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How Soon/How Much To Eat and Drink

skelliherskelliher Posts: 2
edited August 2016 in Road general
Hi all. I'm new to cycling this summer, and have been doing some research on nutrition/hydration during a ride. I've seen the numbers for general rides (i.e. water/grams of carbs per hour on a ride), but was wondering how you'd approach my situation.

I ride first thing in the morning, and usually drink 20oz of water before heading out. I did my longest ride to date this weekend, and went 26 miles in about an hour and thirty-five minutes. Haven't needed to eat/drink during my rides before this, but needed to stop for a banana this time. For what it's worth, temps were in the low 70s, and i'm 5' 11", 160lbs.

How would you approach this? How soon into a ride do you start to eat/drink? Thanks for the help.

Posts

  • imposter2.0imposter2.0 Posts: 11,003
    Take a drink with you and drink whenever you fancy. Food-wise, you shouldn't really need anything within two hours or so, assuming you are eating a regular balanced diet.
  • sheffsimonsheffsimon Posts: 1,282
    skelliher wrote:
    Hi all. I'm new to cycling this summer, and have been doing some research on nutrition/hydration during a ride. I've seen the numbers for general rides (i.e. water/grams of carbs per hour on a ride), but was wondering how you'd approach my situation.

    I ride first thing in the morning, and usually drink 20oz of water before heading out. I did my longest ride to date this weekend, and went 26 miles in about an hour and thirty-five minutes. Haven't needed to eat/drink during my rides before this, but needed to stop for a banana this time. For what it's worth, temps were in the low 70s, and i'm 5' 11", 160lbs.

    How would you approach this? How soon into a ride do you start to eat/drink? Thanks for the help.

    I'd approach it by not researching how many grams of carbs I need and if you're hungry have a banana or a biscuit or whatever.

    Basically, don't overthink it, because at your level and the level of most on here, me included, it's a simple sport or hobby.
  • Shocking advice, 2 hours riding sounds about the right time to stop for a big slice of cake somewhere.
    I'm sorry you don't believe in miracles
  • andcpandcp Posts: 652
    Shocking advice, 2 hours riding sounds about the right time to stop for a big slice of cake somewhere.
    ....not if it's cold, damp and/or wet - then it's got to be scrambled eggs on toast. With brown sauce.
    "It must be true, it's on the internet" - Winston Churchill
  • cougiecougie Posts: 22,512
    Don't over think it.

    There's some rides in winter I'll do where I find myself not touching my bottle. And in summer I may go through three bottles.

    90 mins should be fine without food but you might not be ready for that. Don't over do the food. Little and more often is better than a lot of food at once.
  • twist83twist83 Posts: 761
    Get into the habit of drinking little and often. Best to eat before hungry as well. As if you are hungry its likely a little late.

    But as others have said don't over think it. Also just because it is cold out doesn't mean you are not losing water/dehydrating. So don't forget to drink when cycling in the cold.
  • Websta24Websta24 Posts: 162
    It really depends how long you plan to stay out for and your general level of fitness!

    If your riding early you can get away with around 90mins on an empty stomach as your glycogen stores should have enough to cover you for this period. If you keep within zone 2-3 HR then at this intensity you will also teach your body to burn more fat as fuel...HOWEVER. before i get jumped on, nutrition is a completely individual thing and what will work for some certainly wont for others.

    If your planning a long, reasonably intense ride, look no further than a decent sized bowl of porridge and a strong coffee as a starting point. Then look to fuel as you need. Some people prefer solid fuel such as banana's, flapjacks etc. Some people will use Gel's. Some will mix a bit of both. It really depends on you and your stomach!

    Drinking is one of those things where you should definitely keep swigging as your riding, im a nightmare for remembering to drink when im out and ive been caught out a good few times! I aim to drink my first 750ml bottle within the first 90mins
  • Jerry185Jerry185 Posts: 143
    I'm a relative newcomer to this as well, but my girl nags me to death over nutrition (degree in pharmacology) and she's right; dagnabbit.

    For starters, bananas have a release energy of nearly two hours, so no good on a short ride.

    2 hour rides I'll just take electrolytes. Longer sportives, I'll be into porridge/muesli at least two hours before the ride and sipping water constantly.
    Into the ride, sipping electro every 5 miles and taking bites of energy bar every ten. Peanut butter wrap for a change half way through.
    Emergency gels, in case, for the last 20 miles

    As said above, drink and eat before you feel you need to (by then, its already too late)

    And then a protein shake within 20 minutes of finishing

    Avoid, at all costs, the dreaded bonk. Forget all the pre race heroic, I'll-make-it-somehow, its [expletive] awful.

