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Nutrition - during and after

garyinoz's picture

By garyinoz - Posted on 13 January 2012

I want to find out what people are consuming during and after a long(ish) ride 3hrs +.

If I'm road riding I typically consume a couple of gels and a couple of banana's along with a bottle of water and a bottle of gatorade. On the MTB events I have usually survived with just a couple of litres of water and gels. I'm doing a 100km this year so that won't get me through and need to rethink this.

After a morning ride I'll have breakfast of some sort which could be simply toast/cereal or eggs (if I've remembered to buy any), might also include a banana smoothing or a protein shake. Don't forget lunch is only a couple of hours later.

I find after a hard ride that come 3 or 4 in the afternoon I tend to suffer a bit but a beer usually fixes this. Ideally I'd prefer to skip the suffering just to warrant a beer!

So what are people's proven techniques or food for long lasting energy and mention of vegemite please cause that isn't going to happen!

hawkeye's picture

I've found the advice in the attachments to be spot on, although I use High5 products because they're less than half the price.

garyinoz's picture

Thanks Hawkeye - I'll have a read and see what tips it provides.

Brian's picture

For me it depends on the type of ride regardless of the duration. If I'm doing a 3 hour ride where I plan on taking it easy, I'll eat less then doing a 3 hour ride where I plan on pushing myself. The rides where I'm pushing myself I consume what I would consume in a race and I try to stick to the 1g per kg of body weight per hour.

I can't consume energy drinks/gels so I make my own gel. I also have Vegemite on sour-dough. I use sour-dough simply because it holds up better in my jersey pocket. The other thing I have is weight watcher bars which sounds weird but looking at the nutrition info and they are pure sugar and salt.

Fluid wise varies depending on the temp but as I can only consume water I also have salt tablets when out.

After a big ride though I am still stuffed but I think that's where more riding comes into it.


Logan's picture

I have done long road rides on nothing but water, banana or two and Christmas cake as that seems to work wonders and am asking my g/f to make fruit cake again so I can ride with it.

I dont use Gel's for training, only racing, if I blow up while I am out training due to no food, then I just creep home or find a can of coke. I also use Infinit which is a custom made powder, I will normally put that in one bottle and water in another and carry an some food bags with extra powder in, so I can mix it when I run out.

My recommendation is to move away from Gatorade as its garbage, high in sugars and only gives you short burst of energy, try Hammer or Infinit or Endura for example for race nutrition. Before a race I always go for something with complex carbs, like oats or something like that as it takes the body longer to breakdown and I will have a gel before a race. I will also drink one 800ml bottle of Infinit before a marathon, as then thats my first hours hydration dealt with and I can carry one less bottle.

My g/f is also very supportive and does my bottles for me for races, so I can rely on her to have my feeds ready to go. Along with salt tablets, additional Gels etc. You name it.

Finally dont underestimate how much a can of coke can bring you back to life if your broken, there is a reason why Pro's drinking after Paris-Roubaix and you should to. At NSW Opens this year, I will be carrying a mini coke in my jersey pocked for the last hour of the race.

After a ride, I go and hunt out protein and carbs in large amounts, regardless of when the next meal is.

garyinoz's picture

What did I say about that stuff?? This 1g/kg keeps popping up.

I just checked out the nutritional value of a banana, apparently there is 27g of carbs for a 7/8 inch banana.
Combine that with a gel and an isotonic drink and I shouldn't be that far off!

Brian's picture

Don't forget the per hour thing. Once you get closer to the race you'll have a better idea of time but using 6 hours as an example, you might find it hard to carry 6 bananas with everything else Eye-wink

The Highland Fling is good because you can drop and esky with everything but something like Dirtworks you have to carry everything to at least 70km because that's the first chance you have off meeting support crew for a top up.

Logan's picture

Is what should drive you to get quicker, if your out there for less time, less to carry for example!

Brian's picture

Definitely, my time and weight of my first dirtworks 100 in 2010 meant I needed to consume 570 grams of carbs which is just huge.

ps's picture

I do 100k races with only gels and endura, my most recent one was 7 hours so if theres nothing appetising at the water stations you can plan to get thought the race with just gels.

These days I rarely use gels or mixed drinks when training. You do need to test what you plan to race with in training so I have had days when I take them on schedule and other days when I try to wait until I feel like I need something. Try a few scenarios in training including getting a bit dehydrated and then see how quickly you can drink to recover. Its much better to learn how your body reacts to food/water shortages in training when you can spare the time to notice the early signs than in a race where you probably wont notice until its too late.

Use a recovery drink based on protein powder straight after the training/race.

If you had a decent breakfast your liver stores of glycogen should be reasonably full and your muscles should be ready to go on race day. I believe the theory is that 1g/1kg is the maximum you can replenish the glycogen stores during a race. The rate you use glycogen is dependant on your intensity so if its an easy day you may never run out even if you don't eat. I have done good times in some 100k races on water, 4 gels and a couple of endura bottles so you don't need to always eat the 1g/1kg in a race to finish feeling ok. No idea what my glycogen level was like at the end of a race with minimal eating. Obviously the intent is to not run out of glycogen so the closer you can get to 1g/1kg the better/safer although for me I have never got close. So try a few things and the more experience you get the better you will get with the eating bit.

garyinoz's picture

I tend to get up about 30mins before I hit the road at the weekend so it doesn't give much time for breakfast, banana/gel and some water typically.

