What to eat for high intensity & endurance indoor cycling sessions

We all love a good indoor cycling workout, and the benefits that come from spinning working out are huge. We get fitter, live longer lives, avoid health issues, and a considerable amount of other good things. We all know training isn’t just about getting on an exercise bike and just going. You need appropriate indoor cycling clothing and accessories like shoes, shorts, and mats. Plus, you need to know what kind of training you’re going to be doing, and also need to make sure you are fuelled correctly.

Getting you fuelling right can make a spinning workout, but getting it wrong can have a really negative impact on not just your training but yourself. It isn’t as simple as just eating and drinking enough. It has to be the right stuff and at the right time, and a lot of that comes down to what type of workout you’re doing. In this article, we will tell you how to get the fuelling right for a high intensity workout and an endurance workout.

We Are All Different

This article can only be taken as advice. We are all made differently, and with our bodies, what works for one person might not work for another person. It will take a bit of fine-tuning for it to be 100% perfect for you. With anyone from top-level athletes to general fitness enthusiasts, it takes a bit of trial and error.

What is a Cycling High Intensity Workout


A high intensity workout is exactly what it says on the tin. It’s high intensity. These high intensity workouts can come in many different forms, such as interval training and power sessions. These intense workouts can be put into a workout program, and they are used to take our heart rate super high and challenge us at the top level of our fitness. They are often referred to as HIIT workouts or high intensity interval training. They typically only last 30 minutes or less, and you can expect to be glad that it is over by the end.

What Powers a High Intensity Interval

Our bodies have different systems, which fuel us to work out in different ways. A high intensity training session will use what we call the anaerobic system mainly. This system requires glucose to fuel and the body can only maintain this from 10-90 seconds. It is your explosive power and requires the body to be running at maximum effort. This system, unlike the others, does not require oxygen to work. Using this system is very fatiguing, and keeping yourself fuelled is extremely challenging.

HIIT sessions are very short, so we generally don’t refuel while doing them, so it’s about getting the right fuel in beforehand. So we need to use foods that convert to glucose in the body as quickly as possible. These foods we need are carbohydrate rich foods. Carbohydrates are easy for the body to turn into glucose and fuel high energy workouts.

Though some are better than others, and we will need carbohydrates with a high glycemic index, we call these high GI foods. They will convert into glucose quickly and raise the blood sugar levels rapidly, giving us the fuel for high intensity interval training.

What are High Glycemic carbohydrates, and which are suitable for an intense workout?

HIIT workouts are short, and typically you don’t have the time to eat in them, so we need the right food beforehand. What foods are good examples of high quality workout carbohydrates with a high glycemic level?

  • High Sugar Food and Sugary Drinks

You will see a lot of energy drinks for exercise contain a lot of sugar, and that is because it can turn straight in glycogen and can power the anaerobic system.

  • White Bread

White bread is very high in sugar and will help power a workout. Something as simple as a slice of white bread can go a long way before a workout.

  • White Rice

Another great source of high glycemic carbohydrates is white rice. This will provide your body with a lot of energy quickly.

  • White Potatoes

White potatoes are a good source of quick energy and are very easy to digest in time to get in a good workout.

What is a Cycling Endurance Workout


An endurance workout is a very different kind of workout and is much less intense than HIIT workouts but is just as beneficial. An excellent example of an endurance workout would be a long bike ride. You would have the pace low, but the duration would be much longer. Endurance training is an excellent way to lose weight and burn calories which gives you much less fatigue than intense exercise and is beneficial in a training plan.

What Fuels an Endurance Workout?

An endurance workout at the correct level doesn’t fuel using the anaerobic system we talked about before. We use something else that we call the aerobic system. The aerobic system uses fats, carbohydrates, and oxygen. It breaks them down into energy we can use to power the body.

The main difference between the aerobic and anaerobic systems is the fact that the aerobic fitness system takes much longer to break the food down into energy. Still, it can work for much longer compared to the anaerobic system.

This is perfect for endurance training. As good as the foods above would be, there’s a much better way to fuel than using high GI foods. Instead, we want to use Low GI carbohydrates, and some people refer to these as slow-release carbohydrates. Low GI carbs still fuel us, but they don’t spike our blood sugar like a high glycemic carbohydrate, ideal for our endurance training plan.

What are Low Glycemic Carbohydrates, and which are suitable for an intense workout?

We need low glycemic carbs to fuel our bodies when it comes to endurance. These carbohydrates slow-release energy and will power your endurance workouts without the highs and lows of high GI foods. These are some great examples.

  • Whole Grain Foods

Low GI carbs don’t get much better than whole grain foods. Whole grain bread, whole grain rice, and even whole grain pasta.

  • Porridge Oats

Oats are an energy bar favorite, and I can highly recommend these for an amazing endurance workout. They digest well and slow-release energy perfectly.

  • Pulses

Food like beans and lentils are excellent as far as low GI carbohydrates go and full of great vitamins and minerals.

How do we fuel for High Intensity Workouts compared to Endurance training?

The best source of energy is going to be carbohydrates. These are essential for success when it comes to working out. You just have to work out which ones are the best for your training plans. Do you need fast energy for strength training, or do you need slow energy for steady state cardio?

If you’re training with a lot of high intensity workouts, then your going to want to be using carbohydrates with a high GI index as it’s a short period of time. If you’re endurance training, then you will be looking at carbohydrates with a low GI index to get you in that endurance zone on those long rides.


In this next section, we’re going to speak about a few commonly asked questions when it comes to fueling workouts and your nutrition.

What’s the best workout program for losing weight?


Get proper nutrition before and after a spinning workout, do many cycling intervals, switch workouts, and perform resistance indoor cycling workouts. Combining these in your indoor cycling can help to lose weight and get slim. You just need to keep burning calories and keep an eye on your diet to make sure you are in a calorie deficit.

I get so hungry after a HIIT Session and overeat. How do I stop that?


Make sure you are fully hydrated. Not drinking enough water is a common cause of hunger. Also, make sure you’re eating a substantial meal a few times a day with plenty of protein in it.

What is best for recovery nutrition?

spinning exercise bike

The best thing you can have for recovery nutrition is protein, as it helps keep you full and helps repair the body. It’s fantastic after a hard workout and proper fuel for your body’s muscle tissue.


Fuelling for indoor cycling using a magnetic spin bike or turbo trainer is unique to each person, but getting the right carbohydrates in will be a great start to getting a strong nutrition game and some serious strength gains and hitting those fitness goals. This article can only be considered a guide to your nutrition, and we highly recommend seeing a nutritionist more than experimenting too much.

Robbie Ferri
Robbie Ferri

Robbie Ferri from “Riding with Robbie” has been cycling for almost ten years. In that time, he has broken World Records, Bikepacked all over the World, and also raced ultra distance at a top-level. Robbie picked up a bike and started cycling when he was about 25 years old and said it was the best thing he ever did. The experiences and the fun he’s had have given him a huge passion for helping inspire others to ride further, farther, and get fitter.