft of change both ways. I work on one side of a valley and live on the other. Jul 14, 2011 at 15:23

8 Answers 8


The canonical recommendation is for "a complete and balanced diet". Whatever 'supplements' you might need depend on what your current diet is. The recommendations I've been given (I'm 50 and commute 24 miles/day) from a dietitian are vitamin D (because I live in Canada - I suspect that recommendation is obsolete currently while I'm commuting 2 hours/day in summer) and (based on blood test results) perhaps a bit more iron (I'm vegetarian). Some of the important components to consider, IMO, include water, salt, carbohydrates, and, rest/sleep. In summary, perhaps you should talk with a doctor or dietitian.

If you want to discover what your current diet is (which is presumably one important question before deciding how to supplement it - an alternative might be physical exam, blood tests), I quite recommend DietOrganizer.

  • You must be ovo-lacto vegetarian, otherwise B12 would be in the list.
    – freiheit
    Jun 24, 2011 at 17:03
  • @freiheit Not "vegan": I'll have cake; when there is some. My groceries include various processed foods from the supermarket, which happen to be 'enriched' (at least, they are in this country: look at the nutrients added to breakfast cereal, for example). So for me, 1 cup of chocolate soy milk contains 50% RDA for B12, so does each 'hot dog', etc.
    – ChrisW
    Jun 25, 2011 at 2:21

No. Dietary supplements are not recommended. Just the all-you-can-eat I-don't-have-to-count-calories cyclist-special-diet of a hearty, big, evening meal.

Years ago, when I did a shorter journey than yourself but with a fair amount of free-wheeling/climbing I asked my doctor why I was getting so many colds/feeling-run down.

He explained about my immune system, the cold morning air and so on. No references unfortunately, however, you might want to ask your doctor, and in the general context of your riding + times of riding. It is a fair call to ask your doctor what could be going on, a lot of people clutter up doctors waiting rooms with more frivolous complaints. Post what you find back on here.


It's two years later now and I no longer feel this way.

What's changed?

  • Two more years of fitness on the bike: I ride every day, apart from Wednesday
  • Better sleep pattern: I've got used to having two kids now and making sure I get enough sleep, rather than pushing my luck and staying up too late
  • Better cycling technique Maybe...?

Overall I imagine it's generally down to keeping at it and my body adjusting, getting fitter, etc...


Good advice. The entire field of "supplements" is a can of worms that might better be asked in the "skeptic" area... Although it's a multi-billion dollar insdustry with loads of people having almost-religious fervor....Scientific studies keep showing little or no benefit from most all of the various nostrums.


I think it depends on what you eat already, if you get enough energy and Vitamins/minerals from normal food then your probably doing ok, guess taking multi- vitamin wont do any harm. 12 Miles is not that much, takes you how long an hour? Try going to the gym 4 times a week after a days work, you'll feel tired too by the time Friday comes around, specially if you have had virus, can sometimes take a good few weeks to get over.

Try not cycling for a few weeks, go take the car (figuratively, I would never recommend some one drive if they can cycle), see how you feel. I know how I feel after being away from home and not getting my daily cycle, I may not be physically as tired but I sure feel slower, discontent and apathetic....

How about doing a go slow week, see if you can get rest from cycling slowly or take the bus for a few days.


"Eat a balanced diet" is the best general recommendation. One does need to keep in mind, though, that exercise at the level you practice can expose any one of numerous possible medical conditions, particularly of the "metabolic disorder" category. Generally these cause muscle pain, though, rather than simple fatigue.

However, there are other categories. At one point I was suffering fatigue similar to what you describe (in similar conditions) and it turned out to be incipient post-polio syndrome. (It's largely controlled with several drugs, but is encroaching more and more as I age.)

But also understand that "energy level" is closely related to your degree of stimulation, and if you're simply not doing anything that interests you on the weekends you'll feel less energetic. And of course everyone needs some "down time", and it's natural, in a sort of meta-circadian rhythm way, for it to occur on the weekend.


There are actually studies suggesting that in the generally population, most vitamins are worse than useless unless diet is really bad. Which studies you believe is up to you.

If you land at your desk and find work waiting for you (or the equivalent when you get home) and don't stretch, after a decent ride (mine's about 50% longer than yours, less climbing but some of it very steep) you will start to feel tired and achy pretty quickly. So find a good stretch routine, not forgetting your core, and do it religiously.

Personally I have a protein bar on arriving in work as well - I'm hungry by then, and I can afford the calories (1/2 of those for my each-way ride). I believe, though not strongly, that it makes the evening ride easier - worth a try.


I don't think you need anything particularly special. Sleep well and make sure you have calories before you ride. Breakfast before your morning commute and possibly a snack before your commute home may do a great deal to prevent you feeling dragged down during your ride.

Anything with some carbs will probably do, PB&J works great, so do cliff bars.

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