Snacking is bad, right? Wrong! Snacking is thought of as being bad because it is typically associated with junk food.
However, snacking on the right amount of the right type of food at the right time can be a massive benefit to you as a cyclist, helping you to fuel up for workouts, get the variety of nutrients you require and spread your calories throughout the day, all of which will help immensely in terms of performance and recovery.
The key is to keep snack portions small and to focus on nutrient-dense foods. During a normal (i.e. non-race) day the general approach is to spread your meals and snacks out evenly throughout the day, but also to try and eat immediately after any training session. On the day of a race or on a particularly intense training day, more attention should be paid to eating the right snacks both before and after running.
Snacks eaten before your run should be designed to boost your blood glucose levels and top off your muscle glycogen stores, which means choosing foods that are high in carbohydrate. An ideal choice in this respect would be some dried fruits, which could be mixed with nuts to provide you with a slower releasing source of energy for longer runs as well as the required immediate boost to blood sugar levels.
Post-workout snacks should focus on replenishing your glycogen stores and aiding muscle recovery. Whilst this snack should deliver a good dosage of carbohydrate it should also include protein (to provide your body with the building blocks it needs to repair and rebuild muscle) and ideally key vitamins and minerals, such as potassium, which will help keep you hydrated and aid recovery. Good examples of post-run snacks include a sports recovery bar, a granola mix, a chocolate milk drink or even a fruit smoothie with a scoop of protein powder.