    I now run hide and take cover from incoming!!!!!
  • drlodgedrlodge Posts: 4,824
    Eat before you get hungry, drink before you get thirsty. Simple as.

    Oh and every ride should have a cake & coffee stop mid way. Its the rules.
    WyndyMilla Massive Attack | Rourke 953 | Condor Italia 531 Pro | Boardman CX Pro | DT Swiss RR440 Tubeless Wheels
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  • dannbodgedannbodge Posts: 927
    Generally I have a bowl of muesli around an hour/two before going out on a ride.
    Around an hour in I will have a gel (Do a fair bit of climbing by then) and my rides are only around 2 hours (30-40miles)

    I take two 750ml bottles with electrolyte in them and just drink as and when I feel like it.

    When I get home I finish whatever drink I have left and try to drink another pint/half pint of squash/water to stop me binge eating.
  • pilot_petepilot_pete Posts: 1,961
    dannbodge wrote:
    Generally I have a bowl of muesli around an hour/two before going out on a ride.
    Around an hour in I will have a gel (Do a fair bit of climbing by then) and my rides are only around 2 hours (30-40miles)

    I take two 750ml bottles with electrolyte in them and just drink as and when I feel like it.

    When I get home I finish whatever drink I have left and try to drink another pint/half pint of squash/water to stop me binge eating.

    Nobody should need a gel for a two hour ride if they have eaten properly before going out, especially if they are only covering 30-40 miles. Just eat your normal next meal when you get home, ideally with a bit of protein in it. Most amateur cyclists will not be burning more than 700cals/hr so you should not be in danger of bonking on a 2hr ride if properly fuelled beforehand. Be careful of over eating - it is very easy to put weight on as a cyclist because you think you can eat for England as you have done a ride! The older you get the worse this becomes. I can do 6hrs+ rides, including hills, burning something like 600cals/hr but have to be careful not to eat too much or else the weight goes on. I don't understand why as that is about 3600cals burnt on the ride, plus normal 2000-2500cals per day just existing which equates to around 6000cals expenditure during the day. No where near that amount consumed (probably closer to 2500-3000cals) but the weight doesn't drop off.

    And as for drinking 1.5ltrs of fluid in 2 hrs and a pint of squash when you get back you must be seriously losing fluid! I sweat like buggery when I ride but couldn't drink that amount or I'd be constantly stopping to pee! I used to drink constantly - around 500ml/hr but just kept stopping to pee, which of course was clear. Just throwing money down the drain quite literally if you drink then stop to pee clear on a bike ride!

    I've heard the pros when racing aim for about 500ml/ hour and they are churning out serious amounts of effort. Each to their own though...

    PP
  • dannbodgedannbodge Posts: 927
    Pilot Pete wrote:
    dannbodge wrote:
    Generally I have a bowl of muesli around an hour/two before going out on a ride.
    Around an hour in I will have a gel (Do a fair bit of climbing by then) and my rides are only around 2 hours (30-40miles)

    I take two 750ml bottles with electrolyte in them and just drink as and when I feel like it.

    When I get home I finish whatever drink I have left and try to drink another pint/half pint of squash/water to stop me binge eating.

    Nobody should need a gel for a two hour ride if they have eaten properly before going out, especially if they are only covering 30-40 miles. Just eat your normal next meal when you get home, ideally with a bit of protein in it. Most amateur cyclists will not be burning more than 700cals/hr so you should not be in danger of bonking on a 2hr ride if properly fuelled beforehand. Be careful of over eating - it is very easy to put weight on as a cyclist because you think you can eat for England as you have done a ride! The older you get the worse this becomes. I can do 6hrs+ rides, including hills, burning something like 600cals/hr but have to be careful not to eat too much or else the weight goes on. I don't understand why as that is about 3600cals burnt on the ride, plus normal 2000-2500cals per day just existing which equates to around 6000cals expenditure during the day. No where near that amount consumed (probably closer to 2500-3000cals) but the weight doesn't drop off.

    And as for drinking 1.5ltrs of fluid in 2 hrs and a pint of squash when you get back you must be seriously losing fluid! I sweat like buggery when I ride but couldn't drink that amount or I'd be constantly stopping to pee! I used to drink constantly - around 500ml/hr but just kept stopping to pee, which of course was clear. Just throwing money down the drain quite literally if you drink then stop to pee clear on a bike ride!

    I've heard the pros when racing aim for about 500ml/ hour and they are churning out serious amounts of effort. Each to their own though...

    PP

    Tbh I've only ever had 1 gel at that point and that was just to see if I liked it (so figured it doesn't hurt).

