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  1. #1
    Junior Member MaryRoseMaguire's Avatar
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    Best foods to eat before a ride?

    My husband and I love fruit and that's often the first thing I eat for the day. But I'm wondering what kinds of food will give me the energy I need as I ride?

    I know carbs are needed. But yet I had a breakfast of scrambled eggs, toast and two small sausage links and felt a bit sluggish on a ride a few days ago. I carried some granola with dried fruit and nut and nibbled on it, which made me feel a little more energetic.

    I want to burn the extra weight I don't need but yet want to avoid low energy crashes. Any suggestions? (Or link me to another thread, if you know of one.) Thanks in advance!

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    My Hammy GT2R's Avatar
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    Without starting a diet war, I suggest a Paleo diet. Eat often and don't cheat, it will change how you look at food. Carb loading is not as potent or long lasting as burning "heavier fuel". Works for my family.

    Everyone is different read and experiment.
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  3. #3
    Texas Tornado copswithguns's Avatar
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    I usually start with a glass or two of water and something light like fruit. If I have time to plan, I will sometimes eat a protein shake with banana and peanut butter in it.
    "Speed never killed anyone. Suddenly becoming stationary...Now that's what gets you." -Jeremy Clarkson

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    SuperGimp TrojanHorse's Avatar
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    you can eat whatever you want but keep in mind your body will be digesting it for the first 3 hours. If I get up early for a ride (meaning, the ride is early) I'll just have a clif bar as I head out the door. I know my body can handle those. Something like a banana would be terrific fuel too.

  5. #5
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    I probably do it all wrong but since I work second shift and usually don't get to bed until 2:30-3:00 am. I usually don't eat anything until about noon. I get up and make coffee and mess around on the computer while I enjoy it. Then I get dressed and either work around the house or go ride until my wife comes home for lunch about noon. We have lunch then I get ready for work. I usually only eat a small snack of a cheese stick until our supper break at 7:45 pm. I am hungry when I get home but try not to eat but usually give in. Lately I have found I can eat about a half a can of spinach with a little salt right out of the can and satisfy myself until lunch the next day. Funny thing is I don't care fro fresh spinach but love the canned stuff.

    I tried eating a little before a ride but on the length of rides I have time for on work days I can't tell any difference. I do sometimes get me a big drink of V-8 since I keep a bottle in the fridge all the time.

  6. #6
    Senior Member mrodgers's Avatar
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    I was going to ask this same sort of question.

    I ride at 2 distinct different times during the week. If I come home from work (3pm quit time) we eat dinner around 4:15-4:30 when the kids get home from school and before my wife has to leave for work. That's fine, I eat dinner, head out to the trail and do my hour on the bike.

    The problem I'm finding is when I go straight to the trail right after work. I eat lunch at around 11:30 and since we are accustomed to eating dinner now so early, I'm usually hungry when I'm getting off work knowing I'll be eating dinner soon. The few times I've gone to the trail right after work, I found myself exhausted at around mile 8-9 of my 12 mile ride. I looked up recipes for homemade energy bars and holy moly there's a lot of calories in those things. I don't want a huge amount of calories as I will still be eating dinner pretty much right after my ride, but I need something to snack on during the drive to the trail so I can make it through my whole 12 miles.

    I don't need 300-400 calories as a snack. I just want a bit of boost to start out my ride with. I suppose calories is calories and I could just make some sort of granola bar thing and cut them up smaller than what most recipes state. It's still difficult for me to look at caloric value vs. quantity value and seems that a small maybe 2 bite size of an "energy bar" type thing wouldn't cut it because of the quantity thought.
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  7. #7
    Senior Member MikeRides's Avatar
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    During the week, I don't eat anything special for my "training" rides. When I do longer rides on the weekend, I usually eat a big breakfast (2 eggs over easy, fried potatoes, slice of toast, a banana and sausage gravy poured over eggs & potato) with a cup of coffee (or two) about 2 hours before I'm ready to leave. This usually keeps me full til dinner time.

