What is better - fuel more 3h before workout or more during workout

So let’s assume the following scenario.

I currently eat a 900kcal carb heavy breakfast (porridge, banana, maple syrup, whey for protein), wait for 3 hours, then ride for 3hrs (1-1.5hrs VO2 max training or threshold, rest endurance) which I fuel by 150g of sugar through drink mix.

If I had an additional budget of 300kcal, would it be better to have those on my breakfast or should I increase my carb intake during the workout?

I never had any GI issues with higher sugar concentrations during workouts, so that shouldn’t be an issue.

Good question - I guess it would depend on how you feel during the ride. As of right now are you comfortable with your fueling approach or are you starting wane during the latter half of the ride or perhaps the first half?

Highly dependent on how hard the first workout was, but usually I feel pretty good at the end of the 3 hours. My first workout is alwaxs pretty hard. 6-8 on a progression level scale.

900 kcal is such a solid pre-ride meal in my experience - I think if it were me, I’d have the additional 300 kcal at the ready during the ride and I’d use it if I needed it. I like the thought of dosing my workouts with carbs like I’m injecting fuel into an engine. With a bigger pre-ride I don’t get that same sensation.
I like to eat before, during, and after my rides but if I’m feeling strong then I save the kcals for my post ride meal.


There’s only so much glycogen you can store, full is full and any additional carbs are only stored as fat

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If you load it in pre-ride you lose any flexibility both in terms of if you take in the extra 300 and when.


I tend to look fueling in a bigger picture: three meals preceding the workout, fueling during the workout and the post-ride meal / recovery drink immidiately after the workout.

The harder (= higher intensity) the workout, the more important it is to arrive to the workout with high glycogen stores. Likewise, with longer workouts fueling during the workouts becomes increasingly more important. Calories taken during the workout seem to mainly decrease the rate of glycogen depletion from the liver. In other words, if your muscle glycogen stores are half empty when starting the workout, the quality of the workout will probably suffer - especially if it’s a really difficult with high intensity.

In OP’s case the breakfast seems to be excellent as is. I personally wouldn’t add much more to it since it’s fairly close to the workout and the workout isn’t excessively long (4+ hours). Instead I’d look previous day’s dinner. If you can add 300 kcal of carbs there, then your body has enough time to store those carbs into your muscles and thus improving your next day’s workout performance.

I highly recommend listening Scientific triathlon’s podcast about carb intake with Tim Podlogar:


You are in the position to find out what works best for you. Try the different approaches and see what works best and suits you.


I’ve been slowly zeroing in on the importance of this in my training over the last few weeks. No breakfast quantity/timing/content or in-ride fuel variable seems to have nearly as much impact on how I feel during a long threshold session as the amount of carbs I ate the night before.

I’m off of wheat products as part of an unrelated food intolerance experiment, and it took me about six weeks to suspect that no longer eating a pizza on Friday nights was having an impact on my Saturday rides. So I got some spelt pasta and started carbing up in a more focused manner the night before big workouts and all of a sudden I feel like a superhero who just got his powers back!


Could you break down the macros for this meal?

900kcal doesn’t say much if its protein powder, lots of fibres in the porrige and banana, and fast sugar in the maple syrup.

Big carb meal for dinner doesn’t work for me because it it interfers with my sleep. However, I eat the same thing I have for breakfast in the afternoon with my coffee (substitute whey with more fruit though)

For reference, I burn 4000-4500 kcal daily and don’t want to lose weight (already below 10% bodyfat).

Usually I do the following:
Breakfast 900 kcal, carb heavy, 30+g protein
Inter-workout, 600kcal sugar
Lunch (directly after workout) 1000 kcal, carb heavy, 30+g protein
Coffee 900 kcal, carb heavy
Dinner 600kcal, vegetables, protein, some fat

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150g oats, 1 banana, 1 scoop protein powder (24g whey), 15g maple syrup, 2 teaspoon cocoa

I can tolerate and like a ton of fibre. Like, easily 50g+ per day

Have a look at this video by Alex Dowset. It is interesting.

Already watched it, but honestly his situation is completely different, since I’m not struggling to lose weight. I’ve been tracking my calorie intake and my macros for over 10 years, so I think I got this pretty dialed in. I’m 174, 60kg, 300w ftp. I’m comfortable at this weight and am not struggling with power - been traning for 2 years and seen steady improvement and not failing workouts
Also there’s a lot of “I don’t know how this works, but I’ve been told so” in this video which made me think he doesn’t really know what he’s talking about.


Definitely on the bike, 50g/h isn’t enough for hard workouts, especially if you want to maintain weight.


I can relate. Maybe try adding those extra 300 kcals to your post-workout meal and afternoon coffee?

E: And adding extra 100 grams of carbs into your mid-ride drink is also viable. That’s probably the easiest option.

The take home message for me was that it’s not only the meal prior to the workout but 3 meals prior.

Weight doesn’t come into it. Almost everyone will be in energy deficit, during a workout, given certain combinations of intensity and duration. Weight is more about your energy balance over 24 hours, a week, a month etc. What you do regards eating outside of the workout.

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That’s my point, hours spent on the bike are still part of the day, week and month. Considering he is nowhere near the “limit” of grams of carbs per hour on the bike and that his nutrition off the bike looks good, he will likely benefit both from a performance and a weight maintenance standpoint by increasing the carbs during workouts.