How to properly fuel workouts or "eat back" calories?

I’m approaching my goal weight and nearing the end of SSB1MV, so I’m starting to think about how to maintain weight while handling the demands of the coming workouts. What has worked for me this far has been to not eat anything special for the 1hr workouts and for the 1.5hr workouts I’ve been consuming about ~150cal around the half way point. I then just stress a little less through out the day about exact calorie counts. Doing this while targeting 1800 cal a day has had me steady loosing ~1.1lbs per week.

My plan is to bring my daily calorie intake up to 2300(eliminates the 500cal daily deficit), but how do I handle the extra calorie burn from workouts?

  • Should I be trying to fuel the calorie expenditure of a workout with something like: Pre workout snack/meal, gel/bottle mid ride and then a “recovery” drink after a ride. Thus making up the total calories I just burned?

  • Or, should I aim more for completing the workout(with maybe a gel mid ride if I feel the need) and then looking to “eat back” those calories with my regular meals through out the day?

I’m really focused on trying to increase my performance for some events next year, where as in the past I would have just been happy getting to my goal weight and not as worried about my performance.


IMO, don’t do this cold turkey. Bring it up 100cal each week and track your body’s response.

Depends on the type of workout. If its an endurance ride, I would simply eat to hunger levels, and if you are doing a long ride, follow it up with a recovery drink after. Otherwise eat normally.

If it’s a sweet spot workout, I’ll take in more calories during the workout itself, and target approximately 50% of the total burn in terms of extra calories. E.g. if I burn 1000kj and I took in two bottles of Skratch (160cal) and a gel (90cal), I’ll have a recovery shake afterwards (250cal).

Key thing to focus on is listening to when your body needs fuel and delivering it, while also keeping an eye on the weight from a maintenance perspective. In maintenance mode, I find that it’s really helpful to continue tracking weight daily, and adjusting my intake appropriately up or down.

(I’ve used the following guidelines over the past 3 years and have lost close to 50 pounds while increasing my FTP by almost 100w simultaneously)

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