Loving the BITE: 3 Recipes for Coffee Addicted Cyclists



After a late night of celebrating independence with a fantastic fireworks show, you may just need a cup of coffee to get you going this morning.  Or, if you’re like me, you may enjoy a cup every morning.  And, if you’re like me, you may also add a little something to it for flavor.  I’ve gone “all black coffee all the time” for different periods in my life.  However, I always miss extra flavor, and have decided that for me personally, life’s too short to not flavor my coffee!  I’m sure some will disagree, and I’m open to suggestions.  But, it’s in this carpe diem spirit that we’ll look at a few whole-food, healthy options for coffee additions, and discuss the whole caffeine issue for both wellness and cycling.

Recipes of the Week: Flavorful Coffee, 3 Ways

#1: Brewed Cinnamon Coffee


  • Ground cinnamon or cinnamon sticks broken into 1 inch pieces


Sprinkle ground cinnamon or place cinnamon sticks in your coffee grounds right before brewing.  Or, for a more intense flavor, grind broken cinnamon sticks with coffee beans before placing in basket.  It’ll add a subtle, wonderful cinnamon flavor to your cup o’ Joe!

#2: Whipped Coconut Milk Creamer


  • 1 Can Coconut Milk (use Arroy-D or Native Forest canned coconut milk to avoid BPA in the cans, or make your own)
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • 1-2 tsp real Vanilla


Place full-fat coconut milk in the fridge overnight.  Once refrigerated, scoop out creams and reserve the remaining water for another use.  Add ½ tsp cinnamon and 1-2 tsp real vanilla, if desired.  Whip cream in a mixing bowl until thickened.  Enjoy in coffee or as whipped cream.

#3: High Antioxidant Dark Chocolate Mocha (same as our Homemade Chocolate Syrup)


  • 1 1/4 C organic honey
  • 1 C unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 C water
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla extract
  • Dash of cinnamon (optional)


Make syrup (ahead of time): Place honey, cocoa, water, and salt in a medium saucepan.  Cook over medium heat, whisking to remove all lumps and mix thoroughly.  Bring to a boil and allow to thicken, about 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently.  Remove from heat and set aside to cool for 5-10 minutes.  Stir in vanilla and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 weeks.

Make mocha: Brew coffee as normal.  Then, heat approximately ½ cup milk per cup of coffee.  Add heated milk to brewed coffee and stir in ~1 Tbsp chocolate syrup.  Mix well and enjoy!


With a few caveats, I think coffee can be part of a healthy lifestyle.  And for athletes, caffeine can be used effectively within Training Nutrition.  For those of us who live in cold-weather states (although you wouldn’t know it right now with record-breaking heat), it serves to literally warm us up in the morning.  And, across the country, it’s a wake-up call, morning ritual, and anticipated daily pleasure.  Here’s how to keep it healthy.

First, coffee really should be enjoyed in moderation.  To me, moderation means 1-2 cups per day (meaning 8 oz. cup, not 32 oz. super-mugs).  While there is research to back up coffee’s potential benefits (reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease and Dementia, reduced risk of gall stone disease, reduced risk of Parkinson’s disease, improved cognitive performance, anti-diabetic properties, liver protection, possible cancer risk reduction, heart protection, reduced risk of constipation, antioxidant source, prevention of cavities, and gentle diuretic effects), there are also risks, especially to “heavy drinkers (more than 4 cups per day).”  These health risks include ingestion of potentially carcinogenic substances (the chemicals are naturally occurring and huge amounts are carcinogenic to rodents), damage to the lining of gastrointestinal organs causing ulcers and gastritis, sleep disturbances, iron deficiency anemia (can reduce absorption of iron), coffee-dependence and withdrawal symptoms, and increased cardiovascular inflammation (with ingestion of large amounts).

What’s more, regular caffeine consumption, especially in large amounts can mess with your performance on the bike.

The issue with being a heavy-drinking-coffee-dependent athlete is that you’ve trained your body to require a certain amount of caffeine in order to simply get to baseline. Let’s say that every day you drink 4 cups throughout the course of the morning. Then, you plan an early morning ride on a Saturday.  If you can only get in 1-2 cups before a ride, you’ll start in a deficit as far as cell stimulation.  This mostly affects your mental status, but it has a significant effect that trickles down to physical performance! Being below your baseline can cause an increased sense of effort (when you just feel like you’re draggin’), headaches, and fatigue. In this case, to get to your baseline, you’ll have to plan your rides around 4 cups of coffee, and you’ll also only have diminished benefits, if any, from caffeine ingested while riding.  A 1-2 cup of coffee baseline is much more feasible before early rides.

