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Hi all, another newbie here, can anyone give me advise on nutrition, what, how and when to use it  7 . I am in my late 50s and many years ago took part in duathlons and seemed to get by with Isostar and pasta so the 'modern' selection seems a bit baffling  39 At the moment the furthest I have ridden is 30 miles and I am working to my first sportive in March (45 miles). I have just taken delivery of a High 5 pack which is full of goodies, gels, pre, during and post event drinks but when do I start using them? Sorry if that sounds a bit stupid but if I am going out for a weekend ride of 2 hours + should I start taking the High 5? If I am only going out for an hour do I just take juice. Because of the weather yesterday I did 2 hours on the turbo should I have done the pre, during and post thing  39 . When out on a ride, training, turbo or event does taking a gel take the place of fluids, energy bar or do they supplement them? I understand that the one thing to avoid is the 'bonk' so do you take your gel, food at certain times throughout the ride or are there certain signs I should look for? What happens if you take the nutrition on board and your body doesn't use it? I think you can all see that I am fairly banboozled by the nutrition thing so any advice would be really appreciated. Many thanks.

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Paul J [874 posts] 3 years ago
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A lot of the current sports nutrition stuff is mainly marketing. They're selling you quite basic stuff often at incredibly inflated margins.

E.g. for water bottle electrolyte sachets, you're basically paying a fortune for sodium bicarbonate, salts and citric acid. Salt you almost certainly already have (the "LoSalt" stuff is good - it has both sodium and potassium salt), baking soda you may well have, and citric acid is cheaply available at any Asian/Chinese supermarket. A teaspoon of bicarb, a half tea-spoon of citric acid, and a quarter tsp of salt per bottle. Add some honey, ribena or other juice to flavour. Alternatively, buy diarrhoea electrolyte sachets - still cheaper I think. Some, but not all, also contain magnesium - you can get supplements in tablet form from a health store, if you wish.

The gels are often just very expensive forms of sugar. You'd be well just buying a bag of whatever small, easily chewed & swallowed jelly sweets you want, from your supermarket. However, too much sweet stuff (gels or otherwise) will make you feel ill.

Many gels contain caffeine. Caffeine may have a diuretic effect (studies seem to vary on how much is needed), which may mean you'll need more water, or that you may be more prone to dehydrating. Caffeine can give you a nice boost, if you're struggling toward the end of the ride. Whether you can still get that boost if you've already been taking it the whole ride, I don't know. Personally, I don't like taking caffeine.

That's not to say all the sports nutrition stuff is automatically crap, but do look at the ingredients and compare to what's available in super-markets to get an idea for how much is marketing. Also, some of the ingredients will be products of things I've mentioned, e.g. sodium citrate is just a product of sodium bicarbonate and citric acid reacted together, other stuff will be colourings, flavourings, stabilisers and other junk.

In terms of nutrition, possibly the best thing is to get a big load of carbohydrate in the *day before*, if not 2 days. Pasta is great. Sticky, glutinous rice is good too. Bananas and flapjacks for one the ride, to mix something more solid in, in between the sweets and so avoid feeling sick, is another. Bananas are available everywhere, flapjacks are also easy to get, even easier to make yourself! On the morning, a good breakfast of some slow-release starchy/carby food is good, like some form of oats (porridge, muesli, etc)!

Generally the advice seems to be to eat and drink regularly, and before you feel the need to. Plan how much you will need for the whole trip, then divide by the time to figure out the rate you need to eat at. With more rides, you'll figure out exactly what works for you.

For 2 to 3 hour rides, you won't be needing that much in the way of food though.

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Leviathan [1888 posts] 3 years ago
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If I am hungry I eat food, if I am thirsty I drink water or other fluid beverages. I don't think you can go far wrong.

Not very insightful, I had to get up early to watch the tennis.  37

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Simon E [2652 posts] 3 years ago
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bikeboy76 wrote:

If I am hungry I eat food, if I am thirsty I drink water or other fluid beverages. I don't think you can go far wrong.

Not very insightful, I had to get up early to watch the tennis.  37

A Sunday morning and someone forced you to watch tennis? Damn, that's cruel!

To the OP: don't overcomplicate it. Yes need to eat and drink on longer rides but you don't need branded energy products, you need food and water. Experiment with foods you can digest easily - dried fruit, banana, flapjack, malt loaf, fig rolls, cereal bars... (though not all at once!)

You don't need to stuff yourself before a ride and I'm not convinced carb loading the day before helps. Filling up with pasta is not ideal anyway. Make carbs (pasta, bread etc) <50% of each meal. Eat lots of fresh veg, fruit, also eggs, nuts, seeds and meat/fish.

I often ride 'on empty' in the mornings, a fruit bar or Snickers during a 2 hour ride, 1 bar/hour after that. I'm not sure energy drink really works any better than fruit juice & water + solid food.

Don't bother with a recovery shake. I blend a banana and some milk when I get home and follow it up with something else if I'm still hungry. If it's a Sunday afternoon ride or I take the long way home from work I just eat my dinner faster than normal
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