My take on this is the folks making packaged and flavored sugar delivery systems are going to be pushing the limits on how dense they can make their products related to how well riders can use them or even keep them down. 120+ an hour is still tough even for those that get paid to do it. Going higher .
This is made even harder in my focus discipline for 2024, XCM. I mean WHERE can you even get a chance to take in a gel? Is it going to be all carbs in a bladder? How will that impact hydration? For gravel races/epic rides, I’ve been doing electrolytes in my hydration pack and gels, chews, etc in a bento/jersey pockets. Still more opportunity to have a bite on gravel, but XCM? It’s going to take some practice on the mechanics of riding XC and eating plus some course knowledge as to WHEN you have 20 seconds to eat.
I still do carbs in bottles and bladder for training, but I decided last year I had to separate fuel and hydration for races. The big reason for me was I had a couple of colder events where I just didn’t need as much fluids, which either has me over-hydrating and needing to stop to pee, or under-fueling. And, if your stomach starts to go south, allows you to switch to just water/electrolytes for a little bit.
Cargo bibs with the leg pockets, larger gels so you need fewer, or flasks help, but you still need to have a time you can grab one. Just comes down to practice.
I really think we need to start understanding and evaluating the differences between professional / elite riders and their caloric requirements vs. us as recreational / competitive athletes.
We simply aren’t going as hard for as long as the pros are…therefore our caloric needs are going to be different.
I honestly can’t even imagine needing 120g / hour on any race that I do…including long gravel races. Schitt, I could never get to 90g / hour…
The cynical side of me just looks at a lot of this as a convenient cover story…I really hope I am wrong about that, but the history of the sport indicates otherwise. History has prove that if it looks to good to be true, it probably isn’t.
It’s marketing. I worked with someone who really needed to lose weight, and was working out and riding like a maniac. His wife said he was having an affair with their multitude of workout gear, and yet ‘couldn’t lose weight’.
He was gulping down high protein ‘energy drinks’. Pallets of them in his house. ‘It’s what the pros use’ so it has to be good for him. Right? Sad. No one could talk him out of his ‘pro drink’ fixation. He kept saying he ‘felt better’ when he quaffed that junk.
It’s ‘capitalism’, it’s marketing, it’s snake oil, it’s callously fooling people to think they need tons of sugars, tons chocolate (in many cases). ‘Protein’ and ‘energy’ bars are usually just dolled up candy bars. They, sometimes, are actually used by ‘pro athletes’ who burn an absurd amount of calories, and CAN burn that crap off. It’s sad that they have made sugar overdoses a necessity of human life. I LOATH the sports supplement industry. But they make BILLIONS (trillions?) of dollars and have a powerful lobbying group. (And those fruit and veggie pills are a symptom of the supplement mess. Those things are $40 a bottle! Eat some damn veggies!! They’re cheaper!! /rant)
No this is good, we have spirited conversations here and while we [mostly] use science to get faster, it’s good to see what the pointy end is doing and IF that correlates to what we’re doing or not doing for that matter.
@robcow No you are right on that WAY too often we think that buying a thing is how we get faster, but the real way you get faster is to 1) put in the work and 2) eat what’s right for you as an individual. I earn my bike money by sitting at a desk which is so much different than most (but not all) pros. My fitness and diet may be influenced by findings but I’d say that there’s no one reading this that’s going to be able to take a pro’s plan and apply it to themselves 1:1. (It’s not too different than who is the TR HV plan for? Well it’s a very small sliver of subscribers, so even though one can do the HV plan at home, one should really talk to someone before doing so…)
Same goes for carb intake. I’m not throwing down 550w for 6 hours, so it’s unlikely that I’ll ever need anywhere near 120g of carbs per hour for an XCM event.
I’ve learned so much (good and bad) from other forum members who are doing similar events, and their experiences. So keep the dialog coming!
Yeah, I had this issue last year…I was trying to up my carb intake to 90g / hour (again, never got there) and I just could not lose my “winter weight” all year…and I was putting in 250-300 mile weeks.
I reduced my intake this year (would guess to 40-60g / hour depending on the workout) and while i did manage to lose some more weight, I also did not quite achieve what used to be my normal race weight (by about 1kg).
I am not certain what my fueling strategy will be this year…but I did McGregor -6 today on just water (by accident…thought it was a carb bottle that I grabbed from the fridge) and I had zero issues completing the workout strongly.
I mean I don’t think this precludes any chance of riders doing illegal (or gray area) things as well. But I struggle to see how eating twice as much food during the hugely energy demanding races (and training) would have anything but huge performance benefits.
I was listening to an interview with a rider from the 90s/00s (maybe it was Sean Kelly) saying that they used to basically have dick measuring contests of who could eat or drink the least during training and racing. Cycling has for decades had a problem with lighter = faster and I think it’s good to get out there that this isn’t necessarily always the case.
