Eating / fueling for a 200 mile ride


#1

@stacypro bringing your nutrition topic under the Nutrition category so we can develop the discussion:

Can you give me examples of what those 250 calories are made of (which liquids and solids)?
Also, how did you arrive at the 250 calorie/hr “goal”?
Lastly, what will be your expected average speed for the 200-mile event?
That will give me a better idea on how to provide my suggestions for your double-century.


#2

I appreciate the help!

250 calories per hour for me is roughly 1 24oz bottle of Vitalyte (120 calories), 1 fig newton or similar (120 calories), and raisins as needed based on how I’m feeling. That would be a typical intake for an hour for me. Long rides (over 60 miles) I will often eat an orange, fries (century ride), pretzels, granola, or other things to supplement that amount. I always eat breakfast before a ride, especially a long ride.

My husband (the data junkie) and I came up with 250 calories an hour based on my weight in kg (roughly 60kg) x 1g of carbs (4 calories). That was a formula we found for how much most people can process in an hour. I’m open to changing that calorie goal if needed, it was just a starting point that we came up with and it gives me something to aim for. :slight_smile:

After tweaking and experimenting for a year or two I’ve become reasonably good at judging eating based on how I’m feeling, but 100+ mile rides are new territory for me and I know from experience that if I fall behind on nutrition it will be much harder to catch up later.

My target finishing time is about 13 hours pedaling time, so somewhere between 15-17mph.


#3

The most interesting thing about nutrition is that everyone is different. We absorb, process, and use food differently, and it is important to be your own detective/observer to discover what works for you, and what you need. Which looks like you already do!

With that as a background, there are some general principles that are based on solid scientific research, and that should serve as the foundation from which you tweak your nutrition according to the needs of your body. I list them below.

  • Instead of calories, use macros to plan your event-day nutrition. It is not possible to accurately calculate how many calories you spend (energy output) or calories in (input). All of these numbers are estimates (including food labels!) unless you are testing everything in a lab. Again, each of us processes and absorb foods differently.
  • Aim for 60 grams of carbs per hour. This goes for men and women regardless of their size/weight. Some people can train their bodies to absorb 90g/hr, but it requires “training” your gut and using mixed-sources of carbs. As an aside, I consume more than 60g/hr, because I discovered that I NEED more carbs than the average person.
  • From the examples you listed above, I noticed that your foods are low in protein. For an event lasting over 3 hs, it is recommended to consume about 7-10g of protein/hr.
  • For long events I recommend avoiding fruits (although bananas are good), as they typically are high in fiber, which is harder to digest (and thus take longer to get to your working muscles), can cause GI upset, and are low in calories.
  • I would also recommend avoiding fries, as they have a lot of oil. Cooked potatoes with salt (can be baby potatoes) are a better option.
  • Save gummies and gels for the last 60-90 minutes of the ride.
  • When you stop for lunch, eat easily digestible proteins along with starchy carbs - avoid meat/chicken/tuna. Avoid foods high in fiber. Pizza is not good either. Anything heavy or that requires time to digest will pull blood from your working muscles and into your stomach. Rice and eggs and egg sandwiches are great options.
  • Your breakfast before the event should be a mix of complex carbs- again aim for 60g or more (e.g., oatmeal, whole grain bread, cooled potatoes), 20-25g of easily digestible proteins (eggs, whey) and some fat (avocado, nut butter). Avoid foods high in fiber such as beans and certain fruits.
  • Start eating more carbs 2 days before your event to store them in your muscles.

Other than that, eat and drink “on the clock”- so every 45-60 minutes of running clock time (not riding time). Do so even if you are not hungry or thirsty. This is very important!

Hope this helps. Let me know if you have questions!


#4

Interesting. Can you give some examples of proteins that travel well and stand up to the heat that I could add to this regimen?

I actually don’t think I’m too far off of the 60g of carbs mark. :slight_smile: A bottle of Vitalyte is 30g and the fig bars I eat are 25g each. They are actually stone ground wheat and sold at a local health food store, so a bit higher quality and less refined than Fig Newtons. That plus raisins probably gets me pretty close to 60g. The hard part is to keep getting that amount in hour after hour.

Unfortunately, most of our lunch stops on group rides are fast food- Burger King, etc. I can’t eat the bread on burgers which is why I usually end up with nuggets and fries. Any other suggestions of foods that I could typically find at a fast food restaurant?

I pretty much have stopped using any kind of gel or gummy. I found that they made my energy level spike and crash too much instead of staying steady.

I definitely feel like I eat more, and more often, than most of the people that I ride with, but I’ve learned that if I want to make it through a long ride that’s what I have to do.


