This question is general and just looking for some advice, thoughts, rabbit holes to explore.
I have a feeling that I’m over fueling most (if not all) of me trainer rides (and by extension probably my road rides too). I really don’t feel (or see) that my body is “optimizing” itself
I average around 75-80g carbs/hr (so 300ish calories) but I apply that to every ride.
So if I’m doing VO2, threshold, or sweet spot work and I’m burning somewhere between 425-550 (depending on the workout) calories an hour am I overdoing it and relying too much on the fuel and not letting my body tap into my onboard reserves?
Should I stick with what I’ve been doing and look for a calorie deficit off the bike (like Amber says “don’t diet on the bike”)?
Should I cut my fueling plan in half, say 40g carbs/hr, and let my body start to tap into onboard fuels?
It’s not just about bonking, it’s a your body getting plenty of calories so that it doesn’t detect a huge deficit and throttle the power down. If you keep the intake high the body doesn’t need to restrict power output.
That said, If you do a one hour trainer ride, you really don’t need to be taking 80 grams of carbs.
What you should really be doing is tracking your calories and weighing yourself consistently to see a trend in data, and adjust from there.
Looking at it narrowly, yes, but it is still better to fuel properly with 80-100 g carbs per hour when you are on the bike.
The topic has been covered many times here and in the podcast, so I don’t think it is necessary to rehash the entire argument, but taking in 80-100 g carbs per hour is recommended for many reasons:
It greatly simplifies your nutrition when off the bike because e. g. you don’t have to vary your calorie intake as much depending on the workout. I used to do fasted rides and was ravenous after that. I’m quite sure I took in more calories then after my workout than I do now combining what I eat during my morning workout and breakfast.
It reinforces good habits when on the bike. I can now ride for many hours and I have just gotten used to taking in 80-100 g carbs per hour. When outdoors, I no longer need to keep track of my intake every time, when I do spot checks, I am usually dead on. I cannot emphasize enough, how big of a game changer this was for me.
It lowers RPE, which aids recovery and consistency.
It makes it simpler to lose weight because your off-the-bike meals do not vary as much, which makes building good habits easier. On the bike, your habits make you faster, which means you will be burning more calories during the same time period. And you won’t be as tired, which makes it easier to sustain calorie deficits.
I listened to the last podcast and it seemed like they were contradicting themselves (contradicting everything they’ve said in the past I mean). It’s all just very confusing so I figured I’d ask and see what peoples thoughts were.
If you’re riding 60-90 min or less, you simply don’t need to fuel it the same way that you do a 4hr ride, even if you’re doing harder work. It doesn’t make sense to take in 150g of carbs for a 90 minute ride, when you can adequately fuel that ride with 50-90g depending on intensity.
For an hour or less, I am just doing water provided I’m adequately fueled going into it. Maybe I’ll add a scoop of Skratch at ~25g of carbs if it’s hard or hot.
But no… by no means should you be taking in 100g/hr on every single ride you do. Pretty good reference from a man they referenced on this latest pod:
Mixed messages? Are you sure? I have been listening to the podcast regularly for several years, and “Don’t diet on the bike!”/“Fuel your workouts.” is one of the mantras of all of the hosts. Ditto for the amount, 80-100 g of carbs seems achievable to most, although some can go higher. Cutting carbs seems very unwise to me.
For reference, an older thread on fueling popped up, and I reckon it might be of interest to you. While it focusses on fat loss, it covers the basics on fueling strategies. Other people with infinitely more expertise than I have such as @Dr_Alex_Harrison have contributed to it, too, and you might be interested in checking out what they think, too.
You can do most TR workouts, including very hard ones, fasted. But that doesn’t mean you should. IMHO not fueling on the bike means you are shortchanging yourself over time. Do you disagree with any of my reasons specifically?
One thing that hasn’t been mentioned is calorie expenditure. In a 90 minute ride, I can burn 1,000 calories on an easy day, or 1,500 on a moderate day — that’s a huge difference, and requires different fuelling.
My preference is:
60g/hour for 1.5-2hours (1,000-1,800kJ)
100g/hour for 3-4 hours (2,700-3,500kJ)
I very rarely ride without carbs in a bottle. I could probably ‘get away with’ not doing so, but I think it may negatively affect recovery.
This is definitely worth playing around with and finding what feels right and works for you. Since making my own carb mix, I’ve dropped a few kg and feel strongest I’ve been on the bike. Obviously there are other factors, but getting the fuelling right on the bike has a positive affect on the rest of your nutrition, recovery, etc.
What do you mean by optimizing? Are you looking to lose some body fat? Because then you’ll want to get to a slight calorie deficit. So if that is your goal, you’re not over fueling your workout, but you are over fueling in total.
I tend to fuel most rides at the moment so I am adapted when I really need it.
But what I would say is that Trainerroad mainly care that you don’t fail your workouts- not that despite training like a madman you’re still getting fatter
Chad often lets out nuggets about not needing to fuel lower intensities or how you switch from subcutaneous fat to intramuscular fat as you ramp up the intensity but Johnathon usually drowns him out with “Ah yes Chad but you’re far better off raising your ftp and burning more Kj’s instead!!!”
I’ve personally been experimenting fueling 60 and 90 minute Sweet Spot, Threshold, and VO2 workouts at 120g / hour, but those are also morning workouts where I haven’t eaten anything since the night before.
End result: I still burn more than I take in, and I’m not nearly as hungry later in the day and as likely to snack. So far, I’m a fan.
If I’m doing a short and easy Z2 / Endurance ride, that’s different for me. Will do those without anything and just eat normally throughout the day.
I think fueling depends on the situation also. My example is I usually wake up at 5 am to train, so my body has to be ready to train from a fasted state. Even if it’s an endurance ride I’ll fuel at least 80g- 100g per hour for that scenario. Some say may say it’s excessive but I don’t think so. The other end if you train in the afternoon, you’re not in a fasted state and can probably get away with fueling a little less. That’s my own personal anecdote, I’m 6’3” at 184 pounds and my RMR is around 3k calories a day for context.
As I said, as you wrote them, I agree with them for the most part. Trust that I am a big believer of not dieting on the bike and of fueling your workouts.
That said, I do believe the type of workout dictates the fueling. I don’t need to pound gels or get 100g an hour to go on a walk with my family, and I don’t need it for riding Z2.
We know that energy contribution from fats play a bigger role in the lower zones, and the opposite from higher zones where glycogen plays a bigger role. I personally don’t want to add calories to my body as sugar when there are healthier ways to add calories. If I don’t need the rocket fuel for the easy stuff, I don’t want to waste it.
Price: I train six days a week and take one rest day. It gets expensive eating this pure stuff, even if you make your own. I do have a carb drink on my Z2 days, but I am not trying to fuel as if I would for a race.
So, I purely look at it as energy demands dictate how I fuel. If I am doing above Z2 work I fuel it accordingly and would never advise against doing so. Like @Jonathan says, it feels like cheat mode almost when you fuel correctly for threshold efforts.