Am I underfueling my ride?

Hello Friends,
I just finished a horrible 120K ride. I started feeling quite well and fast but I made sure to stay in zone 2. After 50K however I first started to feel weak in the legs and got a bit wobbly. So I stopped for coffee and a piece of cheesecake. I felt better for about 20K but the it got really bad and I had to drop the effort to zone 1 and got really hungry. So my question to you is how much calories do you eat per hour on rides exceeding 2 hours.

Besides the unhealthy emergency snack my nutrition was as follows:

  • Breakfast about 1100 kcal porridge with peanut butter
  • nutrition during the ride: 2 self made granola bars with lots of healthy goodies and about 250 kcal each and one bought fruit bar with 200 kcal plus 1 small apple

I am very low in body fat btw.

There are plenty of topics on Nutrition already, so check those out. But depending on your power, but at 175-200w for a 70kg rider, 60-90g of carbs should get you a long way. Start eating as soon as you start riding.



Next question :sweat_smile:


Thanks, I am more 160 Watts and 64kg.
How do you manage to carry so many calories during your rides ?
Sometimes I take one bottle with malto with me but then I only have one bottle with “just” water and need to stop more often for a refill.

How about fueling with fats like nut butters ?

That sounds like it’d be super slow to process compared to, say, 750ml of water with 60g to 90g of sugar in it.

If you need a lot because you’re riding six hours with unpredictable access to water … a hydration pack might be the best solution.


True, but a Zone 2 ride is not that intense thus not demanding fast available energy. That’s what I was thinking at least.

Short answer: Yes!

In your situation, the cheesecake was not unhealthy. You are not a sedentary person. Like others have said, you should be aiming for 80 g/h or so for such a long ride. Assuming it took you about 5 hours, we are talking about 400 g of carbs and 1,600 kCal in carbs alone. You took 700 kCal plus a small apple with you. You burned way more than that. (Your breakfast does not count!)

For rides >4 hours and you are new to it, I would also add a pit stop where you have lunch/breakfast, i. e. a meal. And I mean a proper meal, not just a piece of cake.

Depends on the situation. In Japan the whole country is littered with convenience stores where I could refill my bottles, get gummi bears or an ice cream. And use the facilities.

That’s not enough. It also isn’t enough water for such a long ride. On long rides I always start out with two bottles of energy mix, usually on the denser side. How much I pack in depends on factors like the total duration of the ride, temperature, etc.

You should fill your jersey pockets like a hamster fills his cheeks. And always pack extra. Even at 160 W, it is virtually impossible to overeat (i. e. take in more calories than you expend).

Nope, not a good idea. You need to fuel with carbs, the purer, the better. Gummi bears are a good alternative to gels that you can get at gas stations and convenience stores.

You should always stick to carbs for as long as you can.


Most of the recommendations say ~400 calories per hour (~90-100g)

During the ride, your body needs as much simple sugar as it can get. Eat the other stuff if it appeals to you during a ride, bit granola and apple are not helping with your fueling and anything with fiber can be problematic for some. Basically, anything besides water, salt, and sugar is just window dressing (which is fine as long as your stomach is OK with it).

Regardless of body comp, we all have plenty of fat as a source of fuel, so your low BF isn’t particularly relevant to your on bike fueling approach

Keep it simple (see window dressing comment above). It’s very easy to get over 1k calories into a small flask and you should also have sugar in whatever you are drinking. Gummy candies are also pretty space efficient and basically pure sugar. I use maple syrup in a flask as my primary calories and then also get some in my skratch mix. Again, this is if you are trying to optimize performance, it’s not eating for enjoyment.

No, simple sugars are by far the most effective fuel source while on the bike. Fats are important when not riding, but don’t worry about macros and nutrient content when riding.


Quoted for emphasis: how you should eat on the bike is very different from how you should eat off the bike. What sounds “unhealthy” is actually great for performance: straight, simple carbs with as little stuff around it as possible.


Well thank you all already for the insights.

I always try to stay away from simple sugars (except fruit). Don’t you guys worry about your blood glucose levels when fueling with gummy bears and other simple sugar „foods“

You want energy that is easy to get in and that can be easily absorbed.

Differences in intensity will mean that 200 calories per hour might be plenty (for chilled Z2) or you might need 480 per hour (for something like 2 × 30 FTP work) but that doesn’t necessarily change what form those calories should take.


When you exercise, your body processes the simple sugars differently.
This is a good explanation.


How much I consume doesn’t tell you how much you should consume. I can easily ride 120km of Z2 without consuming any food or seeing a deterioration . But that’s my body not yours. You need to eat more, it sounds like you are suffering from low blood sugar levels later on into your ride.

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Since it was not mentioned yet … take some gels with you. Some of them have caffeine for the added boost. Also dont forget you need electrolytes.

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I don’t handle gels well, that’s why I don’t use them. But I do put electrolytes (Potassium, Sodium and Magnesium) into my water bottles.

Also I try to stay away from processed foods almost completely, which is why I bake energy bars myself. This is also the reason why most fueling strategies don’t work for me….

Thanks, that’s exactly what I was worrying about!! I guess next weekend is gonna be a sugar party then….

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How much porridge exactly did you eat? The 1100 kcal sounds high for just porridge with some toppings. A portion of porridge usually takes 1 dl (or 1/2 cup) of rolled oats to make and the amount of energy in that is just 110 to 150 kcal. Porridge is delicious and healthy, but it does not contain much energy.

My porridge recipe is:

  • 100g Oats
  • 3 Dates
  • 10g chia seeds
  • 10g flax seeds
  • 30g mixed nuts
  • 1 banana
  • 1 apple
  • big table spoon peanut butter (ca. 50g)
  • a bit of cacao powder

for my long rides, i have a carb /electrolyte mix in my bottles. i carry a couple of bananas, sometimes homemade fruit cake.
One trick i have learned is oreos at 700 calories a back, 2 packs fit in a jersey pocket, available in every gas station!
The thing is you have to learn what you body can handle. Eating on the bike is little an often, remember it takes time to digest so get it before you need it.

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I think this is a nutrition timing issue. When did you eat breakfast?

Ideally breakfast should be had 3 hours before a race or hard effort. If you don’t regularly do 4 hour rides, a 120K ride @ Z2 would be considered a hard effort.

Then 20-30g of carb about 10 min before you ride, then 50-100g carb per hour on the bike.

The exact composition of your carbs isn’t going to matter that much as long as you can digest it. The fructose to glucose ratio matters if you’re maximizing intake, but you’re not here.

Fats like nut butter won’t do anything for you on a 4 hour ride, except to provide satiety. By the time the energy is available for use, you’re already done with the ride and in the shower. Same goes with protein. Things change when your ride extends past 6 hours.