What’s more, coffee acts as a natural laxative, both as being a warm liquid and from naturally occurring chemicals.  While it affects runners more than cyclists, this can spell trouble for a long ride.  And for some, including myself, coffee consumption right before a ride makes me feel a little nauseous.

On the other hand, there are studies that show benefit to consuming caffeine while riding.   These benefits come from amounts over baseline or in those who don’t routinely ingest it – so, again, only moderate daily intake is a key.  With this in mind, caffeine can deliver a mental AND physical boost.  Personally, I use caffeine on the bike and I help clients use it effectively for Training Nutrition on endurance-length rides (especially if there’s a big climb at the end of a long ride).  If you’d like to try it, know that it takes ~15 minutes to hit your blood stream from the time you ingest it. And, if you still have a long way to go, you’ll likely have to continue to consume it in regular ~30-45 minute intervals in order to not “crash.”

Lastly, I am adamant that coffee and caffeine should NOT act as a band-aid for sleep deprivation (except maybe occasionally).  Our bodies depend on healthy sleep-wake cycles, and this should be a priority in our lives.  Too many times, our schedules are overflowing, and we need coffee because we don’t get enough sleep.  Sleep deprivation goes beyond feeling tired…it affects our hormonal balance, metabolism, and overall well-being.  Although I think of coffee as a nice way to start my day, it should not become a crutch for normal functioning.  (This, coming for a mother with 3 kids 5 years and under…if you wanna talk sleep deprivation!)

What are your thoughts?  To caffeinate or to not caffeinate?  Black or flavored? Use it, or skip it on the ride?  Or, live and ride with this quote in mind: “I don’t have a problem with caffeine. I have a problem without caffeine.”?

Fuel Your Ride. Nourish Your Body.

Enjoy Your Ride
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7 Responses to “ Loving the BITE: 3 Recipes for Coffee Addicted Cyclists ”

  1. Kelli, RD on July 9, 2012 at 11:38 am

    Hi All – thanks for your comments! I apologize for my delay in response, but I was on my bike riding alpine singletrack… 🙂 Enjoy your coffee today (1-2 cups!?!)

  2. Malachi on July 5, 2012 at 8:36 pm

    Like coffee?
    Try: more coffee,
    stronger coffee,

  3. Jackson on July 5, 2012 at 2:55 pm

    It was nice to read that ” studies that show benefit to consuming caffeine while riding”. I have always felt that caffeine in limited amounts was find for my rides but never had anything to back it up. I like my coffee black, but might try out that mocha sometime. Do you have any variations that would allow me to make some kind of coffee based syrup to put on my ice cream? That would taste really good.

    • Kelli Jennings, RD on July 9, 2012 at 11:52 am

      The chocolate syrup above works very well over ice-cream. To add a coffee-flavor, use strongly brewed coffee in place of water (seems like it would work well!). However, I’m not liable for any sleeping issues if you eat the ice-cream and coffee chocolate syrup in the evening. On the other hand, the coconut milk ice cream (with protein added) from last week makes a good breakfast, and coffee-chocolate syrup on top of it would be perfect!

  4. Clif on July 5, 2012 at 11:10 am

    My name is Clif and I am a coffee addict. These are some nice ideas to spunk up the coffee a little bit. I think I’ll try that coconut milk one tomorrow.

    • Kelli Jennings, RD on July 9, 2012 at 11:53 am

      Hi Clif, thank you for being here…you’re safe from coffee-addiction judgement:). How did you like the coconut milk creamer?

  5. Charles on July 5, 2012 at 7:19 am

    Coffee is good. Good coffee is better. Choose wisely.


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Sugar Alternatives for Energy and Hydration

Question: I am using the homebrew sugar formulations (sometimes added to green tea).  I am also trying to wean myself off 1/2 dose adrenalean “lip tonic delivery system” (biorhythm brand- caffeine, hoodia g, synephrine, yohimbe) capsule for energy.

My question is other than juice, can you suggest modifications in lieu of table sugar for energy and hydration.


Both raw/organic honey or agave can work great in the homebrew (substitute in the same quantities for the sugar, or to taste), but you do have to shake well in order to make sure they don’t settle out.  Have you tried either of these?  Also, make sure to use at least the minimum amount of salt recommended in the homebrew as the temps rise, you need the sodium replacement if you’re sweating.

Sports Drink Homebrew

Please send us your questions for our Expert Sports Nutritionist, Kelli Jennings to “Ask the Sports Nutritionist“. Kelli Jennings is a Registered Dietitian with a passion for healthy eating, wellness, & sports nutrition. For more information go to www.apexnutritionllc.com.

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