No eating on rides under 4 hours

I’m old and stubborn and stupid.

I don’t like bringing food on rides. I carry tubes and CO2 in my jersey pockets (yes, I know saddle bags exist – I sit back on the fat part of the saddle, and as a result my hamstrings rub against a saddle bag, which wears out expensive shorts quickly…and even cheap shorts are expensive, in my book).

I’m the guy who eats 1000 calories at breakfast three hours before the ride, then rides for 3-4 hours in zone 2 with no food. 60-65% of FTP, that’s it, no harder. Then I eat 1000 calories when I get back in the door, and eat afterwards though the afternoon/evening.

If I’m doing anything hard – if it was a group ride or a race or I’m doing intervals, ok, I’m stupid but I’m not dumb. I don’t digest 100g of CHO an hour very well, never have, but I’ve found that about 250 calories over an hour works all right (a clif bar, a froo-froo organic pop tart, bananas, whatever).

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So if folks didn’t see my sub 5hr century post, I ended up riding 100 miles yesterday. I brought with me 12 sis gels, 1 clif bar and 2 750ml bottles with beta fuel. But like I tend to do, I don’t do eat anything the first hour and then I was taking a gel every 30mins, except for the last hour evidently. So 1180 total between the gels and beta fuel. I averaged 227w for the ride, 233 NP (IF 0.8) and burned 4k calories and I had my best 20min power in the final 20mins. And that’s not unlike prior experiences I’ve had.

Not a recommendation, just my experience

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Thx. I’m glad it wasn’t just me. Yeah long descents followed by climbs are horrible. So impressed by gt guys who can rip a climb following one of the long descents.

Over this past winter, I regularly did 4 hour endurance rides (usually 0.65-0.75 IF) on the trainer and experimented with different fueling before and during. I have always been an all day steady rider who I believe has a high fat oxidation rate, as I tend to get stronger at the end of long rides/races relative to the field.

On the low end, I consumed no calories for almost 2 hours into one rides, then 200-300 per hour of fats and natural sugar (i.e. RX/larabars, nuts plus a banana, etc.). On the high end, I had a balanced breakfast of yogurt, fruit, oats, and nuts before, then consumed ~250-300 calories per hour of real food (typically clif bars, bananas, RX bars, cashew clusters, bread). I really dislike taking sports nutrition and gels/drink mix unless it’s absolutely necessary because of intensity- I’ve found that I need to double my calorie intake to keep going for multiple hours running on pure sugar.

Could I complete those endurance rides starved or with very minimal calorie/carb consumption? Yes. Was it optimal for performance? Not a snowball’s chance in hell, and here’s why. I was much much more beat after those long rides without proper fueling- my legs would be dead, sometimes my stomach even felt queasy, and I was drained for not just that day but often the next. I would usually binge eat at lunch then have very little motivation and energy to do anything the rest of the day. It was harder to back up those rides with another session the next day, especially one with intensity.

Conversely, the rides that I fueled properly I felt much better after. Aside from my undercarriage hurting from being locked in one place for 4+ hours, I felt like I could’ve kept pedaling all day. I was much less likely to binge after, and my energy for the day (and productivity) were much higher. It also was much easier to come back the next days for some sweet spot work, or a long run, or something with intensity.

Does that mean you should aim for 90g carbs/hour on endurance rides? Absolutely not IMO, that’s excessive and not necessary when you’re riding at a low enough intensity to burn fat. From a health standpoint, I personally don’t like downing straight sugar unless it’s immediately used because I’m pushing near threshold for hours straight. But not fueling or underfueling those rides is much more detrimental not just that day but in the subsequent days.

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biologically speaking, we are all the same (outliers excluded), making a comparison with polka music is the nonsense here. LCHF for health, no

Interesting thread over here: Supersapiens - continuous blood glucose monitoring - #113 by jongeorg

Around the use of CGM to monitor levels to inform fuelling.

