Sports Nutrition Tips to Boost Your Cycling Class Performance

Lori Russell, MS RD CSSD
by Lori Russell, MS RD CSSD
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Sports Nutrition Tips to Boost Your Cycling Class Performance

Spin classes are the group fitness class du jour. With energy-boosting playlists, trendy workout attire, Instagram-worthy studios and instructors with mega social media followings, these classes have gone from basic workout to cult fitness inspo.

Whether you’re a devoted fan of SoulCycle, Peloton, Flywheel, your local gym or one of the other many options, make sure you’re getting the most out of your session with proper nutrition.  

Follow these suggestions to fuel your spin class efforts and get the results you want:

Athletic bouts less than 90 minutes may not require extra calories. However, you can maximize your performance by adding a small, easy-to-digest, carbohydrate-based snack 30 minutes prior to your class. A banana or small vanilla latte will do the trick to top off available energy stores.

Be sure to replenish your fatigued body post-class by immediately taking in carbohydrates along with about 20 grams of protein. For ambitious cyclists enrolled in back-to-back classes, give your legs the energy to keep pedaling by consuming 30–60 grams of carbohydrates an hour. This is most effectively done by taking in small amounts of energy throughout the sessions. Try carbohydrate beverages, gels or chews to maximize your performance.

So many working bodies packed into one room can generate a lot of heat. Dripping sweat is not uncommon in these spin rooms. Fluid needs can be met by sipping water throughout the class. However, when you sweat, vital electrolytes (necessary for nerve-muscle interactions) are lost, too. Cover your electrolyte needs by adding a low-calorie (think LyteLine, Nuun or Klean) mix to your bottle of water. Try sipping from your bottle after every song or about every 5–10 minutes throughout class. Stepping on the locker room scale before and after class shows you how much water weight you’ve sweated out and should be replenished at roughly 16 ounces for each pound of weight lost.

Many popular spin classes have cafes or smoothie bars located in the same facility. Make this work to your advantage by picking a small, fruit-based smoothie as your pre-workout snack. After class, replenish with a protein shake or light meal that includes carbs and protein. (Think: poached eggs and avocado toast.) Avoid extra-large beverages, loaded smoothie bowls and other decadent, calorie-laden offerings that only hinder reaching the fitness goals that brought you to spin class in the first place. Actually, your best bet might be to pack your own snacks and use the gym café as a last resort.


Being prepared is always the way to go, and this is true for your nutrition as well. Stashing a few snacks in your gym bag can help you stay on track and provide needed energy for when you reserve a last-minute bike, you’re rushing from bed to bike for an early session or you’re heading from the office to spitn class. If you take the time to pack appropriate snacks, you will be less likely to grab tempting treats after class, when your blood sugar is low and cravings are high.

Remember your spin class is more than a social date. Your body will reach your composition, health, performance and wellness goals much faster if you fuel it accordingly.

As always, reach out to a sports dietitian for individual nutrition advice.

About the Author

Lori Russell, MS RD CSSD
Lori Russell, MS RD CSSD

Lori, MS RD CSSD is an accomplished sports dietitian; she holds a Master’s Degree in Human Nutrition and Certification as a Specialist in Sports Nutrition. As a current professional road cyclist and previous elite marathoner and ultra-runner, Lori knows firsthand that food can enhance or diminish performance gains. She understands the importance of balancing a quality whole food based diet with science-backed performance nutrition and strives to share this message with others. Learn more about her @HungryForResults.


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