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How Many Calories/Carbs Do I Really Need?

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How Many Calories/Carbs Do I Really Need?

Old 01-20-21, 08:15 AM
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Cycletography
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How Many Calories/Carbs Do I Really Need?

I've been following some of the nutrition & hydration threads and have found them informative. However, I don't see much discussion about hydration & nutrition needs for rides of varying intensities. For example, do I really need 60-90g carbs/hr. if I'm spending most of my time in Zone 2 (heart rate)? IMO, I don't believe I do; but I'm not a nutrition expert and I always try to tie my training decisions to some credible research. Along those lines I found a couple of sources with some very interesting information.

#1 - The first source is here: https://www.evoq.bike/blog/cycling-nutrition-guide

Topics discussed (lots of info!):

Basic Nutrition for Cycling Performance
When To Focus On Eating The Macronutrients (Fats, Carbohydrates, Proteins)
When Should You Eat More Carbs
Carb intake schedule PDF
Endurance Athletes Grocery List
Nutrition: Cycling Duration and Intensity
What To Eat For 2 Hours or Less Of Cycling
What To Eat For High Intensity Cycling or Racing For Less Than 2 Hours
Nutrition For Low Intensity Cycling or Training Rides For More Than 2 Hours
Nutrition For High Intensity Cycling or Training Rides For More Than 2 Hours
Carbohydrate Loading for Cycling
What Do We Know For Sure About Carb Loading
How To Carb Load?
When To Carb Load?
How Many Carbs Do I Consume For Carb Loading?
What Foods Should I Use For Carbohydrate Loading?
Side Effects of Carb Loading
Carb Loading Diet
Carbs To Eat On Race Morning / Best Carbs for Cycling
Carbohydrate Periodization

#2 - The second source is here: https://forum.slowtwitch.com/forum/S..._fat_P6571862/

Source #2 is a forum post, but it is posted by a physiologist at Pearl Izumi. It goes into more detail about how to plan and calculate your need for fuel based on average power output.
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Old 01-20-21, 09:18 AM
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you need less than you think you do
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Old 01-20-21, 09:49 AM
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~55g of carbs (via 1 GU pack, and ~16 oz of Gatorade) every ~45 minutes, and a protein type bar maybe every 90 -120 minutes, for ME, doing moderate to intense riding (15 - 20 mph, Zones 4-7). My not-so-credible research is experience riding single, double, and triple centuries, but everybody is different.

Here's the "bike food" I ate for a 24 hr. solo ride (325 miles and a 16.3 mph avg. for the entire ride), not included in the pic is a small Italian sub, a couple of PB&J sandwiches, a few bananas, and a bunch more sugary Gatorade:

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Old 01-20-21, 10:21 AM
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I usually subtract the first hour and last hour and then figure on about 45-60g of carbs per hour thereafter. So anything under 2 hours I only carry water even for intense max effort rides, and then add cookies, dried fruit, or energy bars for each additional hour. Your gut can only process about 1g carb/1 min and longer for fats or proteins, everybody is a little different but after the first hour I try to start loading fuel into the tank a little bit at a time.

Your best strategy is to experiment on longer rides on what works the best. If you eat too much you won’t feel good, too little and you’ll be hungry or, worse, bonk. For me it’s best to feed the machine continuously, once I start to feel hungry it’s too hard to catchup and I’ll probably have to drop the ride intensity.
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Old 01-20-21, 10:44 AM
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Assuming you only want to know what you need while actually doing your ride:

How long do you ride at a time? Do you ever have to make a hard effort for any segments of your rides?

For zone 2 riding it's unlikely you need anything more than water.
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Old 01-20-21, 11:58 AM
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This is a tough one because I know the wisdom on the matter, the good folks at the trainerroad podcast always advocate to not skimp on carbs during a ride, as it improves the quality of a workout and might result in less eating off the bike. I, however, have done sweet spot workouts after just a morning coffee and no additional carbs during the ride, and generally don't do anything for Z2 rides. I didn't do a ton of outdoor riding in 2020, but I did 2 centuries where I took in 1100 calories in each (whereas my kj of work was around 3700 for each of them, so a 2600 calorie deficit, and I felt fantastic). I am trying to make it more of a goal to eat calories on the bike, generally I enjoy eating off the bike throughout the day, but I'd really like to make each workout as quality as possible. But at Z2, the body *should* be working primarily off fat and glycogen stores, if I recall correctly, should have about 2000 calories, so I personally wouldn't sweat having the high end of carbs, depending on the ride duration.
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Old 01-20-21, 12:07 PM
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Originally Posted by Flip Flop Rider View Post
you need less than you think you do
Yes, you are absolutely correct.

