Do you need to fuel for 1 hour workouts?

How much impact does fueling on the bike have during a 1 hour workout? I am thinking about any of the threshold, sweet spot or VO2 max type rides…so the more intense ones generally.

What about a 90 minute unstructured outdoor ride at moderate intensity?

If so, how much on the bike assuming you’re eating a “normal” amount during the rest of the day.

I’ve struggled to figure out how much of an impact nutrition is having on my rides and not sure I’ve ever gotten this close to correct.

I never take nutrition during something that short. I find it completely unnecessary.


How much does it effect the workout? Very little. How much does it effect the following few hours/recovery? Significantly.


On the bike, no. It’s too short for the body to have time to pick up the carbs if the session is an hour of intensity, since carbohydrate uptake is low(er) when body is working hard.

But, it’s very important to eat properly before the sessions if they are hard.

I usually safe it a bit, eat properly, and then have a bottle with 40g carbs, just for the mental aspect sometimes.

For easier rides under 90min, just eat like normal and fuel for the work that is coming up ahead :slight_smile: Like @Crownan says, nutrition around these workouts will affect recovery and readiness for the next workout more than the workout itself.


I do 30g for threshold and above because I train right when I wake up at 5am and find it helps for the final bit of the workout and after.


I usually train in the morning and will eat some type of overnight oats and a banana immediately before getting on the bike or sometimes while I am on the bike. Not idea if these carbs make it into my system to impact the ride or not. On the bike I have 30g of carbs in a bottle, which is just something I always do. After the rides I’ve been having the SIS rego recovery shake. It seems to work OK, but I don’t know if given the timing of my eating I am actually riding totally empty…

Depends. For me, a 1 hour higher intensity workout of the types you list would typically burn around 1000kcals, at those intensities most of the energy is going to come from carbs, and the body stores around 2500kcal of glycogen when fully topped up. So doing it without any extra fuelling is fine if I’ve eaten recently, but is also going to put a fairly big dent in those glycogen stores which will impact recovery and energy levels for the rest of the day if I don’t replace most of them. So if doing it first thing in the morning when I haven’t eaten for 8+ hours I’d at least take on some carbs before or during, if doing it later in the day when I’d eaten recently I probably wouldn’t bother with any extra fuelling, and in both cases I’d eat afterwards to replenish glycogen stores.

90 minutes of moderate, outdoor, unstructured riding is going to be fuelled mostly by fat. So ensuring glycogen stores are topped up and refilled is less critical, though unless I’m trying to maintain a caloric deficit I’ll still look to replace those calories. But unlike a VO2 workout, I might well head out for a ride like that first thing in the morning before breakfast, do it without fuelling during, or maybe just a banana, and then eat a decent breakfast afterwards.


I was of the opinion of never fuelling for workouts up to 90 minutes, due to own internal glycogen stores. However, hindisght showed I was scavenging off the bike for food.

Then I turned to fuelling every ride max to try overcome the scavenging post ride.

I am now ensuring I fuel well before the ride, ‘well’ meaning having a carb meal at least 90 minutes before training (that also means it may be a second meal after breakfast depending on time of day of workout if in the mid morning), and I mix 50g carbs into two bidons (25g each) together with 2 bidons of plain water, which carris me over an hour to 90 minute Tempo - VO2 - NM workout and the final 120-90 minutes is Z2 afterwards, and the Z2 is usually done with no fan or draught to accentuate “heat” type of training, all done in the cave which is humid already and around 28C (our Summer now).

The workouts are now achievable and dont feel whacked during or afterwards, and the post ride carb/protein snack carries me to Dinner. It does mean i usually miss Lunch. This is repeated in blocks of 3 days, one day rest, 2 days, one day rest, repeat twice more for the 3 week training block. Most workout days are 180 minutes, so I do keep in mind to ensure the body is refilling its carb stores for the following days thrash session. On Rest days, I rarely touch a carb and only have two meals a day, trying for OMAD but it has caught me out in the past.

I would suggest trying extremes with regards to refulling and you will find your answer suited to yourself therein.


I fuel every ride I do. Even if that ride doesn’t necessarily require fueling its for the next day’s ride also. It helps ensure consistency. And I mean consistency in the whole year, multi year sense. The least amount of fueling I do is 50g carbs for a 1 hour endurance ride that is 700 calories.

I also do this due to my past experience with over training that was combined with a lack of nutrition. That ordeal cost me two years off the bike where I was diagnosed with an auto immune disease which I didn’t have prior to the over training. That’s something I’ll have to deal with the rest of my life due to that lack of knowledge/experience.