    For times I feel sluggish on the bike, I find protein (nuts, beef jerky) to work best. I keep a bag of trail mix in my bike bag at all times, and for longer rides I try to remember to throw in some beef jerky as well. The beef jerky really saved me from bonking on my longest ride to date (52miles).
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  8. #8
    Getting older and slower!
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    When I ride early, 6:30-8:00 a.m., breakfast is a clif bar, or toast with peanut butter. And I make sure to hydrate with at least 12 ozs of water. And I always have some snack with me, but probably won't eat it if I ride less than 30 miles. My usual morning rides are 50-60 miles, which calls for a rest stop, fluids, and a snack. But I have ridden centuries like this, with a snack every 20-30 miles or so.

    If I ride another time, I just don't eat heavy an hour before I ride.

    Our bodies have plenty of stored fuel, just eat enough to prime the reserves.

  9. #9
    got the climbing bug jsigone's Avatar
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    payday bars are becoming my new fav before and during my long rides

  10. #10
    Senior Member tunavic's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TrojanHorse View Post
    you can eat whatever you want but keep in mind your body will be digesting it for the first 3 hours. If I get up early for a ride (meaning, the ride is early) I'll just have a clif bar as I head out the door. I know my body can handle those. Something like a banana would be terrific fuel too.
    For me this works too.

  11. #11
    Commuter & cyclotourist brianogilvie's Avatar
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    How long are you riding?

    If I'm out for less than 40 miles, I don't eat anything other than my normal meal. Since I've been on a 600-calorie daily deficit since January, and I like to have a 2-3 course dinner, my breakfast is usually a slice of toast with butter, and a couple cups of coffee. I often cycle in the afternoon; my lunch is usually around 400 calories, either a sandwich or hummus with vegetables and pita.

    Longer than 40 miles and I'll usually have a more substantial breakfast, mostly carbs but sometimes eggs or bacon. I haven't noticed a difference in my performance. On the ride, I bring a bottle of Gatorade (and some extra powder, stored in an old plastic spice bottle) and try to eat and drink 200-300 calories an hour, to keep my blood glucose levels up. I miscalculated on an 82-mile ride last Friday (ate less than I had thought), and needed a Snickers bar to recover from an incipient bonk. I was also dehydrated, I realized afterwards.

    On August 24, on the other hand, I rode the 100K D2R2, with around 7,000 feet of climbing. I figure I ate about 550 calories before the ride (toast with butter, and a bagel with cream cheese), and then about 850 calories during the ride, some of it Gatorade but much of it at lunch. I probably expended about 3000 calories on the ride, but between what I had for breakfast and what I ate during the ride, I was full of energy the whole time.

    I've sat down for tuna-fish sandwiches and grilled cheese in the middle of a 200K, and I had no problem digesting them. My favorite on-the-ride lunch is peanut butter sandwiches. The one time I indulge in sugary soft drinks is while riding, since I need the energy and I find the carbonation makes them easier to swallow.

    My wife, on the other hand, needs to eat something, preferably with easily digestible sugars, every 20 miles or so, or she runs low on steam.

    In short, we're all different. Sounds as if you suspect that protein and fat (sausage and eggs) make you feel sluggish. Try it again a couple times; if the results are the same, then stick to carbohydrates before riding. Experiment with how far you can ride without eating or drinking anything beyond water, but keep some sports drink or simple sugar food (like shot blocks) in your bag in case you bonk. After a while, you'll know what works for you.
    Public accountability: my Beeminder weight loss graph.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by jsigone View Post
    payday bars are becoming my new fav before and during my long rides
    Payday bars have been on my favorites list for years, just cause they are GOOD! They also don't melt on a hot day.

  13. #13
    got the climbing bug jsigone's Avatar
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    Yup I just jammed 4 payday bars in my pocket before Saturday's ling ride and timed in places I can pedal lightly and eat on the fly. They don't melt in the heat but just make it a bit harder to unwrap in one or two tries. Box at smart n final is $15 for box of 24. About a 1/4 cheaper then the clif bars I normally get.

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    If you don't want any drafters, a can of beans will do the trick.

