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The food you need to keep your energy high all day long

If you have a big ride coming up that’s going to take several hours – maybe a sportive, an Audax or a personal challenge – you’re going to need some sort of nutritional strategy to keep your performance up right to the end. Put bluntly, you need to get some food and drink down your neck, so what should you choose?

One thing to say up front is that one size does not fit all when it comes to nutrition and hydration. Just because your mate is one of those freaks who rides all day on a bottle of water and half a dozen jelly babies, that doesn’t mean you should try to do the same. Plus, food on which you thrive might make your friend gag or feel uncomfortable in the saddle.

We’re all different, so take the advice we offer here as a guideline. You need to fine-tune things and work out exactly what works for you on training rides before the big day itself.

The days leading up to your ride

What you eat prior to your ride is crucial. Some people like to boast that they've stormed it the morning after a few pints and a kebab; fine, but that’s not the way to give yourself the best chance of doing well.

Advice that performance nutritionist Annie Simpson gave us about what to eat in the days leading up to a time trials holds true for longer rides too. 

“Make sure you are eating healthily and consistently throughout the day, getting a portion of carbohydrate and protein with every meal,” she said. “There should be no need to increase what you eat leading into the event as your natural tapering (reducing your training) will allow your muscles to store the energy from carbohydrate.”

Food - 1 (1).jpg

Food - 1 (1).jpg

You need to drink plenty too. 

“Dehydration is not something you can reverse in a couple of hours,” said Annie. “In fact, it can take several days to fully rehydrate. Taking regular sips of water, sugar-free squash or sports hydro tabs is advised in the days leading up to the [event]. As a rule, we advise you always to try and stay just ahead of feeling thirsty.”

The morning of your ride

An ideal breakfast before you get on the bike is something like porridge made with milk. This provides you with slow-release carbohydrates that will give you a sustained supply of fuel during your big ride, along with some protein. Bagels and eggs is another good option.

Porridge

By Dorri (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

You might see advice that says you should have breakfast three hours before a long ride, but what if you’re starting your ride at 7am? Okay, set your alarm super-early if you’re racing and you want to make sure you perform at your absolute peak, but otherwise just try to eat as soon as possible when you get up. Maybe have a little snack and a drink waiting by the side of your bed for you to grab when you wake.

Food - 2 (1).jpg

Food - 2 (1).jpg

Eating during your ride

Eat and drink a little and often right from the start of your big ride. Don’t wait until you get hungry or thirsty or you’ll be playing catch up… and you might never actually catch up.

Marrakech Atlas Etape Rob Kitchen 14

Marrakech Atlas Etape Rob Kitchen 14

So what does ‘little and often’ actually mean? It’ll vary according to the individual and the intensity at which you’re riding, but aim for around 30-60g of carbohydrate per hour – and it is all about carbs when you’re on the bike. Some people advise 0.5-1g of carbohydrates per kilogram of bodyweight per hour. Any more than that and your body won't be able to process it. 

You might be able to handle quite a lot of carbs without trouble, or you might get gastrointestinal distress by having too much – you can definitely overdo it – so, as usual, check out what’s right for you in training.

Space your eating and drinking out, taking something on board every 15mins or so.

This is all getting a bit theoretical; what does 60g of carbohydrate look like?

Apricots - 1.jpg

Apricots - 1.jpg

It’s this many dried apricots…

Dried fruit - 1.jpg

Dried fruit - 1.jpg

…this much dried fruit…

Malt loaf - 1.jpg

Malt loaf - 1.jpg

…and this much malt loaf (the sliced bit, obvs!).

There are also a zillion energy products out there that have their nutritional content printed on the back, so if you want to go down that route it’s easy to consume the right amount. 

