Am I Over fueling?

Do you know if any of these intake recommendations are tied to hourly calorie burn rate?

I get these 90g+/hr recommendations if you are burning 750+kCal / hr, but as the poster mentioned the hourly burn rate is like 450-550kCal. Or conversely, if someone is burning 800kCal/hr, if it could be done without any negative side effects would people recommend aiming for 200g/hr and zero deficit?

It’s been said before but it’s worth repeating: Fuel the work. Don’t diet on the bike.

I’m 60 years old, 5’ 9" high and weigh 140 lbs. I take 90g of ordinary table sugar per hour for all my workouts. Not only does this successfully fuel my workouts but it also puts me in a good place for my subsequent recovery. After the workout, I may have an occasional recovery shake (whey, sugar and cocoa powder, depending on how long it is to my next meal), otherwise I eat and drink as normal for the rest of the day. I have no need or desire to binge eat.

I have a physically demanding full-time job (lots of walking and lifting and carrying heavy objects), so by fuelling my workouts at 90g per hour, which puts me in a good place for my recovery, I’m also laying the foundations for the next demanding day at work (which, incidentally, I also fuel appropriately for - I don’t diet at work!).

Table sugar contains 4 calories per gram. 90g = 360 cals. I’m typically burning between 450 to over 1,000 cals per workout (depending on duration and intensity). Even someting as low level and undemanding as Pettit -1 would have me burning 436 cals. It’s pretty hard to over-fuel on the bike.

7 Likes

I would suggest that if you feel it necessary to take in 100g in a one hour ride you’re probably not eating enough off the bike. That’s just my opinion, YMMV.

Given the choice of eating a quality meal before and after a ride and drinking water or maybe Skratch for an hour or taking in 100g of table sugar to “fuel a one hour ride”, I know what I would do.

8 Likes

@dlukes01 I’d read the dental health topic that was recently active.

Fueling a ride doesn’t always have to mean sugar in a bottle. A solid breakfast and a banana or two on the bike can also fuel a decent ride.

I like the sliding scale approach based on length and intensity posted above.

I recently listened to this podcast. The ideas on metabolic flexibility are interesting:

2 Likes

Exactly.

3 Likes

I believe something we are missing here is the quality of the workout. Are you making improvements? Or are you feeling fatigued? If you are raising your FTP on a consistent basis, not gaining weight, feeling decent throughout the day, I think its working for you.

One thing I have noticed with a lot of riding buddies is that they don’t eat enough on long rides and fade at the end.

It is amazing how long you can go at a decent pace if you fuell your body. On the flip side it is amazing how quickly you lose power and feel like absolute crap if you fall behind too far on your fueling.

But again, this is for longer rides. If you need this for an hour, I question your nutrition, unless you are actively dieting to cut fat.

4 Likes

some other considerations are how much carbohydrate does your diet normally contain. For threshold and vo2 work, your body will absolutely torch carbs, so having enough is crucial. Carbs will also help lessen the effect of DOMs, so there’s a good case to keep the carbs flowing during the workout and not dimishing glycogen stores. There’s not “fresh glycogen”, so I really don’t think you need to tap the onboard reserves; if anything, you want them there for recovery after the ride!

Caloric deficit off the bike, IF you’re trying to lose weight, but unless I missed that, losing weight wasn’t a goal of yours.

Definitely would not recommend 40g/hr. If anything, more carbs on the hard days, and keep it at 80 on the easier days, for reasons mentioned above and more. Carbs are king.

Good luck!

Brendan

9 Likes

You mention two important points I should have made, too: like you, I also get up at 5:00–5:30 am and train in the morning. So I haven’t eaten for about 10 hours. And I do vary the carb intake by feel depending on the workout type. Usually that amounts to 85–90 g/h for endurance workouts and 95–110 g/h for hard workouts. If the workouts are shorter, the average tends to skew on the higher side.

No, unless your FTP is <<200 W. 100 g of carbs correspond to about 400 kCal. At about 210 W you burn 780 kCal per hour. Even at 150 W average power, you’d burn more calories than you take in. More precisely, you’d still run a calorie deficit of 140 kCal per hour.

Yes, although that’s assuming you have enough time between your breakfast and your workout. Bananas are great workout food, although I don’t like to eat them during workouts because I don’t know what to do with the peels. (I am not a basketballer, so they’d just land on some random spot on the floor even if I had a trashcan nearby.)

2 Likes

yeah, the OP said 425-550kCal/hr burn on these high calorie burn workouts (vo2max / sweetspot / etc.) and fueling at about 300kCal/hr. I think guess that means <200w FTP. I would imagine that the hourly burn for endurance rides is less than the stated 425kCal/hr. It could be considered ideal to fuel at the same rate as expenditure, but with people advising pushing to 90-110g/hr the OP might even be at a surplus on endurance rides.

I’m not saying don’t fuel or cut it dramatically, but this whole idea of not scaling fuel intake to FTP / calorie burn blows my mind. A person with a 400w FTP has different fueling needs from someone with a 200w FTP. I can understand trying to max out intake for the 400w FTP person as their gut probably isn’t going to let them take in 250g/hr and they will always be losing ground, but different situation for 200w FTP person.

4 Likes

I commented above on fueling 120 g / hr for harder workouts. For reference, all of those workouts I’m burning 720-890 KCal / hr at my FTP and taking in 480 / hr. Even my Z2 workout today I burned 650 KCal and would have run a deficit, but elected not to fuel for that as I did it at lunchtime and had breakfast earlier.

I definitely agree don’t take in more than you burn.

2 Likes

You make a valid point: if the burn rate is 425–550 kCal/h, you are likely talking about a rider with a low FTP. Also, it is more likely that the rider weighs less and thus, can consume less.