    I ride so slow that I don't need anything special for a ride. I think for the guys that are going full out some carb jells and such help keep their energy levels high.

    You will have to experiment to see what works for you. I think that high fat meals are going to make you sluggish. High carb meals may make you start strong and then feel depleted. If you like steel cut oats, that is probably a great meal before a ride. Oats have a great history behind them like the Roman army eating oats and marching long distances.

  15. #15
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    my fave for hot weather is a banana and cantaloupe and or watermelon. If over 40 miles I pack a cliff bar, and some jell packs. I refill water at convenience store on long rides. May eat a Mr Goodbar and buy some gatoraid.

    Rod

  16. #16
    Senior Member JimF22003's Avatar
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    I don't eat anything before normal daily rides (30 miles or so.) If I'm going on a long ride my traditional pre-ride "meal" is an apple and a banana for the delicious carbishness.
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  17. #17
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    Depending on the length of the ride I won't have much more than a banana or some fruit, but it depends on when I get time to ride and whether it was close to a meal or not (the rides are usually not planned as things are going on with the family, so I get out when I can).

    I don't have a review yet (it's in the mail on its way here), but I just picked up Feed Zone Portables, and it looks like it has some interesting ideas. If it goes well, I may pick up the regular Feed Zone cook book, which has more meals for throughout the day and not just smaller things meant for on rides.

  18. #18
    Senior Member Zoxe's Avatar
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    Short rides (under 25mi) I don't do anything specific beforehand.

    For long morning rides and especially events, I try to eat as normal as possible. My focus is less on energy and more on avoiding stomach upset or an emergency joy-john stop. For me, that means coffee and a bowl of breakfast cereal.

    For out of town events, I'll grab a clif bar and lobby coffee since usually I'm up and out before the hotel buffet opens.
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  19. #19
    Klaatu..Verata..Necktie? genejockey's Avatar
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    Depends on when and how far I'm going to ride.

    <20 miles, first thing in the morning, I'm good to go with two cups of black coffee and no food. Beyond 20 miles, I'll need something like half a Clif bar to get home without bonking.

    >20 miles, or later in the morning, I'll have my usual breakfast of yogurt with walnuts and dried fruit. If it's later still, I'll eat half a peanut butter and honey sandwich, and/or a banana.

    >25 miles, I'll drink 1 bottle/hour of Cytomax.

    But I always carry a Clif bar or equivalent, which I rarely eat. But it's there if I need it.
    "Don’t take life so serious—it ain’t nohow permanent."

  20. #20
    Senior Member Null66's Avatar
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    There's a lot out on the web about 'fueling' for different athletic activities.

    If I remember correctly presuming "normal" athlete at "normal" rates of exertion: one hour plain water is just fine, 2+ hours water and some carbs... 100-300 calories per hour, greater then 2 hours (or high heat/humidity) may need to attend to those plus electrolytes (salts and minerals).

    The trick comes in that you can only absorb and make available to your muscles a given rate of calories per hour per type of nutrient. Like ~100 cals/hour of fructose. Oh you can eat far more, but only ~100 will be processed and available for glucogenisis (creating glocose out of fat and proteins).

    But I find that I have pretty decent glycogen stores and am pretty bonk resistant. I've been lifting and riding awhile. (Just broke 1k on the bike I built this may/june).

    The less fit the lower the rate you can burn and worse yet the lower you can process and make ready to burn. All this comes with miles.

    Traditional touring foods:
    bananas, apples, oranges, fig newtons, dried fruit, nuts to a lesser degree. Even gatorade if you can stand it...

    You need to provide enough carbs to allow you to convert fat and protein to glucose / glycogen.

    After several hard rides where I could not get enough calories in to not BONK!...

    I found this stuff:
    http://www.hammernutrition.com/produ...petuem.pp.html

    I wanted to avoid the traditional long rides fuels as they tend to be fructose based and likely induce insulin spikes (last thing I need)...

    I'm using perpetuem I do notice that it doesn't resolve low blood sugar all of a sudden like a sugar based one would. But the low blood sugar seems to ebb... A much flatter more consistent response. Just like the claims...