Campagnolo 2016 food - 1.jpg

Campagnolo 2016 food - 1.jpg

There are certainly people out there who don't follow the carbohydrate advice. If you swear that you like to ride all day fuelled only by pork pies, who are we to argue? It's just, you know, that's not what we'd suggest as your start point.
Marrakech Atlas Etape Rob Kitchen 11

Marrakech Atlas Etape Rob Kitchen 11

If you’re comfortable eating on the bike you can just grab something out of your pocket regularly, but you’ll probably still need to stop at a food station sooner or later. 

If you want to be efficient on a sportive, your best bet when you get to a feed station might be to refill your bottles, grab a few bits and pieces – maybe an apple and a slice of fruit cake – stick them in your pockets and get moving again, then do the same at the next stop. That makes more sense than riding until you’re absolutely hanging and then stopping for a blowout.

Energy gels are another option. They're a lightweight source of concentrated energy and many people swear by them for longer rides. Other people just can't stomach them, so make sure you do a trial run ahead of time.

Marrakech Atlas Etape Rob Kitchen 09

Marrakech Atlas Etape Rob Kitchen 09

Of course, if making the most of the feed stations is all part of the event for you, that’s a different matter. It’s up to you, of course, but remember the 60g per hour thing and bear in mind that necking half a chocolate gateau isn’t going to get you to the finish line any sooner.

Drinking during your ride

Of course, you don’t have to eat all of the carbs you need, you can get them via drink which also has the benefit of keeping you hydrated too (see below), of course.

Getting 60g of carbs per hour is easy if you go for a commercially available sports drink. That's the amount in 750ml of OTE’s Orange Energy Drink, for example. 

You can make your own energy drink by mixing 500ml of apple juice with 500ml of water and adding half a teaspoon of table salt. Make something you like for the first part of your ride and you’ll be far more likely to drink enough.

During longer events you’ll need to drink regularly and probably want to get some food in your stomach from time to time. Our advice would be not to have anything that you haven’t tested out during training. Some people get an upset stomach with certain energy drinks, for example, and others spin out on too many caffeine gels. Fifty miles into a sportive is a bad time to find out that you’re one of them.

You also need to drink enough to stay properly hydrated. We all sweat at different rates, and the intensity at which you ride along with the weather on the day will have a huge effect here so, as ever, find out what works for you in training (sorry to keep going on about it but it’s really important!). As a start point, though, aim to drink about a 500ml to 750ml even in cooler conditions and go from there. On hot days you might need much more than that.

Food - 5 (1).jpg

Food - 5 (1).jpg

What should you drink on a big ride? The mainstream answer is that you should go for a sports drink on anything more than an hour or two because most offer the right amount of carbs with enough electrolytes to replace those you sweat out. That’s the safe option to make sure you don’t hit the skids.

The alternative answer is that a lot of people aren’t into chugging loads of sugary drinks all day long. Some riders are happy drinking water, even on longer rides, and getting energy from food alone. We know the sports science arguments against doing this, so shoot us down in flames and tell us we’re the spawn of the Devil if you like, but some people get along just fine like this.

One thing to bear in mind here is something called hyponatremia, which is what you get if you drink so much plain water before and during an event that you reduce the sodium level in your blood to a dangerous level. It’s not a massive possibility but it can happen. You can avoid it by adding electrolyte tabs to your water, which is what our man Dave Atkinson does on his long Audax rides because he finds energy drinks too sweet. The tabs are small and don’t weigh a lot, so you can carry a bunch in your jersey pocket. Bonus!

Oh, one last thing: keep your nutrition strategy going right to the end of your ride. Say you’re doing a 100-miler. It’s easy to get to 80 miles, say, and think you’re pretty much home and hosed. 20 miles left? Pah! That’s nothing… so you stop eating and drinking. Then at 95 miles you find yourself crawling into the George and Dragon and asking for a pint of Coke and a Snickers. 

After your ride

So you’ve made it to the end of your ride. Congratulations! Some events will have food and drink waiting for you at the finish line and, fair enough, you’re likely to pitch into whatever you can lay your hands on. That’s fine, you deserve it.

If you want to recover as efficiently as possible, though, you should think about getting the right mix of carbs and protein down in order to restore your depleted energy reserves and help your body’s repair processes. 

