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  1. #1
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    Eating before riding

    Searched for this, and the most recent discussion ended last July, in addition I want to narrow it down a little. That thread was whether you eat breakfast or not, what I am interested in is who eats before they ride? I have always eaten more or less an hour before I ride, how much and what depends on the length and intensity of the ride. Usually a bowl of oatmeal, or maybe cheerios, an hour or so before the ride, cup of coffee or two. Friend of mine showed me the info on the Hammer nutrition site, makes a big deal out of not eating for 3 hours or so before the ride, but then start taking in calories, whether liquid, solid, or gel, in small frequent amouns soon after starting ride, the idea being a large meal diverts a lot of blood flow to the GI tract and can be detrimental to riding. I have tried that a couple of times on shorter rides early in the season, certainly didn't seem to do any harm, no bonking, but I can't honestly say I felt a lot better either. Any thoughts?

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    I think it really depends on what works for you and what type of rides you're doing. I've found that when I ride in the morning, about 200 calories is usually enough to keep me going for a 1.5 hour, pretty hilly ride. I've noticed that if I eat anything heavy directly before riding, I feel sluggish. I would be curious to know whether the idea of a large meal directing blood flow to the GI tract really just has to do with the type of meal you eat. Are they comparing what your body does while riding when it's trying to digest a meal of whole grains and veggies that you ate before the ride vs. what it does when it's trying to digest gels, bars, and other easily digestible foods that you ate on the bike?

    I have a feeling that this idea is related to bonk training. Bonk training is a good idea in theory but I don't know, glycogen is also fuel for your brain, which is a good thing to have fully functioning when you're going fast on a bike...

  3. #3
    Senior Member JimF22003's Avatar
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    If I'm planning a long ride, chances are I'm driving to the start (sad to say.) I usually have an apple and a banana on the way, maybe half an hour to an hour before the start.
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    I think you are confusing the information on the hammer nutrition website. What it's basically saying is, if you head out on a ride and have elevated blood sugars (i.e you have eaten within 3 hours) then your body will release a higher percentage of muscle glycogen to fat as you ride, thus making your endurance lower. If you start out on empty, or 3 hours after eating - then your blood sugars will have returned to normal, your body will start using a higher percentage of fat and you will have better endurance. This theory certainly does work - I use it myself in longer races. However, your performance will be better if you eat before - it's just that you won't have quite as good endurance. This has nothing to do with blood divertion to the stomach - that's an entirely individual thing.

    For me, I don't cycle well with a lot of food on my stomach. I tend to stick to some cereal or toast/bagel and coffee an hour before, I know some of my cycling buddies seem to be able to perform fine after eating a lot more. Just find what works for you. I personally feel that what you eat the night before is most important.
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  5. #5
    Senior Member Northwestrider's Avatar
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    Only lightly before and during the ride. I've never liked the feeling of a full stomach before a long ride, or any ride for that matter.

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    Morning rides under 2 hours I like to start them on an empty stomach. I eat something an hour into the ride to avoid catabolism (whether real or imagined), to practice eating while on the saddle, and to get the body used to digest food while riding.

    Try not to over think it too much. If you are doing something that is detrimental to riding, you will be able to tell right away. If you can't tell, then it doesn't matter.

    Then again the first time I ate while on the saddle I almost puked it right then and there. That was certainly detrimental to my riding

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    I think that 3 hour thing is about racing. I also think everyone is different, so you'll just have to experiment to see what works for you.
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  8. #8
    Senior Member Thulsadoom's Avatar
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    If I didn't eat for 3 hours before a race, or hard ride, I'd start hungry. I usually eat a large breakfast, get on the bike in an hour or so, warm up for 1/2 hour to an hour, then start ramping up to full intensity. I start nibbling after an hour or so on the bike.

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    I have to leave 3 hrs before something intense like ice hockey but I've never had a problem eating in the morning before a ride. If I'm riding in the morning they tend to be longer rides and intensity doesn't happen for a while.

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    If I don't eat something before I go out I'll bonk for sure. I usually eat something about 3 hours before I go out and then eat something like a granola bar or an energy bar after being out for 45-60 min.

  11. #11
    Senior Member Chini563's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by oujeep1 View Post
    Searched for this, and the most recent discussion ended last July, in addition I want to narrow it down a little. That thread was whether you eat breakfast or not, what I am interested in is who eats before they ride? I have always eaten more or less an hour before I ride, how much and what depends on the length and intensity of the ride. Usually a bowl of oatmeal, or maybe cheerios, an hour or so before the ride, cup of coffee or two. Friend of mine showed me the info on the Hammer nutrition site, makes a big deal out of not eating for 3 hours or so before the ride, but then start taking in calories, whether liquid, solid, or gel, in small frequent amouns soon after starting ride, the idea being a large meal diverts a lot of blood flow to the GI tract and can be detrimental to riding. I have tried that a couple of times on shorter rides early in the season, certainly didn't seem to do any harm, no bonking, but I can't honestly say I felt a lot better either. Any thoughts?
    I've heard you got to eat something like a bagel 3 hours befrore the ride then go back to sleep!
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  12. #12
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    I do that before I go xc-skiing in the winter. I'll have some carbs like a bagel and maybe a banana about 3 hours before I go out. xc-skiing is far more demanding than cycling (my HR is way up compared to cycling) so I'll be literally dead on my feet after an hour if I don't eat like that in the morning. With cycling I normally eat like that anyway regardless of whether I'm on the bike or not. If I don't eat I'll be out of gas after the first hill.

    I don't ever recall going out on a full stomach for either activity. I'd be too groggy and feel generally sluggish if I did that.
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  13. #13
    Mrs. Hop-along redeyedtreefr0g's Avatar
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    I'm a newbie, but I'll add my experience so far. I usually have a protein powder drink mixed in milk for breakfast before walking out the door- sometimes I'm slow and this makes sure I get something. That's at 5:30. Then I get my husband and have a yogurt while he drives me back to work at 8:00 and takes the car for the day. Lately I've been getting hungry before lunch at noon (should have it at 11 but a shuttle route prevents timing that well). If I ride in that morning opening of 9:00 to 10:45 I end up feeling starving. Usually I wait and eat lunch right as I get off the bus at noon, finish at 12:30 or so, and then change and go riding at 13:00. This gets me back and I can have my other snack at 14:00 with no trouble. Lunch is usually a can of soup (whole can) or a 6" subway sandwich.

    So I eat about a half hour before I ride, but the meals before that are both light, as is the one following.

  14. #14
    Member Karma007's Avatar
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    One slice of whole grain toast with jam, and (if I'm leaving from home) a glass of chocolate soy milk. If I'm driving somewhere, I have a latte and a small cookie. It's kind of a ritual.

  15. #15
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    I don't eat anything before a ride to school or I feel sluggish. When I arrive I'll eat a little. I think it depends on how you feel.

  16. #16
    just another gosling Carbonfiberboy's Avatar
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    Paulclaude is correct.

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