My long ride nutrition strategy sucks

burnthesheep
burnthesheep Posts: 675
People debate how far to ride before considering a real food strategy.

Last night was the first metric century of the year, and it blew. It wasn't a lot of elevation to speak of, Strava said it was like 2800 ft. I was faster than the last two metrics I did in Nov/Dec last year even though the elevation was more.

But....I left the house around 5PM. I ate a small amount of leftovers, snack amount, before leaving. Filled and drank plenty of water along the way.

At mile 42 I ate some kind of snack bar. All it did was make me feel ill 20 minutes later.

A metric century isn't supposed to be easy, especially for someone riding just a year. But.....I think I've failed myself on the food/nutrition front.

I suppose I should have eaten a more substantial amount around 3PM or so and a snack around mile 25 to 30.

This was also done with only breaks to stand at a stop light to wait to cross or walk over to refill a bottle with water.

Comments

  • imafatman
    imafatman Posts: 351
    Personally I don't get along with solid food during rides. I get indigestion and the energy takes too long to get to me. So stuff like clif bars and the like just don't work.

    Trying carb drink mix alongside SIS gels has been a revolution for me and 100km is a simple affair now, energy is not so much a barrier as general fatigue and comfort on the bike. (Only so long until my elbows and arms start aching)

    Last weekend I did a medium tempo 120km and felt good all the way at 25/kmh average.

    Carbed up the night before.
    Bowl of porridge in the morning, about 90 minutes before setting out.
    Two 500ml water bottles with SIS Electrolyte (36gram carbs per bottle)
    2L of water in the camel back.
    4x SIS Energy Gels (36g carb each)

    Sipping at the carb drink and slurping down a gel keeps my stomach feeling great and my energy levels high. I would definitely need to up the number of gels if I wanted to go faster but I'm aiming to burn more fat at the moment so eating as few carbs as possible.

    Also the final point is; i learned how to pace myself. It's easy to use up your energy early on and fuck up the rest of your ride.
  • burnthesheep
    burnthesheep Posts: 675
    Last night was 85 deg F and high humidity also. That did not help. Literally only straight water and a small junk bar at 40 miles.

    I'm going to try homemade drink with a little salt and some malto since it doesn't flavor and maybe take a few gels, like you suggest. Perhaps a banana next time instead.

    This ride had pretty much 75-80% of the elevation in the very first 20 miles also. I did mess up on pace some because I was trying to get to mile 40 before daylight was lost. Miles 25 to 35 are on bike trail on a rougher side of town.

    This was done at about 15.5 mph average. Moving time and total time was only 12 minutes different, so zero stops except to refill water or for stoplights.

    I have a 100 mi ride at the end of the month. It is a group ride just to finish, no focus on pace. They will also be stopping 2 or 3 times for probably at least 20 minutes. Not sure that will help or hurt.
  • buckmulligan
    buckmulligan Posts: 1,031
    From your initial post it doesn't sound as though you have a nutrition strategy!

    At 15.5 mph, a metric century is going to take you around 4 hours, right? And starting at 5pm, you're starting at a time when you're probably running low on energy as it is, being a good few hours since lunch, right? And yet you eat 1 energy bar and expect to blast round? It's no surprise that you didn't feel great!

    A lot depends on your fitness and goals but my advice would be to start by having something decent to eat beforehand and eat more frequently during the ride. On long rides you should be aiming to eat something small (e.g. a banana, cereal bar) every 20 mins or so, 30 mins max. That sounds like a lot to some people and if you're trying to lose weight you can trim it back a bit towards the end of the ride, but the reality is that even at a moderate effort, that's still a huge calorie deficit.
  • slowbike
    slowbike Posts: 8,498
    Everyone is different ... even over time things change for an individual.

    Couple of years ago I'd go out and do the metric century - or close cos I wasn't actually counting - on nothing more than a good breakfast and one 750ml bottle of electrolyte (probably with caffine) - I'd carry a bar/gel with me just in case though.
    These days, I'd need a second bottle and some food - I quite like fig rolls as they're not too sweet.

    I've done 100 on fig rolls and 2 bottles of energy drink - but I'd run out of drink before the end and desparately wanted water/savoury ... that was RL100 - only a couple of stops and that wasn't for food/drink.... not intake anyway!

    100 mile ride with focus on finish should be nice - although last time I did that I found myself getting fustrated that my cycling companion was finding it tough up the few climbs so I was having to wait .. I do prefer to push on ... anyway - the stops will allow you to stretch a bit and hopefully avoid the cramp ..

