Protein intake during endurance races?

There is a lot of information about protein intake post-ride, but I haven’t read much about in-ride protein intake (carbs are well covered). I’m curious to what I should be eating for protein (g per hour) during a long ride so my body doesn’t eat itself. The summary is below.

In August I am taking three days and riding 350 miles to an event. I will then take one day of rest. The next day is 250 miles of road/gravel/mountain biking which will take 24 hours to complete. I’ll take a day off and then ride the 350 miles home.

Obviously this will be an eating contest to fuel subsequent days but how much protein is necessary?

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Sounds like an epic idea. Good for you!
My gut feeling would be to try match what you’d normally eat in a day supplemented with extra calories whilst on the bike.
Will it be possible to have a proper breakfast, lunch and dinner or will it be all eat whatever is available as you travel?

The main reason protein is not discussed during events is you do not really burn protein as fuel. your body prefers Glycogen and Fat for fuel. It uses protein to repair tissue and each day your body has to grow new human body cells etc.
So just have a couple of glasses of milk if you are okay with Lactate. That should be enough you can have a whey power drink available if you feel you want additional amount, I tend to do that after a big ride (200km +).

As for fueling your event, The fact you are taking 3 days to get down to your event, you will be depleting Muscle glycogen getting to your event, so you will need to fuel well. If you are cycling down and you are going to take 8 hours a day cycling approx 600cals/hour hence you will need 4800 cals + your daily cal burn lets say you know what that is Approx 2000. You will need nearly 7000 cals/day Just getting to your event. As for the 24 hour event, I find eating the amount of food difficult ( 15000 cal if you say approx 600 cal/hr), I eat Rolls filled with Cheese and Jam. I have Carb bars (Fruit/dates and banana), and gels when i fell a bit flat. Choc bars with fruit and nuts help too. The other thing i do is electrolyte drink… really important in a long event.

Good luck.

I think protein is important for recovery. My instinct (from ultra endurance, nutrition consultation and what I’ve read) would be to make sure you get some protein on the way there and during your rest day, but for the main day, make it all about fuel. Back to significant protein after the hard 250 day.
It’s always good to look for evidence via studies though…

From the brevets I do, I usually end up eating enough protein just by eating some actual food like sandwiches. Something like hammer’s perpetuem seems to have 1g protein for every ~7g of carbs so that might be a good approach if you want to cover all your bases, but I haven’t experienced any kind of noticeable muscle loss even after doing a full brevet series in a week (~1500km in 7 days)

Riding to the event I’d think about doing it at a lower intensity so you don’t drain yourself completely, and eat like a king on your rest day before the big event.

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This is a “more research is needed but it might help/doesn’t seem to hurt” answer :). Looks like there is some (very limited, but cycling specific!) evidence to suggest that co-ingesting CHO+PRO could improve performance and reduce muscle damage. Ratios reported were 4 CHO:1 PRO.

No personal experience in what you are about to do. Kudos!!! That’s a f*ing crazy idea.

My amateur knowledge would say that you don’t need protein to perform but you will need it to recover. On the way there and back I would have some in ride isolated protein intake for easy digestion and absorption. At night I would bet in casein + nuts + porridge. During the day you don’t need big amounts and if you can complement it from real food the better.

Carbs and fats are your friends with all the rest of the vitamins and minerals (again real food)

At a first glance, one day of rest on each end doesn’t sound much though.

Good luck and please report back - just for us to know if you are still alive :rofl::rofl::rofl:


I’ve been recently considering this topic too. I wonder if BCAA or protein during ultra endurance events would slow down muscle breakdown…? I am assuming ultra endurance (one bout of exercise) and multi day endurance (longer period of rest in between exercise) are very different. Since in the latter there is an opportunity for some sort of recovery.

First off, you are insane, but my kind of insane, so we have that in common :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

I have done a fair amount of the 5-10 hour race variety. I have also done 550 ish miles in a group ride over a week, but you are doing almost 1,000 miles in 8 days. Wowza

The benefit of protein is that it is a good appetite suppressant. Depending on your pace and terrain eating solid foods can be challenging. Also, after time, you will want to eat but your gut condition may not let that happen or there may be repercussions for food choices which can just sit in your gut and not get processed. So easily digestible protein has it’s benefits over long events.

I use Infinit Nutrition and I use about 7g protein per bottle. There are a lot of ways to put protein in your bottle and you don’t have to use their blend, I just like it.

Infinit Nutrition - Protein FAQ

I also use Infinit with protein, but I’m around 4g/bottle, specifically to help suppress appetite.

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Boom, there you go! You got me to look and actually I am at 5g per serving :+1:

Meat digests pretty slowly, so it tends to be avoided in normal length rides, as it’ll just sit in the gut.

In your case, you can’t really avoid ingesting protein in a 24 hour ride, so I’d just disperse it throughout the day.

I agree with all of you; ride up easy while feeding for the big day, lots of carbs on the big day, and eat a lot after for the ride home.

While I will certainly use a variety of real food, electrolytes (PH is preferred), and Bloks, I am hooked on Tailwind products for drink based carbs and recovery. I am thinking that perhaps I will supplement their endurance fuel with some of the recovery drink during the 24 just to get more in the belly. It always sits well with with me.