Campagnolo 2016 food - 5.jpg

Campagnolo 2016 food - 5.jpg

If you want to get technical about it, you’re looking for a 3:1 or 4:1 ratio of carbohydrates to protein. What does that mean in real terms? You can, of course, buy specific recovery drinks/foods that’ll give you the right mix, but chocolate milk is a decent alternative. Tuna or chicken sandwiches are good too, as is a banana and a pint of milk. 

Chocolate milk - 1.jpg

Chocolate milk - 1.jpg

You really want to have a proper meal within two or three hours, and make sure you drink plenty in order to restore your level of hydration.

Carb-packed foods for carrying with you

• Malt loaf                 60g carbs per 100g        
• Fig rolls                   66.3g carbs per 100g    
• Jelly babies           78g carbs per 100g    
• Marzipan                50g carbs per 100g
• Dried apricots      63g carbs per 100g
• Trail mix                  45g carbs per 100g

Jelly babies - 1.jpg

Jelly babies - 1.jpg

You don't have to follow the rules all the time. It turns out that a favourite emergency cycling snack for the road.cc team is the humble Snickers bar (48g), containing 26g of carbs and available from every filling station/corner shop in the land. Yes, there's a lot of fat in there too – we're not saying it's ideal sports nutrition by any stretch of the imagination – but it might get you out of a hole. 

Fuelling a 100-mile ride

How should you plan a nutritional strategy for a 100-mile ride?

First, work out how long you’re likely to be riding. If you think you'll average 18mph, for example, it’ll be just over 5:33hrs but err on the side of caution. Let’s plan for 6hrs to allow for a couple of punctures and a bit of a headwind. 

Working on 60g of carbs per hour, you’re looking at 360g (6 x 60g) of carbs for the ride, and working on 750ml of fluid per hour, you’re looking at 4.5 litres (6 x 750ml) of fluid for the ride (we're assuming you've checked in training that these figures work for you).

You could plan to get half of those carbs from energy drink and half from food. That means 180g from food, right? 

You could plan to eat:
• 1/4 of a malt loaf          40g carbs
• 6 fig rolls                          78g carbs
• 8 jelly babies                  42g carbs
• 6 dried apricots            20g carbs

Total                                  180g carbs

That’s not all that much to carry in your jersey pockets. You’re going to spread out the eating of that evenly over the whole ride.

Fig rolls (CC BY-SA 2.0 jeffedoe|Flickr).jpg

Fig rolls (CC BY-SA 2.0 jeffedoe|Flickr).jpg

On to the drinking… You’re going to need 4.5 litres of fluid over the course of your ride, which is six large 750ml bottles (if there are lots of food stations you'll be able to take smaller bottles, obviously).

You need to get 180g of carbs from your drink. A large 750ml bottle gives you about 60g of carbs, so you need three of those and three of water. Bingo! 

You could plan to have two large 750ml bottles on your bike, one filled with energy drink and the other containing water. Drink from them alternately and aim to finish them both at about the two hour mark, or the nearest feed station to that. 

Refill your bottles, one with energy drink, the other with water, and drink those two by about the four hour mark. 

Refill them a second time and that should see you through to the finish.

Sorting out your nutritional strategy in advance really isn't difficult so don't just wing it. Testing out what works best for you in training and then putting together a quick plan will save you making any mistakes on your big ride and allow you to enjoy the day.

Mat has worked for loads of bike magazines over the past 20 years, and been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. He's been road.cc technical editor for seven years, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. We send him off around the world to get all the news from launches and shows too. He has won his category in Ironman UK 70.3 and finished on the podium in both marathons he has run. Mat is a Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a past winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer.

29 comments

Avatar
Vejnemojnen [239 posts] 3 weeks ago
2 likes
Avatar
Vejnemojnen [239 posts] 3 weeks ago
2 likes

I always feel dizzy and fainty after carbs. And I have an irresistable urge to sleep after heavy carb meals.

