Fueling cold weather rides


Riding in the cold I find makes me ravenous even when the ride is less than ten miles. The colder it is, the hungrier I get. Yesterday I biked to work – 7.5 miles – in wind and 30F temp and could have eaten an entire second breakfast (I had breakfast before leaving home). Instead I ate the apple from my lunch. Is it psychological or does riding in the cold take more energy and thus require a different approach to nutrition and fueling?


Great question Stefanie! Exercising in the cold requires your body to burn more calories to regulate your body temperature. That in turn increases your appetite.

Have you ever heard that swimmers eat A LOT? I see it with my kids- they exercise in cold water and are constantly cold between sets and events on deck.

If the increased appetite is indeed because of riding in the cold (note that some people eat more in the colder months regardless of whether/where they exercise), I’d say attend to your increased appetite with more food and have some hot tea or other hot beverage after your commute.


I find the same thing in cold weather riding. Like Theia said, your body works harder to stay warm. I also think you’re working harder due to the weather. We have more wind so you are dealing with more head and side winds ( very nice when you finally get a tail wind). The wind chill definitely pulls the heat out of you.
I also find I don’t eat and drink as much on a cold weather ride so I actually have more problems with dehydration in the winter.


Thanks @Coach_Theia and @Petals! I thought the cold and wind took more effort and calories but needed confirmation. :smile: I have a green tea stash at work I should probably start brewing up regularly especially since all my co-workers are coming down with colds already and I don’t want to be among them!

Living in MN if I started eating more just because it was cold I would be in big trouble! I do start craving earthier flavors though like winter squash/pumpkin, potatoes, parsnips. Also apples and whole grain porridge like barely and buckwheat and brown rice. I am making myself hungry just thinking about it!


Anecdotally, I’ve always said I’m never hungrier than when I’m swimming regularly. I’ve always thought that the effort paired with the cooler temperature requires a higher calorie burn.