Same goes for most other folks, but most don't seem to realize it. That's one of the reasons I posted the links. However, based on the responses so far, it looks like nobody has even given it a glance. No worries. It's there for anyone who cares to read it.

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Old 01-20-21, 01:22 PM
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Originally Posted by Cycletography View Post
I've been following some of the nutrition & hydration threads and have found them informative. However, I don't see much discussion about hydration & nutrition needs for rides of varying intensities. For example, do I really need 60-90g carbs/hr. if I'm spending most of my time in Zone 2 (heart rate)? IMO, I don't believe I do; but I'm not a nutrition expert and I always try to tie my training decisions to some credible research. Along those lines I found a couple of sources with some very interesting information.

#1 - The first source is here: https://www.evoq.bike/blog/cycling-nutrition-guide

Source #2 is a forum post, but it is posted by a physiologist at Pearl Izumi. It goes into more detail about how to plan and calculate your need for fuel based on average power output.
Your first "source" is from a local Cat 1. He isn't an exercise physiologist nor a nutritionist. He's a business guy and a Cat 1. Not to say that there isn't good ideas or advice in there, just that it's coming first hand from someone whose zone 2 equates to nearly 1 MJ an hour and has entirely different training and nutrition needs to basically anyone that isn't living on their bike permanently.

So it's not exactly a "source" so much as it is a blog post from someone with a business to run.
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Old 01-20-21, 01:24 PM
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Originally Posted by Cycletography View Post
Yes, you are absolutely correct.

Same goes for most other folks, but most don't seem to realize it. That's one of the reasons I posted the links. However, based on the responses so far, it looks like nobody has even given it a glance. No worries. It's there for anyone who cares to read it.
It's more likely that we've already figured out what works and doesn't work.
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Old 01-20-21, 04:32 PM
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The complete diet described in the first link goes over and above what it needed just while riding your bike. It then becomes and argument over what type of diet is better regardless of whether you ride or not. I'd rather not go there.

However for the most part some of the typical cycling ideas that various philosophies have told us we need to do I really have come to find little merit in them. Things like carb loading before hand and trying to get super hydrated are among the things I look at as bunk. Especially for someone like me that does not compete at any level other than if someone is in front of me on a bike, I want to catch up and pass them. <grin>.

Carbs and stuff to create energy, your body has plenty for zone 2 riding no matter how long you want to ride. Just like some say to drink when thirsty, your body will tell you when you need to eat. If you do some efforts during your ride that are up in zone 5 and 6 then you are going to need carbs, and for anything more than an hour and a half ride time, you should begin consuming carbs from the start of your rides as your body cannot absorb the amount of carbs you need to make up fully the depletion of glycogen stores.

Before ride meals or hydration strategies before a ride don't seem to make any difference from what I've done. I hydrate well anyway when off the bike. So when it's time to ride, I just fill my bottles and go. For 1 hour to 4 hours of riding, pre-ride diet never seems to make any difference for me with the exception that if I eat fatty foods right before a ride my performance for the first hour suffers.

So where else do you want this thread to go?

Last edited by Iride01; 01-20-21 at 04:37 PM.
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Old 01-20-21, 04:55 PM
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I don't even keep track of my calories. Why stress about numbers ??.
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Old 01-20-21, 05:29 PM
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Originally Posted by rubiksoval View Post
Your first "source" is from a local Cat 1. He isn't an exercise physiologist nor a nutritionist. He's a business guy and a Cat 1. Not to say that there isn't good ideas or advice in there, just that it's coming first hand from someone whose zone 2 equates to nearly 1 MJ an hour and has entirely different training and nutrition needs to basically anyone that isn't living on their bike permanently.

So it's not exactly a "source" so much as it is a blog post from someone with a business to run.
You're partly correct. The author of the article is not the "source" of the info. He's commenting on and breaking down the findings from a research study (referenced in the article). There's a lot of info in that article that has nothing to do with crit racing or racing of any kind. I found plenty of usable info that directly pertains to questions I had about nutritional needs for zone 2 endurance rides, so I respectfully disagree with your takeaway.
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Old 01-20-21, 05:35 PM
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Originally Posted by Iride01 View Post
The complete diet described in the first link goes over and above what it needed just while riding your bike. It then becomes and argument over what type of diet is better regardless of whether you ride or not. I'd rather not go there.

