How many calories do you eat on the bike?

On a 2 hour group ride I’ll eat 2 Skratch bars and a banana, not including my hydration mix that’s about 550 calories. I see other folks on the ride don’t eat anything or eat a small bar, so probably around 250 calories or less.

I’m super afraid of bonking on a ride so I eat a lot of carbs the night before and a couple hours before the ride, on top of the snacks I eat during the ride. Am I eating too much?


Why wouldn’t you include your hydration mix? Those calories count too!

For me it depends entirely on the ride.

In races I have 1 scoop of skratch in every bottle (80 calories per bottle) and eat at least twice an hour - gels or bars - so around 200 calories/hour in food. It depends on the weather, but I’m a heavy sweater so I’m usually going through a bottle every 30-40 minutes so I get around 300-350 calories/hour in a typical race

On more casual rides I cut way down on the food consumption and usually don’t throw any skratch into my bottles and eat once every 45 minutes - so down to around 150 calories/hour. Although this varies greatly depending on what I’m doing on the ride and how long I’ll be out

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Thanks! These are comparatively slow group rides, about 17 mph, I burn around 850 calories on these rides.

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You shouldn’t be running the risk of bonking on a ride where you only burn 850 calories - so you can eat way less or carry on as you have. Unless you are chasing weight loss there’s not a compelling reason to reduce


550 calories is not too much, but “too much” is only determined if it affects performance. IMO, the bars and banana aren’t optimal, as you’re not going to get as much out of those as you are a liquid or gel source considering the relatively short duration of your ride.

Last season on my 3-hour solo rides at around 0.8ish IF (right around 200W), I’d take in about 600 calories (weighing ~70kg), entirely from liquid and gel sources, and that was plenty to get me through. Now I aim for more like 250/hr based on higher power output.

With this information, you definitely don’t need 550 calories. If it’s not impacting performance and your weight isn’t an issue, there’s no reason to change it if it works for you.

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Everybody is different both physically and in terms of preference so unless your eating so much you are uncomfortable or gaining weight, there’s really no “too much.”

That being said, you’re eating a lot for a 850 cal ride. Personally, I wouldn’t be eating anything on that kind of ride unassuming I had not skipped a meal that day before a ride. You won’t die if you burn 850 calories without any new calories coming in during that effort.
You can actually get more adapted to riding without (or with less) calorie intake and there are number of advantages to doing that.

Again, eat away if it makes you happy but you’d be hard pressed to bonk yourself in 2 hours and trying to stay 100% topped off at all times is not actually the best approach to training. And, some calorie restriction can make your “bonk threshold,” wherever that may be currently, higher.


I agree here, I’d probably do that ride on some Skratch hydration mix and that’s it.


I try to match my calorie output on the bike with my calorie input during and before the ride. So if I ride in the morning, my breakfast counts towards my calorie total. Same if I ride after work, I count my afternoon snack towards the total.

Anything you eat during your ride and in the 3 hours before you ride should count, basically. If that matches the calories you expend, and you have a snack or shake to recover, you’ll be fine. You don’t bonk.

The other thing to note is that the intensity of the ride will make a big difference to what makes up those calories. For a race or a hard interval session, my pre-ride meal will be mostly carbs, and I’ll tend to have more energy drink mix and gels on the bike. For easier rides, I’ll have more balanced nutrition before, with more protein, fat, fruit etc, and eat more solid food on the bike like bananas or muesli bars or a sandwich or something.


Totally depends on the ride.

LSD I don’t eat anything, usually go out before breakfast and push Z1/Z2-power and H/R I never go into Z4 unless I do a couple of sprints in the end or a short effort during the ride.

Temporides, not sure. I’d probably eat a healthy breakfast and then a couple of bars on the bike. But I rarely, never do these types of rides so I wouldn’t know.

Indoor I do gels, my own mixture, or candybars if the ride is 1,5h or more.


I don’t eat on the bike unless the ride is both over four hours and has sweet spot climbing on it.

4hrs+ and 2 x 20 sweet spot climbs, then 1 energy bar or froo-froo organic pop tart per hour.

Anything 4 hours or under, no food, just electrolyte solution.

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I really should have thought in terms of kj, not hours.

under 3000kj, I don’t bring food. Over 3000, yes. If it’s a 4hr 3000kj ride, then it’s easy endurance and I’m just burning fat (FTP is around 340). If it’s a 3 hr, 3000kj tempo ride, that last 30min is difficult but doable.

4hrs+ with sweet spot climbs, well, that’s going over that 3000kj budget, and if I don’t eat, I’m going to bonk.

Some no food rides:

A food ride

A race – 3 Clif gels (I’ll bring 3 gels to a 2hr race)

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I’d probably just do two bottles of straight water, unless it’s been awhile since eating and then one bottle with 400 calories of Roctane or whatever carb mix you want. Or two water bottles and a Cliff bar as I’m running out of the garage trying to make the ride start.

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