    My advice - don't ride on pure water - especially if you're sweating - you need to replace the electrolyte somehow - drink is the obvious solution for me - Berry, tube of 20 - £3.48 ... that's 20 bottles of juice - 10 good rides ...
  • imafatman
    imafatman Posts: 351
    You didn't eat until 40 miles? No wonder you struggled.... Everyone is different to some degree but I believe 40 miles is going to burn away most of your glycogen stores and despite eating a bar your body won't be able to process it fast enough so there is little chance of recovering at that point.

    I often do fasted rides and can do around 30 miles but I'm pretty much exhausted by the end. If I want to do more than 30 miles then I'm starting to sip my energy drink around 10 miles, a gel around 15 miles. Really need to fuel before your body needs it because it can only absorb a certain amount of energy per hour. If you leave it too late you are done.
  • burnthesheep
    burnthesheep Posts: 675
    Thanks!

    Makes me feel dumb after the fact, but you're correct. It was a poor move on my part yesterday.

    Next week is another with a little more miles to build up to the end of the month. I dedicate to try to eat more properly before hand and try to improve during the ride drink/food combo.

    I think next week I'll do this:
    -really early lunch at 11
    -eat at 3:30 at my desk
    -leave at 5
    -one bottle water, other bottle some kind of drink mix to replenish things
    -take a banana and a few rice cakes with me and set a reminder on the phone for every hour

    It's hard to load-up like you would for departing in the morning since you normally do that at dinner the night before. I wonder if that means breakfast would need to be more exceptional for leaving at 5PM.
  • trekvet
    trekvet Posts: 223
    I go pretty much by this lot (buy from Wiggle), and I don't have any problems https://highfive.co.uk/high5-faster-and-further/
    The Wife complained for months about the empty pot of bike oil on the hall stand; so I replaced it with a full one.
  • applemac
    applemac Posts: 55
    Ask a 100 people what they do and you will get 100 different answers. Everyone is different and it takes time to find what works best for you. Carbs/protein/fats/minerals all play a part on the bike but also your basis diet is important. Some people will be able to ride 100 mile on practically nothing while others will need to eat food at regular intervals.

    There are plenty of good articles and reports on fuelling strategy but little and often is often thought to work well. It's better to over than under fuel and if you plan to ride again in the following days than it even more important to eat well.

    It's not difficult to work out how much energy you need on rides so have a look at some of your historic data then look at how much bars/drinks/gels provide. You could set your bike computer or phone so that every 20/30 minutes it will alert you to eat and drink as is is very easy to forget.

    Buying 'sport' fuel can be expensive so you can always supplement them with some home made food. Rice cakes, the staple fuel for many Pro's' & are very easy and cheap to make and also light on the stomach.

    In the end try different things and see what works best but also don't forget to enjoy the ride...
  • diy
    diy Posts: 6,473
    I tend to just nibble flapjacks and run on energy powder in my drink. Generally I find its the caffeine/sugar in the drinks that makes your stomach feel bad along with the whole runners belly effect that you also get.
  • webboo
    webboo Posts: 6,087
    imafatman wrote:
    You didn't eat until 40 miles? No wonder you struggled.... Everyone is different to some degree but I believe 40 miles is going to burn away most of your glycogen stores and despite eating a bar your body won't be able to process it fast enough so there is little chance of recovering at that point.

    I often do fasted rides and can do around 30 miles but I'm pretty much exhausted by the end. If I want to do more than 30 miles then I'm starting to sip my energy drink around 10 miles, a gel around 15 miles. Really need to fuel before your body needs it because it can only absorb a certain amount of energy per hour. If you leave it too late you are done.
    Your liver can store 2,500 cals in the form of glycogen so you would be having to be giving it some or be very unfit to use it all in 40 miles
  • sungod
    sungod Posts: 16,751
    unless you're going at a low enough effort to run off fat reserves (assuming you have plenty), you have the above mentioned c. 2500 kcal to start with

    that's assuming you've been keeping it topped up over the day before the ride of course, if not then, well, there's less

    once you start riding, you are running on what you have stored, plus what you can take in as you go - but you can't take it in as fast as you can expend it...

