How To Fuel For Cycling | Bike Ride Nutrition Explained


– Nutrition and training go together however if you have one without the other, you’re not going to get the desire effects and ultimately, you’re
not going to get fitter, stronger, and faster. After all, we are all
aspiring to be better and more well-rounded cyclists. (playful electronic music) Right, let’s start off
with a bit of science. When we exercise, our
bodies use carbohydrates and fats as fuel. Our bodies naturally
store about 400-500 grams in muscle and lipid glycogen but when we exercise and
we run out of those stores, we end up losing energy and
end up hitting the wall, which is commonly known as bonking. So when we exercise, we need
to top up on our carbohydrates using bars, gels, or even real foods to reduce the risk of, well,
bonking and feeling like this. The average person can only process one gram of carbohydrate per minute, no matter how much we consume. So there’s more emphasis
on eating little often than eating loads at one time. But how do we translate
that to on-the-bike fueling? Right, let’s start off with
a nice, easy one-hour ride. You’ve had a good, healthy breakfast filled with slow-releasing carbohydrates so when you get out on the bike, there’s more emphasis
on keeping well-hydrated than keeping fueled on the bike. I like to start my day off
with oats and yogurt and fruit. This gives you a good source of slow-release of
carbohydrates and proteins, which will set me up for the day. Now that all being said, it is worth taking a bar
when you head out on the bike because you never know
how you’re going to feel when you get out there. – So now we’re getting
onto the longer rides. You’re going to want to make sure you’re fueled for the entire duration. Extensive research has shown that carbohydrates improve
endurance performance. We recommend you start with
two bottles on your bike and at least one of
these should be topped up with some form of electrolyte. This is because as we exercise, we naturally lose fluid
and therefore electrolytes and you need to stay on
top of replenishing those because even just 2% dehydration will cause a reduction
in your performance, even if you can’t feel it. So now that you’ve
thought about your fluids, next up you want to think
about what to eat on the bike. And we recommend taking
a sports bar for a start, alongside a banana or something like that. It’s good to mix natural
foods with sports foods because you get the
benefits of the sports bars, which are practical and
easy to take with you, but you also get the nutrients
from the natural foods and it’s good to keep that balance. A sports bar like this,
which weighs 30 grams and has 25 grams of carbohydrates in it, should be consumed roughly
once every 30 minutes and then you can use the natural foods to top up as you feel. Your stomach is basically a
muscle like any other muscle, so don’t do something silly on race day which you’ve never done before. So practice with any sports nutrition in the lead up to your big event because the last thing you want to do is shock your system and end
up with an upset stomach. Pros, for example, will
use rice cakes in training and in racing, that way they know they’re getting something
consistent that’s easy to consume but also easy to carry on the bike. One final thing to note
on the food front though is not to each too much at once. Having two or three of
these in a short period is not going to do you
any good whatsoever. James said earlier you can only process one gram
of carbohydrate per minute so that’s only two of
these in one single hour. It’s much better to take
small bites little and often. This will give you a much
more even spread of energy throughout the ride and keep you well away
from the dreaded bonk. – So now we’re onto the longer rides. We want to start thinking
about fueling the night before so a good, healthy, fully
carbohydrate-loaded meal, like pasta or rice, is
really worth having. And then onto the day of the
race or the day of the event or even the day of the long ride, you want to think about a
good, healthy, solid breakfast, like porridge or granola that is fully filled with the
slow-releasing carbohydrates. And then when it’s onto the
bike, at least take two bottles because you’re probably going to want to fill a bottle up on the way. It’s worth living by the
rule of one bottle per hour and if you have some carbohydrate powder or even electrolyte tab, that will help put carbohydrates back in and it also will help you keep hydrated throughout your ride. – Start your rides by
consuming your solids but as the ride goes on, you can then maybe consider
something like a gel. Gels are full of glucose, which is a super
fast-acting energy source. They’re also a great boost in
that final hour of your ride and they’re ideal in emergency scenarios when you feel like
you’re on your last legs. They’re quick and easy to consume but also they’re small
and easily tucked away in a jersey pocket. You can pretty much forget
you’ve even got them on you. – So you’ve just come in off your ride and now’s the time to think about recovery and thinking about
replenishing the carbohydrates and proteins that you’ve lost. And a great way to start doing this is by taking a recovery shake 30 minutes within your workout. – The reason for doing this is you want to get those
nutrients back into your body as fast as possible. A recovery drink like
that is a great snack but it is by no means a
replacement for a proper meal and you can have that 60
minutes later, couldn’t you? – Yes, you can. So if you did enjoy this video
and it really helped you, then don’t forget to
give it a big thumbs up. – And for more training
videos, click down there.

