Help me with fueling please - gels/mixes can upset my stomach

Folks I need some help with nutrition on the bike. I can do things like Stinger Waffles ok usually if we’re at a stop. But gels and mixes seem to really causes some gastro issues that then take 12-24hrs to pass.

For example, yesterday I rode 90 miles, mostly Z2, I consumed 40 carbs in a bottle, 4 gels. Total carbs about 120g. Total KJ 3,819 burned. I’ve had other rides where I’ve consumed a total of 200g of carbs for 80-100 mile rides and then generally felt rather poorly for hours afterward. This seems to correlate with the amount of nutrition on the bike. For example if I do a slightly shorter, say 60-70 mile ride and only take in 2 gels, even if that ride is higher intensity I feel fine with no weird gastro symptoms.

Skratch seems to be problematic, GU gels can be as well. SiS mix and gels seem to be better but not great. I’d really welcome some other things to try in hopes of being able to consume a few more calories on the rides. I’d appreciate any help you can provide.

Are you making your own mix? That was the solution for me. Other than Maurten, which is just too expensive, I can’t drink any of those pre-mixed things in quantity. They turn my stomach.

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If you make your own mix, you could experiment different carbohydrates and see if you can narrow it down to which one upsets your stomach (or doesn’t upset it). For example, you could eliminate the fructose and just try dextrose or maltodextrose and see if that makes any difference.

Some people use UCAN which is a modified cornstarch (you can DIY).

If they are zone 2 rides, you can also try eating real food. Higher intensities will need an emptier stomach with easily absorbed stuffs, but Z2 you can eat a cheeseburger or croissants or whatever is on sale at the local bakery (I have bought a dozen glazed donuts for $2 and destroyed some long Z2 hours)

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It’s not clear how long you’ve been training your fueling approach, but it can take some time (many months or longer). Try different things and give things a fair chance (at least a few rides). As you probably know, you are way under fueling your rides (based on recommended intake), so it’s almost certainly going to be beneficial if you can figure it out. I’m a fan of keeping it simple for racing, just skratch and maple syrup with the occasional coke mixed in when available on course. My training largely mimics my race fueling, but will mix in some gas station candy sometimes.

I’m not a fan of most mixes, and I can’t eat gels because the texture makes me gag. My solution has been to put sodium citrate in my bottles for sodium (you can add some flavoring if you need it - I seem to be totally fine without), and for carbs I do medjool dates and maple sugar candies. I’ve found I can eat both even when doing intense work, although the candies are a little better when it’s really hard.

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I’ve been riding pretty seriously since 2020.

I might try Mautren and use it on longer rides? I’m good up to about 40-50carbs of SiS or even Gu before I start to feel yucky.

Making my own isn’t a bad idea but it would have to be basically sugar which I’m not sure I like the idea of. I was thinking about being a kid and I remember drinking kool-aid and getting basically the same feeling? Some maybe it’s Fructose??? Or do I have that backwards??

edit: also @grwoolf I’m aware I’m under fueling but that’s because of how this stuff makes me feel. I used to do 60 and 65 mile rides with zero carbs/gels some of them pretty hard. I read and listened to TR and friends and all said I’d be faster if I fueled. Started taking a gel every 30 miles that was ok. Kept getting told I was underfeeding, tried to increase it to match recommendations and get sick. I don’t like feeling gross so it’s been a limiting factor for sure, at least I suspect.

I eat real foods when I can, the stinger waffles are good, bananas are good but I don’t like taking in solid foods while riding due to aspiration risk. I do it some, but I don’t like to. I’d really like to have gels work for me. SiS powder seems better than Skratch but still not great for me.

Have you tried maple syrup instead of a gel?

I only do solid food on rides, and right now I’m using Fig Newtons. A pack is 200cal / 40g carbs. If you go this route, I would suggest eating two packs in an hour off the bike first and see how you feel. If you feel ok, then try it on the bike

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Fig Newtons might be ok if I can find something that’s Gluten Free and not made from tree nuts (allergy).

No I haven’t tried maple syrup.

There’s tons of info here on how to make your own. I use a 2:1 mixture of Maltodextrin:Fructose, with an SIS tab for electrolytes and flavor. Lots of other ideas here if you don’t like that one:

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If youre worried about aspiration, Keegan said something about a fig newton on the podcast that had a chewier texture and didnt crumble as bad

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Yeah, give Mautren a try if you’ve been trying the other stuff for a long time and it’s still not working. My problem with all that stuff is the cost and my desire to simplify down to a single source for all my rides (not just the long ones). You can easily spend hundreds a month on just gels. The switch to maple syrup allows me to use that for all my rides. It’s still not cheap, but a fraction of the cost of packaged gels. I’m still a slave to Skratch for my hydration, it’s like the cost of a frickin car payment during the summer. I just have not found an alternative that works for me, but I’m planning to experiment on some home brew at some point.

LMNT is pretty good if you just want electrolytes, I love that stuff.

So on the Maple Syrup are you mixing it with water in your bottles or creating your own gel somehow?

Have you tried cluster dextrin? It’s got a higher molecular weight and is known to be easier on the stomach

Shameless plug, but that is why we created it’s unflavored and a very simple ingredient list. Everything you need and nothing you don’t. If you want, give it a try. Free shipping on 2 bags and GEL5 gives $5 off every order.

Alternatively nothing beats the value of mixing it yourself.

Thank you I’ll keep this in mind!

I just use a small squeeze bottle/flask for the maple. I like my hydration mixed pretty weak in my water bottles and pack, primarily for hydration and electrolytes rather than calories (especially when it gets hot).

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Use table sugar and salt before you spend any more money. If that doesn’t work then get into the more complicated stuff. You’ll prob find out that you’re fine with it


If you’re having issues with your stomach, I’d venture trying to go 90g of table sugar is going to be way too sweet, but yes, experiment and see!

Natures bakery gluten free fig bars. On Amazon.


For maple syrup I use Untapped packets or a reusable sleeve. That stuff works really well for me. I don’t get tired of the taste, no stomach problems and I feel it pretty fast.