The DW does pose a problem of carrying enough fluids to stop from dehydrating (might have to add a bottle cage), and 7 banana's would be rather difficult! I can survive on gels but would prefer a mix with some real food.

What about after the event or hard training session....I know it should be consumed within 30mins to make the most of it.

Brian's picture

There are earlier stops in DW (26km and 50km) where they have food and water. I was just referring to where you can supply your own. For the races I rely on their stops for fluid top up but carry all my food.

Antsonline's picture

A lot people are fixated on protein. Its rarely as important as its made out to be, and to be completely honest, there are many many studies that will show you that a regualr galss of milk will give you pretty much everything that a protein drink will.

The key to 'after' is actually to keep drinking fluids. Hydration is more important than protein. You will rarely drink enough when you ride to stay fully hydrated, so you will be in negative territory when you stop. A protein shake wont help much with that, so get on the fluids again.
I cant stress enough how much of a difference I have found in staying hyper-hydrated. It just helps so much.

Couple of other things. 1grm/kg/hour is the benchmark, but there is evidence that suggests that beyond 60grms you cant do much with it anyway at that rate. Also, 500 - 600ml / hour is as much as your body can tolerate. Any more than that and you will start to feel it sloshing around in your guts as you cant process it quickly enough.
As a final thought, keep your food seperate from your drink. Drink for fluid, eat for energy.
I am trialling a fantastic product at the moment, that isnt available in Australia and its way way less sweet than anything I have tried - its almost saline. I am happy to share details with anyone that is interested.

garyinoz's picture

So that post ride coffee is out Eye-wink

Share away or PM me if it's not for the public domain and if it means I'll do my first 100km in under 6hrs I could be keen.

shano's picture

I used eat those powerbar rides...then went over to carman all natural bars which are great!
Winners Cadel bars Mountain Mix are nice and soft...and easy to get down on the bike.

Eat on the bike...even 30mins in you should be nibbling on something...
A bidon with concentrated powerade for occasional sipping..separate from about 3L of water.
I've really gone off gels, though I would take them for a long race...
I don't mind packing sandwiches if its a long day out! Choclate is great for when your already feeling it.

Thats my personal experience and not based upon scientific nutritional advice. Smiling

hawkeye's picture

Post-ride it might not be so good,but I find a pre-ride coffee works pretty well Eye-wink

Another vote for skim milk + some sugar for post ride recovery, and Cadel's berry bars for something different and convenient on the bike. I find normal muesli bars indigestible when going hard.

Robbiejuve's picture

Protein rarely as important as its made out to be? That's absolute rubbish. Slamming down expensive Protein supplements is silly but the macronutrient protein is important before and after exercise in addition to carbs before and after. Just google "nutrition for muscle recovery" read every article on the first page, read every study that those articles quote and then revisit this statement. This isn't bro science, this is stuff that has been tested in studies and you will find links to plenty of them with a bit of search. Careful what you read on forums.

CharlieB's picture

Beer + bacon & egg roll

No more need be said for post race.

If you are really struggling mid race try a bacon and egg roll then if the pit stop (like the fling) accommodates it. My mate swears by its recovery prowess.

Late in the race try flat coke. It is amazing, but once you have started you cannot stop (if you do you get a caffeine and sugar crash!).

Otherwise the odd gel supplemented by marmite sandwiches and bananas are the go

Lach's picture

For 100 km races, I've relied on banana cake (when I can get my wife to make it) or store bought banana bread as a mid race fuel. Easily digested, plenty of carbs and some banana goodness. Plus a Gu in the first half and then 2-3 more in the back stretch. Plus dilute gatorade or similar in the hydration pack. That gets me through the 7-8 hrs that it takes me to do that sort of distance, usually with some top up of the fluid with whatever is available at the half way feed station. Have sometimes taken a bit of fruit at the feed stations, but the pickings get a bit slim sometimes towards the back of the field Smiling

I usually have some weetbix, coffee and toast with honey at least an hour before the start and top up with a "Ride" bar or similar just before the start.

Afterwards, it depends on the weather and food / fluid availability, but its usually an electrolyte drink and / or beer if the weather is hot and the drink is not, or maybe a coffee. Then a decent meal, a bottle of red and a night in the compression tights.

obmal's picture

I did try a bacon and egg roll between laps at the SRAM single track mind thingy last year.. I had two for good measure... Never ever ever ever again. Well at least I wont die wondering why Gu never released the bacon and egg flavored gels?

I once did a St Albans ride that involved a few beers and a steak sambo at the Settlers In mid ride, not a particular good idea either.

And my personal Darwin award entry is that one sunny Friday afternoon that I did a pie and beer(s) lunch forgetting that I was commuting home that afternoon, never a slower commute has been had before or since then.

For races I'm a hammer nutrition convert, sure most of it tastes terrible, but I have never had stomach issues or energy issues that were not directly linked to under training.

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