Increasing workout Length (Nutrition changes?)

Hi All
I’ve been using TR for a year now with great success doing Low Volume plans and reducing the 90 minute workout to an hour. I am desperate to keep improving and have heard it mentioned on several posts that those who are the fastest at TR tend to do 90 to 120 minute workouts (I think I have seen Nate say this).
So my question is what do people eat and drink during these workouts? I tend to train at 8pm at night after having an early dinner about 5ish. So far I have been able to survive on water for the 60 mins but the few times I have attempted 90 min workouts I have struggled.
I am 95kg FTP 280 if that helps.

For workouts over an hour, I have a banana and/or something like a Larabar. I take a few bites during rest intervals. I also drop a Nuun tablet in my water bottle. (I think they’re called Nuun Sport now, they’re the ones without much in the way of carbs.)

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Funny I do a banana or Larabar too…

Depends on the intensity of the workout

If I’m doing something at VO2 max or threshold I’ll fuel like a race - gels or skratch in my bottles

If I’m doing sweet spot or endurance I’ll fuel with something more like real food - sweet potato or maybe a bar

Depends on the workout. If it’s an endurance workout and I’ve eaten in the few hours previously then I get through it no problems just on water. The higher the intensity the more likely I am to need extra calories, but not much - a banana or some trail mix does the job. I think many people overfuel on the bike - if you’ve eaten recently you have enough glycogen in your body to get through pretty much any 2 hour workout, you just need a few calories to top up and make sure you’re not running the tank too low. Fuelling becomes much more important if you’re going for longer than 2 hours.


For sweetspot or above I try to fuel with 50% of the predicted calories.
Usually part fluid, part solid. Whatever quick carbs you can digest during a workout.

Tray Mountain +2 yesterday had me eat 700 cals while burning ~1500.
Litre of drink mix for some quick sugars and electrolites, a honeywaffle and then a proteinsnack halfway the endurance part to kickstart recovery.

I can finish the 1.5 hour ones with less but won’t finish them strong. And certainly for the 2hour ones I just need the carbs to keep the failure rate low.

It’s also decent training for your stomach ,“teach” it to digest while you’re pushing the limits.
Find what works for you and what doesn’t on the trainer and you won’t get as many unpleasant surprises out on the roads. (fe. i can’t eat banana’s or sugarwaffles but dates,dried apricots,nougat,… work fine)

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If I’m well fueled, I can get by with less. On days where I’m aware that I’ve not fueled well, I try to have at minimum of 60g of carbs per hour I’m planning on riding, plus I’ll down some extra shortly before I get on the bike. If a workout is long/hard enough, I’ll do the same regardless of how well fueled I am before hand. I don’t always get through all the fuel I brought with me, but I’d rather have it nearby.

I’ll also sometimes tack on some zone 2 to the end of a hard but short ride. If I’m planning on riding extra, I’ll try to eat early, and throughout the whole interval phase. I tend to not eat much once I start the zone 2 though.

I just grab whatever I have around. Sometimes I’ll do bananas, crackers, bread, or coffee with a lot of sugar. I did marshmallows a few times, which was awesome and tasty. Mostly simple sugars that I happen to have around the house. Around the holidays when we end up with a lot of sugary junk food, I’ll work through those as my riding fuel.

Strong disagree–if anything, most people aren’t eating enough. Adequately fueling your workouts serves a purpose beyond merely benefiting your performance during the session itself.

Yes, you can get by with your internal glycogen stores for a workout up to 2 hours. However, you risk leaving yourself potentially depleted for your next few workouts–remember that your muscles are most at efficient taking in glycogen while you’re working out.

Second, adequately fueling with carbohydrates during activity has been proven to, among other things, spare muscle damage and limit immune system suppression.

Third, fueling during your workouts helps increase and maintain your insulin sensitivity post-workout which causes your body to trigger a release IGF-1. This, combined with a 4:1 CHO:PRO recovery meal immediately post-workout, is crucial to putting your body into anabolic state–this helps your body further re-synthesize glycogen and repair muscle damage (in other words…RECOVER).


I’d have to see the podcast episode or comment, but note that this does not automatically imply causation. Are they fastest because they do 90-120min workouts, or have the strongest fastest riders just built capacity to do longer workouts? Or maybe is there a correlation between being a fast rider and dedicating more time to training because there’s more at stake in terms of race wins, etc?

OK, so at 280 FTP you’ll be burning 1170 calories if you did a 90 minute workout like Elephants +4.

That’s equivalent to 13 and a half gels. Or 3 whole raisin bagels spread with 27g peanut butter each. Just under 4 sachets of Beta Fuel. A bowl of porridge made with 200g dry oats, 100g sultanas, and 35g honey.

And that’s high sugar, high carb, high calorie energy foods. Normal dinnertime foods may have a lot less, and also provide less immediately available energy in the form of sugar.

