How to Fuel on the Bike

Staying hydrated and fueled properly while on the bike takes time, practice and thought. It can all be a little intimidating and daunting but trust us, we can help you out!

Cycling Nutrition

Here are a couple of rules of thumb to keep in mind: 

  • If your ride is longer than 60-90 minutes (depending on your level of fitness), you need to have nutrition with you to help restore your glycogen reserves (this is where carbohydrates come in)
  • Always carry water with you no matter what distance!
  • Your calorie intake will be dependent on intensity, weather, altitude, duration, and among others your body

Lets break it down into bite size chunks.

Under 90 minutes of activity, we recommend the following: 

  • Water with a lighter electrolyte replacement like Nuun, Skratch Labs or Osmo Nutrition. Nuun replaces electrolytes you lose in your sweat but provide no calories or carbohydrates. Skratch Labs and Osmo Nutrition have around 80 calories per serving in the form of different carbohydrates: glucose and sucrose. Glucose and sucrose are quick absorbing carbohydrates, meaning they enter your blood stream faster and therefore provide energy faster.
  • A gel from Clif Shot or Gu Energy about 15-20 minutes before your ride or a waffle from Honey Stinger. These provide 100-140 calories before your ride and can help stave of any hunger pains during your ride. Image-300x199

90 minutes or more of cycling, we recommend the following: 

  • Mix 20 oz of water with a stronger electrolyte and carbohydrate replacement such as First Endurance‘s EFS or PacificHealth Labs Accelerade. Both provide more calories in the form of carbohydrates as well as amino acids. Accelerade takes things a step further and provides 5 grams of protein per serving. Although our body burns fat and carbohydrates as fuel, the last source of fuel comes from protein and can occur when the body is pushed for longer durations
  • Consume 200-300 calories (again, depending on the factors stated above) per hour of cycling. With regards to hydration, a good rule of thumb is to consume a bottle of hydration mix and water per hour. So if you are cycling for three hours, you need to have with you or obtain at least three bottles during your ride.
  • Other sources of carbohydrates can come from a variety of nutrition options such as Honey Stinger Chews, Clif Bloks, Gu Gels, Sport Beans and EFS Liquid Shot.
  • If you are looking to consume something more solid, then look to Bonk Breaker bars (220 calories per bar), Picky Bars (200 calories) and Honey Stinger Waffles (160 calories).
  • Traditional food is also a good choice. A baked potato wrapped in tinfoil has been known to be wonderful during a ride as well as peanut butter or almond butter with jelly on bread.
  • If you have a gluten intolerance, skip the bread and try PocketFuel Naturals which are portable nut butters with amazing flavor combinations like banana and blueberries and chia and goji berries.

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Clearly, there is a myriad of choices when it comes to fueling your body to perform. What works for one person, may not work for another.

Simple steps to nail your nutrition:

1. Try your nutrition in different combinations and in different scenarios!

2. Write down exactly what you ate and drank and when. Both before and during your ride. Note when you felt sluggish and how often you ate/drank.

3. If you have trouble remembering to get your calories in, set your watch to go off every 15 or 20 minutes to remind you to take a pull from your bottle or eat a part of a bar or gel.

4. Don’t try anything new on race day! This is why it is important to practice your nutrition ahead of time and nail it prior to the race. The difference between a great or good race and a bad race can come down to your nutrition.

We hope this makes things a little easier next time you go out for a ride. Again, remember to stay hydrated, especially in more humid conditions and to test your nutrition plan during your training.

Other Resources:

How many calories should I consume per hour from First Endurance

How much fuel do you need during long rides from Active.com

The Science behind Osmo Nutrition

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One response to “How to Fuel on the Bike

  1. Pingback: Honey Stinger @ 123Mountain.com | Official blog of 123Mountain·

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