More natural fuel

Hi all,

there are quite a few topics here about home-made fuel for our rides and I also made a contribution with my experiences

Lately I have a very good experience with high-carb drinks for my training (my goal is to be able to absorb 100+ g of carbs per hour), but let´s face it - maltodextrin + fructose in a powder are quite far from being a natural source and in my point of view…healthy. I do a lot of efforts to have a very good nutrition, eat whole foods and avoid processed foods, so why to compromise on the bike? :face_with_monocle:
I think I found a solution for my own “gels” (mixed bananas + maple syrup + minerals), but what about drinks? :face_with_raised_eyebrow:

As I would like to keep a good ratio between different carb sources while keeping things super simple a no hassle for the preparation, my idea is: :bulb:
Panela (dried sugar cane) - as a source of sucrose
Agave syrup - source of fructose
So just measure right amount of panela, add agave, minerals mix into my bottle with water…

Any thoughts or experiences regarding those two sources? Honestly I never had a chance to taste panela neither agave, so I have no idea about the possible taste profile (but maple syrup could be helpful if not ideal?)

Thanks in advance, keep rocking TR crew! :pray:


Soooo…why not just use table sugar?

And what’s unnatural/unhealthy about powdered malto/fruc/suc ?


Was going to tell you that your use of the words “natural” and “healthy” are likely to take focus away from your question. It seems to ruffle some feathers and open debate about words and concepts that aren’t easy to define. Nobody wants to feel like they are poisoning themselves on the bike!
I agree though, I don’t want to put powdered malto/fructose in my body off the bike, so I don’t want to put it in my body on the bike either. Just my personal viewpoint, not saying I’m right for anyone other than me.
I consume maple syrup and (maple) sugar as part of my normal diet but not agave syrup so I’d be curious how to get a drink that got me the same carb benefits as some of the other threads here discuss.
I’m not expert though, so I’m hoping some other folks can chime in with advice for us both!

I know where you’re coming from but “on the bike” is dramatically different than “off the bike”.

Bonus if you can concoct a liquid carb mix which satisfies both your mental and physical needs. :+1:t2:


I just mix maple syrup and water. Nice and simple! And then I make sure to brush my teeth after the workout. :grimacing:

Sounds tasty. How much of this do you find you can use per hour?

google returned this composition for maple syrup:
sucrose: 51.7-75.6%
glucose: 0 - 9.6%
fructose: 0 - 3.95%

So it’s far from that “golden” 2 parts glucose to 1 part sucrose ratio

I honestly just eyeball it, but I’d guess approximately 100ml per bottle - so roughly 67g / hour. It’s indeed not quite “the” ratio, but I find it supports me just fine and I have yet to get tired of the taste!

Maple syrup with a little bit of water to make it easier to drink.
Tastes delicious even when it gets warm
Got me through a 9.5hr XC MTB race recently

90g carb per 100ml.
I Filled a 500ml bottle and a gel flask.

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Why would maple syrup be “healthier” than malto/fruc anyway? Or Pure Cane Sugar from Hawaii?

I love maple syrup using huge amounts on my breakfast every morning but use 2g per minute of malto/fructose on hard TR rides

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I’ve been fueling my rides with dates recently, 1:1 ratio between fructose to glucose!

I roughly take in 90g of dates which is around 60g of carbs per hour. 30g of fructose being a rough limit of absorption.


It wouldn’t but it tastes soooo good and you can use it like a gel but with less waste packaging

I will make one general reply to that subject, why not a simple sugar, cane sugar or other

My point of view is quite simple. I want to let into my mouth the less processed food I can. Today, it is more and more complicated to get nutrition without traces of chemical particles (micro plastics, pesticides…you get the idea) even when you speak about real food that you simple ripe or skin and eat. And more food is processed, less you can possibly know about the real origin, fabrication process, additives, contaminants and the list goes on.
So if you take maltodextrin, it takes a veeeeeeery long way from corn (and honestly, are you totaly okey how the corn is “produced” where you live? I strongly disagree with my country´s politics on that matter (Czech Republic, Central Europe), but from where comes your corn, how it was treated, who knows? Than all the processing to extract the starch, hydrolysis, purification…I assure you this is not a very glamourous “substance”…
Yes, technicaly, in maltodextrin (or plain sugar), your body gets those molecules of carbs, glucose in this case. But honestly, why we started one day to think that processed food is not great for our healts, but our body switch a magical button when pedalling your bike and just burns out everything just like that… today, we know that there is not Fat burning ON+carbs burning OFF, than ping and OFF / ON… you really think that you body is in the regime of “now I burn anything” and than switches back to “I need healthy”? :thinking:
To be clear, this is just my point of view and thinking and I am speaking about it to hear other opinions and hopefuly get some insight or external impulse, I don´t want to give lessons to anyone or claiming I am the one who holds the real truth. I just explain how do I percieve this topic… :wink:

