Fueling Workouts


Basically there aren’t any hard and fast rules, so your points may or may not apply.

Do you have a problem that needs fixing, or are you just trying to do what’s right?

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I wake up early ass morning, drink some coffee, eat some Honey Nut Cheerios (dry) have a pouch of maple syrup and a bottle of fruit juice. That’s all for a 1-1.5 hour ride. It’s like 170g of carbs
Not sure glucose fructose ratio but it works and has been working so I don’t change it. My weight has been stable and I try to eat my most processed crap around or during my training on the bike.

I should be getting maltodextrine today to mix with Gatorade, I’m starting sustained power build HV and have been wanting to be better with fueling on the bike. On one hand, I eat lots of carbs all the time, I love it, and usually get up and have a latte before my workouts, although for the longer and more TIZ workouts of 80-90mins I will eat some, but I’d like to be more consistent and see how doing 90g/hr affects my performance, which I already think is pretty darn good, but I occasionally have a stinker!

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We both are man!

I was talking to my coach yesterday.
And he was no pleased when i told him that for a 3h indoor ride (Big Mountain, ~.71 ftp), I had 4 slices of PBJ toast for breakfast (400 cals), one bottle of Gu roctane (200) and one gel (100) (plus 2 extra bottles of plain water).

I got slightly harder 20 to 25 min before the end… and it wasnt impossible, but i think i could have use an extra gel.

in total i consumed roughly 700 cal on a 1800 calories ride.
He said he consumes that amount pre ride, plus additional 1000+ on the ride (one gel and one roctane bottle an hour)

I think that’s too much. he said What i did was not nearly enough.

Last week I did 50 miles outdoor at .78 and didn’t even finish the first bottle of roctane.
I didn’t use any of the gels I took with me.


I dont even know how to think anymore…


ha. I hear that, especially as someone who did 2 century rides this year, both about 3700kj and I consumed 1100calories on the bike on each of them. I had no drop in performance and on my last one my decoupling was under 5% for over 5hrs. on one hand, it’s great to be so fat adapted (I’d like to think I am) but when I hear so many people extolling the benefits of carbing extensively per hour. I’m gonna give it an honest try and see how it goes. But I do agree that sometimes there’s a lot of conflicting advice out there

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I target 50% on the bike and my 3 hour endurance rides are about 1800 calorie burn as well. So that’s 800 calories in my pockets and 100 calories in the bottles from my hydration mix. My coach approves.


Thanks for bringing this up! Definitely agree that we’ve evolved beyond this kind of instructional text, so we’re discussing the review process internally to address messages like this within workouts. Many thanks for catching this. Cheers. :doughnut:

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or the opposite, like Coach Carmichael at CTS recommending eating 20-30% of the calories you burn:

I’ve done some very hard 6 hour century rides and fueled around 30% during the ride. It works well when you’ve properly pre-hydrated and are fully carbed up.

FWIW I’m doing ~2500 calorie mid-week workouts after work. And Sat/Sun is about ~3000 cals total. During the workouts I’m fueling roughly 50% calories burned. Workouts are timed between meals. Have slowly lost about 1.5 pounds per month over 4 months, while retaining muscle mass.



Well as you say different situations different solutions. If I’m looking at doing 4x Koip in a week, at 1500kcal a pop I see no problem fuelling that. Pettit-1 on an easy day, maybe not.

The question of when you fuel and what with is going to be nuanced with what the rest of your day and night looks like. Maybe you already consume more than you need, so burning 1500 doesn’t wipe you out. Maybe you’re digging holes all day and without extra fuel you can’t even look at a bike.

My approach is to try to have a normal meals and normal portions, fuel the workout and recovery. The idea being threefold; 1. When I’m not training I should be able to continue my diet just delete the fuel and avoid overeating and weight gain. 2. Ensuring I have the fuel to optimise the training benefit. 3. Prep for race day, as a long course triathlete.

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What’s wrong with this kind of instructional text? It’s honest and has merit.

because it is introducing a “deserve” dynamic into fueling decisions that may not be helpful, and could potentially be harmful.

you wouldn’t say your car has to “earn” it’s fuel, so why say that about your body? better to think of what you need or require to perform your best


Thanks for such a positive response, Ivy.


How sad is it to consider food only as fuel. It’s so much more than that and working for it isn’t unhealthy.

