Sometimes I feel I will faint when I am cycling in the morning. I usually don't have this problem after lunch.

My breakfast is rich in carbohydrates, but maybe I'm eating too much or missing some nutrients.

  • Consider what you have the day before as well. I'd consider fueling for an early morning ride by eating a decent dinner the night before, and then a quite light breakfast to start you up. Then once you're riding and warm, use gels and chocolate and bliss balls as suits you. – Criggie Feb 16 '17 at 4:59

10 Answers 10


Entirely depends on the lenght of ride. If you're riding for less than 2 hours then your body already has everything on board that it needs. If you're working for more than 2 hours you should eat complex carbs (pasta, oatmeal) 2 hours before the ride so that they have time to digest before you actually need them.

Also eating too much just before can limit your performance as your body also has to work to digest a load of food in your stomach. Adding links to answer the comment below.

I eat a small bowl of Cheerios with some fruit thrown in for flavour. I ride most morning at about 5:30am. If I'm working hard (either 2 plus hours or 2 hours really hard workout) I'll carry some Gatorade diluted 50/50 (I find it's easier on my stomach).

When I ride 100k+ or century length I make sure I get up and eat 3 hours before the ride. Then drink 50/50 Gatorade till the ride. During the ride I drink both 50/50 mix and water. I also start refueling with food after about 30 minutes. Small bites of energy bars, bananas, whatever your stomach can handle.

What type of conditions do you ride in? Is it really hot? Are you drinking enough fluids? If you lose more than 2 pounds on a ride you're not drinking enough. What is your exertion level? Are you going too hard for too long for your fitness level?

Someone below also mentioned protein. Many of the 'higher end' sports drinks also come in a protein variety. The reading I've done at the very least suggests that you eat protein and carbs within 30 -45 minutes after a ride to maximize the recovery/refueling of your muscles.

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    I disagree on the second sentence, but good answer otherwise. +1 – Neil Fein Sep 2 '10 at 18:17
  • @neilfein why do you disagree? The reading I've done supports the claim. I'ved added links above to appropriate reading. – curtismchale Sep 2 '10 at 19:04
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    Because of how my body works -- protein before a long day's ride gives me a lot of energy, even though it doesn't last for as long as carbs. Maybe I'm atypical? – Neil Fein Sep 2 '10 at 19:21
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    fair enough, learning what works for you is another important step in this. I know what I can and can't eat on long rides. Also why I dilute sports drinks b/c I know that they don't sit well at full strength. – curtismchale Sep 2 '10 at 20:59
  • FY Cheerios are probably the cereal-derivation. Elsewhere in the world, Cheerios are a small cocktail saveloy. – Criggie Feb 16 '17 at 4:55

I bike commute and do a lot other exercise, and have learned that it is indeed possible to eat too much before a ride. If I'm going to be biking early enough in the day, I'll usually just eat a very light snack, like a banana or a glass of smoothie or juice, and depending on the length of the ride, have a snack bar or juice box part way through the ride. I'll then eat a larger breakfast once I get where I'm going (this only works if your employer doesn't mind you coming in a bit early to eat and surf the web). By spreading out the food and not eating too much right before, you will actually have more energy in your system since you won't be busy digesting while you ride.

  • I usually eat something like a granola fruit bar before my commute, but I take a snack to eat once I am at work. I usually eat that snack while working, instead of surfing, but that is just me. :P I also tend to eat a granola bar just before my commute home to make sure I have a bit of sugar before my ride. – CyberKnoy08 Jun 26 '11 at 6:21

As much important as breakfast is the dinner the day before. My friends who practice cycling or triathlon eat plenty of pasta or rice at dinner before a competition.


I am diabetic, so for me the best thing is I start drinking water - a lot actually and eating a few bananas before I ride. I don't touch gatorade... it is just sugar water to me... so I drink water and will eat a banana or peanut butter crackers during the ride if I get hungry. I normally get hungary after I stop exercising and I finish off my morning training with a high protein powder shake with skim milk. It helps me get protein in for long term energy without spiking up my blood glucose levels.

