Always fuel w/sports fuels (sugar only)?...a word of caution

Personally, I’m a fan of personal self observation. Hence, I use the technology to help me improve my own RPE awareness. Hence specific Watts and HR measures are fine, but on event day, I need to react to how I’m feeling.

So, I’m much the same with food. I’ve never used gels etc for sessions of less than 90 minutes. Lots of water from the tap. On longer rider dried dates are much tastier than gels.

On the other hand, I’ve been doing 3 weight training session/per week, and started to feel increasing tired for long periods. The observation from my exercise physiologist was those are symptoms of insufficient protein, peanuts are best source from the Nut group, but also this could lead to overtraining, ie, a potentially a more significant risk, so I have less demanding schedule.

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Thanks for sharing your story. I am 47. I work in the lab, i think i will run a lipid panel and A1c quarterly over the next year, just because i can. A1c is your average glucose over the last 90 days.
I don’t think in my world the carbs will change anything but nice to see the metrics.
IMO as we get older genetics kicks in, our bodies may start absorbing or tolerating food items differently. I now avoid dairy lol…
I have seen several healthy people over the years with lipid problems… “I chalk it up to genetics”

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This may be a case of where two different people do the same thing and one gets hypercholesterolemia and the other does not.
If your physician is unable to determine any causative factors, it may be a genetic predisposition and it would be worth advising some of your family members to be screened for familial hypercholesterolemia.

Certain populations are at higher risk of hypercholesterolemia and different populations are at higher risk of familial hypercholesterolemia.


Anecdotal on my end but sort of jives w what you are saying.

I had a stretch of 6-9 months almost 3 years ago, when I got back into riding my bike, in which I was doing my low-volume plan rides fasted before work, and wouldnt eat until lunch time. I was tired all the time and my FTP refused to go higher. Did lose a bunch of weight but didn’t get any faster.

Then I fully switched to prepping bottles w 90g of carbs for all my rides (nearly all 60-90min). Did get faster but my weight exploded.

Eventually realized that I didn’t need that much sugar there and then and started mostly just drinking Gatorade w added salt during my workouts, mostly for hydration. Combined that w a post-workout protein shake w some 25g of carbs, and then throughout the morning eating more (generally grapes/clif bars) as the body asks for it.

This regimen has been working well for a while now. Weight is under control, the watts are moving higher w training, and I don’t feel tired like I used to when I wasn’t eating until lunch.

I don’t know that this will work for anyone else, but has been working for me. My suggestion is that each find the way that works best for them, within their constraints.

Last thought - the idea that if you have a 800 cal workout (60-90min) you should throw 800 cals of carbs at your body asap doesn’t hold w me. Makes a lot more sense to me that you target to replace whatever your carb consumption was, then the rest as your body asks for it. Depending on many factors (workout intensity, each’s metabolism) I get the sense that only 1/3-1/2 of energy spent was carbs. And even those your body isnt able to replenish all at once. Take advantage of your post-workout replenishment window, and be mindful and ready for the fact that you’ll need to eat more than usual on workout day (so as to eventually replenish all 800 cals you consumed).

I understand that when doing a longer race you’ll need the 90g/hour or whatever you can get your body to handle. I am retesting it now myself to make sure my body can still take it when I do my 1/2 ironman in a few months. That said, 90+% of my rides are 60-90 mins, and all the above applies to managing through those 90+% of rides.


I’m very overweight (5’10" & 270lbs) and love cycling and I go crazy with carbs on >3 hour rides (2-3 gels or gummies per hour) but try to avoid eating much on shorter rides. I’m not doing any of this professionally or trying to performance hack because I can still get easy improvements by losing 10-20lbs every cycling season. With that in mind, I just don’t see the point in loading myself with carbs during a 60-90 minute ride when I need to burn through the carb stores that got there from digesting food the hours before.

60-90g/hour of carbs sounds wonderful to me for a 100km ride which typically takes me 5-6 hours because I’m slow, and I hate bonking, but my body seems to have no difficulty dumping more sugars in to my muscles for the first 90 minutes of a ride.

This is pure amateur speculation on my part, but if it takes 20-30 minutes for a shot of caffeine in a gel to hit my bloodstream, I expect sugar would take a similar amount of time, at which point I would be mostly done my 60 minute training ride. During the regular season, I have 1-2 bananas or gels within 30 min of the start of our weekly local club TTs because I can feel myself losing power at the end of a 90-100% 30-40 minute effort, and I have A/B’d with and without sugars before those rides.

How much of this training recommendation trend is caused by companies who realized they could sell 5¢ of sugar for $2.50 if they called it “fuel”?


Does sound quite difficult too if we only talk about on the bike. 100g of sugar have 387 calories. Cycling on a stationary bike at 100W seems to burn about 430 calories per hour ( I don’t know about you, but I usually put out twice that or more in average power. The crux of the matter is that most of us don’t know how much of the total energy consumption comes from fat and how much from carbs (neglecting other sources). So, unless you always ride with a spirometer, you’d only make a more or less educated guess as to how many carbs to replace. I did Ericsson +2 and Blagdon this week and definitely feeled overfueled with 100g carbs/hour @243 and 221W avg respectively.

