Endurance ride nutrition

Can you eat during the standerd endurance ride for fat adaptation?
Over the past year I have done a 4-7 hour zone 2 ride every wekend to build muscle endurance.
But I have always put in a large amount of carbs during these rides and had a break every 1.5 hours.
Last week I started thinking about it and thought that maybe not eating or eating fatty protein rich food be better for the desired training effect.

What is the best nutrition plan for these rides when it comes to the type of adaptations?

I wonder this also. If I’m fatigued I’ll eat before and during. If I feel fresh i will head out without food before and minimal during.

If you don’t eat on a 4 hour ride you won’t do a 4 hour ride :slight_smile:


There are many articles referencing training for endurance in a glycogen depleted state will increase Mitochondria adaptation 2-3X faster, google that lots of good info.


That seems fair :joy:

Could you maybe link one?
I can’t seem to find one that explains it in full.

I eat burritos.

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If you aren’t fat adapted and you would like to condition yourself to burn more fat I would not advise a 4+ hour endurance ride without any nutrition to ‘break the ice’. Especially if you typically follow a carb-rich nutrition plan on such rides. No es bueno. You can do it for sure but probably not a great idea as a first step.

Consider this instead: for the last 90 to 120 minutes of your endurance ride, stop eating. No hydration mix. No gels. Hold Z2 but don’t do anything intense.

After the ride either don’t eat anything or have a fat rich meal with some protein. For instance, I might take down a tablespoon of coconut oil & then mix a half serving of protein powder with heavy whipping cream (just add the cream a little at a time until the whole mix has a pudding like consistency) & eat that.

Now your depleted from the ride & your body is working on some fatty nutrition. Get the bod used to utilizing those fat calories.


I don’t think carbs are bad at all for a 4-7 hour ride. In fact, you’ll probably need them and you’ll still finish in a carb depleted state.

You can start the day with a breakfast of slow burning carbs - oats - add some nuts for protein, some fruit and maybe fat (butter, mct?). maybe also eat an egg or two. It can be a big bulky breakfast and it’s best to eat it 2 hours before the ride but it will power you for many hours. My gut can handle that breakfast even 30 minutes before heading out the door.

On the ride, I usually take a banana or two, a “healthy” 200 calorie bar, and even an emergency stash of gummy bears on long rides and I still end up at home pretty depleted. Yesterday I did a 60 mile 1800 calorie ride and ate a banana, bar, snickers bar from the gas station, and the gummies. That’s still only 750 on-bike calories.

Next time, I’m going to try taking a peanut butter sandwich on extra long rides.

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Reviving this thread to ask a similar question:

Lately, the podcast has really been big on pushing ‘fueling the ride,’ and that’s certainly something I agree with and have had good experiences with.
I recently did a long ride (Town Hall? Alleghany? Some other one?) and the workout text was specifically discussing how on these long endurance rides, it’s beneficial to not take in carbs/sugar, and let the body use fat, and that if you were intaking sugar, you’d blunt that adaptation.

So now I’m a little confused. I understand carb intake and I understand the core concepts of fat adaptation, so I’m more specifically curious what that workout text was trying to convey with regards to bike nutrition in general. I sure couldn’t get through 3:15 or 4hrs without supplemental intake, unless I ate a truly monstrous morning meal[s], and even then I don’t know.

You might not do a Z4 four hour ride, but I’ve done a ton of mostly Z2 rides for 4 hours, 6 hours, even longer without fueling on the bike. If you’re fat-adapted/keto-adapted it’s no big deal at all.

Even a super lean person carries upwards of 30,000 KCals of energy in fat on their body. If you’ve conditioned your body not to rely on glycogen and to use beta fuels (keytones) produced from that fat, you can go a long, long time on your built-in reserves.


We’ve seen the pendulum swing back and forth on the issue of fasted vs non-fasted rides on the podcast. I think it really depends on your goals and what you are trying to accomplish.

A few years back @chad did talk a lot about doing fasted rides and burning fat during them. However it sounds in hindsight he found these very difficult and may have even led to him feeling burnt out from riding for a period of time. It doesn’t mean they were not effective in burning fat, but it sounded like his overall energy and desire really took a hit.

