Why do I get hungry quicker than my peers?

Why do I get hungry quicker than my peers on a ride? I eat 1-2 gels on a 100km ride while my peers don’t even need to eat anything. I will bonk for sure if i dont eat anything. Is this something trainable?

You’re either working a lot harder than them or they’re doing it the hard way like the old days, no food, just water. FWIW, I often eat more than my peers and I then perform better the next day.


Eating on a ride is a good thing, not a bad thing. If you want to be able to ride at a good pace for a long time then that takes a lot of energy. If you empty your tank completely then you make it much more likely that you’ll come home and shovel 2000 calories of crap into you because you’re so ravenous. You also make your recovery longer & harder.

One approach is to have a decent amount of pre-ride food and eat suffiiciently on the ride to balance out the total energy expenditure of the ride. Then have a recovery drink and then eat fairly normally the rest of the time. So 1 or 2 gels is way less than i’d eat for a similar ride…


The need to eat in a ride is related to glycogen depletion. Either your reserves to start with are lower, if you are on a diet or eating low carb, or you are burning more glycogen because the relative intensity of the ride is higher for you. Or they have just gotten used to loosing power by the end of the 3 hour ride and are OK with it.

It is also possible that you are used to eating as soon as you feel a bit hungry, while people that are used to fasting are able to ignore that feeling and keep going with enough energy.

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I often feel like this on club rides - the “old guard” who are pretty much older that the hills themselves never seem to eat other than at the cafe stop and they can churn out mile after mile after mile. They’re just conditioned to it from years of 200 mile weeks etc - but they can’t put down serious power in my experience so in a bunch they’ll get everywhere at 17-18mph on calm day for 70 plus mile rides. Push it too much and they will complain :slight_smile:

I once got out a home made flapjack during a ride and the old lag next to me looked at it and asked if I was going to feed everyone. Maybe I’m in the wrong club because they never talk about feeding, hydration etc or offer any gems of wisdom. On the longer rides if I fuel well then I have a better time after the ride. What the others are doing I have no idea about as they don’t talk about it.

I once did some fasted long rides - they were OK until I got home and there was food. So tend to take plenty food and a top tube bag.

There’s a new guy joined our club, does some very fast riding and TTs - he eats a ton and they take the p**s out of him (UK for taking the mickey/poking fun).

I’d say fuel for yourself and the work you’re doing. You don’t know what they ate before they headed out the door and how they feel after. I feel the same as you but then unless you’re watching them all like a hawk you also may not spot others having snacks on the ride, maybe?..


There may be a few things going on here.

  1. They may have liquid nutrition, which is easily hidden.

  2. What does their recovery from the ride look like?

  3. How do you feel? Great? then who cares…


2 gels is like 200kcal right? For a 3-4hr ride, that is basically nothing. I guess it seems like a lot because they actually eat nothing.

The TR folks talk about aiming for up to 400kcal per hour, so if you go all in you’d need to be drinking / eating 1200-1600kcal over the same ride. I eat about 100 - 150kcal / hour for long rides which I will admit it is not much and I should be fueling more.

I think the old guard didn’t have all the easily digestible foods like we have now. It was better not to eat during a hard ride than to have some hard digesting foods sitting in your gut or puking. You should welcome them to 2021!


I use two gels to get out of bed. Hot damn.

This post is giving me flashbacks to when I was a new cyclist and did an unplanned ~85mi day on a Gatorade and a clif bar. That was a bad time.


How old are these people? I saw Stephen Seiler review some recent research on decrease in performance due to aging. They found that VO2max decreased pretty significantly starting around 50, but fractional utilization increased, so FTP didn’t start to decrease until around 60. What that means to me is that we can keep chugging away at a decent pace as we age, but the top end really goes away. Also, if one isn’t used to pushing vo2max efforts, they don’t feel that great.

Totally agree with you. Making fun of someone for fueling seems pretty small minded to me. A general question I would have is, if they are that close minded to fueling, is there anything I can learn from them? A big part of group rides for me is learning new things and self development. If I don’t think I can learn something (handling, group riding skills, etc.) or it is not giving me something I need to get stronger (maybe I want a hammer fest at certain times to push myself) I am unlikely to regularly attend.

I’m a jerk so just to amuse myself I might make some homemade rice cakes or something huge and eat it in a very obvious way in front of them. lol.

I would deal with 3-4 hour group rides with a bowl of oatmeal or rice before bed, drink orange juice first thing after waking to top up liver glycogen, eat more oatmeal with butter and maple syrup, and finally a banana 30 minutes before departing. I’m fully topped up on carbs and then some with this breakfast.

