Fueling failures - what should I try next?

Sugar water is too sweet if you just add sugar, that’s what the citric acid is for. And you also want a bit of fructose, not just glucose.

Have a look here for discussion on how to mix your drinks: Make SIS BETA fuel yourself just a few pence per bottle

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Thanks everyone.

Off bike nutrition is fairly well sorted. I’ve been tracking intake. It is not easy to get the full recommended amount of protein, but I’m not too far off and I am doing okay for total calories and carbs. Weight is stable.

As far as 2 hours before the ride, we’re taking 6 a.m. meet up times, which means I’m rolling out from my house by 5:15. I’m not getting up at 3 to make oatmeal or pancakes, so I need to train my stomach to deal with fuel mid ride. Sounds like I just need to figure out how to force feed myself.

As far as hydration, so far two bottles works for me. The weekly ride has a refill stop. The events have aid stations.

If you’re leaving that early, you need to eat carbs the night before. Maybe even fairly late. Classics like pasta work well, but also rice and potatos.

On the bike, to be honest I think for endurance rides you could eat non-sweet stuff, maybe make some savoury oat bars or rice balls. Or even potato or banana bread. But that won’t work well for a proper race, so it will be worth finding a carb drink or gels etc that you don’t find repulsive.

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Early rides for me are done either with some granola before bed, or getting up and immediately before riding eating two bananas and slamming a 60g bottle of carbs (Gu Roctane mix is not that sweet). That’s 450 calorie pre-load within 5 minutes of riding.

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A banana or two and a good carb drink.

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I’ve been using Skratch SuperFuel. It’s not very sweet tasting at all.

Sugar gives me crazy anxiety if I eat it so I try to stay away from it off the bike and continued while on to quickly learn it’s not really doable.

Energy chews are my typical go to now. They’re sweet but some flavors are better than others in that department. I typically just grab a bunch of single ones from The Feed so I have a solid variety.

The eat trash, ride fast thread might be your friend as well. I took the longest ride I had in a while yesterday and killed it stopping at a couple gas stations and getting a sharing size Snickers at one and a Cosmic Brownie at another.

I’m sure there are “healthier” options but my (not a dietitian) opinion at this point is fast calories is what you need when you’re on the bike and that’s typically the stuff we steer clear from off it.

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I know you said maltodextrin is too sweet but adding salt, citric acid or a squeeze of lemon can help.

I threw in a nuun tablet (citrus of some kind) because it seemed like the easiest way to mask the “pure sugar” flavor while adding some electrolytes, but the result was, to me, pretty akin to full strength gatorade. Made my mouth sticky and it took effort to force it down. I ended up drinking a lot of plain water just trying to clear out my mouth. I may mix it much more diluted next time and try to ramp it back up over time as my tastes adapt.

Last time I bonked, I ended up at a gas station where I threw back a small lemonade and it worked wonders without seeming sticky … more sour than sweet. Maybe lemonade and sour patch kids are the answer? Lots of experimenting to do!


Save the pleasant tasting enjoyable food for after the ride. Think functional above all else for the ride itself. Nobody eats gels because they like them but because they are the best, most functional way to get carbs in for fuel.

You are massively underfueling and so you’re feeling underfueled. I would try for at least a 1000 calorie breakfast (you can spill a ton of maple syrup on anything to pad up the calories) and then use a bottle per hour with 60g of SIS (Science in Sport) carb mix per bottle and 2x SIS gels per hour on top. That’ll keep you firing.

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Maltodextrin is mostly flavorless. Whatever you’re using ain’t maltodextrin.

Not really. Sounds like you just don’t like to eat?


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Doesn’t really feel like it, and like most people have mentioned, fuelling starts off the bike.

What does the complete daily intake the day before your rides look like?

Too sweet? Maltodextrine is almost tasteless. Are you sure it’s malto not fructose or some kind of mix?