I don’t like dates and bananas during workouts make me sick :frowning:

Everyone is different. Some of it goes down to gut training, some of it i imagine down to how each’s body is made up. Some take certain carbs into their blood stream quicker than others, plus some seek replenishment at a faster/slower pace than others.

Prob best to find what works for you today and use that as your starting point. Then see what you can toggle from there in the direction that would be most favorable towards hitting your goals.

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I’m not a doctor and had a similar experience to you in that my HDL & LDL were high and the doctor wanted to put me on Statins. When I asked what my triglyceride levels were he went very quite and didn’t press the matter as they were quite low. Have a read of this. It might help you make some sense of it and come to your own conclusions


Good thread. So, in lieu of gels and bottles, what are other options for fueling? Previous posts already mentioned bananas and dates (I assume dried or semi-dried). For me I’m specifically interested in using these alternatives for 90-minute endurance rides (70-75% FTP).

I used to eat white bread with just PB or PBJ. I tried just J before and it was gross IMO. I wouldn’t eat that if I was hammering but it works well for endurance riding. Bread and most PB have salt added for taste, so you’re good on that. I’d buy the cheap $2/loaf junk bread at the super market.

I now have switched to the DIY fructose/malto in 50/50 ratio. I take 40g/hr with a pinch of salt. Been doing it for maybe the last 4months. I definitely see an improvement in performance based on RPE, but feel gross after 3 hours of sugary water. I’m nowhere close to 90g/hr so yeah.

OP, not surprised about your experience. I love to watch documentaries and there is a lot about how the food companies chose to promote the narrative that saturated fat was the reason for heart disease and related issues. If I recall correctly, both sugar and sat fat are positively correlated with incidence of heart disease, but the evidence about sugar is only now being brought to the forefront for public consumption. Back in the day, big food firms paid Harvard ‘experts’ to conduct studies demonizing saturated fat and its effects on heart disease. It’s worth checking these out if you’re interested in the history behind this stuff

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Using % of FTP is problematic. But let’s say it’s a well calibrated true endurance effort of 90min, you should get by with the appropriately timed and sized carbs from previous meals.

If done first thing in the morning. A banana or banana + 1 date/fig should be ok.

Doctors opinions seem all over the place. Then you have others like Peter Attia, much more conservative, focusing on longevity.

Some people can fuel like crazy and nothing happens. But if I were to give solid general advice, It would be that don’t start this heavy fueling programs until you are lean and mean and have a solid endurance base.

Don’t follow what the pros are doing in this realm, they are different species.


I NEVER fuel with sugar water

So I’m not a sugar zealot

I had a cholesterol test and the result was MUCH higher than it was for the previous 10 years

Dr had me retest

a week later and it was back to normal

Did your dr have you restest right away?

High results can be caused by an illness, a hard workout within 3 days before the test many things.

To me that would be the proper thing to do when you get such an out of normal result

Many reasons for a high reading one time

Can’t see how going from sugar drinks to bananas and dates could fix what the sugar drinks supposedly caused


Yep. That’s why it’s so confusing and a lot of people get it wrong, including me.

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The confusion is created by people with an agenda. There’s a scientific consensus on a lot of subject (dietwise).
The link you posted. They suggest some very aggressive optimal number for fasting glucose. Yet when comes LDL (where the scientific consensus is equally as strong as the one on fasting glucose), then the number are not so important. " In fact your LDL cholesterol is a very bad predictor of your risk of heart disease", " The #1 risk factor for heart disease isn’t LDL-C; it’s the insulin resistance", “LDL IS A GARBAGE TEST”, “LDL is a very misunderstood molecule”.
Not a surprised when you have a look at the experts. That’s the Keto/Carb bashing group, pushing down your throat butter coffee and other saturated fat crap.
Selling books like “Grain Brain” or “Why we get sick”

If you care for your health, use your judgement appropriately.


I was listening to the latest Sigma Nutrition radio podcast. They were talking about hyperlipidemia in response to fructose.

Now, if one listens to the podcast, it was a lot of fructose and in a calorie surplus but it was interesting and it reminded me of this topic. The mechanism is certainly there in the body.

Personally, I don’t buy the 90 grams of sugar for every single training ride but I don’t want to debate that with the true believers. I eat oatmeal, rice, bananas to fuel rides with an occasional bar and sports drink on 3 hour / 2000kj group rides.

I got two cavities a few years after starting to use sports drinks. I hadn’t had a cavity in decades before this. Stay on top of your dental health if you are going to drink sugar on rides.

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I brush my teeth / rinse with mouthwash as soon as I’m off the bike. No issues thus far!


What’s your FTP?

At 90+ it should be at least in the high 200s.

You may want to brush your teeth before you ride. Then do the rest the same. Brushing before is best because it disturbs the bacteria that will cause the damage then they might otherwise sit happily dormant, laying in wait for the impending mouthfuls of sugar.

Brushing after can supposedly cause worse outcomes because those bacteria may have produced more mouth acid during the sugar consumption, softening the surface of your teeth, making them more vulnerable to damage from brushing.

I am not a dentist. :slight_smile: