Staying fueled up during exercise is important. Some riders find that fueling during cold rides is challenging due to their gear (gloves) and others report that they just don't feel like eating. Some take the approach with lower intensity rides common during the colder months that they don't need to fuel.
That last thought is debatable for sure, but science has shown that cold weather can make you feel hungrier, and your caloric needs may actually increase. Our bodies have to work hard to keep us warm which takes energy, and energy comes from calories.
"When a person is shivering, the body needs to work harder to maintain thermoregulation (body temperature). According to Nancy Clark, M.S., R.D., shivering can burn about 400 calories per hour and it depletes glycogen stores and leaves you feeling fatigued" (Clark, Nancy (2004). Winter and Nutrition: Fueling for Cold Weather Exercise downloaded from www.active.com on 10/26/2010)
Over eating should be avoided, of course, but it is important to take in calories during any ride of about 75 minutes or more. I'll be writing about general fueling ideas in a future post, but for now, as the weather turns colder, keep yourself topped off!
If you want to perform well, keep your immune system strong, and recover effectively to be ready for the next bout of training, proper fueling is important.
Here are two good articles if you're interested in learning more:
Outside Online: Why Am I Hungrier When It's Cold
And if you really want to nerd out:
Don't let the cold keep you from riding your bike, and while you're out there, give your body the energy it needs.
Now let's ride bikes.
Coach B.L. is the head coach at BJL Coaching and an avid racer and cycling enthusiast himself.