Leadville race day nutrition?

What would be some general “rules/goals” of how many grams of carbs are necessary for a 12 hour Leadville race? I know “it depends” on lots. But if i plan to be out there for most of the 12 hours riding, drinking, & eating, i need to fine tune my plan in these final 12 weeks.

I typically use, Cliff Bars, Cliff blocks, Cliff gels, granola bars, bananas, and Cytomax drink mix.

Also, are candy orange slices the same as the blocks/ chomps, or do i need to stick with the name brand stuff?
Thanks for any suggestions.

This might be a good place to start. If you haven’t come across this podcast before, you should check it out. They do a lot with nutrition over the few seasons the shows been running.

Also, I know the TR gang has talked about Leadville nutrition as well on the Ask a Cycling Coach podcast.

Those are really good resources above.

A couple very general tips:

A good goal is 250 - 400 cal an hour and about 60 - 100 grams of carbs an hour.

What exactly you eat will depend, but super important to do your training rides trying things out and figuring out what works for you. If you aren’t used to taking in a ton of nutrition, start on the low end and then slowly build things up. Also, what you can stomach for 4 - 5 hours might be quite different than what you can handle over 8 - 12 hours. While some people can get away with running just gels/chews/mix, others find it easier to mix in some solid or “real” food, but again very rider specific.

General targets for 12-hr race assuming warm to hot temps:

  • 1000-1200 g carbs, all from some combo of maltodextrin, sucrose, and fructose.
  • 12-16 L water.
  • 12,000-18,000 mg sodium.
  • 500-1200 mg caffeine depending on tolerance, usage history, body size, preference.
  • Zero fat
  • Zero protein
  • Zero fiber
  • Optional 5-20g BCAA spread evenly, but this is very much supplementary and non-essential.

Only consideration is that they have no/limited sodium and who knows what sugar composition. If all fructose or all glucose, you’d definitely want to compensate with more of the missing ingredient in other fuels you’re using.

Thanks for all of the tips. yes, i love the Leadville 100 podcast and occasionally go back and listen to the old ones. I will revisit this one again. Thanks!

Thank for all of the info! I appreciate it.

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Hey! Thanks for these notes and notes you’ve made on other threads regarding nutrition planning for long races. It’s been a huge help to me in my training and race planning - i really appreciate you sharing your experience and knowledge.

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You’re very welcome!

I have read advice for post menopausal women to have protein before a hard work out. When I take Whey isolate it seems to have a positive impact on muscle fatigue during the session and doms afterwards. When I get back to 12 hour pairs I plan to take a couple of protein shakes.
does this fit with your knowledge?

All people should consume protein pre-workout, and around the clock. I don’t think there are meaningful differences in the needs of post-menopausal women that go beyond 10-20% (ie. like 5 more grams of protein in a meal… or one bite of any lean protein source).

This is very likely placebo. But if it’s reinforcing protein consumption, great!

What do you mean?

Is it that there is no research to determine whether post menopausal women need more protein?
Or that the research indicates that we need 5more grams per meal?

I mean when I race 12 hour xc pairs with my partner

I know it’s about getting the carbs in, but wouldn’t it make sense to add Some protein for a 12 hour event?

And if all people should take pre workout protein what would be the benefit of this?

I hope I’m not coming across as argumentative. It’s not my intention. I’m just trying to see the facts :grinning:

Honest answer: I’m not sure if there is specific research comparing post-menopausal women and women still experiencing regular menses with regard to benefits of increased daily protein intake. There may be. I’m just not expert on the matter.

There is evidence that men over 50 may benefit from 10-20% more protein intake, daily, than younger counterparts.

Ah, I see. If you meant that you’d take protein shakes during the 12-hr ride, I’d advise against. If you meant that you’d increase your daily protein intake due to the 12-hr ride’s propensity to cause muscle breakdown, I’d still advise against. The focus should be to hit the same daily protein total as all other days, and to maximize carb intake throughout the day of the ride, and especially during the ride.

For context: I do tend to push pretty high protein intake. I’m not shy of protein at all. There are times where I’ll recommend as high as 1.2 g protein per pound of body weight. (that’s a lot, by most folks standards). Just alerting you to this so that you can take that into account when I say that I would not recommend protein intake during a 12-hr event.

The truth is, if you’re not absolutely killing yourself for maximum performance, you may be able to get away with some protein intake. Use whey isolate or hydrolysate. But if optimizing hydration, and fuel intake, for maximum performance, is the goal, then I would stay away from even the most easily digested whey protein during a 12-hr event. If you can stomach more kcal, it should come from more carbs.

Protein consumption is usually ideal around the clock. In the case of a 12-hr ride scenario since it’s suboptimal to have to digest protein during the 12-hr ride, consuming some in the 90-150 minutes before the ride is an optimal way to meet the daily needs. Whether you do consume any pre-workout protein, or not, probably will have little bearing on your performance on during the big ride. That pre-workout protein recommendation stemmed from general health and body composition management advice, rather than performance maximization for the day of a big ride.

These are good questions! And, please do argue! I’m not easily offended and love to have my ideas thoughtfully challenged.


Thanks for your replies Alex.
Yeah, I don’t eat enough protein on a day to day basis.
Something to address. I’m good with placebo effects btw. Cheap medicine :joy::rofl:


Carbs are definitely king, queen, prince and princess as fuel while riding, but keep in mind if you are eating some solid food like Clif Bars, Kate’s Real Food bars, and even the new Skratch Crispy Rice Cakes, you’ll get a small amount of protein (typically 3g or so) from them.

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