As the podcast has mentioned many times I don’t understand why there is often a desire to fuel the minimum necessary, better to err on the side of more (while watching that body weight remains stable over time). Last year I lost 6% body fat while gaining 13 lbs muscle in 6 months while eating as much carbs as I could during each and every ride, around 90g/hour average. If I had done say half the amount of carbs while riding maybe it would have been the same result but seems more likely I wouldn’t have gained as much muscle and would have lost even more weight to an unhealthy level and risked burnout/implosion.


I tend to not eat while a workout is under 120 minutes.

However i always get some food in range, so I can take some carbs if I feel that it will be beneficial.

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I typically don’t eat while on the bike for only an hour BUT it’s pretty interesting that top CX racers are starting to hit gels during a <1hour race. Hmm

Since starting to fuel at 80g/hr hard workouts (anything with work above Z4) I’ve noticed my legs get less “heavy” during the workout , RPE for the last few intervals is lower, workout completion rate is higher. I also find that fueling on the bike suppresses post workout appetite so that I don’t eat half the snack cupboard in the evening

I tend not to bother fuelling Z2 rides under 2hrs indoors or out, preferring to have second helpings of dessert to replace the carbs.


This +100

Why are folks not fueling the work? I get the constant focus on weight and cutting calories, but there are much better times to do so OFF the bike.


I’d say I generally agree with your overall approach, but not with this statement

glucose can be used directly and within minutes. The question is, is it really needed because of a lack of available glucose from using what you had onboard. I think I tend to agree than an hour is rarely enough to burn through your available glucose. Now whether you will feel better during the workout by fueling or after, is another story.

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I’d say: the priority is the workout.

If you cannot finish your workout because of lack of carbs, you’re doing wrong.

Cafeine and carbs are legal performance enhancers. Use them when required.

There is no correct answer. For example I workout in the afternoon. For lunch I make a salad and include 70g carbs from white rice. My lunch includes other carbs. And I eat carbs for breakfast and mid morning snack.

After lunch, about 2-3 hours later, I get ready for the ride. Change and eat 2 bananas, then head outside and do 2 to 2.5 hours on the bike. Given what I do off the bike, I’ve found that on-bike guzzling 40-120g of sugar water (or eating) does nothing to MY performance on the bike for these 2 to 2.5 hour workouts.

The biggest impact is what I eat off the bike. Yesterday I finished the workout at 2 hours, and during the 11 minute cooldown back to the house I ate two Clif bars. Wife was running late so I walked in the door and had a burrito and small glass of milk. Lately these workouts have been around 1400kJ / calories. Over the last 7 years I’ve experimented a LOT with nutrition, that seems to work best for ME but might not for YOU.

You need to figure out what works for you.

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Can you guys really tell when you failed a workout because of lack of carbs? I have absolutely no clue if I struggle because of carbs vs sleep, mental stress, carrying previous workout fatigue, general life fatigue, incoming sickness, etc.

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One thing I’ve been trying lately that I think might be a worthwhile experiment to satisfy the RPE argument for fueling during workouts is to drink my LMNT without sugar during workouts. The flavor (to me anyways) provides the same mental reward that sipping my sugar water does, but without the sugar. I’ve seen no real difference in drinking sugar vs. drinking flavored water on the bike. How you handle longer rides that do require fueling or recovery between rides is another story.

But they aren’t just riding their bikes for an hour…they have extensive warmups and many also go out afterwards for additional miles. They are not just fueling the race, they are fueling the day.

If you are doing a 1 hour workout, there should be no need to consume calories during the ride…assuming you have fueled properly during the day or overnight. Even 90 minute workouts can often be done without fuel.

But you need to make sure you have a good recovery meal plan as well.


I personally don’t fuel on the bike for a 1 hour workout. My FTP isn’t high enough to burn through my glycogen in that time frame. However, I will make sure if I have an interval workout (VO2, threshold, etc.) that I have something carb-y (bagel, oats, cereal) in the hours preceding my workout. For endurance 1 hour rides, I don’t feel like anything extra is necessary.

For longer indoors (90 mins +), I will top up the electrolytes with Skratch or Hammer products and maybe a gel or two.

When I am riding outdoors (typically longer durations), I generally just eat whatever I crave. French fries, soda, gels, it’s all burning up pretty quickly on a multi-hour spirited group ride. I have noticed when I fuel those rides appropriately, I feel so much better at the end of the ride. I used to do a 60 mile Saturday ride with a group on 1 gel and some electrolytes, and the last hour was a complete slog followed by a way-too-large lunch. Ugh, I’ve come a long way since then.