Fueling Workouts

I need some help with calories, Kj, and fueling. In the spring when I went through the General Build Blocks I “fueled” like crazy and I gained 5 lbs, and I’d like to avoid that this time around.

On the podcast this week, Alex mentioned that each TR workout as an estimated kJ burn. Amber has talked alot about fueling around the workout and eating reasonably during the rest of the day.

Let me know if I’ve got this figured out… As a benchmark, next week I have Carillion, a 1 hour SS workout with with 623 kJ(cal) estimate, for me at least. While 1 calorie isn’t equal to 1 kJ, after going through our metabolic inefficiency its roughly close.

So if I eat 1 gel before starting (100 cal), and drink 2 bottles of mix with 120 cal each, and finish up with a chocolate milk of 140 cal and a granola bar of 190 then that totals 690 calories, which is pretty close to the calories burned.

Have I got this right or am I overfueling?

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Unless you are very skinny you are over fuelling - if it’s less than 2 hours long I just use low cal squash. If it’s 2 hours SS I will use 800mls of energy drink. There are no 1 hour workouts where you need to eat anything. Of course make sure you eat a decent diet…I have a big bowl of porridge in the morning…but unless you train before breakfast - in which case energy drinks are useful you don’t need anything - as you can see from your experience you can still put on weight when training. Of course make sure you eat after your workout but I would find it really difficult to sit on a trainer and eat at the same time. (That said I do take some food if I’m out on a long 4 hour zone 2 ride outside)


For me, gaining 5lbs during build is irrelevant as I’ll shed that weight once I go outside in the summer once my plan is over. I’d rather fuel a little extra than not enough.


40 - 80 g carbs/hour is ideal for most. Some go higher. You don’t need to eat all the calories you burn.


You are forgetting about all the calories/carbs already stored in your body.


Yes, those calories seem to roughly match what you’re burning during the workout. But whether or not you end up losing or gaining weight is a function of your overall calorie balance - so it depends what else you’re eating during the day and what you base metabolic rate is.


If all this is on top of regular meals, then yes.

If you’re reducing at least one meal to compensate, e.g. breakfast, then no.

Fueling tends to control my appetite for the rest of the day. Underfueling results in uncontrolled eating later: a lose-lose.


What intensity was the workout ? For tempo and above I’ll fuel and re-fuel similar to you (although I’ll substitute the gel for a banana and often don’t touch the 2nd bottle). But for Endurance or recovery sessions I’ll only have half a bottle which I’ll only sip a couple of times.

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Some will fuel, some will not. Work out what works for you and if you gained 5lbs is that all fat or could some if it be lean mass ie extra muscle? Or fluid?
One metric is not enough unless you’re sure it’s weight to loose.
Try cutting back on what you do fuel with and see how that works out but bear in mind your bowels being full or having more fluid on board from eating more carbs could be some of that.
:grin: Sorry not trying to be challenging in a negative way just how my mind works.
You said you wanted to avoid that this time so try a calorie tracking app that will tot it all up for you. But if it was lean mass I’d take that if it brought extra power and lowered your RPE.


At a loss as well, the nutrition is harder then the bloody workouts :slight_smile:


Thanks for the replies everyone. I’m going to try backing off on the drink mix for 1 hr workouts. Ill keep the same volume of water, just reduce the mix. Im also going to try to keep other meals more reasonable, i.e. no need for a 9pm bowl of oatmeal to get ready for a workout the next afternoon.

I know someone above mentioned appetite, and I definitely think its part of my problem. The deeper I get into consistent training the more I feel like a bottomless pit. I think I may need to add more veg and green stuff instead of an extra scoop of rice or oatmeal!

Someone also asked about what kind of weight was gained. It was some muscle, but also some fat. Thanks for the reminders that its not necessarily a bad thing to gain some weight. Im sure there was definitely some more carbs and water on board to go with a few more watts!

35yr old male, 150lbs, 5’9", mesomorph


Aim for 60-100g of carb per hour (experiment!!) on the bike for tempo/SS and above and eat well the rest of the time. I know some (I believe including @Nate_Pearson and @Jonathan) will also fuel lower intensity rides (prep for the next hard ride) but I haven’t yet reached that plane of existence. I believe that my decision to take in 90g/hour for all my ‘real workouts’ in 2020 was a big reason (obviously not the only one) for my big performance gains.

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Taking in a gel to start is 20g of carbs, plus drink mix is another 60g, which puts me at 80g total. I completely agree that it lowers the RPE. For a 1.5 hour indoor ride I add another gel and another 30g carbs from mix.

I do lighten up on the mix before endurance or recovery rides and usually dont take a gel to start.


Thanks for this charts! Now I’m just trying to sort out the 2 schools of thought… 1hr or less little to no carbs, or the full gas for the workout approach. I had always heard the no carbs for an hour or less in gym class and bro science, but is that for something as focused and difficult as a TR workout? How can I reconcile this with the heavy carbs approach from the podcast guys?

If you are already well fed and your muscles loaded with glycogen, then you should — in theory — be able to make it through any 1-hour workout.

The heaviest 1hr TR workouts are <1,000cal ~250g carbs.

As stated, exogenous in-ride carbs (e.g. gel) will reduce RPE and if that helps you finish the workout, then go for it!


yes. exactly.
When i’m feeling fully loaded i can do the 2.5hr long easy z2 or even 1.5hr sweetspot without any mid-ride snack. it feels wonderful but it will make me craving for food later in the day.

it just when i do back to back hard morning workout (at 5.30 or 6pm), had a decent dinner day before, had enough carb for breakfast (usually ± 30gr carbs from wholemeal bread and 24gr protein from whey protein) i still feel hungry and eventually increasing my RPE. I wonder if the cause is my glycogen level is so low that it’s happen.
any idea about this anyone?

I’m trying to loose weight and not hijacking this thread but there’s a good video by Dylan Johnson here which reminded me of a couple of things:

if you go to around 9:27 on the video it has a good table showing how calorie dense foods are - vegies and fruits being the least. When I’m hungry now I try to remember this … and snack on something there.

I did an 1:45 endurance workout yesterday and although the garage was very cold I still found putting the fan on for extra icy blasts lowered the RPE so could cooling be part of the issue - I’ve found from reading around on here and experimenting there is a balance between the two at all temperatures. Being fuelling and cooling as Thursday’s podcast was very interesting too about fuelling.

YMMV. :slight_smile:


Just my two cents. Even if you keep the same amount of calories, the chocolate milk and granola bar will not satiate you at all. Replace those items with the above-mentioned oatmeal or fruit and veggies, which will help the bottomless-pit feeling (believe me, I know this!) and most likely increase adherence to your diet later the day.

Outside of the working out window, I would highly recommend NOT drinking your calories if you have a high appetite.


It depends on the bigger picture. It might not be necessary to fuel a short SST workout if you take it in isolation. Where does this workout sit amongst the rest of your week/training block?

When I’m doing either a lot of intervals, or a lot of KJs in a week, I tend to play it safe and take on some fuel in-workout even on the easier days. The below week might be a good example…

In terms of the 1x60 SST and Fletcher (90 mins Z2) workouts, in isolation I probably wouldn’t take on any extra fuel on account of the workout itself/KJs, but because the workouts were in between bigger/harder days I fuelled them. There was still a lot of work left to do, and no recovery days in between.

So without knowing what came before/after, it’s hard to recommend how to fuel. In terms of Carillion, I’d say 60g carbs is probably the max you’d need, assuming you’ll be eating as normal.