Why has adding a lot more carbs not had a noticeable impact

A few months ago I upped my carb intake from probably in the 30-40g/hour range to 80-100g/hour. I’ve definitely trained well and built my FTP this offseason, but haven’t noticed any of the frequently mentioned major benefits. Ie. I see a lot of claims that when people start to properly fuel it’s a major difference and feels like cheating or like rocket fuel etc.

Maybe I am getting more benefit than I perceive, but wondering how others have felt with this experience. Also to note, since I’ve been indoors, I haven’t done rides longer than 90 minutes. Perhaps the benefits are only in long rides?

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obviously carbs are important, and my diet is carb-centric, but I think people making those grand claims may generally be underfueling or not eating enough carbs in general. carbs aren’t miracle workers, your body is only capable of a finite amount, carbs aren’t going to magically add watts to your ftp.


Personally I don’t believe it should feel like rocket fuel unless your nutrition is subpar in general (off the bike). What you should notice is your performance doesn’t putter out on longer rides (2.5hr+). But there is also a fitness component to endurance, so you don’t magically ride the same for 2hr longer than before either.


They talk about it in nearly every episode of the podcast but I feel like they are over exaggerating or they were severely malnourished before hand.


I think your last line says it all. Generally speaking, the longer the effort the more carb intake becomes important for sustained performance. <90 mins you’ll usually have enough glycogen to fuel that effort, assuming proper nutrition elsewhere. Over the 90 mins+ is where you start to really notice the difference. In my experience riding ,2 hrs on water vs 3 hrs with 45-60 gph makes a difference, not only in RPE of the ride, but more importantly - post ride recovery.

I usually won’t take I’m carbs for any effort 90 mins or less. But that’s just me not saying you shouldn’t.

My advice is to play around with your carbs and no carbs and take notice of how you feel and perform and go from there.

Good luck


Same. Tried it, no difference, went back to 40-60g/hour for my 2 hour rides. FTP 270-ish.

Many years ago I determined thru trial and error that longer sweet spot afternoon rides up to 2 hours only required a carb heavy lunch, and then eating shortly after returning. That was during a time of two-a-days with a high intensity 20-30 minutes in the morning, and those sweet spot heavy afternoons.

For 3-5 hour rides - different story. For those I’ll front load 90g/hour for the first 2 hours, and that makes a big difference on how I feel during hours 3-5.


Don’t think you need to over fuel for 2 hours or less. As @WindWarrior said, 3+ hour rides are where you become depleted and begin to notice.


Years ago I actually measured how long before bonking, and for mixed riding with an IF in low .8s it was something like 2.5 to 3 hours.

I don’t fuel during 60-90 minute rides, even high intensity ones. Sometimes a banana before, depending how long ago that I ate lunch. But I will start eating post-ride when I park the bike in the garage.


It comes down to the following

Time to glycogen depletion

Which is affected by how much you have stored from pre race nutrition. Either from a ore ride meal or previous day.

Then it comes down to length of ride and intensity.

In short the longer the ride the more carbs you need, also taking into account your intensity

If you’re doing a 3 HR hard race you’ll obv need more carbs then if your doing a sweet spot or Z2 cruise. Same goes for the weekly group ride world champs. Longer duration more carbs needed and visa versa.

In terms of grams ph, there are some templates out there but I reckon you should try and find what works for you. There is a some contradiction out there

For eg, I was going to start fuelling at 60 gph for my current phase of training for rides lasting 2hr+. I then found an app that I downloaded to use the trial which gives nutrition plans for on bike fuelling. That told me to use 40g pH for my last ride.

I try and ride in morning on empty stomach so for me it probably is a little more critical then say if I were riding after. Meal like Windy above .

If you’re riding sub 90 mins, even on an empty stomach, I would so no carbs necessary, irrespective of the intensity.

That said, I’m no expert just a bloke trying to ride my bike .

Good luck

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I’ve noticed it more the next morning, I’ve upped my intake on longer MTB rides and by doing so, my muscle soreness isn’t like it used to be. I also can ride longer at a particular pace.

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what is a longer MTB ride for you? What’s your FTP?

3 to 3.5 hours, upwards of 45-50 miles. The days I ride shorter, I don’t take in much more than water or a little Skratch mix.

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Empty stomach and no carbs for all < 90min rides?

I imagine you’re leaving something on the table with regards to performance when the intensity ratchets up. Give 1-2 per kg bodyweight in high GI carbs beforehand a try

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Here’s my experience:
I’ve been riding for about 8 years, without thinking about nutrition on the bike. I would go with a couple of bottles, one with a Nuun tablet and the other just water. If I knew I’d go for over 2.5h I’d put some Hammer Heed in bottle #2. I’d carry a few gummies and a bar which I would occasionally eat. Very casual about the whole thing. I would bonk occasionally for anything past 4h.

A couple of months ago I started following a ~40g/h target. I have not done anything longer than 4h since, but:

  • I have done some long, sustained effort that felt a lot better than before
  • Biggest thing I noticed is that I am functional after the ride. No urge to get on the couch for a nap and I feel a LOT better the next day. Physically and mentally.

I do not know if/when I should go higher on the hourly carb target, but I know I’m getting real benefit from just the 40g/h for anything over 1h.


Thanks for the tip, I’ll consider that if I feel like my performance is suffering and I need to make any changes.

I have the same experience. No longer ripping the kitchen cabinet off it’s hooks looking for food. Not eating a full block of chocolate… Never done that :joy:,


I do 80-90g if I’m going for 2+ hours. If it’s an intense ride under 2 hours, I’ll pre-load (I like to do long warmups) 60-90g. If it’s Z1-3 stuff, I just put a 2 tablespoons of table sugar in my bottles with an SIS tab to encourage consumption (I have a sweet tooth).

Interestingly, I spent a few months keto over the fall to lose some weight, and I found that I performed great with no carbs at all AND I cut weight, but I guess that’s a whole different discussion. Unfortunately, for me, it’s just not a sustainable diet when you’re trying to feed more than one person and also be social.

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Not so long ago fasted riding was in vogue and now the over fueling agenda is being pushed. Smokescreen for the amazing performances in pro racing and now the sports nutrition industry is jumping on board pushing new products you must buy.

I never bought into the fasted riding and equally I don’t buy into this massive carb consumption.

Historically I consumed around 40 - 60g per hour and I have tried 90g per hour with no noticeable difference, definitely not to the extent I am smashing races or killing workouts.

Trends come and go and I am sure it will go full circle again.

I think it is very much aimed at people who rode in the older days with the older junk food mindset. Me and my friends used to pride ourselves on not eating junk gels and sugary drinks, bonking was just the funny thing that happened on long rides. Now I can have the same performance with less training.
Also it massively helps when you’re on deficit or doing back to back days/2 a day.

So not rocket fuel but would definitely feel like it if you were one of the dumb old dudes who thought having a gel was cheating.

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:100: %

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