However for the most part some of the typical cycling ideas that various philosophies have told us we need to do I really have come to find little merit in them. Things like carb loading before hand and trying to get super hydrated are among the things I look at as bunk. Especially for someone like me that does not compete at any level other than if someone is in front of me on a bike, I want to catch up and pass them. <grin>.

Carbs and stuff to create energy, your body has plenty for zone 2 riding no matter how long you want to ride. Just like some say to drink when thirsty, your body will tell you when you need to eat. If you do some efforts during your ride that are up in zone 5 and 6 then you are going to need carbs, and for anything more than an hour and a half ride time, you should begin consuming carbs from the start of your rides as your body cannot absorb the amount of carbs you need to make up fully the depletion of glycogen stores.

Before ride meals or hydration strategies before a ride don't seem to make any difference from what I've done. I hydrate well anyway when off the bike. So when it's time to ride, I just fill my bottles and go. For 1 hour to 4 hours of riding, pre-ride diet never seems to make any difference for me with the exception that if I eat fatty foods right before a ride my performance for the first hour suffers.

So where else do you want this thread to go?
It's interesting what people focus on and how they interpret the same information very differently. My takeaways from the referenced sources don't line up with yours at all.
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Old 01-20-21, 05:40 PM
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Originally Posted by rubiksoval View Post
It's more likely that we've already figured out what works and doesn't work.
Good for you. One less thing to worry about.
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Old 01-20-21, 06:09 PM
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Originally Posted by Iride01 View Post
So where else do you want this thread to go?
Oh, it's gone where I expected it would... unfortunately. No worries. There's a lot of good info in those links for anyone who wishes to look at the information for what it is... information. Nothing more, nothing less.
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Old 01-20-21, 08:31 PM
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Originally Posted by Cycletography View Post
You're partly correct. The author of the article is not the "source" of the info. He's commenting on and breaking down the findings from a research study (referenced in the article). There's a lot of info in that article that has nothing to do with crit racing or racing of any kind. I found plenty of usable info that directly pertains to questions I had about nutritional needs for zone 2 endurance rides, so I respectfully disagree with your takeaway.
No, I'm 100% correct.

You go from this:
but I'm not a nutrition expert and I always try to tie my training decisions to some credible research.


to linking to the blog of a cat 1 who is trying to drum up hits for his business. It's not an article, it's not a source, it's not credible research. It's a blog.

If you're going to make training decisions on credible research, then go to the source of the credible research, not someone else's interpretation of it.
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Old 01-20-21, 11:19 PM
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Milk powder added to water works quite well for me. It got carbs, protein, calcium, and electrolytes. Hydration and fuel in just one sip.

Unless having adverse reactions to milk, milk is all you need for hydration and fuel. No need to make things needlessly complicated and expensive just for the sake of "pro" or "elite" feel. It's just vanity.
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Old 01-20-21, 11:47 PM
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I'd add something . . . In December, I was doing a lot of "easy" rides, 75% FTP, below AeT, riding almost every day. About mid-month, all of a sudden I couldn't hold the power for 2 hours anymore. Where the pedals had felt light and easy to turn, suddenly it seemed that a lot of effort was required and I couldn't do the long steady rides. I took some days off and easier days, and gradually strength came back. I had no symptoms of overreaching like elevated HR, disturbed sleep, etc. I finally figured out that I simply wasn't getting enough carbs to sustain that every-day pace. I started doing extra carb Calories after every ride, and that all went away, no more problems. Because I was doing all these rides indoors and because they seemed so easy, I wasn't eating or hydrating particularly on the bike, maybe 50 Cal./hr. at most.