    I don't always drink the full amount during the rides, it's only since it's been really hot. I also sweat a serious amount when doing exercise (at the gym, in light gym clothes after 1hr I can look like I've just got out the shower).
  • NapoleonDNapoleonD Posts: 18,632
    Drink when thirsty
    You shouldn't need food on a steady 2hr ride, even if you've had no breakfast.
    If going out for longer than 2hrs, and it's a steady ride, start eating at about about 1hr then every 45 to 60 mins or so after that.
    Experiment and find out what works for you. The worst that'll happen is you have to stop for cake.
    Twitter - @NapD
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  • pilot_petepilot_pete Posts: 1,961
    dannbodge wrote:
    I also sweat a serious amount when doing exercise (at the gym, in light gym clothes after 1hr I can look like I've just got out the shower).
    You and me both - even on a winter ride at near freezing I'm still the only one with a sweat on with only a base layer and summer cycling jersey on! :mrgreen:

    PP
  • Alex99Alex99 Posts: 1,436
    skelliher wrote:
    Hi all. I'm new to cycling this summer, and have been doing some research on nutrition/hydration during a ride. I've seen the numbers for general rides (i.e. water/grams of carbs per hour on a ride), but was wondering how you'd approach my situation.

    I ride first thing in the morning, and usually drink 20oz of water before heading out. I did my longest ride to date this weekend, and went 26 miles in about an hour and thirty-five minutes. Haven't needed to eat/drink during my rides before this, but needed to stop for a banana this time. For what it's worth, temps were in the low 70s, and i'm 5' 11", 160lbs.

    How would you approach this? How soon into a ride do you start to eat/drink? Thanks for the help.

    Are you only having the water before going out? No food? If I did that I'd be struggling and would be looking to eat something during the ride to not be really empty by the end. If I'm going to ride hard for two hours, I'll take an energy drink even if I have eaten well earlier in the day.

    It will vary from person to person, to a degree, but it is possible to burn through a lot of calories in two hours on a bike, obviously dependent on how much power you can churn out.
  • Jez monJez mon Posts: 3,809
    Pilot Pete wrote:
    dannbodge wrote:
    Generally I have a bowl of muesli around an hour/two before going out on a ride.
    Around an hour in I will have a gel (Do a fair bit of climbing by then) and my rides are only around 2 hours (30-40miles)

    I take two 750ml bottles with electrolyte in them and just drink as and when I feel like it.

    When I get home I finish whatever drink I have left and try to drink another pint/half pint of squash/water to stop me binge eating.

    Nobody should need a gel for a two hour ride if they have eaten properly before going out, especially if they are only covering 30-40 miles. Just eat your normal next meal when you get home, ideally with a bit of protein in it. Most amateur cyclists will not be burning more than 700cals/hr so you should not be in danger of bonking on a 2hr ride if properly fuelled beforehand. Be careful of over eating - it is very easy to put weight on as a cyclist because you think you can eat for England as you have done a ride! The older you get the worse this becomes. I can do 6hrs+ rides, including hills, burning something like 600cals/hr but have to be careful not to eat too much or else the weight goes on. I don't understand why as that is about 3600cals burnt on the ride, plus normal 2000-2500cals per day just existing which equates to around 6000cals expenditure during the day. No where near that amount consumed (probably closer to 2500-3000cals) but the weight doesn't drop off.

    And as for drinking 1.5ltrs of fluid in 2 hrs and a pint of squash when you get back you must be seriously losing fluid! I sweat like buggery when I ride but couldn't drink that amount or I'd be constantly stopping to pee! I used to drink constantly - around 500ml/hr but just kept stopping to pee, which of course was clear. Just throwing money down the drain quite literally if you drink then stop to pee clear on a bike ride!

    I've heard the pros when racing aim for about 500ml/ hour and they are churning out serious amounts of effort. Each to their own though...

    PP

    As far as I know, the 600 cals/hr includes that which is burnt in the "background" so to speak, so you'd be wrong to just add it onto the 2000 cals you generally burn in a day.

    I found when I was starting riding longer distances again (as a 26 yo who raced as a junior, but has been relatively inactive for a few years) I (felt like I) needed to eat lots all the time when riding, 3 gels for 50 miles, whereas I used to only eat half an energy bar on 60+ mile club runs...
    You live and learn. At any rate, you live
  • twist83twist83 Posts: 761
    Quite interesting that first point. The thinking was drink to stop feeling thirsty. However I see a lot of studies that say use Thirst as a gauge to drink now to avoid over drinking.

    I just tend to sip often and little.