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100 thoughts on “How To Fuel For Cycling | Bike Ride Nutrition Explained

  1. Tend to go for a electrolyte tap in water and jam sandwiches – I just wrap the slice of bread back on itself to stop leaks (pretty much a gel wrapped in bread). Those sugary drink powders gradually make me feel sick as the ride goes on. Salts/electrolytes are just as important as carbs IMO.

  2. carbs never really worked for me i just feel heavy and slow
    what i do is i get all my carbs for breakfast so porridge or something that like and then every other meal of the day including snacks i take out on rides are all low carb high protein, works way better for me i can go harder on the bike for longer and i recover faster

  3. Thanks for this video and nutrition information. I have been searching lately and you have helped a lot. For what it's worth, I like to have a banana on a whole grain wrap spread with natural peanut butter after a ride.

  4. You forgot to mention not to get too much sugars from gels etc., since it works as a laxative when too much – due to the limit to carbohydrate uptake. When there are too much sugars in the intestines, it will draw out fluid into the intestine. Resulting in a nice case of the “runs” and general discomfort 👍😜

  5. Still stick in the carb philosophy I see… What about becoming fat adapted!? There is too much research to ignore its superiority.

  6. Wish I watched this video before I went out this morning, Had a small dinner last night and my breakfast didn't cut it. I got BONK! I now know better for next time. Thanks.

  7. What about sugar water? I just fill 2 bottles with sugar water and im good for the whole ride. I also eat jelly babies, they are filled with fast releasing carbs.

  8. If I was recorded drinking, giving it all the slow mo business, I would look like a total tit.
    Sickening.

  9. Hey GCN, how about a show on post ride procedures. Protein shake and stretching are musts but what else should we doing? I clean the bike and if necessary wash the merino as well. But what am I missing

  10. You gave 1 hour for short rides, neglected to define time frame of medium and long rides. Diet is a hurdle for me due to diabetes and celiac disease…I am working on gluten free stuff I can make at home and carry with. 2-3 hour rides I often bonk and wind up riding back on the small chain ring with a slow cadence.

  11. When I eat, my body sends an inordinate amount of blood to aid digestion, so I never eat solid food when riding. Gels only.

  12. Very helpful. I didn’t know you only process 1g of carbohydrate per minute. Good tIps. Many thanks. 👍🏻

  13. Now the question remaining for me is: what is considered a medium ride and what is considered a long ride?

  14. Hi guys im trying to loose weight by reducuing intake of suger and carbs . How can i survive a ride with limited carb intake or just do 30min intervals on spin bike thanks ps in bad days kfc was always a great recovery meal… ummm gravy and chips….

  15. For those of you asking about keto and fat adapted, the reason why there's little mention of that topic is because people like to be fast and put down power…not ride slow sportifs and gran fondos all day long

  16. The most basic thing to understand is that digestion requires blood flow to the digestion system, stomach and intestines. This is why if you eat too much solid food before racing up hills, or stop for too large a meal mid-ride, once you are riding in your 80%+ max heart rate zone, all your blood goes to your legs and supporting cardio-vascular system and your digestion slows or stops. This results in the food in your stomach, still being digested by the stomach acids with no place to go and this is why riders get nauseous and have that bloated feeling. It's all about learning not just what to eat, but when to eat.

  17. Why not fueling with fat? It has been showed that it provides more energy than carbohydrates and for longer. (Sry for my english)

  18. The way he said "science" reminded me of the Ali G Show. And what followed was not that far from it either. Firstly, the 500 g of glucose/ glycogen is rather arbitrary. The rate it is burned at depends on many factors, counting minutes is close to useless. And then there is such a thing called gluconeogenesis. This video should have been headlined "for entertainment purposes only".

