Workout fueling for a non-fueler

Theres been a lot of talk on the podcast recently around fueling your workouts, so far I’ve never taken in anything other than water for the hour or 90 minute trainer workouts on the LV plans.

I feel like based on what the team are saying I might not be reaching my potential, sure the workouts are hard but they’re supposed to be right? I usually eat a main meal (lunch or dinner) maybe 2 hours before a workout, with a decent amount of carb content in it, but should I be supplementing when on the trainer with Maurten or Beta Fuel or similar?

I only fuel from sessions lasting around 90mins or more, and for theses I take a (Torq) gel every 30mins this has made a big difference.

The aim of this is 2 fold, (1) to fuel my sessions, (2) to train me for fueling for my races: which can be up to 17hours long

Shorter sessions I only drink water

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Potentially some benefits from taking on carbs during harder or longer workouts. May reduce your RPE. May make it easier to complete the scheduled workout, or enable you to complete a workout that you might otherwise have failed. May help with recovery. Also helps train your body to take on ingest carbs while exercising, which is useful if you race or do longer efforts outside.

Doesn’t have to be sports nutrition like Maurten though, could just as easily be carbs from a banana, or some dates, or dried fruit, trail mix, honey, sweets, etc. Any kind of food really where most of the calories are from simple sugars.


I like to mix apple juice and water 50-50 in my bottles for longer efforts at/over ss. I also do this on shorter intense workouts if i suspect that I have been low on carbs that day.
The juice/water mix is easy to drink and without to much calories I still feel that it lowers the rpe and keeps me from going zombie right after the workout.

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For 1.5+hr tempo & longer, I generally eat a banana 20 minutes prior then use 3 (75g carb) scoops tailwind in 24oz bottles per hour.

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My answer to both questions is “depends how hard the workout is”.

Don’t forget what they say on the podcast - work is work. 250 watts will have the same impact on your body whether it feels like a breeze or a neverending nightmare. So if you make the workouts feel easier with good fuelling, you’re still getting the same benefit.

For low intensity workouts, the meal a couple of hours before might be all you need - just drink water / electrolytes during, and maybe have a recovery snack after. As the intensity gets near and above threshold, think about having more simple carbs - energy drink, bars, gels etc - during the session.

However I wouldn’t go for Maurten 320 or Beta Fuel, only because they’re SO strong and SO expensive. Reserve them for race days, in my opinion. For everyday workouts, standard strength energy drinks and gels should be more than enough.


I’ve wondered about this (fueling) as well. All my life I’ve worked out early with just a glass of water.

I guess I’m pretty adapted to it as a 1.5-2hr 130tss workout is no problem for me on just water. However i am wondering if there is any benefit to using a carb drink to help adaptions and making me feel less hungry mid afternoon.

Depsite not needing energy drink to actually complete workouts I’m going to spend a few weeks using it for the harder stuff to see if I can detect any benefit


I used to be a non-fueler, but would struggle with 90 minute efforts and even my zone 1 or zone 2 workouts would sometimes find me “hungry.” There is nothing worse than trying to ride a trainer hungry. I’ve started eating before and then extending my workouts by 20-30 minutes to get extra volume.

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I just started fuelling my workouts on the bike. As the OP said as well, due to the recent talk on the podcasts I was wondering if I was leaving anything on the table.
Normally I just ate a good carb heavy meal 3-3.5 hours before hand in work then maybe had a banana before leaving and work through the work out with water / electrolytes.

I have completed two 60min work outs now fuelling with high5 2:1 drink. Only made 500ml and had along with water and for me, it made the world of difference.
Both in terms of RPE and how I felt afterwards.

Both times, I wouldn’t feel like eating a mountain of food and was less tempted to reach for sugary / startchy items as well.

Perhaps it is worth experimenting with, try a week or two of fuelling work outs and see how things go.

This is the stuff I used.

Good luck with the training :slight_smile:

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Same here.

Until last year, I did all of training on water alone (inc., Vo2 max), owing to starting my sessions at 0530. Having shifted to slightly later sessions (0730), I can now pre-fuel sessions with whole foods and the difference is startling. Sessions are easier and back to back sessions are possible, whereas before they weren’t. Endurance rides will still be fasted, but anything above will be fueled.

Also, I’m actually losing the same amount of weight during the base phase as per the previous sessions. Previously, after fasted workouts, I’d be ravenous all day and pick at food. Now I’m fueling properly, it’s far easier to stick to “healthy” eating.


If you ate quality food two hours before you should be all fueled up for even a 3 hour ride. Remember that the goal is to train for an event not to “crush” a TR session and make it feel easy. Save the expensive fuel for your race day.

I recommend people start looking at the work of James Morton.

Related to this is that if you want to train your fat metabolism you don’t want to head out for every ride with a bottle of sugar in hand.

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Thanks everyone for your comments, really great advice!! Going to try experiment with some of the suggestions and see how it affects my performance and recovery :slight_smile:

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If you reduce the RPE of the workout, then you can either enjoy a greater success rate or increase the difficulty of the workout (e.g., raise training FTP).

Conversely, if you want to train, say, your anaerobic power, running low on the fuel that system uses mid-workout doesn’t seem like a great plan.


I agree. If one looks at the carbohydrate periodization stuff, it says exactly that - fuel the high intensity intervals and the races.

The OP did say that he is eating 2 hours ahead of workouts so he should be fueled for pretty much any trainer workout unless it’s exceptionally long.

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So… a bit of an update on this, have been doing my workouts and rides now with an electrolyte drink which has about 25g of carbs, the workouts are just as hard but I feel like I’m recovering much better, perhaps its the electrolytes? either way I think its working really well for me so intend to continue!


I think the improvement in recovery has to do with the greatly reduced glycogen depletion.

By replenishing a % of the it as soon as it’s used, it just never gets down that low.

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Pre Workout energizing is to help forestall hypoglycemia (low glucose), settle your stomach, fuel your working muscles, and avert hunger.

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