 

so this is mostly for getting a nice sunday afternoon nap

Avatar
part_robot [197 posts] 3 weeks ago
4 likes
Vejnemojnen wrote:

I always feel dizzy and fainty after carbs. And I have an irresistable urge to sleep after heavy carb meals.

 

so this is mostly for getting a nice sunday afternoon nap

No wishing to worry you, but you might want to see a doctor. Feeling dizzy/fainty after eating carbs is a symptom of pre diabetes

 

Avatar
Butty [188 posts] 3 weeks ago
1 like

Re: picture of guy in Campag top holding bunch of bananas.

Which Sportive is that?

The feed zone drinks look fun 

Avatar
Vejnemojnen [239 posts] 3 weeks ago
0 likes
part_robot wrote:
Vejnemojnen wrote:

I always feel dizzy and fainty after carbs. And I have an irresistable urge to sleep after heavy carb meals.

 

so this is mostly for getting a nice sunday afternoon nap

No wishing to worry you, but you might want to see a doctor. Feeling dizzy/fainty after eating carbs is a symptom of pre diabetes

 

 

Don't worry, I'm a graduate medical student..  1

 

Never had issues since I'm low carb. Btw, my fasting glucose is always around 2.5-3mmol per litre, and never measured more than 3-4mmol per litre during daytime.

Avatar
antigee [391 posts] 3 weeks ago
0 likes

i hate fig rolls and am not so keen on jelly babies I'll go for a whole malt loaf - that gets me 160g and the rest I'll run with chocolate coated raisins or dried apple 

Avatar
Leviathan [2543 posts] 3 weeks ago
2 likes
Butty wrote:

Re: picture of guy in Campag top holding bunch of bananas.

Which Sportive is that?

The feed zone drinks look fun 

The pics are from the Atlas Etape. If you want an epic(not overused word) climbing challenge. But just watch out you don't get altitude sickness like me...

One tip from that event, you can see they had masses of fruit, but very little else. If you are not used to eating only fruit then you will suffer. Fructose is not the same as glucose. If you like acid reflux and bonking; I like my carbs a bit more complex. Take digestive biscuits, flapjacks or fig rolls. Your event day diet shouldn't be radically different from your everyday diet.

 

Avatar
ianrobo [1211 posts] 3 weeks ago
1 like
Vejnemojnen wrote:

http://julianabuhring.com/keto-baby/

 

Totally, tomorrow I will do the 150 mile C2C sportive in Stratford. This is my refuelling

Breakfast - Scrabbled eggs with butter

On ride drinks Water and High 5 Zero

On ride food - Jelly babies 

Supplements - Vespa x2 

thats it and I will complete it easy !

Today we see SK withdraw out of the GIro with stomach problems and that is due to the gels and energy drinks 

Avatar
Vejnemojnen [239 posts] 3 weeks ago
0 likes
ianrobo wrote:
Vejnemojnen wrote:

http://julianabuhring.com/keto-baby/

 

Totally, tomorrow I will do the 150 mile C2C sportive in Stratford. This is my refuelling

Breakfast - Scrabbled eggs with butter

On ride drinks Water and High 5 Zero

On ride food - Jelly babies 

Supplements - Vespa x2 

thats it and I will complete it easy !

Today we see SK withdraw out of the GIro with stomach problems and that is due to the gels and energy drinks 

 

Out of curiosity. Do you need greater amount of salt-electrolytes with these type of fueling? 

Avatar
ianrobo [1211 posts] 3 weeks ago
1 like

yes you do and hence I take the high 5 ones which are cheap and one per bottle but usually 2 in one bottle and one plain water.

Avatar
Rapha Nadal [488 posts] 3 weeks ago
6 likes
ianrobo wrote:

Today we see SK withdraw out of the GIro with stomach problems and that is due to the gels and energy drinks 

Yes, I'm sure that's the exact reason why...