    depending on content, typical human carb intake will be c. 60-90g/hr, c. 240-360 kcal (higher figure is for an optimum mix of carbs, best to assume the lower figure in general)

    for a recent easy paced 100km with 1km altitude gain my stats show c. 600kcal/hr (data from srm), if i'm pushing hard i go over 1000 kcal/hr

    there's nothing special about those figures, the point is that as effort increases they tell me i can't take in food anything like fast enough to replace what i expend, so i know i need to start with full reserves and top up as i go

    you'll be in the same boat, make sure you start with reserves, plan to use your 60g/hr intake opportunity through the ride
    my bike - faster than god's and twice as shiny
  • imafatman
    imafatman Posts: 351
    Webboo wrote:
    Your liver can store 2,500 cals in the form of glycogen so you would be having to be giving it some or be very unfit to use it all in 40 miles

    Wow that's a lot of Cal's in the liver I wasnt aware.

    I don't eat a huge deal of carbs as I'm trying to lose weight but my calories burned per hour according to my power meter is 900 ish so that doesn't seem far off for me. Big feller like me has a lot of air to push out the way lol.

    I guess for those much fitter will be far more efficient.
  • meanredspider
    meanredspider Posts: 12,337
    Webboo wrote:
    Your liver can store 2,500 cals in the form of glycogen so you would be having to be giving it some or be very unfit to use it all in 40 miles

    I don't think that this is accurate. Most references I've seen suggest that the number you quote is nearer the entire glycogen storage of the body for example

    32se_Main.jpg

    The problem with glycogen and body sugars is that it's the source of energy for the brain so, if you deplete it, your thinking suffers (part of the bonk).

    I'd agree that you should be able to ride 40 miles without running out. It depends a bit how much fat you burn alongside the glycogen and how full your glycogen store are - they typically take 24 hours to fully restore.
    ROAD < Scott Foil HMX Di2, Volagi Liscio Di2, Jamis Renegade Elite Di2, Cube Reaction Race > ROUGH
  • LimitedGarry
    LimitedGarry Posts: 400
    Different people will have different results, but here's my bit:

    Starting a ride that late is often going to introduce extra difficulties, as you'r already going to be nearing on being tired.
    When I'm going out that late after work, I personally try to cram the whole trip into less than 50km. Preferably even under 30. Set the destination to a decent climb, use the trip there as a warmup, climb up, rest a bit and then haul ass back home. Keep the trip short but relatively intensive. Again, just what I like to do, preferences will differ.
    An aspect in this is that after spending the better part of the day at work, I rarely feel like venturing out too far. If I feel like riding more, I just do any number of my short loops in close proximity to my home.

    Thing is, I ALWAYS have some fast energy snack before actually getting on the bike at this time. Bunch of fruits, or a smoothie I made in the morning (if there's any left). Anything that doesn't take too long to digest. And that's assuming I ate properly during the day.

    During spring and summer, I bring isotonic drinks on the bike on every ride, even if I'm not planing on riding for more than 60 minutes. They really help with hydration and sometimes drinking just plain water can make you feel even worse, if the weather is especially demanding.

    As for actual eating during rides, I like to eat plenty before an actual ride and then live on snacks for the rest of the day. May favourite is a self made mix of seeds, nuts, dried fruits and sweets. Seeds and nuts help with the hunger and on longer rides, I often get cravings for something sweet, so a bunch of skittles or M&M's really hit the spot :)
  • buckles
    buckles Posts: 694
    Webboo wrote:
    Your liver can store 2,500 cals in the form of glycogen so you would be having to be giving it some or be very unfit to use it all in 40 miles
    Nope.

    The majority of glycogen used whilst cycling is stored in the muscles.
    25% off your first MyProtein order: sign up via https://www.myprotein.com/referrals.lis ... EE-R29Y&li or use my referral code LEE-R29Y
  • burnthesheep
    burnthesheep Posts: 675
    Well, found the formula for myself. Blew up a metric century last week like crap. No real food and just water. Not enough planning day of riding it before the evening ride.

    This week, victory is mine. I ate a big rice/chicken/cheese lunch, had a few gatorades in the afternoon and a snack, a simple sandwich before departing.

    During the ride I had a bottle with just water and electrolyte tablet. The other was a big 24oz bottle with gatorade. I alternated drinking between the two the whole time while topping up if necessary.

    I ate a banana after 1 hr, 1 pop tart after each of the next two hours, then the last hour just topped up more water at home and at a clementine orange.

    That 66 mi felt easier than even some 40 mi rides I've done before. It was also more elevation and a tiny bit quicker pace. Even though, I intentionally made myself not burn any matches or pay attention to any segments. I backed off the output in the first hour or so quite a bit.

