I can't eat solid foods on the bike

I guess it’s not that I “can’t”, but my body sure doesn’t like it.

Every time I take some sort of solid food during my long rides, like simple granola bars, stroopwafels, or gummy bears, my heart rate will jump 10+ bpm within a couple of minutes of shoving it down my throat. The problem is, my heart rate won’t go back down. It will sit at its elevated rate and naturally get higher as the ride continues. RPE also increases significantly.

It makes sense that the body would shift effort towards breaking down the food I just ingested, which would add an additional stressor on a long ride (unless I’m completely wrong about that). But to the point of being a complete detriment? I can normally do 3-4 hours Z2 without eating, but as I look towards extending my endurance out longer, I worry I may need something more substantial than gels or carb drink mixes, which I can handle fairly well.

Anybody else have this issue?

I have never been a fan of gummy bears at all. I personally have had good luck with fig newton bars and clif bars. I can stomach pretty much anything while riding to an extent. The Granola bars might have too much fiber that can cause some discomfort. With the gummy bears I feel that if you don’t chew them enough my stomach has trouble digesting them. Just my personal experience.
Try shooting for a low fiber soft bar like a fig newton or even make some white bread with a little peanut butter and jelly. I’ve also had great luck with the sugar/ Gatorade mix in my water bottle. For long rides I personally need some type of solid food at some point.


Good advice above. I’ll just add that when it comes to Cliff Bars, the Z Bars made for kids are far easier to chew and swallow than regular Cliff Bars. I often combine the Z Bars with fig newtons when not using liquid nutrition. Cheers.

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Good news: you don’t need solid food for ultra-endurance riding.


Try it and see. I do better over 3-4 hours eating real food, but some people have no problem using gels and liquid carbs.

Regarding HR, I train 99% outside and have been training my ability to eat. Never observed a change in HR.

Interesting. If I drink water during a trainer zone 2 ride, my pulse will jump 5-10 beats and slowly return to baseline.

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I’ll do a full Ironman on nothing but liquid carbs. I guess what are you looking to do where you think you need solids?

And if you do want to eat solids for whatever reason you have. (Taste, 24hr races, convenience, whatever) Try eating on shorter rides like of just 1hr or even less. Start small and build yourself up. You can train your gut to some extent just like any other part of your body.

Does your HR change simply by changing positions? For example on the hoods, sitting up tall, on the bars, in the drops? I’ll see minor variations when changing positions, and then back to where it was before.

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Does this happen off the bike?

Does it happen with carb drinks?

How long till heart goes down?

There are lots of issues in your statement to assess what is going on.

Nothing says you need solid food. I have lots of issues with food so I know what I can eat and can’t eat from experimenting. I work on it when I am indoors on the trainer so I know what I can do outside. It took me some time but I definitely feel better eating on the bike

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If the HR jump was because your body needs to put effort into digesting food, you’d also see that after eating gels or liquid food. It still needs digesting, even if you don’t chew.

I think the HR change could be due to how you breath when you chew. It should go back down though, so that is a bit odd.

That said, you can entirely ride with liquid food. Look at the multiple threads on here about home-made energy drinks.

Seafood is pretty good on the bike.

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Amanda Coker recently broke several records during a 24 hour ride with nothing but liquid nutrition so it’s definitely possible to do without hurting your numbers. Certainly not for everyone (I crave solid foods after about 3 hours myself) but if that’s what your body is telling you, maybe start experimenting with what kind/how much liquid nutrition your body would need over long rides instead of feeling like you have to add in solid food.

I don’t like eating solids on the move… bananas make me yak.

My heart jumps when i drink for 10-20sec’s but usually comes back down, i’m sure it’s to do with breathing. It’s not quite as bad with a slightly squeezable water bottle where I can “jet” liquids in to my mouth.

On the indoor bike I’ve been using this stuff recently mixed with water with a scoop of chocolate flavoured protein added in for taste… I find it gives great mileage and I can neck it on the move. Cheap too!

You certainly don’t “need” it. I only do liquid carbs on the bike (90g -100g) per hour and have done so for the past 4 years. This has worked not only during my HV training plan but also during my MTB 100s lasting 8+ hours.

Appreciate the input, everybody!

My heart rate jumps with water as well but returns to normal after a handful of seconds. That definitely isn’t the case with food. For example, on my 3 hour ride yesterday, I had a honey stinger at a stop light around the halfway mark. I was averaging around 135-140bpm for that first half, which is typical for my Z2 rides, and I felt great. After the snack, my heart rate was averaging around 150 and the RPE somewhat higher despite a nice tail wind. I’m sure part of that was natural cardiac drift but the initial jump definitely seemed to be from the snack.

Carb drinks and gels aren’t much of an issue for me, so I’ll continue to use them when needed. The other recommendations in this thread look promising too.

I have no issue avoiding solid foods on my rides, just wanted to see if this was something other people were having.

could also be holding your breath when drinking/swallowing

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If I couldn’t eat this:

And this:

Every single ride, I would give my bikes away and take up ice fishing.


Habe you ever tested eating solid food right at the start of a ride? After a few minutes? Same effect on HR/RPE?

What you describe are typical signs of running out of glycogen during a long ride. Fat ox kicks in, more oxygen required, heart has to pump more. Adding the higher RPE when running low. This usually happens quickly, not really a gradual process. Not sure if there is a false correlation.

I perceive consuming solid food during training as strenuous too. However, I don’t observe any effect on RPE/HR. Just a bit of elevated breathing. But it’s been a while, I’m concerned of teeth health and that’s why I don’t use any solid food during training. The dentist has already made enough money with me.

Yes, If I sit up, hands off the bars to change back positions, pulse goes up as well. Drops fairly quickly when back in the drops.

Basically the same here. When outside on the road sitting up to drink/eat, my pulse sometimes goes up, but usually goes down, and then back to where it was before. For example yesterday it was at 139bpm, I sat up to eat, and HR dropped to 130bpm for 10-20 seconds and then back to 139.

Cadence has a far greater impact, for me. For example I did 90 minutes at flat 60% FTP on the indoor trainer almost exactly two years ago. Removing the first 30 minutes (warmup where HR increases then settles down a little), this workout:


  • cadence trend line dropping from 85rpm to 81rpm
  • HR trend line decreasing from 139bpm to 133bpm (middle of my zone2 HR)
  • all at a constant 60% FTP power

I was eating and drinking a little during the workout, its not obvious when from HR because I change positions a lot on the bike.

Both inside and outside I can reliably decrease HR simply by reducing cadence.