It’s very easy to underestimate, particularly when you have a relatively high FTP. More watts = more calories.


Personally, I train early in the morning after standard breakfast and only add any on bike nutrition after when I’m riding for longer than 90 min, this would be a Larabar and an SIS gel. It may not always be necessary but also remember that on bike nutrition has to be practiced, and it’s an excellent place to try out any race foods. Like it’s mentioned nothing new on race/event day.

This is so true. If you are training with any kind of volume, you need to think about tomorrow’s workout and the one the day after that and the one after that or you will find yourself struggling by the end of the week. I’ve really focused on fueling on the bike this year as opposed to “dieting” on the bike and it has made a big difference in the quality of my workouts later in the week and my recovery overall. I now aim for a min of 50% of the calories projected for the workout if the workout is more than a recovery/endurance ride and >60 min. I use liquid, bars, gels and bananas as fuel sources.

The OP says he is struggling to even complete a 90 minute session done a few hours after eating a meal. That doesn’t sound like a fuelling problem to me, it’s an endurance problem, or his FTP is set too high, or he’s attempting workouts with IF too high.

You make some good points re fuelling for better performance, recovery, etc, and that’s exactly why I said I take on some calories, especially for the more intense workouts. But I stick by my point that many people are overdoing it - e.g. the poster a couple below yours implies you need 13 gels (!) to fuel a 90 minute session. I just see an awful lot of people who are obsessively fueling pre-, mid- and post-ride and then wonder why they’re perpetually 10kg over their goal weight.


My two cents it depends on what phase of training you are in. Base, Build or Specialty. During Base/Build I favor the longer workouts indoors 90 to 120. Specialty phase or during maintenance/race season the ride duration drops as I don’t need the longer rides as no longer ‘building’ but trying to maintain peak fitness and recover to be ready compete. From a nutrition perspective as someone mentioned earlier personally Vo2 Max and Threshold work will fuel w/typical things gels/carb drinks. Lower intensity rides from SST down that are 1h or less, tend to just have water. A longer, but lower intensity endurance ride could see supp w/carbs (solid foods) spread consistently through ride or could ride in fasted state, just depends on timing, goals or ride, etc.

Thank you for all the input. Is there a 90 min workout that you could use to qualify Muscular Endurance?
I definitely feel nutrition has a large part to pay, in a previous post about getting dropped on a group ride most posters pointed out nutrition since changing things I can keep up with the group often dropping people now.
I have weight to loose but at the same time have heard enough people say “dont diet on the bike” so I guess I’m looking to find a balance.

Look at the weekend rides in any of the sweet spot base plans - the 90-120 minute sweet spot workouts are all increasing your muscular endurance. If you’re really struggling pick one with more shorter intervals like Antelope and then work your way up to one with fewer longer intervals

Interesting take away from that post - I read it more as ‘it is impossible to fuel all of your caloric burn during the ride, but you should take in more than you think you should’ and you read it as ‘you need to eat this much just to stay even’

In my experience people overeat post ride, not mid ride. Because most people reach their physical limit on calorie consumption on the bike due to stomach issues -for instance 13 gels in 90 minutes would force me off the bike completely - long before they actually overeat their calorie burn on the bike.

Obviously your results will vary, but I’m fairly consistently capable of burning around 1,000 kJ per hour in races and harder training rides. I am not ever capable of eating 1,000 calories/hour on the bike.

Even someone with a lower FTP should be able to do 500 kJ/hour - and frankly, eating 500 calories/hour would be a pretty steep ask (one bottle of skratch mixed at full strength is 160 calories, gels at roughly 90-100 calories…so even if you had a full bottle and two gels you’d still be negative 150 calories after an hour).

Eating appropriately on the bike is important and hugely beneficial. You just have to account for your eating afterwards. You will likely still feel hungry, but shouldn’t plan to gorge yourself afterwards. This is where people get in trouble - particularly after social rides that end at a restaurant, coffee shop, or bar. Just because you’ve been on the bike doesn’t mean you can afford a burger and fries. If you’ve been eating intelligently on the bike (that is - eating early and often on the ride) you should still have a light meal after a ride, not something that significant.

So antelope after a couple of days rest with some food on board should be more than doable then?

Yes - if your FTP is set correctly you should be able to get through Antelope without any issues

Priorities: carbs during the workout, calories after.

I didn’t say or even imply that. I said that the calories he’s burning is equivalent to that. Which is to point out that if you’re putting out reasonable watts, then you might burn half your basal metabolic rate in one ride. Which means you need to eat 50% more that day to stay even.

If people are over-fuelling, it’s possibly because they’re not pushing so many watts and aren’t burning so many calories.

I eat a massive bowl of oats before a morning session, or eat bagels and peanut butter (on top of lunch) before an evening one. I have gels and energy drink during a turbo session, and more energy drink with protein after. I’m 189cm and weigh 68kg.

This. They underfuel then over-compensate.