I looked at those links, and I'll just say that I'm not, not, NOT going to weigh out my carbs in my ordinary daily diet. I think I can simplify this carbs business. We cyclists with power are easier than runners. I'm eating my regular daily Med diet which is reasonably high in carbs and I stay at an even weight on it. Since I have power, I can look at kj for a ride. I figure 1/2 of it is fat, 1/2 carbs. I ignore breakfast and add 1/2 the kj in carb Calories, either during or after the ride. That seems simple enough. That fat/carbs division is not particularly accurate but I think it's accurate enough for my purposes and any adjustments can be made by looking at the scale. I supplement with whey protein as seems appropriate. I know about how much I need to keep my legs recovering from daily workouts and a little more doesn't hurt. Better to be over than under.
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Old 01-20-21, 11:57 PM
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while riding if you are going to be sure you have to be getting carbs continously
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Old 01-21-21, 12:45 AM
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Originally Posted by allepunta View Post
while riding if you are going to be sure you have to be getting carbs continously
- I can ride at a higher intensity?
- I can juggle 10 bowling pins?
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Old 01-21-21, 01:07 AM
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Originally Posted by Cycletography View Post
Yes, you are absolutely correct.

Same goes for most other folks, but most don't seem to realize it. That's one of the reasons I posted the links. However, based on the responses so far, it looks like nobody has even given it a glance. No worries. It's there for anyone who cares to read it.
If youíre riding at a decent power level you canít ingest as many carbs as youíre burning so youíll always end up with fewer stored carbs than you start with. Why not just get used to eating a reasonable number of carbs/hr (250-400)? Itís not going to hurt you and it will allow you to figure out what works for when you do need it on longer rides.
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Old 01-21-21, 10:39 AM
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Originally Posted by Cycletography View Post
It's interesting what people focus on and how they interpret the same information very differently. My takeaways from the referenced sources don't line up with yours at all.
Originally Posted by Cycletography View Post
Oh, it's gone where I expected it would... unfortunately. No worries. There's a lot of good info in those links for anyone who wishes to look at the information for what it is... information. Nothing more, nothing less.
I'm not sure how much I differ from other sources. Other than on the topic of Carb loading.

You've gotten a few of the views, though incomplete from several of us yet you haven't really shared any of your views or cared to specifically discuss any one particular viewpoint of any of us.

There was nothing in the first link that I feel differs materially from my views although he does later state that carb loading is a thing. Yet in the meal suggestions for training days I didn't see any thing I'd consider carb loading. Those are normal parts of my daily diet. Perhaps it's that my normal diet contains quite a bit of carbs. So that and the fact I don't compete might play a part in why I claim carb loading as bunk.

So what are your views on the stuff you linked? Why don't you care to discuss them with us and instead seem to chastise us for being less than enthusiastic about your links.
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Old 01-21-21, 02:23 PM
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Originally Posted by Iride01 View Post
Why don't you care to discuss them with us and instead seem to chastise us for being less than enthusiastic about your links.
I'm not chastising anyone for being less than enthusiastic. If "less than enthusiastic" were indeed the reaction, that would be fine. In such a case, the thread simply dies a slow death and we all move on to other threads of interest.

What I find "odd" (for lack of a better word) is how threads get taken so far off topic so quickly. It's pretty much impossibe to have any kind of real discussion once that happens. Furthur participation becomes a waste of time so I check out and move on.
Cheers!
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Old 01-21-21, 02:44 PM
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Originally Posted by Cycletography View Post
What I find "odd" (for lack of a better word) is how threads get taken so far off topic so quickly. It's pretty much impossibe to have any kind of real discussion once that happens. Furthur participation becomes a waste of time so I check out and move on.
Cheers!
Well I'm not exactly certain what the topic is that you wanted discussed. So from what you may have intended to what's been discussed by anyone, I'm not certain where it's gone off topic. Are you more specifically wanting us to talk about the question in your thread title?

However your thread IMO is still young. There is no reason you can't participate and steer the conversation to what ever your intention was. You just have to participate in the conversation by commenting on the things you want to talk about.

When threads stray from their creator's intention early, I feel it's because the creator (OP) didn't ever materially discuss anything.

I'd take you up on the beer, but I've none in the house right now and the scotch is gone too.
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Old 01-21-21, 02:51 PM
  #25  
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Originally Posted by Iride01 View Post
Well I'm not exactly certain what the topic is that you wanted discussed. .

It seemed like he wanted to plug the blog and slowtwitch/a Pearl Izumi employee?

That's all I got out of the post. It's a bit of an odd thread. The thread title is how many carbs he needs, but there's zero background information from him or his situation except him questioning whether he needs a substantial amount of carbs on easy rides?

Maybe he doesn't really know, either.

Frankly, if you're not bonking, you probably don't need any more calories. And if you are, you do.

If you're getting fatter, you don't. If you're losing a lot of weight (and don't want to), you do.

It's a pretty elementary topic.
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