Also, I found my morning weakness came from a lack of fluids more than food. One thing to take in mind is if your urine is really dark at any point in the day you are getting dehydrated and need to update your fluid intake. Dark urine first thing in the morning is normal, but it should only be very light yellow the rest of the day if you are properly hydrated.

So, up your fluids and see if that helps.

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    Caveat - over-hydration can be as bad or worse as under-hydration ;) – Dana the Sane Sep 2 '10 at 19:26

You may be missing out on protein. Eggs, meat, or tofu will fill this need.

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    Note: For more ideas, you might want to try posting similar question on the Food and Cooking stack exchange site. It's on-topic here, but but that crowd is very good at "I have [ingredients], what can I do with them. (Questions like this one.) Just stay away from recipe requests over there! – Neil Fein Sep 2 '10 at 18:16
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    Don't forget about nuts, although some of them are a bit high in fiber. – Dana the Sane Sep 2 '10 at 19:24
  • I agree with this. The heavy carb pre-ride recommendations I've read about have never worked for me. One of my staple pre-ride breakfasts is eggs and oats. Protein + complex carbs. Essentially, the 'best' pre-ride meal is what works for the individual. – user313 Sep 23 '10 at 19:34

Teff pancakes ... I sub applesauce for the banana portion. Often top the pancakes w/ mixed fruit and agave nectar and have a green smoothie to go with it. This is my long ride meal.

I typically eat 'normal' foods on my ride. Alternate between dates/muffins/cookies and sandwiches while I ride. All depends on intensity and duration of course.

The biggest change I've made is that I almost always eat Teff prior to, during and after any form of exercise. I'd recommend it to anyone.

Uh, I tried to link to what Teff is but my rep ain't good enough. So you can go google it yourselves. Haha

  • You mean this? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eragrostis_tef – Neil Fein Sep 3 '10 at 0:17
  • Why couldn't you add a link? That shouldn't be rep-dependent, I think. – Neil Fein Sep 3 '10 at 0:17
  • I had just started and my rep was below 10. I was limited to a single link until I crossed the magic threshold. Funny enough that happened right after I posted this. Hah! – tplunket Sep 3 '10 at 11:49

My staple is porridge with skimmed milk and any toppings of your choosing. My favourites are honey, raisins and cinnamon. I try and eat a couple of hours before riding.

Oats are a rich source of complex carbs and provide a slow release throughout the morning.


Food can be highly personal and it can take a while to figure out what works best for you. Get a group of randonneurs together and you'd be amazed at the variety of food and drink used to keep moving through a very long ride.

That said, you should try balancing carbs (easy to digest, high energy) with other sources of energy, especially protein and often-overlooked fat. It's a slow-burn source of energy, which fits nicely with endurance sports.

And as MDV2000 pointed out, what usually gets me on a morning commute is lack of water. Your body needs plenty of fluids first thing in the morning. If I don't drink enough before leaving the house, I start to feel sluggish and light-headed 30min into the ride. Drink half a bottle and I'm back to normal within minutes.


Sometimes I feel I will faint when I am cycling in the morning. I usually don't have this problem after lunch.

My breakfast is rich in carbohydrates, but maybe I'm eating too much or missing some nutrients.

I think you have an answer contained within your question. You feel faint at times in the morning, but rarely after lunch. So what you do is to compare those pre-ride meals to see what's different about them in terms of the carb:fat:protein ratio. Then you make a point of going with the ratio that yields the best results.

And on the breakfasts rich in carbs... Take a look at those carbs. If they're simple, highly refined carbs, your body will metabolize them much faster than if they're complex carbs. So see if you notice a difference between something like commercial boxed cereal vs whole oats.


I usually have a full English breakfast and keep myself topped up with bananas, Mars Bars, plenty of water and even a can of Red Bull, then fish n chips afterwards. It doesn't hamper my performance! Mind you, I'm Lance Armstrong.

protected by jimchristie Jun 19 '15 at 18:05

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