Carbs vs. calories in training/racing

I hear on a lot of the podcasts talking about optimal amounts of carb intake for certain events. And different percentages of glucose, sucrose, suclarose, etc.

For triathlon racing and training, I mainly look at caloric intake, not carbs specifically. For cycling (particularly in races, but I try to keep the same intake for training), I try to get 3-3.5 calories per kg per hour. For running that amount changes to 2-2.5 cal/kg/hr.

Honestly I don’t know how many carbs I’m taking in. I have a powder mix and take in liquid nutrition on the bike, and a gel that I chase with aid station water for the run. I know how much I need to meet that caloric intake. What am I missing out on by not knowing the carbs? And if I’m not hitting what TR says my carb intake should be, what’s the easiest way to supplement that? If I’m hitting my caloric requirements, does it matter as much if the carb portion is “low”?

1 g of carbohydrate contains 4 calories, so the 3-3.5 calories per kilogram per hour is a bit short of 1 g carb/hour, assuming it’s coming from all carbohydrate. Assuming you weigh somewhere between 60-90kg, this is right in the 60-90 g carb/hr recommendation. If you’re taking gels and drink mixes, it probably is close to all carb

The advantage to focusing on carb intake is that carbohydrate are (almost) only what you’re body processes during aerobic activity. For activity under 3 hours, you don’t really want to be taking in fat/protein as this will be tough to digest. Over three hours and some protein can be helpful for helping muscle soreness, but you still don’t need much

Pretty close it looks like. In my 250cal bottle (1 per hour) there are 60g carbs. And each gel is 150 cal, 37g carbs. I typically take gels every 45min during the run part. This is at 72kg. So it looks like I’m right in the range.

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