Sooooo… in my point of view, less processed, better it is, which means:
The worst - Maltodextrin, pure fructose, glucose-fructose syrup and plain sugar
Bad - cane sugar (still highly processed)
Better - less processed pure sugars like bio agave syrup (extracted plant juice, heated and concentrated), maple syrup or panela
Even better - just pure honey…gold from the bees

Humm, so as I am mulling over again…
Would love to hear the opinion of @ambermalika on that matter… :blush:

Well…not the cheapest snack in Europe, 500ml of maple syrup :sob:
But honestly, as a source of carbs it´s greatly balanced between glucose and fructose, tastes great, as you say no problem in the heat…
I think I will give it a try and drink 100g of maple syrup during my next TR workout…let´s see :slight_smile:

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I couldn’t afford to use Maple Syrup in the same quantities as a carb mix here in Ireland anyway, but obviously that isn’t the primary concern.

I tend to dried dates/ mixed dried fruits and bananas inside, primarily in that I’m trying to mentally balance weight goals v fuelling, and eating rather than drinking is easier for me to manage. I use the carb mix outside mainly.

I would’ve thought the primary health concern would be the amount of sugar, and how natural/ processed that sugar wouldn’t be the main concern?

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Agree with the above - if you’re planning to fuel the same amount as you would with powdered malto/fructose then you’ll still be eating the same quantities of glucose/fructose at the end of the day.

Things like maple syrup are far too expensive to use in the quantities needed for a hard block. Even honey would be more than 4x as expensive as maltodextrin. Also honey is only about 80% carbs.

Actualy for the carbs amount I completely changed my philosophy… only 2 years ago, without realising it, I became “carbophobic” - I even had bad conciousness when I ate an apple outside of a workout frame and I would never touch any simple sugar… and guess what, my body composition wasn´t perfect (I am quite athletic body type, so relatively in my scale, not like a general population) and I had hard times to recover from my training…
Now I eat a lot of carbs (comparatively) in general, a lot of rice, potatoes, bread (rye) and I try to swallow as many carbs as my gut can handle during my training. I added more weightlifting, so I even eat carbs just before going to bed (inimaginable in the past), like yesterday a bowl of walnuts, apple and honey and I am getting stronger and leaner… so as long as I have such high energy expenditure, I am not affraid of sugar overdose…
I just hope that I am right and those spikes in blood with fast carbs are not going to cause some problems in a long term (I am 40 now)… but for the moment, science is not supporting “fear” in that regard, so I plan to continue with that approach

Same amount of carbs yes… but 20g of carbs from potatoes and the same amount of the same molecule from a marshmallow is really not the same thing for your body, so…

But yeah, maple syrup would be extremely expensive in such amounts… that is also why I looked at panela - 5€ per kilo vs 27€ per litre of maple syrup (bought in bulk quantity), that makes some difference…

Gel_Formel (003).pdf (40.8 KB)

Ive used this sheet as reference for a few months now it has made a huge difference to my energy off the bike. Really easy to mix based on duration of effort and how many grams of carbs you want to take on…

Lemon juice from fresh lemon
Himalayan rock salt
Fresh grape juice

Its a more natural fuel than most options but not 100% natural

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The potato/marshmallow isn’t a good comparison when it comes to on-bike fuelling, which is what I thought this thread was about.

I’d only consume maltodextrin as fuel around/on-bike. It’s fuel for exercise, not eaten for vitamin content. Imagine trying to eat a delicious high-fibre sweet potato in rest intervals during a VO2 max workout! Would be almost impossible to ingest and take too long to get the fuel into your system.

Never heard of Panela before, but if it’s high in simple sugars, it may work ok, but what enhanced benefits does it have as a fuel over maltodextrin (especially if it’s more expensive)?

Healthline: The fact that maple syrup contains some minerals is a very poor reason to eat it… The best way to get these minerals is to eat whole foods. If you eat a balanced diet, then your chance of lacking any of these nutrients is very low. Also I found it’s high in fructose, so probably not optimal for maximising high carb uptake, and it’s only 66% carbs.

TLDR: Malto/fruc for on-bike fuelling, and eat whole foods off the bike to get the right nutrition.


I’ve no issue with eating carbs at all - and that’s actually the crux of it for me - I’d rather eat the carbs than drink them*. So on the bike, where I can (i.e. indoors) I’d rather use food rather than gels or drink no matter how natural. I’m planning to add some carb mix during my next Build. If anything I probably eat too much fruit/ berries, but in the scheme of my overall diet I’m not too concerned.

*except Beer.