General Discussion Triathlon Talk » On-Bike Nutrition Rss Feed  
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2014-01-17 1:48 PM

Downingtown , Pennsylvania
Subject: On-Bike Nutrition
What do people recommend for on-bike nutrition - liquid or solid? Curious if anybody has has particularly good results (not race results, worked well in general) with anything lately. Thanks

2014-01-17 2:22 PM
in reply to: healthlawyer

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Melbourne, Florida
Subject: RE: On-Bike Nutrition

What distance are you planning? Olympic or shorter, you can get away with just taping some gel packs to your top tube. I keep it simple. One gel as soon as I get on the bike to recover from the swim, then another gel half way through the bike leg, and a last one before T2 to hold me up for the run.

HIM and IM, you will definitely want some solid food in a bento box. Bars and PB&J Uncrustables sandwiches hold up well.

2014-01-17 2:36 PM
in reply to: #4933802

Downingtown , Pennsylvania
Subject: RE: On-Bike Nutrition
2014-01-17 2:59 PM
in reply to: healthlawyer

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Sin City
Subject: RE: On-Bike Nutrition

It's up to the individual and what works FOR YOU.  Trial and error.

I honestly don't do well with solids, so I tend to drink my calories in the form of electrolyte drinks and maybe some gels.  On a long ride (over 4 hours) I may break the rule and have a candy or granola bar at the half way point.  But 95% of my rides I never have solid food.

2014-01-17 4:28 PM
in reply to: 0

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Extreme Veteran
Subject: RE: On-Bike Nutrition
You need to experiment with this on your own rides.

My solution (That I worked very hard to figure out) is 6 Gu Rocktane Gels and 2 bottles of Gu Rocktane Endurance Drink and 1 water bottle.

1 Gel in the first few minutes, and every 10-12 miles.

One 20oz bottle of Rocktane drink every 25 miles with water bottle supplementation.

Edited by lifejustice 2014-01-17 4:29 PM
2014-01-17 4:58 PM
in reply to: healthlawyer

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N Carolina
Subject: RE: On-Bike Nutrition
For the bike, I'm a liquid only guy. 1 bottle of IM Perform every hour is my plan. Roughly 275 calories and plenty of electrolytes in each bottle.

As mentioned earlier, race nutrition is a highly individual matter. It will most likely take lots of trial and error.

2014-01-18 12:01 PM
in reply to: japarker24

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The Woodlands, TX
Subject: RE: On-Bike Nutrition
For longer rides, I really like the gel flasks. I typically buy the Hammer gel in the bulk bottle. No mess, no fumbling with packages, and no sticky garbage to worry about. I usually slip the gel flask in a jersey or shorts pocket.
2014-01-18 12:21 PM
in reply to: g_shotts

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Subject: RE: On-Bike Nutrition
Originally posted by g_shotts

For longer rides, I really like the gel flasks. I typically buy the Hammer gel in the bulk bottle. No mess, no fumbling with packages, and no sticky garbage to worry about. I usually slip the gel flask in a jersey or shorts pocket.

The furthest I've gone on one bike ride is about 35 miles, and the thing that prevents me from planning to go further, is the nutrition end of it. I'm not a fan of gels, in general...but this one sounds worth a try...thanks for posting about it!
2014-01-18 12:56 PM
in reply to: healthlawyer

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ann arbor, michigan
Subject: RE: On-Bike Nutrition
This is a pretty much direct cut and paste of a nutrition post from our mentor forum. More than you are asking for but I have been very happy with the nutrition plan that I have worked out and like to share it. It may or may not work for you but the numbers give starting points/ranges for nutrition while racing.

Long, so feel free to skip over this.

Nutrition for racing

Race day morning:

At least 2.5 hours before the race I eat the following:

Oatmeal--two packets of instant oatmeal with raisins added. I use this as my standard because it is easy to take to any race and can be fixed almost anywhere.
Banana, sometimes two. Usually purchased at the race location but sometimes I bring this with me.
Coffee. one to two cups.

I eat this whether I am racing an IM or a Sprint. I want calories in the tank on race morning. (I also eat a bowl of cereal about 30 minutes before just about every morning swim I do and it never bothers me so if I start the race with a little bit of food in my gut it is unlikely to cause me an issue).

In the 90 minutes leading up to the race:

I will drink a 20 ounce water bottle filled with my 'bike nutrition mixture'. My goal is to get this finished 15-30 minutes before I go in the water. In the 20 ounces is around 430 calories with 93 grams of Carbs, 2.5 grams of protein, some caffeine, 635 mg of sodium, 260 mg of potassium, a tiny smidgen of calcium and magnesium. I mix two scoops of a custom Infinit mixture with one packet of Generation UCAN to achieve these numbers.

Usually I can't wait to get in the water because I am 'very well hydrated' at the start of a race.


