Diet for Gran Fondo

Hello All,

I’ve recently, taken update biking (a year or so) and in the last few months I’ve used Trainerroad. I absolutely love it, feel fitter, faster, FTP went from 201 to 220 just with the base, etc etc… I’m sure we all share this excitement. Since biking I’ve lost about 12 kgs, from 93 to 81 and would like to hit 79-80 kgs (~175 lbs), and am 180 (~5 10).

I am training for a 80 Mile Gran Fondo this summer and would like some feedback/recommendations/tips on Diets to follow. I bike 3/4 times a week, and play ice hockey twice.

My three main questions are:

  1. I am looking to stick to about 50% Carbs, 30% Protein and 20% Fat. I feel that if I don’t get enough Carbs I feel sluggish (from a previous breakdown of 40%, 30%, 30%). Does this mean that my body might become more used to using Carbs as opposed to Fats to fuel my ride? Would I want to use Fat more?

  2. I’ve read about getting a post-ride meal, at 1g per 1kg of carbs, and 10-20 g of protein withing 20-30 minutes of riding. I imagine though that this isn’t always the case, for example between a 1 hr ride and a 1.5 hr training session. How are the quantities written above changed depending on intensity? For example, an all out ride --> 1 g for 1 kg, and a 7/10 effort ride might be 2 g for every 3 kg?

  3. I haven’t ridden more than 1.5 hours at a time, but at what time should I start eating? After 1.5, 2 hours, or even as early as within the first 30 minutes. I would just like to begin training that portion as well, with reaching back ni the jersey pockets, seeing what suits my gut, etc.

Thank you all for taking the time.



On the bike you should be eating all carbs basically. Protein and fat takes more energy to break down, energy that you don’t want to be spending on getting your energy. Bloks, Gu, etc. are all products that are pretty popular for meeting those needs.

Post ride it’s 4g of carbs to 1 g of protein. Generally want about ~200 cal worth of that. Clif, Hammer, Scratch, etc. all offer products that meet this requirement that are described as ‘recovery drinks’.

You should have a carby breakfast 2-3 hours before the ride, think oatmeal with some fruit. Make sure you are used to eating it. Get some of your simple carb food in you about 15 min before the ride begins. You want your digestion braking down food the entire time to maximize the amount of glucose that you have available to you.

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Thanks Erick for your reply and time. I’ll check those brands and products for sure. Oatmeal has been the go to breakfast for a while now and it works wonders.

Agree with everything @ErickVH says.

The main tip I’d add which has really helped me has been to COMPLETELY separate my ride fuelling from my general nutrition.

Ride fuelling (including when a normal meal happens before a session) is carb heavy, low protein, and low fat. When you’re on the bike it’s very high in fast carbs and sugar. Recovery is energy drink with whey protein mix. In any other circumstance my ride nutrition would be very very unhealthy. I try to match my pre- and during- calories to the calories burned in each session.

General nutrition (normal meals more than an hour after getting off the bike) is lower carb, high protein, low/no sugar, lots of fibre, lots of veggies, lean meat, fish, sweet potato, brown rice, avocado and broccoli smoothies, some good unsaturated fats, all that stuff. I aim to run a slight calorie deficit against the calories I would burn if I wasn’t doing any cycling.

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Hi Martin, your separation of diet and calorie count on and off bike makes a lot of sense and have taken note of it as well!


The only thing I would add is that you didn’t mention your age. When you are old like me (58) the recommendation is to take in more protein than younger folks. So, my recovery drink is more like 2:1 carb:protein.

I’m 33

I would add that if you are thinking of taking your cycling beyond 80 mile rides then I would look to incorporate in some real food on the bike. Just having gels, powders, bloks etc… can get too much. Ham and cream cheese sandwiches, malt loaf, banana, fig rolls…

Definitely will take that into consideration, and it seems like there will be places where they offer some foods in the event I’m looking at, here in Michigan.

Definitely second the real food on the bike. I find palette fatigue keeps me from taking in enough carbs. Eat real food - I like oatmeal bars or rice cakes much more than gels. On a 75-80 mile ride I have 3-4 bars or flapjacks and one gel and find that works for me. Also, hydration, I have one bottle of water and one of electrolyte every 90 minutes to 2 hours. I’m a heavy sweater, so you made need more or less. It’s best to practice fueling on your training rides (indoor or out) to find out what’s best for you.

One of my go to “real food” is a soft bun with Nutella. At least for me its easy to eat/process on the bike and isn’t quickly affected/effected (sorry not a native speaker) by temperature.

Cheese, ham etc wouldn’t really work for me when it’s warm

I’ll give the Nutella a try. Being Italian, I’m used to having both Pasta and Nutella. The former for a pre-ride, or night before, and the latter on the ride. Maybe make an oat and nutella cookie, or bite.

Thank you all, love reading the suggestions and recommendations.


Affect - It’s a verb!
Effect - It’s a noun!

I was greatly affected by doing Disaster. The effect was making me never want to ride my bike again. :rofl::rofl::rofl:

(Grammar nerd here) Native speakers get it wrong all the time without even realizing it, so you’re golden.

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Haha thanks for the explanation!

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Try Nocciolata - it’s an Italian made, high end version of Nutella

Agree. Especially in the first half of the ride. Keep the gels, etc for later in the ride.

There’s some controversy over this. I know Coach Chad mentioned the 1 to 2 g/kg requirement in a recent podcast, which had me chasing down suitable protein sources. But then I found this 2015 review that suggests us older folks can still use the ~0.8g/kg RDA as our guide. It also highlights the potential risks of excess protein consumption.

As it turns out, my own protein intake was well below that 0.8g/kg recommendation, so as a plant-based eater I’ve added pea protein to my recovery shakes in addition to targeting more protein rich foods like hard tofu. Boca products also fill the bill.

I’m certainly open to other opinions on this (with accompanying citations, of course).

  1. Carbs are what fuel the bike, so stick to those. You won’t get fat adapted by the Fondo, and that fad is dying. Carbs are king for cycling. If those on keto or fat adapted diets eat carbs for long rides and races where you want high performance.

  2. after a 1.5h training session, hit the protein if you did high intensity, otherwise, just eat normally. Long ride, 4+ hours, get your 20g of protein and the carbs in ASAP, but even Sports Scientist Asker Jeukendrup says this is only important if riding long again the next day.

  3. Start eating 60-90g of carbs per hour, that is the max the body can take in and there has to be a fructose component, otherwise you’re limited to 60g per hour. This is not body weight dependent.

Also, this article helps:

And this one:

Have an awesome fondo!

This seemed to me like a poor study. In most of the cases they did not define what “high” was and how the risk of these various side effects depended on protein quantity. For example, the increased odds of cancer due to red meat was quantified by how many times per week it was consumed and nothing was mentioned about the total quantity. The section on calcium and bones talked about increasing intake from 47g to 112g without mentioning the associated weight. For me that would be going from 0.5 to 1.3g/kg. So, from way lower than recommended to 50% higher. For someone older, like me, this study suggest that 1.0-1.3 g/kg is beneficial- almost 50% more than younger adults. So, for me, roughly 110 g/day is certainly within recommendations. Even eating a half pound steak every now and them wouldn’t be much over on an average basis. Eating the 32 oz special at the steak house would probably not be a good idea.

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