Cheap cycling nutrition ideas for triathletes

On a tight budget? There are plenty of cheaper alternatives to energy gels, drinks and bars...


The most popular cheap mid-ride munch in the 220 office proved to be the humble banana – it’s energy rich, packed with nutrients and comes in biodegradable wrapping.


Some more intriguing candidates included malt loaf with Marmite, Battenburg cake, Jelly Babies, Jaffa Cakes and even fig rolls (which can have a laxative effect on some people in high quantities, so go easy on those!)

In short, you can eat anything that’s not poisonous since your body is great at converting whatever you put in it into energy. But that’s missing the point, because what you’re really looking for is something cheap and tasty that will fuel you up as effectively as pricey powders, bars and gels without compromise (that are also easy to carry and tasty).

>>> Four homemade energy balls

To that end, fitness–for–food writer Kate Percy of can provide more informed advice: “The best way to prevent bonking on long rides is to keep your glycogen stores topped up. A mix of solids and liquids, equating to around 100 calories every 15-20mins should ensure you maintain your energy levels adequately.

“Alternatives to expensive sports nutrition products are the humble banana, my chia seed energy balls (head to for the recipe), Marmite/honey/cheese sandwiches (preferably not all in one), dates, malt loaf or nuts and raisins. A mix of healthy snacks is optimal, plus a combination of savoury and sweet so you can eat according to how you’re feeling.

“In terms of cheap drinks, a 50/50 mix of fruit juice and water with a pinch of salt will provide all the carbs and electrolytes you need. Flat cola is good for a late-ride boost with its high sugar and caffeine content, although you’d probably only want one cup.

“A really good savoury alternative for the hot weather is diluted vegetable stock – they served this at mile-23 in the Stockholm marathon and it really does work wonders!”

(Images: Jonny Gawler / iStockPhoto)


For more fuelling advice head to our Nutrition section