  19. Crikey! How stodgy was that bowl of porridge and the portion size! Wouldn’t need to worry about my energy levels after eating that as the windy pops would keep me moving 😂

  20. Lipton Iced tea works great for me. Gels work good. If I go to very long rides I might take an energy bar but to me they all taste about the same. Is like chewing food that has already been chewed…

  21. As a 61 year old who has just got back in the saddle I found this to be very informative and a useful place to start. Have been doing some short rides in recent months, 40-50kms a session, and found my leg recovery was an issue. I started to follow a nutrition plan similar to this and am finding it helps tremendously. Was good to hear similar advice from you guys. Thanks…from yet another MAMIL 😂🚴🏻‍♂️

  22. That or just train your body to use your stored body fat. Nothing like being able to go on a 150 k ride with just a coffee for breakfast (plus electrolyte bottle). Obviously not for race day!

  23. In very hot areas, just water is not enough for me on rides over two or three hours. Some fuel/electrolyte drinks cause me to cramp. Just water is not enough. Fig bars and bananas get very old after 3 hours. I try to find real food that is easy to digest.

  24. Nothing if it’s a ride/race less than an hour. Pre ride is the focus for that. If the ride is two hours, then I usually do two gels (100 cals each) at 45 and 90 minutes. If it’s 3 hours or longer than I need solid food with fat, preferably something salty/savory. Regardless of the length, he best thing I can do is to eat a normal meal close to before I ride, assuming adequate digestion time.

  25. Not sure with a bottle for an hour. I dont like the feeling that i need to pee when i am riding. 1 bottle for 3 hours for me..

  26. I once tried a gel at home and wasn't able to get it out of the package into my mouth… xD …at least not a reasonable ammount. The bit which reached my tongue was way too sweet. So no gels for me, bad luck…. :-/

  27. Ever thought about doing a ‘beat my Strava segment’ where your viewers send you a segment and you take on their time?

  28. postride I always consume a liquid that has 13.1 grams of carbs and 1.7 of protein per 100m and this wonder drink ? Bitter !

  29. Honey! What about taking on a ride small plastic bottle filled with honey and sip it frequently? Honey contains about 30g glucose per 100g.

  30. Sports nutrition science has moved on a bit. Train your body to burn fat for fuel and you can preserve your precious carb stores for the above threshold efforts. Carbs are useful but they can also cause havoc with your metabolism and even give rise to diabetes even in so called healthy athletes. Also too much fluids can cause hyponatraemia which can be serious.

  31. I think you guys are staying behind on modern nutrition. You begin saying that carbs and fat are both fuel for the body but you only focus on eating carbs during every type of ride (even on a 1 hour ride). What about the +10,000 calories of fat constantly stored in our body? No suggestions about how to use it and become a more efficient rider? Stop embracing insuline resistance and metabollic syndrome in people that want to cycle and become healthy people.

  32. Hi Guys.
    In Australia the word 'Bonking' means something quite different! A rather more enjoyable experience than running out of energy.

  33. Great video, milk is also a great recovery drink having the right balance of carbohydrates and protein (3:1) that's in sports recovery drinks.

  34. Chris you once said how many grams of carbs should be eaten in the days before and after a race for proper carb loading…I can’t find that video.

    Can you give us the numbers again? Pleeeeease!!!

  35. How about a video on on low carb, high fat diet and how it fits with cycling and if there are any pros or presenters that use this successfully

  36. A bit too much on the sponsored content guys. You can do long rides (+4h +100km) on low heart rate solely on burning fat. Plain water in your bottles, regular 3 meals a day. Bring a banana as a snack. No post-ride shake needed. Yes, during high intensity rides on a high heart rate (sugar / carbs burning) you will need some fuel. But the volumes you are mentions are a bit crazy. 1 sports bar every 30min? We’re not pro’s riding Paris Roubaix. Slow down on the promo talk. 😉

  37. Good solid advice, but don't forget your fags. A well timed fag on a ride provides added energy and helps me go faster.

  38. James, you're explaining well. love you bro, thanks And Chris your eyebrows make me as brutal as I can ride my bike! 🙂

  39. I've watched this video like 5 times today…I'm getting into cycling and is helpful to staying healthy…did 12mi today and I felt a little tired, did a lot of mtb before

  40. Great video, as an old guy I still have a problem with on bike nutrition. Back in the day it was go all out and eat and drink after the ride! I eat and drink better than I did in my youth, but still not enough on some bigger, harder rides. Old habits die hard I guess? Thanks for the tips, they were spot on.

  41. I'd go broke eating sports bars / gels and sports drinks. The odd banana and fresh water is All you need. or a bag of lollies for longer rides. For recovery, smash a pizza or big bowl of fired rice 🙂

    That said, nothing like a 3-hour ride before breakfast (fasting training.)

