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  1. #1
    Senior Member hillcrawler's Avatar
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    Protein during a ride?

    When you are out for a 7-8 hours ride, should you take a break and take some proteins or is it a better idea to leave it to the dinner at home and fill the tank only with carbs throughout the whole course? I had once out for a 220 km ride and I was attacking the chocolate bars like a hungry wolf every time we take a break. Actually we had stopped in the middle of the ride in a restaurant like place and had some beans and rice but there is not much protein in the beans I guess and rice is all about carbs. No matter how much calories I burn, I don't like eating that much sugary stuff. What do you think? Is it a good idea to have some chicken or beef in the middle of a big ride?
    riding with pretty ****ed up knees since 2012
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  2. #2
    Senior Member bmontgomery87's Avatar
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    If I were riding for that long, I would definitely take a stop and have a balanced meal with protein/carbs/fat.

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    Nearly any ride over five hours for me means a full meal somewhere in there. I'm all about eating real food on longer trips, and then keeping the intensity a touch lower in the time following to let my digestive tract do some work.

    Granted, I've done rides up to 220 miles at a pace not conducive to eating -- but that's when it's basically the most crucial, and I suspect protein is part of that.

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    I have the same feeling about needing protein on longer rides. I put parmesian cheese and bacon in the rice cakes that I like to make. I don't care for the commercial drink mixes with protein, they make me fart too much and it feels like a knife is in my gut. Real food is better.

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    On 6+ hour rides, protein does help. That is why Hammer Perpeteum has a protein and fat blend. The Perpeteum has saved my bacon on several brevets and I am sure there are other brands that work as well. In fact, I have used GU recovery powder as fuel for a 16hr ride.

    Of course, I also ate a footlong Subway sandwich on the 16hr ride :-)
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  6. #6
    just another gosling Carbonfiberboy's Avatar
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    I never eat a full meal when on the bike, no matter how long, unless I'm touring and it doesn't really matter when I get to wherever. That said, protein is important on any ride over 3 hours. However, there's no need for over about 15% protein. F.I., if you're going to ride say 16 hours and you eat 200 cal/hr, that's 3200 calories * .15 = 480 calories protein or 120g = total daily protein requirement just from on-bike food.

    So yeah, eat a little protein or use a bike food that has integral protein, but mostly eat carbs and a little bit of fat. I do like "real food" like a Hostess fruit pie or a tuna sandwich or even a 6" sub if there's no climb coming up soon. It's good to put something in the gut for it to work on, but not too much, and never much at any one time, like a "full meal." Good way to be sitting on the curb or barfing in a ditch wondering what happened 10 miles later.

    Chocolate milk is a good way to get some protein, as are sandwiches, etc. Ensure is really good. Main thing is to stay on the bike as much as possible and get up the road.

    Chocolate is too much fat. "Sugary" isn't the right thing, either. I can't drink anything that tastes very sweet for hours and hours. That's why I use a lot of maltodextrin for carbs. No sweet taste, no taste at all really, which is good. I can eat a scone OK or a maple bar or Fig Newtons or a Snickers bar. Or granola bars or Clif bars or any number of things like this. You want edible calories, whatever goes down quickly without complaint in large quantity and isn't too fatty. Experiment.

    Hammer puts soy protein in their endurance drinks, which bloats me up. I like whey better. Whey can usually be found in recovery drinks, so if I'm going to buy something, that's what I prefer. Recovery drinks usually have too much protein though, so I need to thin them out with some other carb or use them along with other carbs. I've used Hammer Gel for that along with malto and ordinary carb foods.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post
    I never eat a full meal when on the bike, no matter how long, unless I'm touring and it doesn't really matter when I get to wherever. That said, protein is important on any ride over 3 hours. However, there's no need for over about 15% protein. F.I., if you're going to ride say 16 hours and you eat 200 cal/hr, that's 3200 calories * .15 = 480 calories protein or 120g = total daily protein requirement just from on-bike food.
    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?

    Quote Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post
    Chocolate is too much fat. "Sugary" isn't the right thing, either. I can't drink anything that tastes very sweet for hours and hours. That's why I use a lot of maltodextrin for carbs. No sweet taste, no taste at all really, which is good. I can eat a scone OK or a maple bar or Fig Newtons or a Snickers bar. Or granola bars or Clif bars or any number of things like this. You want edible calories, whatever goes down quickly without complaint in large quantity and isn't too fatty. Experiment.
    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.

  8. #8
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    When I go on long rides I try to balance my protein, carb and fat intake. Since I avoid processed foods, this ends up being nuts, and dried fruit with a little chocolate mixed in.

  9. #9
    just another gosling Carbonfiberboy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sprince View Post
    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.

  10. #10
    Senior Member hillcrawler's Avatar
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    Let's check how the pro riders do it. And some homemade recipe:

    Last edited by hillcrawler; 03-24-14 at 01:34 AM.
    riding with pretty ****ed up knees since 2012
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  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post
    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.
    Yeah, I missed the part of the label that says 2 cookies is one serving. Had always assumed that a serving was one 8oz. box.

    Quote Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post
    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.
    You're a harder man that I if you can drink that disgusting stuff, it's even more nauseating than gels. I find the labeling particularly amusing -- "For oral use."

  12. #12
    Senior Member rumrunn6's Avatar
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    full day requires full day nutrition. protein takes longer to digest though, so don't stop and eat a steak sub. spread it out the best you can. liquid protein is easier/faster to absorb but there are limits to "dosing".
    cycling is like baseball ~ it doesn't take much to make it interesting

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