I'm concerned I'm abusing my body by not eating properly before I ride.
I usually ride one to two times a week at 20 to 45 miles a ride generally keeping my heart rate at 75% to 100% max.
My routine is wake, coffee, stretch, ride.
I like to ride early so there isn't any time to eat and digest anything. I find that if I eat before I ride, the food tends to want to revisit at inopportune times during the ride. I've tried food powders with mixed results.
I only carry Cytomax and a Power or Cliff Bar.
I rarely bonk and when it does happen it's usually after a very light dinner the night before.
My thought has been "if it works why fix it" but I'm afraid that over time I could be harming my body or something.
I must admit I haven't researched the subject much.
My beloved 2001 Litespeed Tuscany and my 2014 Cannondale SuperSix EVO Hi-Mod Team bike
IMHO you are asking for trouble by not eating something a little more substantial before riding, especially when you do longer rides.
I always eat something (cereal or oatmeal, fruit or juice, and plenty of water) before riding. If I don't I have no energy or strength after 15 miles. On those occasions, it is a struggle just to get home. I don't quite bonk (I don't think), but feel like crap.
A Powerbar (or whatever you like) after 15 or 20 miles helps me the rest of the way. That's probably why there are rest stops about every 8 to 15 miles in any organized ride, like a century.
You body needs fuel to train or just do long rides. If necessary get up a little earlier.
Listen to your body, don't neglect it.
Last edited by RonH; 07-27-01 at 10:32 AM.
When the spirits are low, when the day appears dark, when work becomes monotonous, when hope hardly seems worth having, just mount a bicycle and go out for a spin down the road, without thought on anything but the ride you are taking. — Arthur Conan Doyle
Greg - Doing only one to two rides a week, I doubt that you're doing any really serious damage by not eating before you ride. However, your performance is likely to benefit on the longer rides (closer to the 45 than the 20) if you eat something either before or during the ride. (All kinds of info in books, on websites, etc. re: what foods give you quick energy, sustained energy, etc. -- I'm sure someone on this forum can recommend a few.) The other advantage to eating before or during your longer training rides is to get accustomed to eating and riding so that you CAN do it without trouble when you do a longer ride . . . say a century . . . and will absolutely HAVE TO eat.
I know that I can do up to 50 miles without having eaten first, but if I'm doing much more than 20 miles my performance definitely suffers. For a 20 mile ride first thing in the a.m. (I'm talking 4:30 or 5:00 ), I don't eat anything either . . . in fact, I don't even do coffee. But on the weekends when I'm doing around 50, I usually have a bagel or muffin before I go. That and my 2 bottles of Gatorade solution (1/2 Gatorade and 1/2 water), and I'm good to go. -- For those centuries though, I need my PBJ and banana every 25 miles or so. -- Good luck figuring out what works for you.
I typically commute 14 miles to work in the morning on a cup of coffee and large glass of orange juice.
The important thing for me (I am also open to correction) is that I eat ASAP after the ride, plenty of protein and complex carbs. This helps my muscles recover for the trip home. Overall, I try to keep a balanced diet, eating my veg's.
Your comment about the previous night's dinner reflects the importance of eating after a ride to recover for the next ride. Your muscles need time (and nutrients) to rebuild.
If you feel bad during or after the rides you're doing, eat something. It's best to eat 2 hours before you ride so the blood you need for your muscles doesn't go to your stomach and to give the stuff time to digest so it can do you some good.
You only really need to eat during a ride if you're out for over two to three hours. If you do eat, drink extra water. Eat something within 20 minutes of getting home for better recovery.
The above is a rough guide, listen to your body to see what works for you.
Just as important as eating, if not more, is to replace your electrolytes, (salt, potassium etc.) especially if you sweat very much or are riding in cold weather. if you drink only water youcan very easily. I've found some new stuff to the US, popular in Europe with the Pros, called Enervit. Enervit comes in powder for your water bottle and tablet (Enervit G) form. Gatorade and related drinks help, but Enervit I've found that works much better and the ingredient list is a jillion times longer, includes vitamins and even tastes good! I've had much less trouble with cramps etc. since I've been using it and feel much better during and after rides. I don't like to go without it now. If your salt /electrolite levels get low stay away from salt tablets they can be too strong. Chips and salsa work well if you can't get or run out of replacement drinks, powder, gel etc.
Enervit also makes some energy replacement stuff, it seems to work, I've only tried it once. ( I only take the energy replacements along if I'm going for a long ride) I have a bunch of Hammer Gel to use up before I try it again I KNOW I like that stuff. Try some Pro Max bars sometime, they taste much better than the others (I like the Fudge). The combinaiton of Hammer Gel and ProMax have saved by butt more than once when I'm "in the country"
If you were doing it wrong, you would have to ask... you'd know.
I'd suggest if your schedule doesn't allow getting up early enough for a meal, try eating a banana, Nature Valley granola bar, a Powerbar, whatever ...something that won't require much from your digestive system... with the coffee. Two reasons. In my experience, drinking coffee without something else to slow down the absorption of caffeine is inviting blood-sugar trouble, and, as you've already observed, you're running on last nights meal. The energy from the banana/whatever will start to become available after an hour or so, to help tide you over. Eat/drink during the ride as you have been.
Originally posted by pat5319 I've found some new stuff to the US, popular in Europe with the Pros, called Enervit
The Enervit sounds like good stuff. How does cost compare Cytomax, Endurox, etc.?
Pat, I know what you mean about eating immediately after a ride. Sometimes I run to a bowl of raisen bran like a zombie from hell. I don't normally allow myself to sweat into my bowl/plate in any other circumstance.
Has anybody heard anything about the long term effects of running a body hard on light fuel? I'm just afraid of changing my chemistry down the road.
I think I did read something about metabolism changes somewhere, getting slower in those circumstances, but you'd have to go to extremes. My guess from what youv'e said, your'e going the other way slighty, which is good
You should ride your heart beat a little lower sometimes, read some books and articles etc. By some experenced, people with good Palmares/results coaches etc. If you ride with it high all of the time like you describe you'll get "stale"