Also, how sad is it for amateur cyclists to obsess about fueling a 60 TSS endurance workout. It’s ridiculous, fueling an easy endurance ride hardly above active recovery (0.6 IF!)! You got more than enough energy on board to do that kind of workout straight out of bed.

So yeah, I know what I would consider unhealthy. And I won’t even dig into body composition, fat adaptation etc. Chad has covered that multiple times on the podcast. Especially in the first two years.

the name of this thread is “Fueling Workouts”

So it’s not about asking to change instructional texts? :man_shrugging:t3:

Sorry, I didn’t mean for that to come across as glib.

I was just trying to provide a reason why that instructional text may not be helpful in regards to workout performance.

And I agree that it would be kind of sad if someone only thought of food as fuel, but in the context of training that is what we are talking about, I believe.

That’s okay.

I never made the point that one shouldn’t fuel their workouts.

My questions was about what’s wrong with saying “earn those carbs” in the context of an super easy workout. Especially because fueling isn’t needed for those rides.

So, a person could look at the work as a way of working towards a treat. Especially as most of us do this sport as a hobby and not for a living.

On the other hand, slightly different stories are also in Matt Fitzgerald’s book “the endurance diet” where some pros talk about how they combine the work and sweet tooth aspect to make the best out of both worlds.

You’re right.

Needed ≠ Optimal.

It may actually be quite reasonable. Especially in the context of seeking either of the following:

  1. Maximizing performance at threshold workouts or above. Reason: chronic presence of high glycogen content tends to promote the creation of glycolytic cellular machinery. Essentially you get better at burning carbs at a higher rate, which supports higher work rates (power outputs).
  2. Improving body composition. Nighttime overeating, especially on high-fat, or calorie dense foods, tends to be strongly promoted by earlier hypoglycemia. Hypoglycemia is a common result, even if mild, of training without intra-workout fuel.

You are absolutely right though, that excess worry about carb consumption for quite easy workouts is very misplaced. But it’s probably worth at least some thought.


Yes, but, exceeding burned carbohydrate with consumption is actually a great idea. 2 reasons:

  1. Increased blood glucose during training results in reduced RPE and less fatigue from identical lower-intensity stimuli, with potentially enhanced adaptations due to higher glycogen content post-ride.
  2. z1 and z2 rides are great opportunities to stockpile glycogen with higher-carb feedings so that future trainings sessions can be of the highest quality and with the lowest fatigue at onset of training.

Sounds like a great idea.

This may actually be still too low for the hardest of 4-5hr ride days. My wife routinely consumes 10g/kg ON THE BIKE during a 5-hr ride. (600g carbs, 5 hrs). She also eats another 250-400g carbs off the bike on a day like that, quite easily. (13-15g/kg/day is quite common). She might average 180-200W for such a ride, at 63kg.

This might help: Table of Intra-workout Carb Needs Per Hour of Training

I have coached several hundred clients in endurance sport nutrition. Never once have I thought to myself: “oh that’s over-fueling.” The only sign of over-fueling is gut distress, unless we’re talking about someone who is literally capable of consuming more during their ride/run than they’re capable of burning. Very hard to do for anything but a glass cranks ride.

@TwoWheels I think your approach laid out here is great.

Your weight gain may have been intra-muscular carb weight + water + gut contents. Could have also been fat tissue if you consumed off-the-bike as you typically had been doing without proper intra-workout fueling. Probably a bit of both. I’d recommend continuing your higher-carb fueling strategy and just reducing off-the-bike kcal slightly if weight drifts up. Performance will be better without a doubt.


Thanks for your comment. You wrapped it up better than I initially did. Especially the paragraph I quoted above. Perhaps another try: fueling workouts is important and it becomes more and more important the higher the intensity gets and/or the longer the workout becomes.


Thank you for your extended reply. It is certainly my hope that this thread is helpful to others who may have a similar question or wish to take a similar approach.

Just to update where I am, I a haven’t lost ay more weight but have stayed with in a pound of my starting weight, certainly nothing to worry about. I lost a pound per week the first 2 weeks, but I think I may have been under eating. Now that Ive just finished week 4 or SSB II MV my appetite has increased and Im trying to focus on eating to appetite. Also, my RPE on the workouts has also increased. Granted the IF does progress week to week in the plan, but I wonder if I was under eating a bit.

Anyway, I’m going to keep carbing and keep eating, probably eating slightly more. Im trying to remind myself to only make small changes, no huge changes or swings. Hopefully FTP test in about 2 weeks will show some positive results. My goal is to get to 4 w/kg this year.

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