Well, there is no nutrition for me during this phase. Sometimes there is some inadvertent extra hydration that goes on during some of the rougher swims. It happens. I have heard of people stuffing a gel pack in their wetsuit and eating it at the halfway point. I have never seen the need but I'm just sharing.


Here is where the nutrition strategy gets important. I don't eat or drink anything in T1. The goal is to get out and get going. I can "eat" while I am moving.

My nutrition strategy is 100% liquids, no solids, no gels, for the entire race. I used to take bars, pretzels, gels, etc. What I found was that taking in solids had me very nauseated and with some diarrhea (sorry to be graphic but IM racing ain't for the weak of stomach) when I got to the run. Since I have switched to all liquids I have not had a GI upset issue or a hydration problem in any race. For an IM race, four bottles of the same mixture outlined above is my total bike nutrition (approximately 1720 calories). I start with two bottles on my bike coming out of T1 and then pick up two more at Special Needs. (In a HIM I would only use two total bottles, in an Olympic, only one).

To calculate nutritional needs on the bike. I use 4-6 calories/kg/hour as my nutritional requirements. For a 70 kg male (me, approximately) that is 280-420 calories per hour. I don't have the reference on that number but I know it is out there and that it works. Where you fall on this spectrum needs to be worked out in training.

So, once I am on the bike I try to suck down an entire bottle (430 calories, remember?) in the first hour. I figure coming out of the swim I am a little behind and need to get some calories in. Once I finish that first bottle I drop it at an aid station and get a water bottle to supplement my hydration--drinking to thirst (at a hot race I will also use the water I pick up at each aid station to douse my jersey, shorts, helmet, etc to aid with evaporative cooling). After the first bottle I try to make each subsequent nutrition bottle last about 1:15. At the half way point at Bike Special Needs I dump everything and pick up two fresh bottles of the same stuff and follow the same plan.

If I drink all four bottles, 1720 calories in 5.5 hours (my projected IM bike split) I will have taken in 313 calories per hour which is on the lower end of the above formula but experience has shown me that this will have me coming off the bike well hydrated, calorically ok and ready to run.


All liquids.......

I hate carrying stuff with me when I run. I use a Nathan hydration belt for long training runs but I hate it. I don't like how it feels. I hate lugging around an extra pound (or two) of stuff when I am racing. Most of these races have aid stations every mile anyway so I don't feel the need to carry my own stuff at this point.

I go with water as much as I can get and coke every time it is offered. I don't wait for the half way point of the run or anything like that. When coke is available, I grab a dixie cup and down it. I also drink at least one water per aid station if not two. If it is hot I grab a third to pour on me to cool off. I have never figured out my consumption on the run but lets say 30 calories per cup times 16? aid stations, would come out to 480 calories...... More than enough to run the marathon if you have done your job fueling on the bike. I have never felt that nutrition has been a limiter for me on the run since going with this plan. If you really want numbers, you should probably shoot for 2-3 calories/kg/hour on the run. The body just cannot absorb the same levels of calories while running as while biking. If you tried to keep up the 4-6 calories/kg/hour I guarantee that eventually you will end up bloated, nauseated and miserable......

My last two IMs I did not turn in a Run Special Needs bag. I am fueling off the course. I'm not going to change my shoes. At the half way point of the run I am going to just suck it up and finish....... I'm not saying that is what you should do but for me Run SN doesn't offer much.

Post Race:

Goal is to feel good enough to eat within a couple of hours of finishing. Beer. Wings. Poutine in Mont Tremblant......

Everything I take in for the entire race is caffeinated. I am probably going to put myself in to Afib at a race some day. I have never really slept the night after an IM. Whether I am on an IM high or just caffeinated to the gills, it is what I have come to expect.
2014-01-18 2:13 PM
in reply to: healthlawyer

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Cloverdale, BC
Subject: RE: On-Bike Nutrition

I usually bring 2 bottles of Gatorade from home, and I stop at gas stations or convenience stores to buy more when I run out.  

In terms of solid foods, I eat a lot of bars that come from the cereal aisle (Kellogs Nutrigrain bars, Quaker Oatmeal to Go bars, Chewy Granola bars, Bear Paw cookies).  

I also really like to eat Snickers Bars (especially after I stop at a convenience store in the middle of a ride)

If I'm racing, I switch to gels in the last hour of the ride so my stomach is ready for the run. 




2014-01-18 3:06 PM
in reply to: wannabefaster

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Maple Grove
Subject: RE: On-Bike Nutrition


That is just an incredible summary and a great guide to work from! Thank you for sharing this. I like your formula but it seems that the key is that have taken some general guidelines (ie 4-6cal/kg/hr) and found the way to make it work for YOU based on trial and error in the field. If there is a take home message, that's it: find a general target or range, then experiment in training to find what works.



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