  42. Two sports bars an hour isn't going to work if you're out riding all day, say 15 hours, or you are doing a 30 hour Audax ride.

  43. 2:33 come off it – eating one of those sports bars every 30mins would leave you very full, very poor and probably feeling quite sick.

  44. I see our man Chris Opie is rocking the original Wahoo ELEMNT. I too ride on the famous Bolt's older sibling. 👍👍

  45. I would really like GCN to look into the Keto Diet – are professional riders during the off season using this sort of diet to lose weight ?

  46. Jelly Baby's. Used to always work well when I was marathon training……before the knee went. And an elecrolyte drink.

  47. Panadol has potentially serious renal and liver complications even if only taken slightly above recommended dosage and duration. Not sure if Mark meant ibuprofen could be damaging if taken as a once only or repeated frequency.
    Performing any activity while under the effect of anti- inflammatory or painkillers will take away the safe limitation that pain gives the body. In other words, you could be damaging your body without knowing.
    Great vid. Privileged info. R3gards

  48. Why did you not talk about becoming fat adapted and hence on shorter rides riding fasted and on longer rides using less carbs so you train your body to burn fat more efficiently. There is plenty of "science" to support this and a number of pros train in some form of this,: such as Froome, Bardet and others. Of course when racing one will need more carbs due to the speed involved so the phrase train low race higher with regards to carbs. Also, LCHF does not mean no carbs just much lower than most and relying on good ones when you do ingest them. Keep in mind most of what is out out there as "science" are studys done and supported by companies who have a stake in the huge carb energy market. As a testimony I rode a sub 5 hour, sure not a race but not slow, century and only consumed a single UCAN Bar and some of a low carb drink with electrolytes. Sure this is me but this can be done. Again, one should see training a different from racing or those times you may want to go faster. Bottom line the "sciene" is not settled as often put forth and there is room for something other than plates of pasta and bread with avoidance of good fats. Does all this happen over night – no but it is well worth it and I can tell you many that have been high carb guys will tell you as you age you need to cut carbs to avoid weight gain and this is from some that would still say when younger you need to carb up.

    OK, I am off my soap box – just like to see the options put out there instead of the steady stream of carb up being the only way. Let me add I am not a carbaphobe as that is why I am LCHF and not Keto as I have found I need more carbs than Keto supplies but my 100-150 grams of carbs a day is far less than most take in.

  49. Can GCN please make a video on how to carry food that melts easily like Mars and Snickers? Those are my motivational food. I tried using top tube bag but it was a nuissance because my knees kept hitting it. I also tried putting them in my back pocket and they melted into gooey mess. Help please!

  50. Try doing a video about keto you don't always need carbs… I generally don't eat on like 4-5 hour rides but if do it's usually protein

  51. You get dehydrated when you sweat out the electrolyte Potassium. If you add some camelina seeds in your water bottle, they absorb the liquid and rehydrate you from inside out. giving you back 94% potassium. These studies were done in Norway.
    I always use real produce to gain the micronutrients my body calls for as i cycle. Dates are a great source of natural carbs.(they contain trace minerals our bodies require during exercise) 100% of the volume of carbs you consume are converted to glucose over a 2 hour period. 50% of the volume of protein is converted to glucose over a 4-5 hour period. 10% of the volume of fat (raw walnuts..etc…) is converted to glucose over a 10-12 hour period. And because our bodies rely on healthy HDL that comes from things like raw nuts, My choice of snacks on the road are dates and walnuts. (those glucose pouches are an unhealthy sugar blast that causes your blood sugar to crash very quickly…not something you want when you are cycling) . The dates have a low glycemic index with a long glycemic load.(sustained energy without a blood sugar crash)
    Fats are a necessary in our diet.. Unhealthy fats (cooked, heated fats) pass the blood barrier. This is the leading cause of high HDL (bad colesterol) . Consuming good cold pressed fats like Camelina oil will lower your LDL and boost the the good cholesterol HDL. Studies have proven it to naturally lower LDL

  52. Think about NOT RECOMMENDING these contributors to the onset of Type 1 Diabetes. Dairy (yogurt) and Grains (barley, wheat, rye, oats, rice, amaranth, corn all caused intestinal permeability) . They were proven in a study to cause auto-immune diabetes. NEJM 2008 studies
    You sound smart, and that's what makes this video dangerous/bad advice.

  53. Great videos as always….one question…>>

    What are the general distances and/or times of a, “short, medium, and long” ride?

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