Fastest carbohydrate delivery system

Hey gang, like many of us here I work out on the trainer very early in the morning. I’m usually up at 4.30am and am on the trainer/bike within 15-20minutes. What in your experience is the fastest way to deliver carbs to my body so that I realize the benefit within the hour on the trainer? I’m thinking gels but I’m open to other ideas.


Ingestion of carbs by eating is probably the fastest way to deliver carbs to the body.


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I find that even a tablespoon of maple syrup just before the workout makes a big difference in RPE. It probably has little to do with actual “fueling”, but it works!

Perhaps we can submit a question to the Ask A Cycling Coach Podcast about this; “is it faster intake carbs through eating or through suppositories?”

Inquiring minds want to know.

Depends on what meal delivery service you are looking for lol but on a serious note some things that have worked for me are the following ;Low fiber cereal, toast and jam or jelly, sugary beverage like Gatorade, maple syrup works, bananas And don’t forget to have some coffee if you drink it.

IIRC some glucose can be absorbed straight into the bloodstream through the mouth. Not sure if it’s a significant enough amount of calories but it’s probably the fastest way to signal the body that calories are coming. A gel, honey, syrup, etc should work for that (any viscous fluid that’s mostly sugar).

Maybe you could try to stay fasted that way your body learns to make glucose for itself. That’s what I do but the transition can be rough…


…failing that, maybe just eat very late the day before.

There was an AACC podcast a little while ago that talked about “optimum” timing for carbs before a workout. The short answer was either within 15 minutes before starting for simple carbs or more than 45 minutes before for complex carbs, especially those that require digestion. So, the corollary is that simple carbs are the quickest to be absorbed. For me, that is gels or mix.

@Dr_Alex_Harrison can probably add a lot more to this discussion, and correct anything I’ve mistated.

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maltodextrin drink mix - cheap and very fast delivery of carbs


lol I don’t think that’s how it works

Fasted training in the morning sucks I’ve tried it, if that’s what your goal is then go for it. Been there done that, eating carbs gives me more power.
What works for me is sugar/Gatorade mix by the likes of @Dr_Alex_Harrison and some low fiber cereal to make my stomach feel satisfied. I wake up at 5 and then hitting the bIke at 5:30 am. My old schedule used to be hit the bike at 5 am. So far I find maple syrup and or the sugar beverage works great, I don’t start sipping til about 5 minutes before I get on the bike. Then snack on some cereal because I like solid food more than just liquid especially in the morning when I haven’t eaten anything.


Here’s a link to the mix I use. I also will eat some craisins or a banana before my ride if I feel particularly hungry in the morning.

This is on my up next list . I think it’s from a few years ago: Carbs 101: When and How to Fuel for Your Cycling Workouts (Ask a Cycling Coach 234) - YouTube

Don’t forget intravenous injection!

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isotonic gels

The literature points strongly to fluids with powdered mix dissolved in it as the very fastest.

I’ll produce a video on the most recent literature answering this question, soon.

For now, here’s a reasonably good answer:

In your case, where you’re finishing your training session within 90 minutes of waking, roughly a 2 or 3:1 ratio of glucose to fructose, through something like any of the following combos will work great.

  1. 1-2 parts maltodextrin to 1 part sugar
  2. 2-3 parts maltodextrin + 1 part fructose
  3. 1-2 parts dextrose + 1 part sugar
  4. 2-3 parts maltodextrin + 1 part fructose

Simpler approach:

  1. Just buy an flavored carb beverage that A) you like the taste of, and B) doesn’t have any carbs NOT listed in the 4 carb names above.
  2. Mix with water.
  3. Drink all of it by 20min from the end of your trainer session.

Reason that simpler approach works great here:
It doesn’t matter if you hit 4:1 gluc:fruc (or even purely glucose), or 1.5:1 gluc fruc, and most carb beverages these days fall between those ranges. The ones that don’t fall between those ranges are all marketed explicitly as having 1:0.8 gluc:fruc ratio. Just don’t buy anything marketing that ratio, for this particular use case.

What if you did use 1:0.8 by accident?
Even if you did buy a 1:0.8 ratio product for your use case, it would work fine. It just wouldn’t be QUITE as fast, because you’re not likely to be needing to consume 150g carbs in the 90 minutes from waking time to workout cessation. Only in high carb consumption rate scenarios to you NEED to move to a closer to 1:1 ratio. I don’t foresee you needing to consume massive amounts of carbs for this activity.


ugh, sorry everyone, I didn’t realize this was an older thread that had just been reopened!

Just looked like an exciting thread and it popped up in my feed with new activity!

Hope that answer was helpful for you anyway, @hmaceachran.

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