Nutrition on the Bike During Training

Hello all,

After listening to many of the podcasts I have become a little confused about nutrition during training. If this has been answered please refer me to where but if not I have some questions.

  1. Drink Mixes - Is it advised to have a drink mix anything under 60 minutes or even 90? For Vo2 (even some sweet-spot) workouts I like stuff like Skratch but I also don’t want to be taking it if my body doesn’t really need it. I did Phoenix of Saturday and noticed the workout text saying not to bother with a sport drink? What is everyone’s thoughts, experiences, literature?

  2. Jells/Gummies - I know it is not worth it to use a gel or gummie for 60-90 minute workouts but anything over 90 do people use them? I am trying to get the most out of my workout, and the next but like mentioned before I am trying to avoid loading my body of sugars and such when it doesn’t technically need them.

  3. Solid food (rice cakes) - Does anyone use solid food during their indoor rides? I usually just bring solid food on long(er) (2+ hours) rides outside but there are some long ones scheduled for me and was wondering if people treat their indoor rides like their outdoor?



To answer each one:

  1. I dont personally use a sports drink for anything less than 90 minutes. Even high intensity workouts dont require nutrition under 90 minutes (you’ll replenish after the workout anyway)
  2. Same thing here
  3. Solid foods are great on longer rides, even indoors (potentially even better indoors because you dont have to worry about actually transporting them). If I’m doing a long trainer ride, I’ll put a sandwich or rice cakes on my laptop stand next to my bike

All in all, the answer is, as always, it depends. Try your <90 minute workouts without food. I’d imagine you probably dont need to be eating during. But if you feel markedly worse without eating then, by all means, eat.

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It’s really individual so you need to find out what works for you.


  1. Water only for me up to 2 hours (riding or running). Over that I’ll generally have a gel or something half way through.

  2. As above.

  3. Solid food depends on the type of ride. I did Mount Bear today which is a relatively consistent 3 1/4 hours and ate a flapjack in bits throughout the ride but if it’s something with a higher IF I’ll stick to liquid calories.

Try it out for yourself and see what works best for you.

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  1. For rides under 90 minutes, I use NUUN as it has electrolytes, no calories and I like the taste better than plain water out of a water bottle. On longer rides I usually use Skratch to get some easy calories. I’m not always great about about hydrating off the bike so on some days, my water bottles are most of my fluid intake so I error on the more bottles side - I never get on the bike without a water bottle no matter how short or easy the ride is.

  2. Whether I eat on the bike or not mostly depends on how topped off I am before I start. Probably 90% of the rides I do under 2 hours are no food except for Skratch since my typical schedule is such that I tend to have recently eaten a meal before the ride starts. But sometimes I’m already eating a Clif bar 5 minutes into a 60 minute ride.

  3. I rarely do real food but that is just because of convenience. I love rice cakes but just can never get around to making them!

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Timely post, I was just wondering that today. I’ve had the same confusion on what I’m “supposed “ to intake during TR long workouts. I’m not sure if I’m harming the adaptation I’m supposed to be getting when I’m constantly flooding the body with sugar. My only goal is performance and nailing the prescribed workouts. As I’m not looking to lose weight, does it matter what I consume when riding? I feel like water just won’t be enough.

I’m doing Traditional Base mid volume, currently midway through TB 2. Almost all my rides are 2+ hours and my rides this weekend are 2:45. During my rides 60-90 mins I usually drink Hammer Heed. Not sure if I need a sports drink but mentally I like it.

For my 2+ hour rides I drink Hammer Perpetuem mixed with a little Heed. I may also have a gel at each hour mark depending if I feel I want it. I’m currently trying gummies, not sure if I like the chewing part.

I’ve never liked or wanted to “eat” anything while riding unless it’s a recovery ride. When my heart rate is up all I want is liquid or at most gels. So all my calories come from a strong drink mix. I’ve done a 100 mile MTB race on nothing but Perpetuem, electrolytes and gels. It took me an hour after the race to even want “real” food.