#5

That’s great that you eat enough. Men are usually able to get by with less carbs/food than women in many cases- and that’s something to remember if you are in a group and you are the only woman. If you wait to eat at the same time as they do, you might not eat enough!

For the protein/carb combo I eat bars that combine the two, such as Macrobars and Skratch Labs energy bars. Some people are able to carry and eat whole foods such as hard-boiled eggs during rides for protein, but I don’t, so I go for the bars. Some drinks combine electrolytes and proteins- maybe Vitalyte has them? I know Infinit does.

As for the fast food stops… restaurants such as Burger King would be very challenging if you can’t eat bread. I would say you are better off ordering two egg sandwiches (and eating only the eggs) and having an ice cream Sunday than eating nuggets and fries.


#6

This is a very interesting topic. Being a vegetarian, I struggle with the food. I keep one back pocket pull of dates, raw pistachios, walnuts and pecans. I too love the San Marco bars! I tried GU which got me through a hot century. I did a double century a few years ago and our Sag had my food which was bowls of quinoa and roasted veggies and lentils avocados and and was just fine. A lot of rides now have the potatoes which are great!! I always have oatmeal with a mashed banana and raw walnuts in it before my ride. I do the workouts in a fasted state with just black coffee and water because they are early in the morning.

Love all the information - thanks @Coach_Theia!


#7

I regularly take boiled eggs when on MTB events as I can pop them in the pack I carry but haven’t taken them out on a road ride as no room in my jersey. I did take salted baby potatoes in my jersey pocket (in a plastic food bag not just loose in my pocket) for my last 100 miler and they were fantastic :grin:


#8

Sallie, I would recommend having something small before your workout in the morning instead of doing them fasted. It’s OK to do an easy ride fasted, but workouts require carbs for performance and to counteract the effects of cortisol. This becomes even more important for women.

Eating carbs before a high intensity workout:

  • Fuels your training and helps with recovery. You need carbs even for short, high-intensity training. So unless you’re just going for an easy spin, ensuring that you have some carbs in your system will improve high intensity performance.

  • Preserves muscle and liver glycogen . This tells your brain that you are well fed, and helps increase muscle retention and growth.

  • Stimulates the release of insulin . When combined with protein, this improves protein synthesis and prevents protein breakdown.

For women in particular:

Without available blood glucose from carbs, it’ll be harder to hit the intensities you want during exercise. What’s more, it could impair your recovery, which can stand in your way of building lean mass and encourage your body to put on fat instead.

The stress hormone cortisol naturally rises when you sleep so it’s higher in the morning. Eating before the early morning workout increases your blood sugar to help bring cortisol back to baseline, but fasting keeps it high. Exercise may be a good stressor, but it further elevates cortisol levels. Over time, chronic high cortisol levels can drive inflammation, predisposing you to anemia and hormonal problems that throw off your menstrual cycle.

So the bottom line is, have something, even if it is small, like bananas with some nut butter, or even banana and maple syrup. I like to mash a bananas and mix it with maple syrup and protein powder.


#9

I’ve done a 200 mile ride and a 24-hour race and will be doing a 24-hour race again this summer. I’m vegan and fuel 100% with whole food. I make black bean bites that have dates and nuts in them that hold up really well to heat. Also, those single serve nut butter packets are fantastic. They tend to be spendy though but you could get yourself some re-usable squeeze containers and make your own nut butter concoctions. Chocolate zucchini bread and chocolate chip banana bread hold up well too as do cinnamon raisin pancakes. Add nuts and seeds to everything. Also good is a whole wheat flour tortilla filled with mashed banana, nut butter and possibly anything else you might want. Burritos are wonderfully portable! Homemade rice balls are also good. I like to flavor mine with tahini.

On my 24 hour race my husband provided support and in the middle of the night I stopped for a brief rest and had a peanut butter and banana sandwich. In the morning the event provided breakfast and I had a bowl of cheerios with oatmilk --that was the best bowl of cereal I have eaten in my life! Early afternoon my husband brought me a huge bowl of oatmeal. The rest of the time I ate on the bike every 20-30 minutes.

Eating for long events takes practice. The things that taste good for the first 100 miles are going to taste terrible at 150 miles so experiment with flavors and be sure to have a variety of things available to you.

I always have a bottle of electrolytes too but after 100 miles or so it never fails to start to upset my stomach no matter what brand I try so I try to make sure my food is a good source of electrolytes too (salt, potassium, magnesium and calcium).

Good luck @stacypro and have fun!