    I use it at 1/2 the recommended dose/rate. But then I'm not moving as fast as the charts must presume. I seem to do fine at 100 cals of carbs an hour, 200+ if running fast, unless it is first thing in the am and I have not eaten breakfast....

    I would suggest you try and avoid bonking, but also experiment finding out how far/fast you can go for an hour. Sometimes the first sign you have of bonking is the crash... I've noticed that my thighs burn at higher cadence, then I wobble, and then I'm not to be trusted with decisions or staying on the bike. I'm sure there are other signs after the burn and again after the wobble. But perhaps I'm not able to perceive them.

  21. #21
    The Left Coast, USA FrenchFit's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MaryRoseMaguire View Post
    My husband and I love fruit and that's often the first thing I eat for the day. But I'm wondering what kinds of food will give me the energy I need as I ride?

    I know carbs are needed. But yet I had a breakfast of scrambled eggs, toast and two small sausage links and felt a bit sluggish on a ride a few days ago. I carried some granola with dried fruit and nut and nibbled on it, which made me feel a little more energetic.

    I want to burn the extra weight I don't need but yet want to avoid low energy crashes. Any suggestions? (Or link me to another thread, if you know of one.) Thanks in advance!
    If you want to gain weight by biking, a meal beforehand, and fueling during, is a great idea. If you want to lose weight forget the food unless you are going over 50 miles. If you are worried about bonking because your glycogen reserves are iffy take a bottle with diluted Cytomax, that will do wonders if you bonk. Learn to burn fat, you'll be glad you did.
    Last edited by FrenchFit; 09-03-13 at 08:46 PM.

  22. #22
    Senior Member imacflyr3's Avatar
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    For my shorter, after work rides, I try to drink about a 16 oz or so cup of iced coffee. The caffeine kick is usually more than enough to get me through the evening ride.
    For my longer rides I usually just eat my normal breakfast... cereal w/banana and blueberries, a yogurt and iced coffee.
    I always carry a clif bar or two. Many times I'll also have some powdered energy drink to throw in one of my water bottles.

  23. #23
    Zeusmeatball Push's Avatar
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    If I am heading out on a longer ride and its in the am (usually is) I drink a half of a cup of black coffee, 1 serving of honey nut cheerios (weighed out) with almond milk, and a banana before the ride, 30 minutes or so. Then I bring a Zone bar for the half way point or when/if I get hungry during the ride, works for me so I go with it.
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  24. #24
    Senior Member Shepp30's Avatar
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    I have coffee and a bowl of steel-cut or rolled oats oatmeal (I like to chew it :-) with blueberries and walnuts on Saturday and Sunday mornings before rides, actually whether I ride or not. I'll take several fruit and nut breakfast bars and Gatorade if I am going to be out longer than two hours. My 1-1.5 hour rides in the evening after work are the rides that create my calorie deficit, but I prefer to eat a little before heading out - whatever the family is having for dinner - and than ride it off. If I happen to ride before dinner, I'll have a small portion of whatever we're having when I get back or not eat dinner at all on occasion.
    Last edited by Shepp30; 09-04-13 at 01:01 PM.

  25. #25
    Senior Member ill.clyde's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mrodgers View Post
    I don't need 300-400 calories as a snack. I just want a bit of boost to start out my ride with. I suppose calories is calories and I could just make some sort of granola bar thing and cut them up smaller than what most recipes state. It's still difficult for me to look at caloric value vs. quantity value and seems that a small maybe 2 bite size of an "energy bar" type thing wouldn't cut it because of the quantity thought.
    Almonds? A handful can be quite satisifying and healthy and give you a little "bulk" if you don't think a granola bar will do.

    Quote Originally Posted by jsigone View Post
    payday bars are becoming my new fav before and during my long rides
    I LOVE Paydays ... honestly they're a beautiful little "energy bar" wrapped up as candy! They've become a go to at times. The fun size ones are a nice little pick me up before or during a ride. And if I feel like I "need" something sweet, it's my choice if I can find one.

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