I have started fueling for my hard workouts the same way I do for my races.

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It’s definately an individualised thing. Need to experiment and work out what works best for you and what your goals are.

For myself, no matter the length of the workout (45mins - 2hrs), I’ll always have everything possible on a stool right next to me - water, electrolyte, gels, carb energy bar, caffeine tabs. Because I know that sometimes I may feel good going into a workout but then during the workout I realise I need a certain boost. At least it’s there next to me if I need it.

I had a liter bottle of Dr Pepper left over from a party. So I put it on the counter next to the trainer “for emergencies only” :grin: It sat there for several days then I drank it all (maybe 12oz) on a particularly hard session.

I do many workouts fasted to start and have to reach for some quick sugar half way through, but often I can get through even hard workouts just fine fasted.

For me it depends a lot on how hard the previous days workout was and how many carbs I had.

I use Gatorade powder because its about 1/4 the cost of most cycling brands. I may use the good stuff for races, but there is nothing wrong with Gatorade. Check this out…

Hammer Perpetuem - 200 calories costs $.97 and 60 grams carbs costs 1.46 Gatorade - 200 calories costs .28 and 60 grams of carbs costs $.35

Then I spend the real money on recovery food.

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Definitely individual, but doing SweetSpot Base Hi vol, I’m using my hammer sustained energy on the 2 hour rides and nothing on the 1.5 hour rides “usually” except water

The response for me is I find I feel better after the workout( I don’t feel like I need to eat the house down)
I run 2 full scoops of it. 2 full bottles one water one sustained energy and drink both in 2 hours.

Helps recovery for me and also provides a bit of protein during …I feel less sore/empty the next day.

After I can eat sensibly and get ready for the next day.

Here is the link to my recipe that I use during and post ride.
High carbs via fruit juices. I used to eat Shot Blocks on all rides but decided they were not really doing much. I still eat Cliff bars on long mountain bike rides.
Another problem was cramping during late night sleep.

I drink 500ml after a 1 hour ride. Double that after longer exercise.
I carry a bottle during long exercise to maintain body fuel.
Note that I don’t take protein after workouts, I get enough from my diet.
I’m quite happy with the drink.
I have-not had cramps since I started taking it.

P.S. – Make sure you use high quality seas salt. Baileen is my preferred. If it tastes too salty, adjust salt measure to taste.


I have this on my calendar for tomorrow

I will eat half of a sweet potato about 15-20 minutes before I start. I will have one SiS gel after the first set of intervals is completed. During the second set I will drink a bottle with one scoop of skratch hydration, after the final set during the endurance I will have the rest of the sweet potato (probably another 75-100g)

Sweet potato - I like them and they give me some energy that lasts
Single scoop skratch - this is how I mix it in races (I’ll drink 4 bottles total during a 2 hour workout - only need 1 with the skratch - in a race I’d do 2/4 or 3/4 with it mixed at that concentration)
SiS gel - this is what I use in races so I try to maintain some consistency

For longer stuff (2 hour sweet spot workouts or 2+ hour endurance) I’ll also add a Clif bar or clif blocks to the mix as those are my other race fuel

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  1. I only use a drink mix if I’m in dire straits, feel a bonk coming on or haven’t fueled properly coming in.

  2. I’ll use gels for anything over an hour that has any kind of intensity - sweet spot +. I’m usually good with a gel every 25 minutes or so per my usual race fueling plan, again assuming I’m properly fueled coming in.

  3. Nope. I don’t see a need for solid food until you’re up in the 4+ hour range, but that’s just me. I’m fine for 3.5 hours on gels and sports drink, and have done shy of 5 hours on just gels and water.

I’ve taken quite a liking to Nate’s recommendation for early morning workout fueling - one slice of Ezekiel raisin bread toast with honey per 30 minutes. By the time my warmup is done, I’m solid. Really liking that for any of my 6:00am workouts. If it’s an hour, I don’t do anything else. Over an hour, gels as above.