By Marine Lenehan, Nutritionist at Vivify Sports & Cigala Cycling

It's that time of year again, it sneaks up on us and before you know it the days are short, the temperature drops and it’s time to reunite with that turbo or drag the thermal kit out.

Winter training is all about setting a solid foundation to build upon for the next season. With that in mind it’s important to implement good nutritional strategies.

The call of cake & hot chocolate in front of the fire in the off-season is often a weakness. It is important to remember optimal fuelling and recovery when training, as they are going to help towards bigger training adaptations. So put that slice of cake aside ( or opt for healthy snacks).

This meal should be taken 2-3 hours prior to your training session, and high in carbohydrates. Long training sessions on an empty stomach are not recommended, slowing down training adaptations & muscle growth. Unless you are doing a fasted low-intensity ride to improve your glycogen storing & promote weight loss. Depending on the time of day, these foods will keep you fuelled effectively for your session: Porridge with yogurt, nuts & berries Scrambled eggs on toast Granola Protein Pancakes Chicken & rice Smoked salmon on toast


Many of us think that we burn more calories in the winter, that is only true if you are cold and start shaking (shaking is mostly carbohydrate fuelled) so dress accordingly to avoid wasting calories.

Depending on the intensity of your session , the goal is to achieve 0.5-1g/kg/h of carbohydrates.

If we take the example of a 70kg man, going out for a 3 hour bike ride.

A minimum of 35g/h should be taken.

This amount of carbs can be found per hour in :

-1 banana

-1 flapjack 500ml Energy drink


Whether you train outdoors or indoors it makes no difference, getting your post-training nutrition right is going to make a huge difference towards helping your body adapt and improve from the training you have undertaken.

You should consume a combination of carbohydrates and protein. Carbohydrates to replenish the stores in your muscles and protein to aid the recovery of muscle damage. The sooner the better as our bodies have a 30 minute ‘anabolic window’ post training.

Eating within this time frame has been shown to be the best way to optimise recovery, especially if you have multiple training sessions within a 24 hour period.

Basically, the sooner you eat and hydrate the better your recovery and adaptation will be.
Here are some suggestions:

-Protein shake + 1 apple

-Scrambled eggs on toast

-Omelette & rice

-Tuna rice salad


It’s not all about carbs per hour. There are more considerations to take into account when it comes to energy expenditure over the winter months.

Many of us reduce our training volume, discouraged by the inclement conditions. On the other hand, training can become more energy-intensive owing to the nature of winter riding. What matters most is having a balanced diet supporting your training and body composition.

Winter is the best time of the year to improve your body composition by learning what food makes you feel energized and what food makes you feel depleted. Implementing a structured nutritional routine is key over the winter months.