Avatar
nadsta [172 posts] 3 weeks ago
3 likes

road.cc - good clear article, thanks. After hallucinating on my first Dragon ride I know you can't just man up when it comes to your metabolic needs 

Avatar
Jackson [324 posts] 3 weeks ago
11 likes
ianrobo wrote:
Vejnemojnen wrote:

http://julianabuhring.com/keto-baby/

 

Totally, tomorrow I will do the 150 mile C2C sportive in Stratford. This is my refuelling

Breakfast - Scrabbled eggs with butter

On ride drinks Water and High 5 Zero

On ride food - Jelly babies 

Supplements - Vespa x2 

thats it and I will complete it easy !

Today we see SK withdraw out of the GIro with stomach problems and that is due to the gels and energy drinks 

Sounds like Kruijswijk could have used your advice before the Giro started! A guy who's done 12 Grand Tours could probably use some tips from a guy who reckons he'll finish a one-day fun ride. 

Avatar
Vejnemojnen [239 posts] 3 weeks ago
2 likes

whoever says anything, getting sleepy and fainty after a large carb meal is just too natural-expected response. 

 

that huge insulin surge which it creates causes a very severe drop in blood glucose. you know, the term "reactive hypoglycaemia" truly exists.

 

and many people experience this. almost every guy I know complains about getting sleepy and feeling dizzy after carb meals.

 

none of them experiences problem with low-carb diets. carbs(ESP FRUCTOSE and grains) are not healthy and drive people mad.

 

oh and fructose ("fruit-sugar") causes insulin resistance, fatty liver, cardiomyopathy, gout, and dyslipidaemia. a huge initiator of metabolic syndrome.

Avatar
dinosaurJR [201 posts] 3 weeks ago
4 likes
Vejnemojnen wrote:

whoever says anything, getting sleepy and fainty after a large carb meal is just too natural-expected response. 

 

that huge insulin surge which it creates causes a very severe drop in blood glucose. you know, the term "reactive hypoglycaemia" truly exists.

 

and many people experience this. almost every guy I know complains about getting sleepy and feeling dizzy after carb meals.

 

none of them experiences problem with low-carb diets. carbs(ESP FRUCTOSE and grains) are not healthy and drive people mad.

 

oh and fructose ("fruit-sugar") causes insulin resistance, fatty liver, cardiomyopathy, gout, and dyslipidaemia. a huge initiator of metabolic syndrome.

Interesting.

No, wait, the other one; tedious.

It really sounds like your either talking out of your arse or are on the pay roll of  a certain Dr Atkins.

Anecdotal evidence doesnt equal empirical truth, son.

P. Diddy said that. Science fact.

 

Avatar
Rapha Nadal [488 posts] 3 weeks ago
0 likes
Jackson wrote:
ianrobo wrote:
Vejnemojnen wrote:

http://julianabuhring.com/keto-baby/

 

Totally, tomorrow I will do the 150 mile C2C sportive in Stratford. This is my refuelling

Breakfast - Scrabbled eggs with butter

On ride drinks Water and High 5 Zero

On ride food - Jelly babies 

Supplements - Vespa x2 

thats it and I will complete it easy !

Today we see SK withdraw out of the GIro with stomach problems and that is due to the gels and energy drinks 

Sounds like Kruijswijk could have used your advice before the Giro started! A guy who's done 12 Grand Tours could probably use some tips from a guy who reckons he'll finish a one-day fun ride. 

Ha ha ha!!!

Avatar
Vejnemojnen [239 posts] 3 weeks ago
1 like
dinosaurJR wrote:
Vejnemojnen wrote:

whoever says anything, getting sleepy and fainty after a large carb meal is just too natural-expected response. 

 

that huge insulin surge which it creates causes a very severe drop in blood glucose. you know, the term "reactive hypoglycaemia" truly exists.

 

and many people experience this. almost every guy I know complains about getting sleepy and feeling dizzy after carb meals.

 

none of them experiences problem with low-carb diets. carbs(ESP FRUCTOSE and grains) are not healthy and drive people mad.

