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 Post subject: Knowing when to eat...
PostPosted: Mon Apr 15, 2013 4:42 pm 
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Location: London
A fairly basic problem but one that I'm struggling with none-the-less.

I'm used to riding fairly short distances 20-25 miles and don't have a problem with that However, I've recently been riding much longer distances (50+ miles) and I'm struggling to know what, when and how often I should be eating / drinking. Any suggestions would be much appreciated.

Apologies if this has been covered repeatedly in the past!


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 15, 2013 4:54 pm 
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Well, for anything over 2 hours where you'd go completely through your glycogen stores, you'll need to eat something. The earlier you eat, you're body will burn a mix of your own glycogen + the food you're eating. I generally find that anything under 3 hours can be done purely on gels. And as it's a race and the pace is high, it's sometimes difficult to eat, chew, breathe, and swallow when on the rivet, hence gels.


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Posted: Mon Apr 15, 2013 4:54 pm 


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 15, 2013 4:57 pm 
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I do best when I eat 2-3 hours before the ride (w/ some carbs, protein shakes don't do the trick). On 3 hour commute rides I'll eat a bar half-way. In race situations a gel every half-hour works better. Add water + electrolyte.

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PostPosted: Mon Apr 15, 2013 6:06 pm 
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Yes it's been completely covered in the past.
It depends on the distance, temperature, wind, road surface, and fitness level of the rider.
So start to experiment with distances, food, and drink.
Let us know what works best for you.

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 Post subject: Knowing when to eat...
PostPosted: Mon Apr 15, 2013 6:42 pm 
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Over time I have experimented with lots of formulas and permutations. I've narrowed it down to the following:

-2-2.5 hr: nothing!
-2.5 hr+: 250-300 cal/hr starting after the first hr. I accomplish it with bonk breaker bars, powerbars, or just about anything similar not high in protein or fat. Regular food does not settle well for me, so sandwiches, pizza, etc is not welcomed until after about 6-7 hr. Even then, I have a hard time tolerating it.
-Drinking: 1 x 24 oz bottle of something with some taste like diluted Gatorade. I can't stand the taste of plain water when riding for some reason.
*If very hot, I increase drinking to 1.5 bottles/hr.
*cannot stand eating within 3-4 hr before riding long or hard.


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 15, 2013 10:04 pm 
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Everyone will give you a different answer as everyones body is a bit different and there are too many variables to consider. Regardless of that, you should never wait to eat until you are hungry. At that point it is too late and you may "bonk". Replacing the lost fluids through sweat is important, especially the salt in the warmer months. I always look for a decent amount of potassium in my drinks and usually carry a banana with me if I ride longer than 2 or so hours. This works for me. I'm able to eat up until about an hour before a ride with no problems.

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PostPosted: Mon Apr 15, 2013 11:21 pm 
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Basic stuff fortunately but a lot of people struggle with eating.

Breakfast at least 2 hours ahead of time.

One the bike you want consume 200-400 calories an hour. So that's a bar or something every hour. You want to try to go for long chain carbohydrates over short chain carbs. You want to drink about one bottle an hour as well. Of you're racing then drink as much as you need.

When you finish, you need to eat something within an hour of getting off your bike. Your body is still burning energy as if you were riding up to an hour after you finish riding so get a good calorie bomb into your system.

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 16, 2013 12:38 am 
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General rule. For rides over 4 hours, eat before you get hungry.

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 16, 2013 1:02 am 
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plpete wrote:
Everyone will give you a different answer as everyones body is a bit different and there are too many variables to consider. Regardless of that, you should never wait to eat until you are hungry. At that point it is too late and you may "bonk". Replacing the lost fluids through sweat is important, especially the salt in the warmer months. I always look for a decent amount of potassium in my drinks and usually carry a banana with me if I ride longer than 2 or so hours. This works for me. I'm able to eat up until about an hour before a ride with no problems.


:up: good post, I have an annoyingly fast metabolism (as most 19yr olds do) and have worked out need at least one sandwich/muesli bar/ gel in the first hour and 2-3 each consecutive hour.

Also, I recently did a lap test on dehydration and was really surprised that in an hour of working at 75% of FTP, I lost 923ml of fluid averaged over five tests in a controlled 18 C environment - i.e. thats a fair bit more than one bottle / hr which most people think of as a benchmark.

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 16, 2013 1:33 am 
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923ml is surprisingly a lot! I knew a human body looses a lot of fluid through sweat but never really knew how much. How were you able to measure this? Considering that our bodies are made up of as much as 60% liquid makes proper hydration very important.

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 16, 2013 2:57 am 
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@ Asymtotic what was the air flow like in the lab? This can greatly effect sweat losses due to the inefficient evaporation in close environments.


To the OP the best thing is to experiment, log and detail what you eat/drink and how you respond to it at varying effort ranges and duration. I personally don't like sports drinks, loathe most gels (apart from Science in Sport ones) and drink milk just prior to or during rides (after a quick stop to buy it of course). There are many for whom this would not work, but through trial and lots and lots of error it works for me. Also keeping caffeine intake low has reduced incidents of cramp. YMMV.

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 16, 2013 12:14 pm 
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One other thing to add would be to use set times or distances (if the terrain is fairly even) to tell you when to eat instead of trying to keep track of it in your head. It's very easy to tell yourself you'll reach for that bar after the next hill, or the next twisty section, or when you're out of the headwind and before you know it you're 45 minutes down the road with no calorie intake :wink:


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PostPosted: Tue Apr 16, 2013 6:15 pm 
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Thanks everyone! You've given me a lot to think about and I have a much better understanding of the basics. I'll try a few different bars / gels etc and get an understanding of what suits me best. I'll record everything and hopefully will soon find the winning formula.

Interesting point about caffeine and cramp. Might have to adjust my weekly intake a tad :)


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Posted: Tue Apr 16, 2013 6:15 pm 


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