Fuelling during long rides

Since I started cycling with groups in Kuwait, where I live, and got to know each other, share ideas, and talk about cycling, with everyone sharing their experiences, etc., I noticed something unbelievable and very shocking for me. Most cyclists here don’t fuel during the ride! Some just eat one banana, someone just eats one chocolate during a 2-3 hour ride. Someone even told me he only drinks carbs during winter! Definitely, what they are doing is wrong, but how are they surviving ?

There are a lot of these old-schoolers here, too. You can survive 3 hours on your stored glycogen but you will be very empty afterwards.

Yeah, I saw them after the ride. They eat A LOT! But I’m wondering, what are the side effects of riding without fuel? Doesn’t it make the cyclist weaker? Do they lose muscles, etc.?"

They can still get better but they are limiting thier recovery and with that their progress. When I started to really look at performance instead of just riding my bike (about 1997/98), we had Jan Ullrich as a Tour de France winner in our country and there were a lot of reports how he trained. Long hours with just a bottle of water and maybe an apple, the old east German methods. And I started to train like that myself and you can imagine how often I had to push my bike home because I was totally exausted and raided the fridge afterwards. I got fit in the end but I’m still asking myself how far I could have come with proper training and nurtition. One thing is sure, I did not maximise my possibilities.
If a training method that claims “hardening the body” and does not have a scientific background, you can almost certainly forget it. Science always wins.

There are at least 2 major effects. One is recovery but another is that it destroys your training quality. Your body starts to ration its glycogen supplies somewhere between 45 and 90 minutes into hard exercise. That means a given power will feel like a harder and harder effort. If you fuel properly during exercise you can manage a lot more and therefore improve more (as well as recovering better).

There is a type of workout which is done fasted (without fuel) by design, but these are very specific with a very specific goal.

The idea in the past was that your glycogen stores will get bigger if you deplete them on a regular basis but I think that has been prooved to be a fairytale. Maybe the only thing you achieve is to intensify the effect you described.

Interesting feed! Thank you

Only just picking this up as I’ve been on holiday.

  1. Fuel you sessions - end of, unless they are of a low intensity you won’t get as much out of the session if you haven’t got the fuel in the body to power through the intervals.

  2. Fasted training in my view doesn’t have a place in most non professionals because most are doing reduced hours and more intensity. Low carb rides have a place but even the pro’s have shifted their thinking based on the current research.

  3. As you mention they eat nothing and then consume way too much post ride. This can actually lead to over eating and also eating poor quality choices once off the bike. This can also lead to more weight gain especially as you training volume changes because you set the habits for eating at home. For me get you daily food dialled in and then build on top of that around your training requirements. Your then less likely to over eat when off the bike as you fuel the work you are doing and therefore are in less of a hole when you finish.

  4. Can fasted training push the body to burn more fat as fuel yes but again really it is about your diet as a whole to make you metabolically flexible. I like to think about it as your body has two power stations one burns fat and one burns carbs. If you only really eat carbs (AKA eat the mostly brown western diet) your fat burning power station is mothballed as the body doesn’t need it because you are consistently through carbs in. What you ideally want is to increase the point at which the body burns fat as its main source and so low intensity training is said to do this but these are long slow rides which I’d say the majority of people don’t do.

So fuel your training using your carbs to get the maximum from it. Once you’ve depleted your stores the body will shift into fat burning post ride.

Also my other got to is “Don’t diet on the Bike” because not fuelling/eating enough will increase the stress on the body in the same way as your training does.

10000% Kevin‘s #3 point.

Fantastic advice here! Thanks.

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Well said @kevstorr - truer words never spoke

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