This entire thread is about the biology and physiology behind intraworkout nutrition.

And while there is a lot of anec-data here, the science and ideas of coaches around the subject is pretty clear. If you want to maximize performance and recovery then you should fuel your rides. If you are competing in Ultras or Grand Tours and are being extremely careful with how you (or your team of coaches and nutritionist) implement them, then fasted rides may have their place. But the risk:reward just makes little to no sense for the large majority of people.

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How are you measuring this? Or are you referring to its impact on say V02max or FTP? Curious if you’ve listened to Kolie Moore’s podcast, he at least believes that increasing fat oxidation is one of the only ways to increase VO2max and TTE at FTP once a person is highly trained. There is definitely still some debate on how best to go about training that effectively but to ignore it all together is also leaving something on the table. He also indicates there are balancing considerations since carb oxidation and fat oxidation signaling are at odds with each other.

I was referring to the results of Newell et al (2018) and particularily to the figure shown in my previous post.

Yes!

I was a marshal on a 5k, and early on, there were two leaders. One was stocked up, had water, had a couple bars, and gels. The other? He bragged about never taking on water or calories while he was training. They started out going well, and guy-2 stopped at the first aid station, but passed on everything. They both set off, after guy-1 refilled, and grabbed part of a banana. Second aid station, guy-2 is looking bad, but guy-1 refills again, and we head out again. Third aid station, guy-1 refills, and stretches a bit, and we set off again, but guy-2 isn’t with us. Guy-1 says guy-2 ‘exploded’, and isn’t likely to join us. ‘We might not see him the rest of the day. I hope he survives this’. Yikes…

So running/riding dry is insane. Same with not snarfing some calories. Those guys kept me rolling, and guy-1 set a pretty good manageable pace, no heroics. I never did see guy-2 again. Hope he survived it, and learned a lesson.

It was sunny that day, but not overly warm. The morning started out a little chilly actually. I can’t imagine if it would have been a scorcher. I’d feel sorry for the medical people, dealing with people that are sure they are a machine, and don’t need water/calories.

I’ve bonked hard before, and it’s nothing to do repeatedly. Ketones are a warning sign, not a badge of great thinking. I took over 24 hours to recover from one really stupid incident. I was so young, and stupid…

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Had a fast group ride this AM, relatively hard. I clearly did not eat enough for breakfast, though…

Went out for a lunch ride and by mile 5 I was in trouble…luckily there was an REI right off the trail. Emergency sugar stop got me going again!

Woofed down a gel, pack of Bloks and then a Cliff Bar. :crazy_face:

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There’s a study out there that looked exactly at this. It looked at fat oxidation on long low intensity rides.

They found

  1. If you keep the intensity below LT1 then after about 90 mins there’s a substantial increase in fat oxidation rates at same intensity.
  2. Similarly if you take on a lot of carbs sparking insulin release. You’ll suppress fat oxidation for about 90 mins. In other words you’ll make yourself far more dependant on those carbs for fuel.

Quite a few saying it’s bro science. Well let’s see what we know.

  1. The older guys don’t have a problem keeping up, and there’s no evidence they are bonking.
  2. These older guys are doing it group ride after group ride.
  3. We don’t know how hard they are working. Unless you know someone’s physiology, just knowing HR isn’t enough to assess how hard it was for them. They might be far fitter than the OP realises.
  4. People are saying it sub optimal. Sub optimal for what? We have no idea if these guys are even training for anything or trying to improve. We don’t know how much total riding they do a week. We don’t know if they have problems recovering.

We also might be underestimating the older guys. If they spend the group ride mostly tucked in whilst the OP is hammering the front. They might be burning 30-40% less energy in keeping up. Quite a different calorie burn. With age comes wileyness.

Too many here dismissing what the OP is seeing with their own eyes. Plus what many are also saying they do without detriment.

