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  1. #1
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    Pre-ride, in-ride, post-ride meals/nutrition?

    Just curious on what you guys eat on those 3 times.
    I'm 18 and started riding couple of months ago, and started seriously just a week ago.
    I'm looking into doing hours of riding and did a couple recently and felt powerless mid-ride with my stomach grumbling. I resisted to eat at the fast food places I was passing by.
    I've seen riders carry gel and whatnot but is there any other nutrition to eat? Like should I just carry a banana or something?
    What would you recommend for a starter?

  2. #2
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    Let's see. Usually for my Saturday rides of 50 miles, I wake up drink a glass of water. Take a poop, then head out. Drink water during the rides and if I remember to bring one, a cliff bar at the halfway point. Then when I get home, basically anything and everything I can find that is carbs and protein. Like a protein shake with milk and peanut butter and bananas. Or a peanut butter and banana sandwich. Or these homemade ricecakes with peanut butter. (I like peanut butter). And Sunday for my 60 mile ride, usually the same routine. Except maybe I bring a banana to eat during the ride as well. I'm not very good with advice....

  3. #3
    Senior Member elcruxio's Avatar
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    Pre ride
    At least 50 grams of carbs, no natter what kind. Usually a light meal or a sugary drink.

    Mid ride.
    Juice, choclate and/or glucose tablets. Have to have s constant supply or my blood sugar will get too low and I will feel it in my lower back. I haven't counted this but 30-40 grams of carbs per hour seems about right.

    After ride
    40-50 grams of carbs in form of meal and milk and lots of protein (no overload though. 10-30 grams depending on the meal)

    I'm a type 1 diabetic so my carb intake is a bit higher than normal, but these guidelines work for healthy people too. Although usually carbs or hydration are not required on rides shorter than one hour.
    After ride meal with carbs and protein is the most important one. Carbs fill up muscle energy reserves so they don't have to use body mass for energy and protein ensures muscle developement. For recovery carbs are more important but protein is also extremely essential.

    For possible mid ride stuff for eating.
    All commercial gels and bars are expensive and only really handy for racing and personal tt where you don't want to waste time. For general riding normal food works. Put a bit of sugary juice concentrate on one watef bottle, tuck a few small sandwiches in your jersey pockets, raisins are cheap, good tasting and great for mid ride carbs as are other dried fruits. Nuts are a so so since they contain a lot of fat and protein but little carbs.

    And remember. In the grand tours riders eat a normal meal mid ride (sandwiches and stuff) and resort to gels when stuff is about to go down, excluding personal preference of course.

    Food is food. Don't go broke over it

  4. #4
    Rubber side down Clipped_in's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by elcruxio View Post
    Pre ride
    At least 50 grams of carbs, no natter what kind. Usually a light meal or a sugary drink.

    Mid ride.
    Juice, choclate and/or glucose tablets. Have to have s constant supply or my blood sugar will get too low and I will feel it in my lower back. I haven't counted this but 30-40 grams of carbs per hour seems about right.

    After ride
    40-50 grams of carbs in form of meal and milk and lots of protein (no overload though. 10-30 grams depending on the meal)

    I'm a type 1 diabetic so my carb intake is a bit higher than normal, but these guidelines work for healthy people too. Although usually carbs or hydration are not required on rides shorter than one hour.
    After ride meal with carbs and protein is the most important one. Carbs fill up muscle energy reserves so they don't have to use body mass for energy and protein ensures muscle developement. For recovery carbs are more important but protein is also extremely essential.

    For possible mid ride stuff for eating.
    All commercial gels and bars are expensive and only really handy for racing and personal tt where you don't want to waste time. For general riding normal food works. Put a bit of sugary juice concentrate on one watef bottle, tuck a few small sandwiches in your jersey pockets, raisins are cheap, good tasting and great for mid ride carbs as are other dried fruits. Nuts are a so so since they contain a lot of fat and protein but little carbs.

    And remember. In the grand tours riders eat a normal meal mid ride (sandwiches and stuff) and resort to gels when stuff is about to go down, excluding personal preference of course.

    Food is food. Don't go broke over it
    There are some really good ideas contained in this:
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  5. #5
    Galveston County Texas 10 Wheels's Avatar
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    Visit your local grocery store in The Breakfast Section.

