I’ve made some interesting N=1 observations about this kind of thing lately and thought others might find it useful:
Sort of a follow on from this thread and the below quoted exchange from an unrelated thread. TL;DR is I’ve begun to suspect that my off-leash hangover performances are often due to all the extra food I eat during the drinking session. I’ve tried eating a bit like I would when drinking but without consuming alcohol and the results are pretty impressive!
As part of an eczema elimination diet I recently cut dairy, wheat, and alcohol out of my diet completely for 8+ weeks. During that time I found I really struggled on 90 minute threshold workouts or Saturday morning group rides. I also found that after a couple of weeks I started having really distinct and specifically timed cravings for pizza or pasta, so I got some spelt pasta and had a friday night ‘blowout’ one week, eating til uncomfortably full. The next morning I felt and rode amazing - almost like I have felt on those ‘off-leash’ hangover days.
It got me thinking about the relationship between drinking and nutrition - if I’m having a big night I would almost always eat pizza or pasta or something else really carb heavy in much higher quantities than would be in a normal dinner. And often there’s a desire for even more carb heavy snacks later in the night if the session keeps going. And that’s all without even considering the carbs in the drinks.
I’d never done this kind of thing without alcohol though so I started to wonder if what was actually going on is I was effectively offsetting my hangover performance by doing a major carb loading session. Eating a pizza gives me a temporary weight gain of like 1-1.5kg which I assumed was mostly water in my gut rather than glycogen in the legs, so I would previously have never been willing to eat like that the night before an important ride unless there was alcohol involved and it became a bit of a ‘f*** it’ session.
To test my theory I started adding a (spelt) ‘pasta course’ after my main dinner on Wednesday and Friday nights (prior to the struggle sessions). Literally just pasta with a bit of vegan pesto from a jar - as simple as can be. And lo and behold, I suddenly found I was firing on all cylinders the next morning. Plus, because there was no alcohol involved I didn’t suffer any negative impacts on my top end (even on amazing hangover rides my anaerobic abilities are usually blunted - it’s really threshold and under that see the benefit).
This is the other part of my theory. My best hangover rides have usually been long days out where maybe I am struggling for the first hour or two, but in hours 4-6 when all my riding buddies are fading fast and unable to keep up with a sweet spot effort I’m still able to turn threshold. I think that’s probably actually the result of strict hangover-enforced pacing in the early part of the day. If I don’t feel well enough to do any sharp efforts in the first couple hours when everyone’s fresh and burning their matches, I’m restricted to a more sensible pace and remain fresh once I’ve ridden out the ill effects of the previous night.
I’ve just looked at meal packaging to get some hard numbers for this and it seems like my normal dinner has about 55-60g carbs. I think I’m adding another 65-70g carbs with the spelt pasta. That’s not terribly surprising, but as someone who thinks about nutrition and fueling a fair bit I’m surprised that it took this long for me to connect the dots on this one.
Maybe others are similar? If so, then my suggestion is to see what happens if you 2x or 3x your carb intake at dinner without drinking any alcohol and see what your power numbers are like the next morning.