I am really struggling to find a way to achieve the benefits from fueling work correctly. I am bad enough outdoors, but will keep this focused on indoor rides since they are more controlled. I follow a low volume rolling road race plan and stick to it quite consistently.
I typically have breakfast before a ride (usually overnight oats and a banana). I fill one bottle with SIS Go carb/electrolyte powder that I drink during the ride and usually mix a shaker of SIS rego after the ride. There is no reason I stick to SIS products other than these two I have found to taste good. On the 90 minute rides I do once per week I’ll usually thro a gel in the middle (neversecond has been my go to lately). By most accounts, I am likely not getting anywhere near the recommended fueling. I don’t know what else to eat though. I don’t want to go through tons of expensive gels that taste awful either.
I’m not perfect at fueling, but for long rides I aim for whole foods early ( bananas ), fruit bars at the middle, and gels / drinks at the end.
I eat 2 bananas an hour ( 3 is too much for me ) for the first hour, 3 bars (36g of carbs each ) an hour for most of the ride, and from 4/5h of riding I struggle to eat so I use gels and drinks together.
I don’t really have any advice except aiming for aiming around 100g of carbs per hour, and eat whole and solid foods earlier.
If eating 3 bars is too much, maybe try bigger and more fulling bars. I found that cliffbars make me very full.
For 1h/1h30 I don’t fuel during rides, except for intensity sessions where I use bars and / or gels depending on the nature of the workout.
I would think a gel at the 30min and 1h mark woumd be enough since you ate earlier.
Eating before is a good habit too.
I used to eat oatmeal with jelly before long rides.
Your fueling during a 60-90 minute ride on a LV training plan sounds actually good to me. Are you able to get your workouts done and still do everything else in your daily life without feeling out of whack? If so then you’re able to absorb the work just fine. A lot of people would skip one or all of the pre, post, or during workout nutrition but you’re hitting all three.
The 100g carbs per hour makes sense in certain cases, like during long rides or races, or during short rides if your training volume is high or if you are a larger than normal person with higher than average nutritional needs.
Ideas for real ride food: medjool dates, salted because they are so dang sweet. Or a big smoothie with bananas, berries, greens, some type of milk, protein powder, which can be enough to serve for both the during and post workout food.
I have found @Dr_Alex_Harrison’s app to be immensely helpful for me to fuel appropriately for both indoor and outdoor rides. It takes most of the guesswork out of it for me, so I don’t have to wonder, which is invaluable. I will do a combination of solid fuel as well as liquid - I add maltodextrose and sodium citrate to a scoop of my favorite product (used for flavor). Here’s the link to all of the details for how to get access:
Once I learned how to make all the supplements from scratch, I got really tired of doing math every day so I made the app that @dhellman is referring to, above. It’ll probably answer all your questions.
But for now, this might help:
Mix the following with your SIS or other products, when you’d like to keep things simple, cost-effective, and still tasting acceptable while fueling well: sugar Table Salt or Sodium citrate
Finding different / cheaper / better tasting nutrition is one thing. But when saying you are terrible at fueling, what do you actually mean? Can’t hit power numbers, RPE too high, or something else? If none of those, you should be fine. I don’t know if hitting recommended 60-90g carbs per hour should be goal on its own.
Here are rough calculations with my numbers: over year, through different phases with different intensity distributions my average weekly workload is 9000kcal/week (13h/week). On bike, I cover 16% of it, which makes <30g carbs / hour. Rest comes from daily meals. With that, my weight fluctuates throughout year within 1-2kg and body composition improves slowly but steadily.
This. Fueling on the bike is extremely easy, off the bike is completely different game. And usually it’s the thing that causes me the biggest problem when work during the week is >8000kJ on the bike. Combining this with energy needed for work and time needed to prepare food, not to mention ability to digest it - that’s hard work!
Sooooo… you never focus on off the bike nutrition. You focus (and get what seems like quite a bit of) on the bike carbs. You feel good on the bike. You feel bad off the bike. I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest you start focusing on off the bike nutrition.
After going to the NEC running show I came across these 600g bars… I’m going to be trialling them this year for my ultra events and outdoor hiking. They’ll supplement my Kendal mint cake bars! Have tried making my own but its good to have them ready made and to know what I’m consuming energy/Cal wise.
There are lots of ways to get the cost down for fueling…there are many at-home recipes on the board for DIY gels, etc.
Cost effective options include bananas, fig bars, rice krispie treats, gummy bears, etc. You don’t have to use expensive gels and bike-specific fuel.
My go-to drink mix is powdered Gatorade Endurance…very affordable and the standard powdered Gatorade is even cheaper.
Other options include making a big batch of waffles, cutting them into quarters and then freezing them individually. Break a couple out before a ride and toss in a jersey pocket or let them thaw on the table next to you. Good ol’ PB&J makes for a nice mid-ride snack on longer rides and is dirt cheap.
The “recommended” amount of carbs keeps going up…used to be ~60g / hour, then it was 90g and is now starting to hover around 100g. A lot of that is based on recommendations / needs from pro athletes…we amateurs aren’t burning anywhere near the amount of calories they are, nor do we have the same fueling / recovery needs.
I tried to significantly increase my on-bike calorie consumption last year…did not really notice any significant difference in performance (but I was eating less immediately post-ride). What I did find was that I never lost a bunch of my winter / belly weight from the winter. This year, I am cutting back on my carbs / hour vs. last year, but it will still be higher than what I consumed pre-2022. I’ll probably net out in the ~40g / hour range, which is plenty for my needs.
I tried to get more serious with fueling this year. I have been doing the malto/fructose 1:1 with a dash of salt and Gatorade and personally found 60g/hr to be too much for my stomach. I do 40g/h it works well for me.
Get Faster with Adaptive Training
Sign up and Download the TrainerRoad app to start training. Available on iOS, Android, Windows, and Mac devices.
Ask a Cycling Coach Podcast
This is the only podcast dedicated to making you a faster cyclist. Listen to the latest episode and more.
We Are Here to Help!
Browse hundreds of articles in our Support Center or contact our world-class support team to get back on track.