    Worked. Now we're ready for that group ride next weekend.
  • mugensi
    mugensi Posts: 559
    Thanks!

    Makes me feel dumb after the fact, but you're correct. It was a poor move on my part yesterday.

    Next week is another with a little more miles to build up to the end of the month. I dedicate to try to eat more properly before hand and try to improve during the ride drink/food combo.

    I think next week I'll do this:
    -really early lunch at 11
    -eat at 3:30 at my desk
    -leave at 5
    -one bottle water, other bottle some kind of drink mix to replenish things
    -take a banana and a few rice cakes with me and set a reminder on the phone for every hour

    It's hard to load-up like you would for departing in the morning since you normally do that at dinner the night before. I wonder if that means breakfast would need to be more exceptional for leaving at 5PM.


    Rice cakes are pretty much useless, they're low in fat and calories and will give you virtually zero energy boost. Don't waste your time with them. A flap jack or a few digestive biscuits would be more suitable for your needs.

    For anything over 100km I always take 2 bananas and a chocolate bar like a twix or double decker. I'll also carry at least 3 gels and a 750cl bottle of electrolyte/caffeine mix and stop somewhere along the way and refill that bottle with water and drop an electrolyte tab into it for the way home.
  • burnthesheep
    burnthesheep Posts: 675
    I didn't do rice cakes.

    Toaster pastry worked for me. Comes in a nice little foil pack, carbs and sugar rich. Nice flavor. Easy to eat.

    The banana was choice also. I may take two of those next time. I didn't ever feel low on energy this time, but the belly was little bit empty at times. Another voluminous banana would have made it perfect.

    Makes me glad to have had something work out well.

    Now, I'm wondering if I should also be fueling better for some interval sessions on the trainer or training rides where I put the hammer down for less time.
  • smmjrr
    smmjrr Posts: 45
    Hi cycling just over 1 year and 53 years old, never been more than 66 miles on bike, did a bit of training a couple rides a week from end March and did 108 miles on the Saturday and 90 Sunday in middle of May , I asked a few decent cyclists for advice, and fuel up was the one they all said as above eat as much as you can, at least it worked for me, we stopped twice ate loads on both stops (jaffa cakes, nuts, Chocolate and bars at first stop add Sandwich and Flapjacks at second stop)and after 108 my legs felt great, they have felt worse after 30 or 40 mile rides with 2 or 3 gels only, also took gel every 30 minutes and on last couple of hours took 3 Jelly Babies every 30 minutes also had high 5 energy source drink

    As above I think I need more on food on the 30 -40 mile runs when trying to increase pace, as honestly could not believe how good my legs were even on day two, never hit the wall or had nay issues, was pretty tired next day
  • step83
    step83 Posts: 4,170
    Im by no means an expert but from my experience the key is preperation, you need to think about what your eating and drinking the day before.
    So slow burn carbs help keep the Glycogen stores topped up ready for the ride.

    Hydration, necking a litre of water an hour before the ride wont do much bar make you feel ill and need to toilet, get into the habit of drinking a decent amount every day an being hydrated before a ride isn't an issue, dehydration on a ride will sap your energy no end.
    Could go into the science of osmosis, its very dull but id you read It, you can see the science on why chugging water is bad.

    Pacing and knowing your route help as well so you know where to save energy for a climb and riding smart so not stomping along in a big gear burning a load of energy when you can attain the same speed in a lower gear an spin out using less energy.

    Ive always been terrible for remembering to drink on a ride, so I set a timer reminder on the garmin to bleep every ten minutes to remind to take a swig, was taught by a friend a couple of simple "are you dehydrated" tips. No idea if they are true but they seem to work for me.
    First being if you think you need a drink, your already dehydrated
    Second, look up at the clouds in all directions, are they all moving away? If so your dehydrated.

    Food wise were like cars, all different efficiencies and run better on different fuels, so all about trial an error.
    Some people swear by fig rolls or jam sandwiches, others will run on just a bag of sugar. You know your stomach an what works.
    If you try one brand of sports drink an it doesn't work, try another for example High5 does not agree with me where SiS and Torq do.

    Lastly, caffine It can be a life saver but you have to know where to use it, general consensus is toward the end of the ride where your energy levels are always going to be lower so the metabolic boost from caffine is going to be of more use, at the start its just going to leave you snookered at the end of a ride. as youll have burnt more energy initially leaving a deficit at the end of the ride.