Don't fail - fuel! A cycling calorie calculator I made

Thanks to the amazing @ambermalika and the recent Trainer Road podcast, there’s been a lot of love for the simple rule that our nutrition before and during a workout or ride should equal the calories expended on the bike. And a lot of us have found that wow, we’re really not doing that at all.

So I thought I’d make a simple calorie calculator that you can use to tailor your nutrition to any session.

View the spreadsheet here - it’s read-only for obvious reasons, but you can either do File / Make A Copy to create your own version in Google Sheets, or File / Download As… to export it as an Excel file.


(Do not edit the cells in red as you will spoil the formula!)

  1. Enter your favourite foods in Column A, then the preferred units in Column B, and the calorie value for 1 of those units in Column C. So, for example, the calories in 1 gram of oats, or in one energy gel. I’ve added a few of my own and some common ones to get started. Change the units if you prefer cups or whatever.
  2. Enter the expected average watts (NOT normalised!) in cell H3, and the length of workout (1 for an hour, 0.5 for a half hour, etc) in H4. Alternatively, just enter a manual calorie target in cell K6 (you can get this by clicking on a planned Trainer Road workout in the calendar).
  3. Then start entering the numbers for each food in Column D (e.g. 100 for 100g of oats, or 1 for 1 energy gel). You will then see in cell K3 or K7 how many calories that food adds up to, and in cell K4 or K8 you can see how many more calories you need to add to match your workout.

I’ve put some figures in to show you an example. A one hour session at average 180 watts yields a goal of 639 calories. I have then matched that by having a cinnamon and raisin bagel with 15g of peanut butter (which I would have 2+ hours before), a large bottle of energy drink mix, and an energy gel.

Note again that once you’ve made a copy, you can feel free to add or edit food items in Columns A-C and the formula will automatically be applied to them.

Have fun, and fuel away the fail!


This is really, really, cool! Nice work, Martin! :beers:


This assumes that for every calorie of output (a simple conversion of power to energy to calories) you are burning an equivalent amount of calories but is this actually the case?

Aren’t we pouring more calories into workouts than the actual calorific output due to various inefficiencies (equipment being one of them)?

It does not. It uses a food-to-output efficiency of about 24%.

Good question! The calculation takes into account that inefficiency. The equation I’ve used is average watts x hours x 3.575.

I saw one calculation that used 3.6, another that used 3.55, and split the difference. Here’s one explanation of the calculation in more detail.

You can of course insert your own version of the formula once you’ve made a copy, but I think this gives a good estimate.