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Lean proteins (chicken, turkey, fish, tofu, tempeh)

Lean proteins are an essential component of a cyclist's diet, supporting muscle recovery, repair, and growth. They provide the building blocks necessary for maintaining lean body mass and optimizing performance.


Lean proteins are high-quality protein sources that are low in saturated fat. They can be derived from both animal and plant-based sources.

Lean proteins

List of lean proteins:
  • Chicken breast
  • Turkey breast
  • Fish (e.g., salmon, tuna, cod, tilapia)
  • Tofu
  • Tempeh
  • Lean beef (e.g., sirloin, tenderloin)
  • Pork tenderloin
  • Eggs
  • Greek yogurt
  • Cottage cheese
  • Legumes (e.g., lentils, beans, peas)
  • Seitan
  • Edamame
  • Spirulina
Benefits for the cyclist:
  • Support muscle recovery and repair after intense rides
  • Help maintain and build lean muscle mass
  • Promote a healthy immune system
  • Provide satiety and help with weight management
  • Plant-based proteins offer additional benefits, such as fiber and antioxidants
Energy value:

Lean proteins are relatively low in calories compared to their high nutrient density. On average, a 3-ounce (85g) serving of lean meat or tofu provides about 150-200 kcal, while half a cup (100g) of legumes contains around 100-150 kcal.

When to eat:
  • Before the ride: Consuming lean protein 2-3 hours before a ride can help stabilize blood sugar levels and provide sustained energy.
  • During the ride: For rides lasting more than 90 minutes, consuming small amounts of protein (5-10g) along with carbohydrates every 30-45 minutes can help prevent muscle breakdown.
  • After the ride: Consuming lean protein within 30-60 minutes after a ride is crucial for optimal muscle recovery and repair.
Other tips:
  • Aim for about 1.2-1.6g of protein per kg of body weight daily, depending on your training intensity and goals.
  • Combine lean proteins with complex carbohydrates and healthy fats for a well-rounded meal.
  • Choose grilled, baked, or roasted preparation methods over fried or processed options.
  • Incorporate a variety of protein sources to ensure you get all the essential amino acids.
  • Vegetarian and vegan cyclists should focus on combining plant-based proteins (e.g., rice and beans) to obtain complete protein profiles.

Incorporating lean proteins into a cyclist's diet is crucial for supporting muscle recovery, maintaining lean body mass, and promoting overall health. By selecting high-quality protein sources, timing their intake appropriately, and combining them with other essential nutrients, cyclists can optimize their performance and recovery.