    Stopping for cake being a bad thing? Never ;)
    NapoleonD wrote:
    Drink when thirsty
    You shouldn't need food on a steady 2hr ride, even if you've had no breakfast.
    If going out for longer than 2hrs, and it's a steady ride, start eating at about about 1hr then every 45 to 60 mins or so after that.
    Experiment and find out what works for you. The worst that'll happen is you have to stop for cake.
  • Alex99Alex99 Posts: 1,436
    Pilot Pete wrote:
    dannbodge wrote:
    Generally I have a bowl of muesli around an hour/two before going out on a ride.
    Around an hour in I will have a gel (Do a fair bit of climbing by then) and my rides are only around 2 hours (30-40miles)

    I take two 750ml bottles with electrolyte in them and just drink as and when I feel like it.

    When I get home I finish whatever drink I have left and try to drink another pint/half pint of squash/water to stop me binge eating.

    Nobody should need a gel for a two hour ride if they have eaten properly before going out, especially if they are only covering 30-40 miles. Just eat your normal next meal when you get home, ideally with a bit of protein in it. Most amateur cyclists will not be burning more than 700cals/hr so you should not be in danger of bonking on a 2hr ride if properly fuelled beforehand. Be careful of over eating - it is very easy to put weight on as a cyclist because you think you can eat for England as you have done a ride! The older you get the worse this becomes. I can do 6hrs+ rides, including hills, burning something like 600cals/hr but have to be careful not to eat too much or else the weight goes on. I don't understand why as that is about 3600cals burnt on the ride, plus normal 2000-2500cals per day just existing which equates to around 6000cals expenditure during the day. No where near that amount consumed (probably closer to 2500-3000cals) but the weight doesn't drop off.

    And as for drinking 1.5ltrs of fluid in 2 hrs and a pint of squash when you get back you must be seriously losing fluid! I sweat like buggery when I ride but couldn't drink that amount or I'd be constantly stopping to pee! I used to drink constantly - around 500ml/hr but just kept stopping to pee, which of course was clear. Just throwing money down the drain quite literally if you drink then stop to pee clear on a bike ride!

    I've heard the pros when racing aim for about 500ml/ hour and they are churning out serious amounts of effort. Each to their own though...

    PP

    You have to plan pretty carefully if you mean to eat 6000 kacal in a day. It's a lot of food. In practice for most of us, I guess that never really happens, it all get averaged out over several days, which is time scale where the calorie balance thing needs to happen too.

    But, to the OP, if you're going to do 1.5 hours exercise, you do need to put some fuel into the engine. Whether you do that before or during is up to you. Makes more sense to do it a couple of hours before. If you're riding hard for that 1.5 hours, or building to longer rides, put a some more fuel in during the ride if you want to.
  • Nutrition and hydration are in a state of flux at present. The historic view was that you had to drink before you were thirsty and that you should drink 8 pints of water a day and that coffee did not count. that has really been shown to be a myth and there is now increasing evidence that some of the marathon running collapses are due to over hydration rather than under hydration. Hence the change in advice to drink when thirsty. Your kidneys are extremely efficient at retaining both water and salt as you start to sweat so strongly concentrated urine is not bad, it is a sign that your kidneys are working well. If you are doing the Sahara multi day marathon then the rules are slightly different but in general in the UK, drink when thirsty and let your urine become somewhat darker and you will be fine.

    There is a lot written about nutrition by the manufacturers of sports gels or their sponsored sports scientist. If you are riding 200km in 5 hours with several category 1 climbs and you are going to do that for 21 days continuously then obviously you need to maintain an adequate energy intake. If you are riding for 2 hours at amateur speeds (20-30km/hr) then you will almost certainly have more than enough glycogen/fat in your body. You might bonk once or twice in the early months or when you extend the distance as your body responds and learns to mobilise fat stores appropriately. You do not NEED food in a 2 hour ride. if you feel better with a gel at an hour and it makes you feel like Chris Froome then that is fine.

    If you are working in the top end of your HR Zone for very long periods then you are probably using a lot of glycogen and may benefit from a gel but again with increasing fitness the body will increase glycogen stores slightly and will learn to burn fat more efficiently. Also in the high intensity training zones some extra protein in the first 30 minutes after getting off the bike may be beneficial but as muscle repair is a long term, 24 hour plus process, I suspect that it makes little difference and normal eating is almost certainly OK. The protein in the first 30 minutes after intense exercise I suspect is turned directly into glycogen rather than being used for muscle repair.

    In conclusion, you are perfectly safe to eat and drink nothing on a 2 hour+ amateur level ride. If you want to eat and drink then do so. Water is the wrong thing to drink as it will rapidly lead to hyponatraemia which can be dangerous. Most sports drinks are a waste of time and do not have enough salt in them. Electrolyte tablets or a teaspoon of salt are cheaper and probably better.
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