As for carbs consumed during training affecting your weight… I don’t agree from my own anecdotal evidence. When I started riding higher volume I would come home from rides and just be ravenous and need to eat everything in the house or restaurant just to feel good again. But by upping my workout nutrition I could now come home, eat a normal-ish meal, and go about my day with my appetite in much better control. So (for me at least), eating more on rides probably caused me to eat even less than I used to.
People aren’t robots, everyone finds what works for them. My 1.5-3 hour training are just fine on 40-60g/hour even though I have no issues consuming 90-120g/hour. I don’t see better performance training while gulping more carbs on the bike.
I am not disputing that there are performance advantages to eating more carbs…there clearly are. But when those performance advantages start to best times from some of the best-doped riders in history, it starts to reach the edges of credulity.
Sure…I am simply offering my own anecdotal experience. It is certainly not meant as a sweeping claim. For me, eating significantly more carbs on the bike impacted my overall race weight…and as a classic ectomorph, that resulted in a larger belly than “normal” for me during the season.
Go longer and you will. I do 20-30g/h most of the time except for rides longer than 4h which I do 60-80. As long as I stick with drink + Gels + Maurten Solid, I can get down 90-100. Never tried more than that.
After a hard race, well fueled. I can gain up to 8lbs of water weight that will come down in 4-7 days. Crazy.
Sure, but you’re not a world tour cyclist. The OP doesn’t say anything about how the average cyclist should be doing the same. Just that it’s what the pros are doing now since they’re training/racing 25-30+ hours per week. I know I’m definitely not taking in 120g/hr on any ride.
They take in that much cause that’s how much they need. So it should be scaled down to whatever you need. I didn’t notice the carb intake making much of a difference when I was under 10hr/wk but when I’m up closer to 15 or so I start to notice it. Not a huge benefit during any one particular session but when I start to stack longer or hard days back to back is when I notice pushing the intake up toward 90 or 100g/hr to start to make a difference.
But that break point could be different for different people.
This is where I’ve ended up. I used to try all my carbs in a bottle but it’s just too weather dependent. If it’s coolish outside my body doesn’t want 24oz per hour. I’ve switched to 40g carb in a bottle and just add on food/gels to get me somewhere about 80g/hr.
doping doesn’t always completely outweigh the natural basics. If you doped but only slept 3 hours per night you probably wouldn’t be as fast. Same if you dope but are constantly on the edge of starving yourself.
A lot of those times were done in much different circumstances. Longer stages back then being a big one
Lots of those Grand Tour winners from the biggest doping eras were huge in comparison today’s leaders. Pogacar and Roglic weigh 145lb, Jonas is 135lb, Froome and Thomas are like 150ish. Meanwhile Lance was like 165, Indurain was the same or ~170. Doing 6.5+w/kg is way way more difficult when you weight that much.
Aero jerseys and such also cut the difference on some of the slightly shallower (still pretty steep) climbs compared to those baggy cotton jerseys of the past.
I’m not saying that people now aren’t doping or aren’t in the gray area and maybe my view is just optimistic and I just don’t really see the point in me stressing too much about it. But I think there are some pretty easy explanations for how current riders have made up a pretty significant chunk of the gap to those from 20+ years ago.
But this thread doesn’t need to turn into another “are they or are they not” thing.
I’m one of those people that has no issue whatsoever consuming 100g/hour, and am probably going to move to 120g/hour for longer and harder workouts this year primarily geared at being prepped for Leadville. Even on my easier workouts, I’m still burning more than I can take in. (No, I’m not fueling like that for a short Z2 ride.) But it’s made a difference for me on long days.
Where I have to watch myself is off the bike. If I’m doing 100-120g an hour, it doesn’t give me free license to stuff my face with carbs the rest of the day and I can put on weight if I’m not careful. I do have to constantly try to get enough protein though.
So I came in too hot, again. But this discussion bleeds over into the guy that rides his Peloton a couple days a week, and at that, doesn’t ride the ‘scary stuff’. Too many seem to be easy prey for the sugar pushers out there. Even when I was pushing the miles as hard as I could, and knock off the longest routs on Zwift, I usually used a gel, and always mixed the ‘electrolytes’ (sugar) at half strength. That and a banana and tons of water, and I was doing very well. I never bonked. But food is fuel. The idea that people should know what they are putting in the tank doesn’t sound as sexy as doing what ‘the pros’ do. And so many of the pros are like a supersonic plane, burning tons of fuel and very efficiently, and the average Peloton warrior is so not that…
Opening it up to everyone, might help regulars, proles keep their lives and weight in check. With that, I’m out…
(I over-fueled during the pandemic on IPA’s and stouts. I need to burn off the fat🤷🏻♂️)