    They will have many food bars that work well when riding.
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  6. #6
    just another gosling Carbonfiberboy's Avatar
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    You'll see varying advice. Those who have years of riding in their legs and who ride frequently can easily ride 50 miles and eat nothing. I believe the record for riding without eating or drinking is 267 miles, something like that, by a RAAM veteran. These folks can ride like that because they have developed their ability to burn fat to a very high degree.

    You are just starting out. cruxio, above, has it about right. Most folks do well on oatmeal and milk before the ride, then something on the order of 1 Clif Bar or similar/hour. Bananas, fig newtons and similar work perfectly well. Nothing too dry, though. Then a combination of carbs and protein immediately after the ride, in the first 10 minutes. For post-ride, I use a home-made recovery drink because I'm lactose intolerant, but chocolate milk, or a pint of low-fat milk with 5 T. of sugar in it works perfectly. As you gain time in the saddle, meaning over the next couple of years, you'll gradually become more tolerant about before and during nutrition. If you are going to ride again the next day, post-ride nutrition will always be important.

  7. #7
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    Nothing before, and I'll eat a honey stinger after a little over two hours, and that is about it. Then I have a spinach/protein/berry smoothie when I get home. Supposedly keeps me in fat burn mode through the ride, and plenty of carbs/protein for recovery.

  8. #8
    Senior Member EdIsMe's Avatar
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    I used to do the whole cliffbar, gel, electrolyte drink, etc etc for every ride. Then one day last summer my coach wanted to prove a point and removed from me all my nutrition goodies and both water bottles directly before the start of a 60 mile group ride. I found out several minutes later that I was also expected to trade pulls with a teammate (under the same treatment) for 40 of those 60 miles. Halfway through he gave both of us 12 oz of water and a single jolly rancher each... just to make sure we didn't pass out before the end of the ride.

    Moral of the story: You can get by in a pinch on a lot less than you'd expect.

    I now use mostly just water and maybe gatorade if I'm feeling low on salt or sugar. For in-ride a small sandwhich, typically smoked or cured ham with some sort of hard cheese (swiss or cheddar) on wheat bread or similar. You can always try different things depending on your needs, but real food is best. I can typically ride now for up to 3-4 hours without anything, but it isn't really pleasant or the best thing to do.
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  9. #9
    King Hoternot bianchi10's Avatar
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    I HAVE to eat before a ride (at least an hour before to digest). For a 50+ mile ride I usually have oatmeal, toast and a home made egg mcmuffin.that seams to work well for me. Otherwise I bonk. Bring cliff bar for mid ride and anything I feel like when I get home. With a protein drink.

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    I just got back from this ride. http://app.strava.com/activities/57599067 Before I left I had a bowl of oatmeal and a glass of water. I brought 2 water bottles filled with gatorade, 2 energy gels, and a cookie. What I actually ate/drank was 1.5 of the bottles of gatorade and 1 of the energy gels. What I brought was probably overkill, but I like knowing I have stuff available should I start feeling myself bonk.
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  11. #11
    Coffin Dodger Pirkaus's Avatar
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    A PBJ or PB and Fluff with a banana 1/2 hour before a long ride with water
    Water and Gatorade to drink in ride, dried pineapple, banana chips, almonds and cashews in a grab bag, and a few Chunks of Energy. Drink before you are thirsty, eat before you are hungry.
    Carbs and protein of choice when you're done
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  12. #12
    Senior Member Homebrew01's Avatar
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    During a ride: bananas, granola bars, fruit bars ...... mostly carbs for quick fuel. Experiment with what you like.
    Bikes: Old steel race bikes, old Cannondale race bikes, less old Cannondale race bike, crappy old mtn bike

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    Thanks for the responses. Sorry if this is a dumb question but, what foods are "CARBS"?

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    Granola before morning ride. Maybe a snickers or similar before evening rides.
    Nutri-grain or Trader Joe's "A fig walks into a" bars during. Sometimes if I've made some banana bread lately I'll take some along.
    Today, chocolate milk after. It was great.


    Relnix; Carbs are carbohydrates, starches. Fast-burn calories. High in sugar foods, but also cereal products; pasta, bread, rice.

  15. #15
    Coffin Dodger Pirkaus's Avatar
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    Fast sugar (carbs), dried fruit, and nuts for some fat during ride
    Complex carbs, pasta, rice, whole grain bread before and after
    Pirk
    Triples are for the weak and the old.........I guess that make's me both
    If you wait until you're ready, you will wait forever.

