Fueling for Your Long Bike
I'm often asked how to fuel for long bike rides so here's a convenient answer for everyone!
Every body is different and requires a different amount of nutrition when it comes to endurance cycling. There are many factors: height and weight, weather conditions, intensity, distance, and time on the bike. The following information is a guideline based on my personal experience with a bike distance of 100-112 miles.
Before the biking, I try to consume 300-500 calories. I think this is a good range for any person. A bagel with peanut butter and a banana would set you up for success or something similar. Keep in mind that the main fuel for exercise is carbohydrate which is stored in the muscles and liver as glycogen. The body is only able to store a small amount of carbohydrate, which is why maintaining nutrition throughout your ride is so important. It's also important for you to get sufficient protein to support muscle repair, polyunsaturated fats to reduce muscle damage, and vitamins and minerals to aid cellular growth and repair.
I recommend consuming 70-100 calories every 30 minutes while on a long bike ride (over 2.5-3 hours). I set an alarm on my Garmin to tell me when to take in nutrition. I like to eat half of a Honey Stinger Waffle or half of an eGel. I actually alternate the two (and with varied flavors) to keep my pallet guessing and my taste from getting bored. You could also use Picky Bars, Cliff Bars, Fig Newtons, peanut butter crackers or sandwich, or a multitude of endurance nutrition. There are SO many to choose from, you just have to find what works best with your needs, your gut, and your taste buds! Some people really enjoy using liquid nutrition as well: Infinit, Napalm, or similar. I feel too swishy when I take in that much liquid so I prefer solids. Plus I love to eat!!
I also incorporate electrolytes into long bike rides. I prefer to get these by using Base Performance Salt. I take one lick every 10-15 miles. You could also use Nuun or a variety of other salt supplements. Again, it's all a matter of PRACTICING and figuring out what works best for your body. Paying attention to your body and listening is key to maintaining nutrition!! And maintaining your nutrition is key to a successful endurance ride!