Carb up your ride

Carb up your ride or waste your training

There's an art to mastering your fuel consumption for those cycling races, big events and long rides

It really is that simple. We see too many people work extremely hard at their training and basically throw a lot of the gains away with poor nutrition, specifically low carbohydrate (CHO) intake.

What you eat day-to-day is very important and I am not going to get into that in this short article. If you really want to get this dialled in then don’t waste a minute reading about any fad diet or anything promoted by a celebrity. Seek the advice of an experienced nutrition coach.

What I want to touch on today is how to fuel your races, big events or longer training rides while you are doing them. People say to me ‘I don’t feel like eating on the bike’ or ‘ I don't need any food if I am riding easy as I am burning my fat stores’ or ‘I am not hungry when I am riding my bike’.

All of those ways of thinking are just plain wrong. The biggest mistake we see is low CHO intake.

P.s we know that some people are ‘fat adapted’ but for the 99% of you who aren’t read on...

Even at low intensity, your body could be burning between 1.5 - 2.5g of CHO per minute. Think about that. Even when you are doing your endurance rides you could be using 90 - 150g of CHO per hour. At higher intensities, the amount of CHO increases exponentially.

The good news is that modern energy products like the SIS Beta Fuel range provide an amazing level of CHO in forms that are easily digestible. I don’t have any axe to grind for SIS but they are the products I use and advise my clients to use.

On our recent training camp to Tenerife, I was with a client who is preparing for Tour 21, when he will ride all 21 stages of the Tour de France for charity. Clearly how he fuels is going to be massively important for three weeks of riding like a pro.

When I started coaching Mark fuelling his rides was almost seen as cheating. Here is what Mark had to say:

Propello have completely changed my understanding of nutrition and fuelling and the outcome has transformed my riding.
Propello Cyclist

“Previously I was of the opinion that I’d ‘fuel up for breakfast and just get on with it’, with the occasional snack along the way. Now I understand what I need to consume to fuel effectively and when to consume it. The outcome has been transformational and I can comfortably sit in the saddle for seven or eight hours with similar energy levels at the end of the day to the start. “

On the training camp, we were riding circa 6-8hrs and doing 3000-4000m of climbing per day. We pre-loaded with a CHO rich dinner and pre-ride breakfast. Then, because another common mistake is to start eating too late in the ride, we began eating and drinking after about 30 minutes.

I wanted Mark to take on board around 300-400 calories per hour and 80-100g CHO. This was definitely a lot more than he had ever consumed so part of the experiment was to see if his tummy could tolerate this without becoming nauseas.

We used a combination of SIS Beta Fuel drink, Beta Fuel gels and SIS GO Bakes, consuming one of each every ninety minutes or so. This provided 400cal and 100g CHO per hour.

On the rides, Mark and I had no energy drops and we rode strongly from hour 1 to hour 8. At one point Mark said to me “I can’t believe how much you have got me to consume and I can’t believe how good I feel!”

Another client Martin who we persuaded to adopt the same strategy at his recent sportive where he set multiple PRs and messaged me to say:

“Rob that Beta fuel is rocket fuel - amazing stuff. You get a boost almost instantly. I feel tired today, but not depleted, a good lesson in fuelling has been learnt, so many thanks.”

The old advice used to be to take on board 1g CHO per KG of bodyweight per hour. However, these new products seem to be making the consumption of CHO much more manageable. I have seen ultra-distance athletes claiming to be taking onboard 150g CHO/H and not getting any adverse digestive issues.

This being said it is also really important to experiment and find out how much you can tolerate and try to train your gut to tolerate more CHO. Work out what products equate to taking on board 1g CHO per KG and I guarantee that for many of you that in itself will be an eye-opener! Take this as your baseline and then experiment with increasing and see how your body reacts.

I can’t give you a money-back guarantee but if I could I would. If you get this right it will transform your cycling performance and maximise the benefit of all your hard training hours.

Get in touch with us to see how our bespoke cycling coaching programme can improve your cycling performance.