Legumes (beans, lentils, peas)

Legumes, including beans, lentils, and peas, are a nutritious and versatile food group that can provide numerous benefits for cyclists. They are an excellent source of plant-based protein, complex carbohydrates, fiber, and various vitamins and minerals.

Legumes are the edible seeds of plants in the Fabaceae family, which are typically grown in pods. They are known for their high protein content and their ability to fix nitrogen in the soil.


List of legume variants:
  • Beans (kidney, black, pinto, navy, lima, etc.)
  • Lentils (green, brown, red, yellow)
  • Peas (green, split, black-eyed, chickpeas)
  • Soybeans (and products like tofu, tempeh, and edamame)
  • Peanuts (technically a legume, not a nut)
  • Fava beans
  • Mung beans
  • Adzuki beans
  • Lupins
  • Pigeon peas
Benefits for the cyclist:
  • Excellent source of plant-based protein for muscle recovery and repair
  • Provide complex carbohydrates for sustained energy release
  • High in fiber, which promotes digestive health, satiety, and stable blood sugar levels
  • Rich in vitamins and minerals, such as iron, magnesium, potassium, and B vitamins
  • Contain antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds
  • Can be a cost-effective and environmentally sustainable protein source
Energy value:

The calorie content of legumes varies depending on the type and serving size. On average, a 1/2 cup (100-120g) serving of cooked legumes contains 100-150 kcal, with 7-10g of protein, 20-25g of carbohydrates, and 0-1g of fat.

When to eat:
  • Before the ride: Consuming legumes as part of a balanced meal 2-3 hours before a ride can provide sustained energy and support muscle function.
  • After the ride: Eating legumes within 30-60 minutes after a ride, combined with a carbohydrate source, can aid in muscle recovery and glycogen replenishment.
  • As a regular part of the diet: Incorporating legumes into daily meals can support overall health and training adaptations.
Other tips:
  • Rinse canned legumes to reduce sodium content.
  • Combine legumes with grains (e.g., rice and beans) to create a complete protein source.
  • Gradually increase legume intake to allow your digestive system to adapt and minimize potential discomfort.
  • Experiment with different types of legumes and preparation methods (e.g., soups, stews, salads, dips) to add variety to your diet.
  • If using dried legumes, soak them overnight and discard the soaking water to reduce cooking time and improve digestibility.

Legumes are a nutritious and valuable addition to a cyclist's diet, providing plant-based protein, complex carbohydrates, fiber, and various micronutrients. By incorporating a variety of legumes into their regular meals and timing their intake appropriately, cyclists can support muscle recovery, sustained energy, and overall health. As with any food, it's important to consider individual dietary needs, preferences, and potential allergies or intolerances when including legumes in a meal plan.