How long does sugar take to reach your muscles?

Having spent far too long not consuming enough carbs to fuel intense workouts, I’ve recently got better with the amounts (lots and lots). I now want to be more precise with the timing.

How long do different types of fast carbs take to reach your muscles? Thinking particularly of gels and (home-made) Beta Fuel (i.e. maltodextrin & fructose). I’m asking for two reasons; the first is that when I take, say, a gel, I want the fuel to be ready for burning when I start the interval or hit the bottom of the climb. The second is that I don’t want ‘unburnt’ sugary fuel sitting in my system after the end of the last interval, when it will be doing more harm than good, so when should I stop taking in sugar?

Doe anyone have any knowledge / links / (non-bro) science?
Thanks in advance.


Lots of Bro science

But Pod cast 101 Has what i think you are looking for.

Feed the workout =?

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It’ll just aid recovery.

What’s your kJ expenditure per hour on a sweet spot/threshold workout?

How many grams of carb are you currently consuming?

Don’t forget the psychological aspect of consuming carbs. A sip of sugar right before your last interval may not make it to the muscles before you’re done with the workout, but it could give you the mental boost you need.

The answer is minutes - basically just as fast as you can get it out of your stomach.

However, the higher the exercise intensity, the more you depend on muscle glycogen, and the less what or when you eat matters. So unless you’re doing 90+ minutes of intervals, no need to worry about it.

I don’t think this can really be quantified because it depends on your digestive system as well as the fuel itself- and that not only varies between individuals, but can be affected by factors such as heat and intensity. it’s unlikely you’re going to achieve a high enough level of precision for a gel to take effect exactly when you need it, and ideally you’re just looking for a constant supply of energy throughout your ride instead. Your best bet is just experimenting with timing to see what works for you- especially in race-specific circumstances if that applies to you.
I also wouldn’t worry if you have some sugar left in your system following a workout- nutrition during workouts can have a big impact on recovery, so it’s still going to be ‘used’ and will probably help you out in the long run :slight_smile:

Try eating what you are questioning and measure blood glucose every 10-15mins. And there’s your answer. This can be done while sitting on the couch.


This thread might be for you. There is science in there.

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What are you using to measure that?

Sure, I understand there’ll be invididual variation and it will be affected by how hard you’re working. I don’t need to know to the minute, but would like to know if the window is, say, 10-20 minutes or 20-40.

Unfortunately I’ve never had much awareness of how fuelled I feel until it gets to the point of bottoming out. Trying to avoid too much trial and (painful) error :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

Thanks. Trawled through here recently, and there was lots of good stuff on what and how much, but not what I was looking for on when.

Perfect, thank you!

Just a standard glucose monitor with a finger prick. Just like a diabetic would use. It sounds like you are wanting to know how long it takes to get to the muscles. Once it’s in the blood it’s basically in the muscles.

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There plenty in there like this

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I listened to a podcast episode recently about this. Coach Chad was saying something like, fruits x minutes, gels instant, complex carbs x minutes, wholemeals x mins, proteins x mins, fats x mins.

Dont want to give incorrect information so I have not posted the times that I recall.
This would make an excellent blog article.