Originally Posted by sprince
You do need protein every few hours. The key distinction here is that 3200 calories might be the right amount if you weigh 120 pounds and the level of effort is not too high. But more than likely that could be a huge calorie and protein deficit, and extract a considerable toll on your body the next day. Also keep in mind that 16 hours is basically a full waking day provided you are getting enough sleep. For me, 3200 calories on an completely sedentary day would be a weight loss plan. The the greater the effort, the higher the protein needs. I think you have to consider your goals for the day's effort versus realistic nutritional and recovery requirements. Or put another way, do you want to be fast today at the expense of being slower the next day or next week?
There's nothing wrong with chocolate unless your stomach is overly sensitive, just make sure it doesn't come with a lot of sugar. I'm not a fan of simple sugars, and especially something like Ensure which is basically absurdly over-priced liquid candy. Ironically, the magic of Fig Newtons as an energy source (just read the nutritional label) is the combination of dense nutrients and it's mega fat content.
For a 16 hour ride, 3200-4000 calories is the right amount because you're not going to pass more than that across the stomach wall. More than that winds up in the ditch. Ensure is about the best nutrient thing you can use for a ride. My friend who won the Furnace Creek 508 a couple years ago in about 24 hours went through IIRC 19 Ensures and assorted other high carb drinks and foods. That's what one does because that's what works. The proper amount of protein is not really in question. About 15% of calories has been found to be the right amount by many, many riders and coaches. More protein just slows you down, loads up the kidneys and does not contribute to the success of the ride.
The reason people don't eat chocolate on these rides is because if they did, they wouldn't finish inside the time limit, much less be competitive.
I don't use Fig Newtons, using Fig Newmans instead, so that's the label I have here. It says 2 cookies is 110 calories, of which 15 are from fat. I wouldn't call that "mega fat content." 23g of carbs and 1g (3.6%) of protein, so they are really a high carb, low protein fuel. Nice for a snack, but not good for long ride fuel. I see that Fig Newtons have 18 cal. fat instead of 15. Whoop de do.
Looking at an Ensure label, its 250 calories is 40g carbs and 9g protein or 14.4% protein, which is about right. The high protein is the reason it's used in nursing homes for those who don't need too many calories, but do need adequate protein. Ensure also contains a full complement of electrolytes, vitamins, and minerals, since it's designed to be the only food one really needs for periods which can be as long as months. But that's why it's such a good ride food. The only thing wrong with it is that it's heavy, so most people only use it for supported rides. I have heard of people doing 600k rides using Ensure they carried, but the weight really adds up if you're going to do one (~8 oz.) per hour.
If you don't get that protein, your legs really start to hurt after long hours. My experience anyway. I always take some BCAAs at the start of a ride and again periodically throughout the ride. They do help, even though I'm already getting that 15% of high quality protein.
It is possible to train one's body to absorb more than 250 cal./hr, which is what RAAM riders do. My friend, who's done solo RAAM says it's more of an eating contest than an ordinary bike race.