I understand the need to consume carbs on the bike, but I wonder if for non-pro riders it’s really worth the expense to get so into the weeds with high tech formulations etc. My recipe is very simple:
For the jersey pocket - generic fig bars (i.e. fig newtons but cheaper). Not only are they tasty with each one an easy-to-eat single size serving, but on a hot summer day one side gets cooked and crunchy, the other side a little salty. Delicious!
For the bike bottle - mix a partial scoop of Gatorade powder (which is sucrose + glucose) from a giant, $12 cannister, add salt and potassium powder. Simple, inexpensive, plenty of flavors to select.
For those who don’t race or, if you do, don’t race at the pro level, do you honestly think anything different is going to bump where you place?
I like to feel good, I have no delusions about where I will place. By the time I pay entries, travel, bike stuff, (TrainerRoad) etc. the nutrition is the smaller cost item. Don’t get me wrong, fig newtons rock and total respect to you for going low cost in a sport that seems to attach a vacuum cleaner to your wallet.
Confession: I love maple syrup, so Untapped “endurance nutrition” is the excuse I needed to have syrup sans pancakes. I feel like I would be judged if I just drank it straight. Unfortunately pancakes are really just an inefficient syrup transportation system. Waffles are another story… but waffles with syrup make a mess of your pockets.
Check the nutrition posts in this forum. I think most of the time people are discussing easier, tastier, and cheaper ways to get those carbs.
I think most people are aware that one product vs the other is not going to have a significant difference in performance as long as you’re eating properly but some people think eating properly is more complicated than it actually is.
The main advantage of those products is probably the convenience. Is already packed and you don’t have to figure it out. Also, a lot of DIY stuff ends up being more complicated, costly, not very effective, so people often don’t bother. I personally remember skipping threads in this forum about DIY maurten gels because I thought it was going to be something overcomplicated. I was ok with gatorade and cliff bars so didn’t see the need.
Fortunately, cycling nutrition is the opposite, the DIY version is easier and way cheaper. It doesn’t get easier than water, sugar and salt. Now I’m happy eating candy and sweets in the bike knowing that I’m fueling properly.
However, I still find it useful to keep some products around in case I forget or don’t have time to prepare it and to add some variety.
Btw, I highly recommend generic date bars. They’re cheap, only a handful of ingredients, smaller than a gel and have around the same grams of carbs, some have a decent amount of sodium, and most importantly, they taste great.
For the long endurance stuff (audax/24 hr stuff) I mostly use cheap generic sweets (aka candy by you guys in the US) that i can dump in vast quantities unwrapped in my top tube bag. Half cola, half water and a bit of salt in my water bottle. Salty crisps if i can get them. I probably still need to up the salt tho and am considering salt tablets.
I do have a back up gel if i get in trouble and need energy quick.
I dont road race or xc mtb race, but if I was, I can imagine the convience and perfect balance of the specific sports products would outweight the cost though. Not so much for training, but if you’ve worked your butt off for months for an A race, you may as well go marginal gains on the nutrition.
I’ll just chime in to plug @Dr_Alex_Harrison 's Saturday app. I started using it last spring (?) and it helped me realize how much of a difference being properly fueled on hard rides really makes. Now I have a little station next to the basement sink with a tub of Gatorade powder, a container of sugar, and some salt. I plug in the numbers and mix everything up the night before in less than a minute, then it’s all ready to go for getting out the door by 5AM on early summer rides.
Sodium Citrate for the win here. gram for gram is much easier on the stomach for most people, plus an extra sodium ion which the sports nutritionists say is a good thing, and I can say it’s worked well for me.
Do it! I’ve done maple straight from food grade silicone pouches that can fit in your pocket and also mixed into a water bottle. A little salt in the water bottle makes the maple flavor pop. Both are good. Its not like there’s a huge difference between maple syrup and ‘gel’ anyways. I go table sugar now since its much cheaper than maple syrup and more self-flavoring options, but maple syrup is still good.
Gels is the only thing I buy - other options like maple syrup aren’t much cheaper here, and I would only really carry them as back up.
Bottle mix is malto/ fructose (got a really good deal on the malto otherwise I’d be transitioning to table sugar)/ electrolyte powder.
Food I have made bars in the past (GCN Energy Bars), but normally just buy nature valley/ nutrigrain/ or their german supermarket equivalents. Or a fruit loaf. Or if I’m very lucky and have been in the UK Soreen.
I’ve been all in on maple syrup for most of a decade. I got sick of the cost and even more sick of the environmental disaster that is the single serving gel. I have two reusable squeeze flasks that each hold enough syrup for 135g of carbs. Together they’re enough for a 3 hour ride. And I never have to worry about sticky gel wrappers in my pockets, or throwing anything away.
I’m fortunate to live in maple syrup country, and can buy local stuff at a reasonable cost. In $/g of carbs, syrup is just over half the cost of the cheapest gel I’ve seen.
I tried adding salt, but when used enough to matter it spoiled the flavor for me. Now I just keep electrolytes and carbs separate.