I’ll take along a Cliff bar, an extra banana, and some gummies for the ride which is probably 400-500 calories. I might even eat a candy bar at our gas station stop. 200 extra calories of sugar, salt, and fat seems to agree with me.

It all seems to be enough to power me for a big ride.

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A lot of the ‘old guard’ like sticking with tradition, so no eating, water only, long slow miles in the winter, don’t wave to other cyclists…the list goes on.
Your RPE could be 10/10 when running out of carbs and it’s only until you stick a power meter on your bike, you relaise how much less power you are producing now compared to the beginning of the ride.


It depends on your power output and how you generate the energy for that power. If you are heavier, or even just plain weaker than your friends, you’ll need more energy to keep the same pace. If they are very experienced riders with years of long miles in them, then their group ride pace might put them directly into thei maximal fat oxidation zone, and they won’t rely on fresh carbs that much. If the ride isn’t more than maybe 2 hours between stops, they might just eat at the stops.

Don’t worry about it, and eat as much as you feel you need to.


Thanks everyone for the insights!

@splash, quite the opposite, I’m usually the smallest rider in the bunch. So maybe their 200w fat burning Z2 is my Zone 3/4 or beyond if they decide to drop the hammer.

I guess burning more energy to keep up is the answer. Thanks :slight_smile:

That is actually what would explain you needing to eat more. So if the other riders are just chilling in their “fat burning zone”, they would not use up a lot of glycogen and can go on for hours without eating. If you are putting in a much higher effort to keep up, you would use up more glycogen, of which there is a much lower supply in the body.

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If you’re the smallest rider then stick in the group to get a good draft on the flats and then destroy them on the climbs :+1:t2::grin:

:thinking: 200w - better to have an idea of watts/kg to compare…maybe? I have an FTP just shy of 300 but I’m massive so my power to weight it just over 3. There are smaller guys with like 3.4 - 4 that will always destroy me.

It may also be that you just need to experience more longer rides. I know TR advocates you don’t have train long to go long and that does work to a degree but the more you do those rides the better you should become.

I’ve found that I can now take more of a part in club rides without destroying myself for a couple of days after and walking funny for the rest of the day. :grin: But I do eat - otherwise the rest of the day ain’t pretty. :joy:

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They’re mainly retired so 65 plus and a couple of 70year olds who have exceptional long distance running backgrounds. There are some young ones scattered around too.

:thinking: I may have to make a massive Rice cake or flapjack as suggested and eat it whilst riding off the front no handed… :joy:

It does genuinely surprise me how they manage on the group rides which are usually 5 hours long including a 30 min cafe stop where they all tuck into beans on toast but that’s after around 3 hours.

Efficiency maybe. Much like you, I noticed how much more I was normally eating and drinking than my peers.

For the first time in 8 years I have gone through a proper Z2 >>> Tempo >>> SS base building process.
One of the things I have noticed is that I am no longer having to shovel food down my neck from the get go. Coaching has almost paid for itself!

Yesterday I did my first hard effort on “Z”, you know the score, some hard efforts, lots of SS, THR type riding. Previously I would have been eating (or craving food) early on, then holding out until necking a gel. I ate nothing for the 75 minutes I was riding. 55 minutes main effort was 305W average (my FTP is / was 315), I didnt struggle at all during the ride itself, didnt feel spent at the end either.

Proper training works it seems.

Did you read the thread about green bananas? A TR employee mentioned he brings baked potatoes in his jersey pockets for mid-ride fueling.

I think that would be an entertaining way to troll your riding group, just pull a freakin’ baked potato out of your pocket and start chowing down. Extra points if you have a small salt shaker in another pocket and pull that out too. :joy: :joy:


And sour cream. Maybe some bacon crumbles lol.

Gravy in a water bottle…this really has potential lol!

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Yes, it’s trainable. 3 things would delay your hunger and reduce need to eat on a 100km ride.

  1. Get fitter. (More fitness = higher fat oxidation rates and less blood sugar drop, which causes hunger)
  2. Do a low carb high fat diet (same reason)
  3. Lose weight, specifically muscle lol. (Makes you more efficient for a given power… usually)

I recommend only doing number 1.

And convince your friends that they’d be faster too if they consumed more carbs per hour.

Serious note: the message here is: it is not a desirable trait to not need to eat. In fact, it may be indicative of not eating enough daily carbohydrate to fully optimize training. Convenience is the ONLY benefit.