@Nate_Pearson has been a strong proponent of fueling rides, including endurance rides. His rationale has been not only to perform better on the current ride, but perhaps even more importantly to improve recovery and be ready to take on more rides with good energy reserves. With him working hard to increase volume, this seems to have been a focus.

@Jonathan previously reported major GI issues with long rides and purposefully limited his intake because of this and it sounded like he often slogged his way through some of these rides. Somewhere along the line he started using Maurten and this seemed to be a turning point where he was able to absorb a whole lot more without the GI issues acting up. A couple podcast’s ago he made the point that he enjoys long rides so much more now with the nutrition onboard.

If someone is really wanting to lose weight and overall performance less critical, then fasted rides may make a lot of sense. However to truly become fat adapted my understanding is that you really have to work hard at it and just doing the occasional fasted ride, with the rest of the rides fueled, isn’t really going to help you become fat adapted.


I’ve been riding mostly z2 for a couple weeks now to get back into the swing of things after a solid bout with COVID and I’ve been experimenting a bit with the pre-ride and on-the-bike nutrition strategy for shorter (1-1.5 hr) z2 rides. Personally I’ve found that eating some carbs (in the ballpark of 20-30g/hr) during z2 rides has really helped with recovery. If I only take water for a 1-1.5 hr z2 ride then I feel like it takes a bit longer to recover (sore for longer). Post ride nutrition same as usual with more intense training rides (carb heavy).

For context, I’m relatively new to endurance sports in general (starting running early 2019) and cycling (started mid 2019), so I think my aerobic engine is at this stage not so great and as such my body isn’t yet great at utilising fat stores for the lower intensity rides.

Fasted Z2 rides are some of the best ways to utilize fat stores for energy. Carbs definitely help make those rides easier, though, and lower RPE. Depending on your goals (i.e body composition change, desire to become fat-adapted, etc) you may want to try those Z2 rides fasted.

I plan to try this food

I have been doing a lot of long endurance rides over the last few years. My fueling strategy is to eat a large breakfast of two eggs on english muffin, bowl of oatmeal with plain, unflavored protein powder mixed with water and maybe some yogurt. I used to feel the need to eat shotblocks (my fave energy source for hard rides) during the latter portions of these long rides, but now I focus on eating only “real” food while on the bike (clif bars and/or kind bars generally).

This year, for some reason, I’m finding I need less carlorie intake on these zone 2 rides than in the past. I’m thinking my body is getting better at burning fat during the rides. Yesterday I did 6.5 hours of ride time, 105 miles mostly zone 2 (170 watts) with some zone 3 during a 57 minute climb and all I ate during the entire ride was half a small package of flavored cashews around the 2.5 hour mark and half a cliff bar right before the long climb. I ate a burger at the top of the climb and 1/4 of a cliff bar around 6 hours into the ride. I mean, I would eat that much or more if I was sitting around not doing much of anything in a 7 hour 15 minute period of time. I burned 3,800 calories on the ride.

I have been trying to train my body to process difficult foods on these zone 2 rides. Sometimes I’ll eat things that normally are game enders for me during a ride (like bacon or dairy) I’ll push through the difficulty of trying to make power while digesting too much food or fatty/dairy foods. Might sound silly, but I’ll talk to my stomach and tell it to digest while I’m trying to make my zone 2 watt target. I also glance at my head unit the entire ride to really train my legs to make steady zone 2 power the whole ride–I don’t surge up ‘kickers’ and I don’t coast down hills, I maintain constant zone 2 power the entire ride except when I have to stop at intersections. Sometimes that means I grind 40 cadence up steep sections. But I think this sort of discipline is really paying off.

My brother has had great success with keto: losing weight and riding stronger despite him not riding that much. I don’t want to do keto, I do like the idea that maybe my body is starting to get good at utilizing both carbs and fat during rides.

You could also just reduce the amount of carbs you take. for example only 30g/hour instead of 60g/hour