Your taste will adapt - following advice in the others threads that people have linked to I’ve started using sugar + salt + 10% gatorade as a drink mix… but the first time I tried a sugar mix with 30g sugar in 500ml water I thought it was impossibly sweet. But I got used to it over a couple of weeks and now quite like it. The key for me was not using a full dose of commercial drink mix or electrolyte tablets plus extra sugar, just a bit for the taste.

Also there’s some good advice in the other threads about gradually ramping up the amount of carbs you’re eating/drinking too. For a 3/4 hour ride you’ll probably want to target around 100g/hr, but if you go out next weekend and try to do that you’ll probably get massive GI distres and conclude that it’s not possible… It IS possible, but you need to adapt to it. I built up carb concentration in the one bottle I was using for mid-week TR workouts by a few g/500ml each time, until I was confident that i could drink up to 60g/500ml or higher concentrations.

Other things to try are the super-concentrated 1l bottle plus water - some people find this easier to manage in terms of controlling calorie intake dynamically, plus you can drink more water if you need to, and you can avoid dental problems by rinsing down the high-sugar drink with plain water each time (but that requires always drinking twice)


I just use squash/ cordial to flavour my maltodextrin/ fructose/ electrolyte mix. Admittedly, sweet has never really been an issue for me.

I did use SIS Lemon and Lime Go Electrolyte for a while, and didn’t find that sweet at all.

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I don’t like overly sweet stuff either, e. g. I am firmly in the dark chocolate camp. I think you have to try different brands. I tried different ones, and I cannot stomach the cheaper ones. My drink mix of choice is SIS, and I put the recommended serving for 500 ml in a 650 ml bottle. SIS gels are also pretty bland, which is a positive for some and off-putting for others. Gu “gels” are the opposite.

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Try SIS Isotonic ’gels’, way different texture from standard gels as known.

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Not really. Sounds like you just don’t like to eat?

This is true. I am one of those people who would take a daily pill if it were possible. I treat food like medicine. I take it because I know I need it. I try to apply that to the bike, but I’m gaging on it, so I was hoping to find things that are, well… more ‘pill’ like. Is there a gel that is most conducive to throwing down your throat quickly, like a shot of cheap liquor in college?

Maybe ‘sweet’ isn’t quite the right word for the malto, but it was certainly sticky and I had a very hard time forcing myself to swallow it. I’ll try working my way up from much less. And maybe I’ll skip the nuun next time and go salt/acid/squeeze of lemon.

In my experience, Untapped “gels” are the least viscous gel out there. For any gel, keep it as close to your back as possible in your jersey pocket so it gets warmed by your work and becomes less viscous.

Here’s what I’ve tried that works for me:

  • pitted dates (I love the Trader Joe’s Organic Pitted Medjool Dates)
  • maple sugar candies (yes, these are just sugar, but they have great flavor)
  • Skratch energy chews (these have just enough of a tang and their texture isn’t too sticky)
  • bottle of fuel: more concentrated mix of a drink mix with sodium citrate and maltodextrose added to top off my fueling needs.
    I have a separate bottle of plain water, and on very hot days when I won’t have a refill spot for awhile I’ll go up to a 1L bottle for that one.

I get the sweetness-overload factor. For the drink mix, I use Skratch sport hydration, Untapped Ginger Mapleaid, and/or Fluid Tactical Oral Rehydration Solution. I typically mix the Skratch with Untapped, while the Fluid Tactical ORS is totally fine on its own. I typically don’t go over an additional 30-40g maltodextrose because then it does get kind of sweet and a bit hard to drink. I chase the drink with a sip of plain water.

I have texture issues and can’t do gels or most chews, but all of these things work for me. You can always use a mix of sodium citrate and sodium chloride to get a bit more of a salty taste to the mix, which would taste really good on hot days. (Sodium citrate doesn’t have a very salty taste. Just like maltodestrose isn’t nearly as sweet as table sugar.)

I love rice cakes, but I don’t have time to make them all the time. I go for more easy stuff…