  16. #16
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    before the ride oatmeal with peanut butter and a banana
    mid ride: cliff bar and a mix of 30% gatorade 70% water
    after ride: I have a protein shake as soon as I get home, then eat a meal(whatever I find that sounds good) like an hour later.

  17. #17
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    I eat cereal before my ride and drink a bcaa drink before every ride but sometimes my bike ride is my second workout of the day so I have a type of granola bar added the all this or a banana. I am new to cycling and been trying the different things marketed to us and I like the hammer gel so far during the ride. After I eat anything I want even though that is not the right thing to do but usually I make a home made smoothie with bananas blueberries and strawberries and put a thing called green vibrance in it.

    Im not a expert by any means but I know u need to be well hydrated and have some kind of food in you if your going to go farther. I only have a sports drink on occasion also. From what I understand these are not even neccasary and are really net even that good for you.

  18. #18
    Senior Member jtwilson's Avatar
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    75mi ride today. 3,200ft elevation gain, 19.3mph avg.

    pre: 4 beers, 3 slices pepperoni pizza
    during: 2 packs clif shot bloks, 1 clif bar, 3 bottles water with electrolyte tabs
    after: ??? beers, ??? slices pizza

  19. #19
    Senior Member elcruxio's Avatar
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    I should have posted this in my earlier post but I didn't want to be too scientific but here goes.

    It is possible to ride long distances without food because of glycogen. It is a core protein surrounded by glucose units and is essentially the body's own fuel unit. It gets stored in the muscles and liver. The muscle glycogen gets used up first and the liver essentially works as a reserve. When the muscle glycogen is used up the blood sugar levels will start to drop. When blood sugar drops to a sufficient low level the pancreas alpha cells activate releasing the counter hormone of insulin which in turn releases the liver glycogen reserves. The liver can hold up to 1500 caloriesof glycogen but glycogen gets usdd up pretty fast so that's two hours worth of energy.

    So in short after this prelude
    You bonk -> low blood sugar -> liver releases sugar and you recover and can continue. But there is a down side.
    Filling up the liver takes a few days of heavy carb intake. You get the normal levels with normal eating but if you really want to top up the tank thats gonna require something like 500 grams of carbs per day. Thats like double the daily carb recommendation.

    So if you use up your reserves on a long ride and do a long ride the next day it's probable you're gonna bonk a lot faster. So if doing long rides frequently it's a good idea to eat on rides and fill the tank after ride. Endurance athlete carb intake can be something like 800-900 grams a day. That is a lot of pasta.

    Then there is always the matter of fat metabolism which is the last resort of the body to cope in a long endurance event. But I don't know that much about that. It seems to be tha consensus in the sporting world that carbs as fast energy give the best performance.

    One thing is for certain though. Without hydration one cannot function. On short rides a non issua but over one hour no matter the temperature you need water (even if it is only for recovery purposes)

  20. #20
    ka maté ka maté ka ora pdedes's Avatar
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    going back what worked for me best during my racing days. real food. water. electrolytes.
    By the time you're experienced enough to get something germane out of a test ride, you won't need a test ride.

  21. #21
    Senior Member robabeatle's Avatar
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    If you want to ride hard day in and day out, you need to eat. There is a time and place for endurance rides with few calories (preseason). Sure you can ride 60 miles without nutrition but you aren’t going to ride as hard and recovery will be delayed.

    I have a regular breakfast (berrries, nuts, hemp protein, pea protein, oatmeal, almond milk, etc. ~600 calories) then I find for me, I need to take in about half of the calories I burn to stay fueled and recover. I have a PM so that I can monitor this carefully. Now, on short rides, i.e. 1.5 hours or less, I go with less, and on long rides, i.e. 4+ hours, I end up with a large deficiency. As soon as I get off the bike, I have a protein shake. I use pea protein at the moment. In the future, I’ll prolley will mix this with rice protein but I don’t think it matters all that much. (arguments over amino acid profiles can be made for mixing the two) Absolutely eat a bunch of greens/veggies: food packed with micronutrients within two hours.

    Oh, during the ride, I have used Probars for a long time but they are expensive. Today I am trying Ezekiel Sprouted Flax Bread with a tiny bit of almond butter and Prickly Pear Jelly. About 150 calories per slice if I estimate it right. (The jelly was a gift otherwise I’ll try any organic fruit jam.) This has a mix of carbs, protein, and fat. I find gels work really well but I am sticking with real food for the time.

    At the end of the day, everyone’s body works differently and you need to figure out what works for you and your goals.

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