 

oh and fructose ("fruit-sugar") causes insulin resistance, fatty liver, cardiomyopathy, gout, and dyslipidaemia. a huge initiator of metabolic syndrome.

Interesting.

No, wait, the other one; tedious.

It really sounds like your either talking out of your arse or are on the pay roll of  a certain Dr Atkins.

Anecdotal evidence doesnt equal empirical truth, son.

P. Diddy said that. Science fact.

 

 

just type in "fructose metabolism" "fructose metabolic syndrome" and "fructose cardiomyopathy" "fructose hyperuricaemia" "fructose insulin resistance" to pubmed. Or read the fructose metabolism chapter on "the medical biochemistry page".

 

 

Avatar
700c [1106 posts] 3 weeks ago
0 likes
ianrobo wrote:
Vejnemojnen wrote:

http://julianabuhring.com/keto-baby/

 

Totally, tomorrow I will do the 150 mile C2C sportive in Stratford. This is my refuelling

Breakfast - Scrabbled eggs with butter

On ride drinks Water and High 5 Zero

On ride food - Jelly babies 

Supplements - Vespa x2 

thats it and I will complete it easy !

Today we see SK withdraw out of the GIro with stomach problems and that is due to the gels and energy drinks 

How did you find it? I did the 100 mile and wouldn't have wanted to do another 50! Conditions much warmer than I expected

Really well organised event for a good cause.

Avatar
Jackson [324 posts] 3 weeks ago
0 likes

I thought Z1 was the slow one...

Avatar
ianrobo [1211 posts] 3 weeks ago
1 like
700c wrote:
ianrobo wrote:
Vejnemojnen wrote:

http://julianabuhring.com/keto-baby/

 

Totally, tomorrow I will do the 150 mile C2C sportive in Stratford. This is my refuelling

Breakfast - Scrabbled eggs with butter

On ride drinks Water and High 5 Zero

On ride food - Jelly babies 

Supplements - Vespa x2 

thats it and I will complete it easy !

Today we see SK withdraw out of the GIro with stomach problems and that is due to the gels and energy drinks 

How did you find it? I did the 100 mile and wouldn't have wanted to do another 50! Conditions much warmer than I expected Really well organised event for a good cause.

I loved it, I did the 100 in just over 6 hours, the second 50 was tough. However looking at my stats the climbs were good but struggled on the flat. Weather was a touch warm and at one point ran out of water for about 20 minutes. However completed in 9 and half hours so that was within my target, next one the Dragon Devil !

As for SK of course being a pro he would not be the same as me, however IMHO (and these comments are just my view) the gels etc just simply do not help

Avatar
part_robot [197 posts] 3 weeks ago
1 like

Those who are going keto... Are you riding in Z1/2 or something? Z3/4 +require a lot of sugars, comparitively, and I'm wondering whether you've also managed to adapt your bodies to handle those zones also. I can go for hours at Z1/2 without eating; Z3+ on the other hand I'll be eating maltloaf every 30mins.

[EDITED for incorrect typing of numbers]

Avatar
part_robot [197 posts] 3 weeks ago
1 like
Jackson wrote:

I thought Z1 was the slow one...

Quite right. Comment corrected. For whatever reason I really struggle to see/comprehend what I'm typing on mobile. Even if I re-read it I can't see the mistakes until I hit the publish button.

Avatar
ianrobo [1211 posts] 3 weeks ago
0 likes
part_robot wrote:

Those who are going keto... Are you riding in Z3/4 or something? Z1/2 require a lot of sugars, comparitively, and I'm wondering whether you've also managed to adapt your bodies to handle those zones also. I can go for hours at Z3/4 without eating; Z2 on the other hand I'll be eating maltloaf every 30mins.