It is for that reason that I’d expect/aim for a slightly lower consumption (e. g. 80 g/h on hard rides and 70ish g/h on easier rides). Plus, GI distress is a thing and you need to train your gut and experiment with various fuel sources. For sure I would not recommend fasting on endurance rides or to cut your carb intake to 40 g/h.

But I wouldn’t worry about a calorie surplus. Even at the burn rates given here, the OP would not have a calorie surplus if he took in 100 g/h (about 400 kCal/h). It is pretty much impossible for a trained cyclist to have a calorie surplus for longer workouts when they work Z2 and up.

We are all different of course, but I think I WOULD personally worry. I am trying to keep my weight low. I’m actually trying to still lose 2% body fat.

If I get those calories from sugar when they aren’t needed, then I am sacrificing those calories for sugar when they could be from protein or healthy fats, or other mix of nutritious foods.

4 Likes

You are not alone, I’m trying to cut 3 kg, too. But dieting on the bike is a bad idea, because (to quote Frank Overton from FasCat Coaching) 80 % of the dieting is off the bike. In my experience, it is much easier to have a steady, maintainable calorie deficit when I fuel all of my rides.

Believe me, I understand your logic perfectly. In the past, I was you! I did what you are proposing here in the past, thinking it’d make me a better cyclist, too. And it did not work as well as fueling properly. My FTP (absolute and specific) was about 12 % lower and I was often ravenous after hard workouts. I was so hungry, I ate half a loaf of bread. Especially during rest weeks and in the beginning of the off-season I’d gain weight, because it’d take my body 1–2 weeks to adjust to my changed calorie expenditure. Now my breakfast after training is more or less the same no matter what kind of workout I have. In fact, I have a full stomach already, so my appetite is moderate.

If you want more infor, have a look at the thread that I linked to earlier as it addressed weight loss and fueling specifically: the overwhelming consensus is that you should not cut calories while on the bike if you want to lose weight.

1 Like

Brother, I feel like you haven’t read my responses.

in fact, this was my first response to the thread:

Again, I’m not proposing dieting on the bike, nor do I do it. I’m stating that you dont need max carb ingestion on every single workout.

Charts were also posted by folks that supported tailoring ingestion of carbs to duration/intensity.

It is definitely a fine line to straddle, that knife’s edge. It would be very cool to be on a professional team for awhile and see what they do. And even they get it wrong sometimes!

Here is a cool article: How much weight do Tour de France riders lose? – you asked Google and we’ve got the answer | Cycling Weekly

Ir reads:

It certainly is possible to lose weight at a Grand Tour - in fact, publication of meal plans and data from Chris Froome’s 2018 Giro d’Italia show he did exactly that, in pursuit of a performance gain.

and

The eventual GC winner varied his intake from as little as 2,566 calories earlier in the race, to as much as 6,663 calories on key ‘attack’ days.

So obviously they also vary intake depending on the body needs.

Its all an interesting topic for sure!

3 Likes

They say discussing nutrition/diet/eating is a bit like discussing religion! There is no universal truth… everyone needs to experiment and figure out what works for them. For performance give me a 60g carb bottle (Gu Roctane) an hour and start eating real food at the two hour mark. That’s what works for me! :smiley:

8 Likes

Note I forgot to tell you what I did before! Missing context…

There’s little question that taking in 90-100g/hr on every single ride will at least not be a detriment to performance, if not aid it. I’m firmly in the camp that for my 3+ hour rides, I fuel at that level. I do not “diet on the bike.” Instead, I recognize that even if I try to take in 90g of carbs on today’s 1hr ride, much of that 90g of carbs isn’t impacting the ride because it’s simply not being absorbed while I’m riding. So let’s say half of it is… 45g of carbs going in, bonus… but that other 45g… on an off day, do you sit around and pour 1/4c of table sugar in your mouth? Of course you don’t. It’s not healthy.

Instead, you could take in half that amount, then eat two bananas immediately after the ride. Same caloric intake, same grams of carbs, one is actually beneficial for your health and certainly won’t impact your recovery.

There’s an overall health perspective here that I’m taking. I can’t willingly throw a blanket “performance” on every single ride and pretend I need that much sugar. I frankly think it’s a mistake to do so.

Lots of people are throwing around the word “properly” as pertains to fueling their rides and just talking about one single (large) number. The reality could be - I’d argue that it is - that “properly” means tailoring it to the ride duration and intensity rather than just throwing the same amount of gasoline on the fire no matter how big you might need that fire to burn that day.

On top of this, a lot of people also take in recovery drinks and such, so there’s the real possibility with this “new” mindset of always fuel at high levels that you’ll get someone downing 400 calories worth of sugar on a one hour .7IF ride and then taking in another 300 calories of mostly sugar immediately after. They then look at it and say “I burned 800 calories on the ride, so I’m golden!”

That just doesn’t make any sense at all. Where those calories come from matters, and if you can get it from real food without affecting performance, you’re going to be better off 100 times out of 100.

My advice is to not try to throw a single number out there so you don’t have to think, but instead thoughtfully consider what you really need to perform during your ride, and then take that in. Then rely on real food before and after as much as possible.

7 Likes

Dr Alex thinks most people are over doing by fueling every ride at this level and also isn’t what he personally does. Varying carb intake for the type of ride and duration is easy to figure out and as others have already summarized above emphasizing before/after nutrition as well as throughout the day nutrition is arguably more important and also IMO mpre essential for finding the right caloric balance in life.

5 Likes

Pretty sure that’s it. I’m over-doing it off the bike.

1 Like

I’m actually finishing strong and I’ve gotten ftp bumps at every test for the past 6 months or so (had our first kid last year so I’m just getting back into things after some time off).

I think I’m just over doing things off the bike.

2 Likes