Ask Levi: Is It Normal To Be Starving After a Ride?

Today we’ll look at the problems with eating too much or too little, as well as eating the right food…

is it normal to be totally starving after a ride? I was so hungry after a 2 hour intense training ride of the spinner that I felt really light headed and bad. I had to stop and get a piece of pizza.

I need to eat more I guess not sure what types of food. Is there a diet plan you have/reccomend so I won’t bonk anymore?????

Thanks,
Starving Steven

Hi Starving,

First off, it’s definitely not unusual to be starving after a long, intense ride. You could easily burn 2,000+ calories on a ride like that, so your body is going to tell you it needs food to replenish what it just lost. (It’s also not unusual to want to throw up after a long, intense ride, depending on the circumstances…)

The trick is to eat the right amount of the right foods before, during, and after riding so that you don’t get to the point where you’re starving. You might be eating too little, you might not be getting enough fat and protein, or it could deal with a rapid insulin response to carbs. Or maybe something else.

The light-headedness does make it sound like you’re running low on blood sugar during the ride. Either that or you’re pushing yourself insanely hard in a hot, indoor environment with stale air.

The best thing I can do is point you toward a few links that might help you figure out the right plan for your needs:

First, check my articles:

“What to Eat During a Ride or Race” and “What to Eat Pre- and Post-Ride”

Those articles give you ideas of what to eat before, during, and after a ride.

Next, if you want more ideas of good foods to eat as part of your daily diet, here are a few ideas:

Dr. Mercola’s Nutrition Plan
This sugar-free meal planning resource might not be perfect for cyclists, but it’s useful and free. Check it out for some ideas of wholesome meals.

How to Lose 20 lb Fat in 30 Days
I like reading articles from Tim Ferriss, and this is no exception. You might not be looking to drop 20 lb, but there are a few ideas for meals consisting of mainly meat/protein and vegetables.

The Pre-Race Meal
This article comes from Hammer Nutrition, so it will be biased toward their products, but the meat of the article is about meal type and timing. It’s very thorough (not to mention, correct.)

Healthiest Meals on Earth: The Surprising, Unbiased Truth About What Meals to Eat and Why
If you’re still having trouble, you might want to buy a book full of healthy meal ideas. This is a great book from one of my favorite authors, Dr. Jonny Bowden.

Shape Up!: The 8-week Program To Transform Your Body, Your Health, And Your Life
Another book from Jonny Bowden, this one might not be that useful to you, but it does cover some basics about getting the right food in your diet.

And last but not least, the Precision Nutrition system will help you organize your diet and time your nutrients properly. In your case, that means eating strategically to get the most benefit from what you eat, with less possibility of gaining weight (fat) from your post-ride binges.

Keep working at it and eventually you’ll nail down your nutrition strategy!

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1 Comment so far

  1. Stu K. on April 14th, 2009

    After 2 hours on a spinning bike, I think I’d be literally sick from boredom, stale air, and… boredom. You feeling light-headed from that isn’t a shock to me.

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