EDIT - After original post edited

Avatar
ianrobo [1211 posts] 3 weeks ago
1 like
part_robot wrote:

Those who are going keto... Are you riding in Z1/2 or something? Z3/4 +require a lot of sugars, comparitively, and I'm wondering whether you've also managed to adapt your bodies to handle those zones also. I can go for hours at Z1/2 without eating; Z3+ on the other hand I'll be eating maltloaf every 30mins.

[EDITED for incorrect typing of numbers]

Thats about right, the more fat adapted you are the more in can dip into Z3/4 without the need for carbs. Yesterday's ride was mainly in my Z3 area of HR and power, I did feel it a bit but overall felt very good riding on fat. I would never have completed this last year just on sugar 

Avatar
part_robot [197 posts] 3 weeks ago
0 likes

Interesting, thanks. I did a longish ride over the weekend (not quite as long although with a lot of climbing and tried hard to keep it in Z3 on power but I was still munching through the maltloaf. I'll look into this further.

Avatar
ianrobo [1211 posts] 3 weeks ago
0 likes

The real point is to et aerobic fitness. The idea behind the MAF method is that by trainin the vast majority in Z2 that you build up this massive base at a level you can go on for a long time. YEsterday I simply started out too quick but at no point did I feel hungry.

Avatar
urbane [85 posts] 1 day ago
1 like
part_robot wrote:
Vejnemojnen wrote:

I always feel dizzy and fainty after carbs. And I have an irresistable urge to sleep after heavy carb meals.

 

so this is mostly for getting a nice sunday afternoon nap

No wishing to worry you, but you might want to see a doctor. Feeling dizzy/fainty after eating carbs is a symptom of pre diabetes

 

It's basically eating too much high GI junk carbs, especially modern grains like wheat; the body panics and insulin spikes to get rid of the harmfully high blood sugar concentration, thus even lower blood sugar (the cause of the low energy), and fat growth after muscle glycogen stores are full; this also inhibits fat burning! I noticed this low energy effect when I was much younger, when eating bread rolls, even with Protein!

Eating lots of fast carbs is not natural for humans because farming existed for only a small fraction of the 1/2 million years that humans have existed, so carb loading is counter productive after the muscle glycogen stores are full.

Fruit Juice is also loaded with sugars (fast carbs), so a bad idea for anyone; better to eat whole fruit, which also self-limits consumption and slows digestion.

Avatar
Jimmy Ray Will [648 posts] 1 day ago
1 like
ianrobo wrote:
part_robot wrote:

Those who are going keto... Are you riding in Z1/2 or something? Z3/4 +require a lot of sugars, comparitively, and I'm wondering whether you've also managed to adapt your bodies to handle those zones also. I can go for hours at Z1/2 without eating; Z3+ on the other hand I'll be eating maltloaf every 30mins.

[EDITED for incorrect typing of numbers]

Thats about right, the more fat adapted you are the more in can dip into Z3/4 without the need for carbs. Yesterday's ride was mainly in my Z3 area of HR and power, I did feel it a bit but overall felt very good riding on fat. I would never have completed this last year just on sugar 

I'd be interested to know power numbers behind those levels. I know a few guys that have gone Keto, who have all highlighted that they can run at Z3 and Z4 for long periods of time without bonking / ingesting carbs. 

The fair assumption is that they have learnt to burn fat at a higher intensity.

However, to date I am yet to find someone who is banging out watts above and beyond what I'd expect a reasonable quality club rider to be able to produce at Z2 levels. 

To quantify that, people talking about z3 /4 efforts between say 200 - 250watts, which for a trained cyclist would absolutely be achievable without switching to carb-centric energy utilisation.

Therefore, I have a theory that keto folk are not increasing their ultimate fat burning intensity, they are simply reducing their effective top end performance to fat burning levels. 

Again to quantify, fat burning may be able to all but independently support efforts up to say 275 - 300 watts for anyone. Above that carbs are the primary tool. However, if you have limited carb stores, your ability to produce power numbers above say 300watts will be significantly limited. 

if the above is correct this would mean that there are great benefits to be had for a lot of riders, however above a certain level, those benefits drop away.