#10

@Stefanie - I am vegan/whole foods plant based as well. I’d love to get your recipe for the black bean bites! I’m always looking for things that won’t get all gross in the summer heat.


#11

Here you go @sublimewinter:

These taste good with adzuki beans too. I leave out the coconut oil and I will also make these with medjool dates instead of maple syrup. It’s an easy recipe to experiment with and unlike so many other bites I also like to make, these don’t get mushy unless it’s really hot.


#12

@Stefanie I am always amazed by the recipes you have. If you ever decide to switch carrers, you could open a Vegan “Food Shop” or “Snack Boutique” or something along those lines.


#13

LOL @Coach_Theia! I’ve got sooo many recipes! I am a great collector of them. And then I give them to my husband and say, make this for me :grin: One of these days I am going to get him to make chickpea and potato empanadas because I think that sounds like it would be awesome ride food.


#14

I also have the nut butter packs. I have also put some oatmeal in a snack size ziplock and when ready I bite off a corner and squeeze!

I just recently started the 16:8 life so the first weekend I did my two-day Bike MS rides where each day was a metric. I started off with black coffee and water. I did put acv with Himalayan sea salt and water and was fine - ate around noon - pulled over and had stuff in my musette bag . Didn’t think I could do it but was absolutely fine be energized.


#15

Vitalyte unfortunately doesn’t have any protein. :frowning: I’m experimenting with whether I can add some whey protein to a bottle of it and still drink it. My husband uses Enduralyte on long rides, which has protein, but it’s too chalky for me.

I love hard boiled eggs but worry about them being able to stand the Phoenix heat on long rides. How about mini egg cups? I’m super intrigued by people who use cooked and salted baby potatoes because I’ve noticed potatoes are a great fuel for me (hence my love of french fries in spite of the fat).

People who use nut butter- I’m surprised that it isn’t too heavy on the fat for midride? I have done homemade Larbars but they tend to crumble. I’m allergic to cashews and pistachios so I have to be very careful about any commercial bars that I use because I’ve found many upset my stomach or are cross-contaminated. The Skratch Labs bars that @Coach_Theia uses are out for that reason. They all contain cashew. :frowning:

As for lunches, I’m afraid that an ice cream sundae halfway through a ride would wreck my stomach. A milkshake or DQ Blizzard does as well (although sometimes I do them anyways for a treat). I guess I’ll have to keep experimenting there.


#16

I guess everyone is different… I can’t stomach any nuts or nut butters during a ride, unless they are a small part of a bar with other ingredients.

A friend just told me that she likes Infinit with protein because it is not chalky. The only potential issue I see with adding whey to the electrolytes is getting to an osmolality that is not well absorbed in the gut. That’s where using the pre-made stuff is helpful.


#17

Hi @Coach_Theia, Thank you for the useful information about cortisol.

Is there a specific time during the day that you’d recommend for workouts for optimal performance/improvements (and also lessen the cortisol effect on the body)?


#18

@grace you can counter the effects of cortisol by eating before the workout, so that it doesn’t matter what time of the day you train.

As for performance itself, there are studies comparing time of exercise/training with the person’s circadian phenotype (similar to what we normally refer to as being a “morning” person vs. a “night owl”, etc), and showing that people perform better if they train at a time more aligned with their circadian phenotype. For example, the best time for me is early to mid-morning. I also think we have a pretty good feeling of when that time is for us, based on how you usually feel (energy level) throughout the day.

From a practical standpoint, however, that level of fine-tuning is not worth chasing unless you are either an elite/pro-athlete or have the flexibility to train whenever you want. Furthermore, for most of us, we will see significantly higher levels of performance if we focus on our overall well-being off the bike, such as:

  • Good nutrition;
  • Quality sleep;
  • Decreased stress;
  • Quality training.

Let me know if you have any other questions!


#19

@stacypro I’ve done a wide variety of long distance events like Stefanie. I had to train my stomach to handle more complex foods during rides, because for the 24 hour rides there was not time to stop for a meal to replenish adequately since some were races. I needed fats and protein to get me through.

I’ve added in peanut butter M&Ms, beef jerky, nut butter packets like @Stefanie said, cheese sticks, donuts, hard boiled eggs, energy bars, you name it. I was self-fueling from rural convenience stores so my food choices reflect the options. :wink: I definitely eat much differently for 100 miles than I do 200+. I think the ideas here are a great selection of options, and as you increase your mileage try different things to find out what works best for your stomach. You may find that you’re “weird” like me and need a different blend of carbs / fats / protein than others to keep your body and brain happy on the ride. Good luck!


#20

Great points, @Melissa! And convenience stores/gas stations might actually be better than the alternative!