I bet many here haven’t put in the many years of long slow rides. Haven’t built that efficient aerobic engine. Science shows that fat oxidation can vary by as much as a factor of four between individuals riding at same equivalent intensities. But no doubt that’ll be dismissed as it doesn’t suit someones narrative. Bonk after 90 mins if they aren’t eating on every outing.

Note, not eating on rides up to a certain length isn’t the same as starving yourself. Providing you are eating enough day to day and week to week. Can’t see a big problem as others have tried to explain. They’ve done it for years, without problem. In fact their ability to ride without needing to feed every 5 seconds has substantially improved.

The older guys are just going out enjoying a group ride how they want to. Aren’t they allowed to do that anymore or do they have to follow someone else’s doctrine?

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I’ll just add.

I’m reminded of when riders new to ultra distance riding ask about strategies for fuelling. They will hear as many difference responses and strategies / tactics as there are respondents. All the different ways being successful for the more experienced riders. It all comes done to, find out what works for you, through actual experience. In other words, this works for me, no idea if it’ll work or be optimal for you.

There’s a lot of wisdom in that.

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It’s not really a zone thing, unless you’re going anaerobic - if he burns 1000kJ and you burn 1000kJ then you both need to fuel for that.

That’s interesting thanks :+1:t2:

I pushed the protocol to a 6h MTB ride in the heat on Sunday. To be honest- I felt fine. Was no more trashed or hungry than after any 6h ride and fully recovered by yesterday. I made sure I drunk an entire camelbak and a 500ml bottle of salty water during the ride to keep well hydrated. It ended up being a bit hillier than previous Sunday efforts so np was 186.

Could I have gone harder fuelled? Yes of course- but I surely would have blunted the fat burning effect.

It’s not about being anti-carb or anti-mid ride fuelling. As Adam Hansen said- it’s about committing with 100% discipline to the zone you are working on that day.
Tomorrow is chaingang night and I’ll literally bathe in carbs from this evening onwards :rofl::rofl:

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Three aid stations on a 5k?

Did you mean 50k?

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I’m saying think of it in terms of energy expenditure, kJ not zones or anything else.

If he burns the same as you, he burns the same as you.

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It was a ‘professional’ road race and also a family run/walk event. There were hundreds of families participating in the ‘family’ part, and lots of established local and state marathoners. Thinking back, I can only think that the leader/winner stopped at them because he was so far out in front. And it was a 10k, not a 5k, my bad. It was probably 6 years ago. I just remember guy-2 bragging about his ‘training’ process, and then possibly DNF the whole thing? You can overdo the caloric and water support, but under doing it is just stupid. As a result, I load-up on water and take a couple bars on outdoor rides. I might not snarf the bars, but I use the water. On hot days I’ll mix in some ‘hydration’ powder.

Guy-2 just looked so foolish…

Are you sure it was only a 10k? I can’t imagine a fast runner to stop at an aid station on a 10k, nevermind bonk, no matter how bad the fueling strategy. I’m an abysmal runner, and run 10k in under an hour.

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Just a general comment. What are you training your body to do when you do this. I thought this myself after doing a brutal 30 mile ride in freezing weather,

I kept thinking that I may be training my body to retain as much fat and sugar as it can because this sudden assault could happen again. For me, I pushed myself to a place I don’t go often, and felt it the next day. I even stayed a second day to ‘recover’. I did the event because it was a challenge. It was 30 miles of hills and single track, and the weather was nasty, frigid and raining on top of it all. So many people didn’t even show for the start, and the number that DNF was higher than the previous year, yet I refused to quit. But what did I program my body to do. Was it constructive to do that. And I ate an entire pizza that night, which was delicious, but what did I accomplish. I mean, aside from proving that I was crazy enough to do it (twice).

Sorry if this seems like I’m criticizing you. I’m just always wondering what I’m teaching my body to do, and trying to not wreck it. (MY wife read me the symptoms of rhabdo, and I assured her I was fine🥸)

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