Can cyclists eat whatever they want?

This question is about Nutrition and Cycling

Natalie Rizzo, MS, RD, Freelance Writer

No, cyclists cannot eat whatever they want. Cyclists may feel like their intense training sessions justify eating whatever they want, however, they should focus on a

balanced diet

, rich in minimally-processed whole foods for optimal health and performance. 

Many athletes think that they can “eat whatever they want” because they burn upwards of 1000kcal during a ride but calories aren’t the only consideration for athletes. Competitive cyclists often have higher protein, iron, sodium, and magnesium needs than the general population, and inadequate nutrient consumption from a junk food-heavy diet can lead to frequent illness, injury, and poor performance.  

While it’s perfectly fine to indulge in junk food every once in a while, eating a well-balanced diet that includes plenty of whole foods, like fruits, vegetables, beans, legumes, nuts, whole grains, poultry, fish, and dairy, is generally best for long-term health and performance.

Man eating pizza with two bottles of soda in the background