Solid food vs gels?

Curious to know what people use on the bike. Do they lean towards solid food (bars etc) or more liquid forms of energy (gels and drinks)?

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Gels and the occasional banana. Turns out that solid food upsets my stomach, often enough.


I was coached by Pav a while ago and he got me doing first half of every ride or event with solid foods (bars) and second half gels. Finishing with sugary drink at the end if it is a self-supported event (everesting I did this with great success)


I like to start with bars and switch over to gels towards the end. My favourite bars are High5 because I like the taste, they don’t stick to the wrapper and stay in one piece. On the gel side, I use SIS Beta Fuel. My stomach can get upset with carb drinks so I stick to the mineral tablets most of the time.


I like to use real food and supplement with gels and other sports nutrition products. I’ve got some fantastic cycling recipe books. 2 of my favourite recipes are

  1. Oreo rice cakes- got this from a GCN video
    Homemade ‘Rocket Fuel’?! | How to Make a 2400 Calorie Energy Drink and Other Top Cycling Recipes - YouTube

Recipe from this excellent book

  1. Brioche rolls with full fat soft cheese, torn up prosciutto and fresh basil leaves. Chop rolls in half and each half is 1-2 mouthfuls. The fresh basil is a blast of gorgeousness in the mouth and tastes fantastic. You can also do sweet variants with honey and mashed banana.

The thing to bear in mind with normal food is that it’s usually more bulky than highly processed sports nutrition products because it contains more water. Nutritionally this is a good thing as the body doesn’t need to take onboard water to process the food your eating, however it can present logistical challenges to carry it all.


I tend to eat real food with a gel or so for later in the ride if required. A lot depends on the ride and intensity. I make my own carb drink but on long events/rides carrying anything to refill a bottle isn’t easy. So I might start a 100mile + ride with two 750ml bottles of drink mix along with solid food. I’ll refill the first bottle as soon as its empty and will then alternate between the mix and water while still eating real food.

Depending on the intensity of the ride I will mix in salted cashew nuts some times in with my home made fig rolls and oat bar chunks that I have in my top tube bag.


Sorry for the delayed response everyone! Some great advice here, thank you.

I am late to this and new to the forum. I ride Audax’s and food is something I’m always adjusting. I suspect my approach may not be of use to day rides or 100 milers where speed is important.

Overall I avoid gels as a regular fuel on rides because on longer rides, 600+, they lead to mouth ulcers, stomach cramps, diarrhea.

I am vegan and try to fuel on natural, homemade flapjacks, lentil rolls, peanut butter and marmalde sandwhiches, bananas, etc. Baby food in the squeezy pouches is good, banana sandwhiches, fruits, packets of microwave rice, salads with falafels, as much natural as i can to get. My both fuel and ongoing recovery.

I’m always attempting to plan ahead, ie what fuel can i eat now to ensure i have energy in a few hours time when it metabolosies. Gels give a spike but dont give sustained fuel.

At some point on long rides taste changes. A quick chinese meal is heaven, salty chips fantastic, - can’t bear mcdonalds but love the pancakes and salty fries.

I carry a gel or two as back up for those climbs when I’m all in but often don’t use them. Tend to use gels for intense turbo sessions.


This is really useful, thank you!