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Cycling and Being Vegetarian

Because nutrition is complex, here's an article about basics and a couple of recipes

🕒 4 min read

Category: Bikes

Tags: cycling, bike, vegetarian, food, diet

Let's face it: nutrition is not an easy topic. And it gets even harder when you're vegetarian and you like to exercise a little more than the average person.

I've read many articles, some good, some bad, but at the end of the day what I really want and need is a list of recipes for:

So here goes. This article will cover some basics and give a couple of recipes.


Any cyclist (or athlete really) needs proteins and nutrients to perform well on the bike but also promote recovery.

First, vocabulary


As a vegetarian, proteins can be found in:

Only chia seeds, soya and quinoa have all 8 essential amino acids. (are there 8 or 9 essential amino acids?)

The solution is to combine different sources of proteins:


The type of iron found in plants is less easy for your body to absorb than is the iron found in meat. However, you can increase the amount absorbed by eating a vitamin C-rich food (i.e. fruit, vegetables) at the same time as iron-rich foods. -- (source)

Good plant sources of iron include:

Good sources of vitamin C are:

Vinegar also helps with iron absorption.


Oomega-3 fats are found in three different forms: DHA, EPA and ALA. ALA is most abundant in plant-based sources, but DHA and EPA are difficult to obtain on a vegetarian diet.

Also, omega-3 rich food is also usually rich in omega-6. It is recommended to preserve a balance omega-6/omega-3 pretty low, around 4:1.

Sources of omega-3 fats are:

These provide alpha linoleic acid (ALA), which is converted to EPA and DHA in the body, but only at a limited rate. A good way to get more EPA and DHA is through Algal oil. Seaweed, nori, spirulina, and chlorella are different forms of algae containing DHA and EPA.

More on fats and omega-3 here.

An image showing omega 3 and 6 sources
Omega 3 and 6 sources


As a vegetarian, B12 is normally never an issue.

Some ideas of recipes

Everyday life

Very often


Things to eat rarely

Races (> 2 hours, or cyclosportive)

Days before (2-3 days)

Carb loading! Porridge, bread, potatoes, rice, pasta. On the night prior to the race, prefer whole wheat pasta as its more nutritious, but in the morning before the race, prefer white pasta, as you'll need more energy and you'll want it available faster.

On the D-Day

For breakfast, my go-to recipe is porridge (overnight soaked rolled oats with cow's milk) or muesli mix served with Skyr and a sliced banana, one or two fried eggs, and some white pasta. Make sure to eat at least 3 hours before the start.

During the race, energy bars, gels, some dried fruits and bananas should do. Do drink clean water but also water with added electrolytes.

Replenish your carbohydrates stocks after the race with pasta, but also protein-rich food.

Good online resources