How To Fuel On The Bike | Triathlon Training Explained

How To Fuel On The Bike | Triathlon Training Explained


– Welcome back to Triathlon
Training explained powered by TrainingPeaks. Fueling on the bike is
clearly very important be that during training or during a race. However, what you fuel with, how often, and your fueling strategy
is not all so clear. – No it isn’t, I mean,
Mark, we’re about to head out on a long ride and what
have you brought today? – Well, Heather, I’m kind of fueling like I do for race day really, so in my pocket here I
have a few energy gels and a couple of
carbohydrate energy drinks. – Oh, well I think quite
the opposite to me. I’ve got a sandwich here in my Bento Box. I’ve got, what else in my pockets, I’ve got a Muscie bar, a banana. – Heather, it’s not a picnic ride. – And yeah, a few other things. Well, neither of us are right or wrong. There are pros and cons
to fueling either way and today we’re going to be
looking at the best way to fuel, whether you’re training or racing. (upbeat music) – OK, let’s start with the basics. When exercising it’s highly
recommended that you need around 60 grams of carbohydrates per hour. And at the upper limit
of that if you’re working at a high intensity,
or if you’re in a race. – Yeah and there’s a good
reason for these limits. See, the average person
can only process or oxidize around one gram of carbs per minute, regardless of how much
we actually take onboard. And the bottleneck isn’t
actually in our muscles, rather it’s in our intestines,
which can only cope with transferring that glucose
that we get from the food that we eat into our bloodstream so fast. – Yeah, so you’re stomach has
a limit and by taking on more, it doesn’t mean you can store more and it also doesn’t increase absorption. All it’s going to do
is sit in your stomach and eventually lead to stomach upset that can make you feel
a little bit bloated or even nauseous. – Or, in my case, as I’ve experienced, some really horrible stomach cramps. (slow thumping music) – So how you choose a carbohydrate that you’re going to fuel with is very much down to personal taste. Today, obviously, I’ve
gone for what I call, real food, and if I’m
doing a long ride or race then I tend to prefer to stick with that ’cause I know I like the taste and my stomach’s comfortable with it. – Yeah, whereas I’ve opted for stuff that is just really quick
and easy to take onboard. Particular when you’re riding
along and at some intensity. But as we’ve alluded to already, there is no single correct method. It really depends on a number of factors. – Yeah, such as, the intensity that you’re going to be riding at, how long your ride or your race is. Even the weather and the temperature, and then again, what
you’re comfortable with. – Yeah, these are all really
important things to consider. So if you are riding for
a long period of time, then actually taking on the
same fuel or energy source for that entire duration
can not only start to seem a bit dull, but it can
cause some stomach issues. Now, I know that if you are
taking part in a long ride or an Ironman, a lot of
athletes actually opt for a mix of gels and solids. Now, by solids, I mean
things like Heather’s got, the bananas, cereal bars, et cetera, rather than the liquid-y
substances you get with the gels. And actually it can almost
seem like a bit of a treat over that long extended period of time and a bit of a break from those gels. (slow bass thumping beat) Now then, how much should
you actually be taking on during a race? Should we go through some of the food that we’ve got here now? – Yeah, let’s have a look at our picnic. Let’s start with a gel
that’s around 20 to 25 grams depending on the gel. Here we’ve got an energy bar, this one is 22 grams of carbohydrate. A normal flapjack would
be around 20 to 25, this one is probably about 10, it’s rather on the small side. An energy drink in a
bottle that sort of size would be about 50 grams of carbohydrate. Your banana, that’s similar
to a gel, so around 25 grams. And then can’t forget the jam sandwich, that’s about 40 grams of
carbohydrate packed into here. – Yeah and I actually
forgot my secret stash here. A chocolate bar like this
one is around 35 grams of carbs, now remembering our
60 grams of carbs per hour, we kind of need to do a little bit of math with the fuel that we planned to take. Now personally, when I was
racing, I would actually take energy drink, some water, and
gels with me during racing and that was it. So every hour, I’d try to take two gels and that would bring me up to
around 40 to 50 grams of carbs and then I would just regularly
drink my energy drink, sip it throughout the race, and that would hopefully
bring me up to around 60 grams as a mix of the both. And then the water was there just as a little bit of extra hydration. (upbeat thumping music) – The intensity that
you’re riding or racing at is also going to play a big part in the fuel that you choose. You probably don’t want to be
tucking into your jam sandwich in the middle of an
Olympic distance triathol when you’re working flat out. So if you are racing
at a higher intensity, that’s when things like
gels or energy drinks that Mark is using come in handy, ’cause they’re easy to
access, easy to swallow. Plus they don’t take up as
much room in your pockets, or on your bike. – Now also, another thing
that is really important to consider is the weather
or the temperature that you’re riding or racing in. Say if you’re riding in
baking hot conditions, then you may want to
consider taking on some form of electrolytes to replace
those that you’re losing through exercise and sweat. Now, it is really important to note here that those little dissolvable
electrolyte tablets you get are not a source of energy. They’re very very useful,
but they should not be used in the place of energy
gels or energy drinks. But, you can get some
energy gels and drinks that do have a little mix of both. – Yeah, and finally you need to work out what you’re comfortable with. Because just because
your training partner’s might be using gels or energy drinks, doesn’t mean you need to as well. If you do want to use them however, make sure you practice plenty in training. And just some people they don’t work, and it’s up to you don’t worry, just go with what you’re comfortable with even if that is a banana and a flapjack. (rhythmic bass guitar) We’ve covered in detail all of the options of what you can fuel with. But how about, when you fuel? – Ideally it is little and often, don’t just simply wait
until you’re gasping for food and fuel because
that is far too late. Now during training, I
would aim to eat something at least every hour along
with some of your drink hopefully that’s energy
drink in your bottles. But obviously, you can be
a little bit more flexible during your training especially
if you’re going to be enjoying a little coffee
stop during that ride. But during racing, it’s
obviously far more important that we keep these
energy levels just right. Personally, I would
actually try and take a gel on every half an hour, while obviously sipping my energy drink throughout the entire race. – Well some people even
set an alarm on their watch to remind them to take
on fuel ever so often. ‘Cause you can get in the zone in a race and it’s quite easy to forget to me ’cause you’re unlikely to feel hungry. And it’s also worth looking ahead, if you’re training riding, you know you’ve got an effort coming up or there’s a big hill, it’s
worth taking on some fuel before that, because once you’re in it it’s really hard to take something off. – Which leads me nicely
on actually talking about riding off the bike, whether that’s also during
training as a brick session or during a race. ‘Cause you want to make
sure that you’re fueled well and ready for that. Now I would often advise,
actually, trying to take some fuel on around five to 10K before the end of the bike. That just allows you
time for that fuel to be absorbed into the system and
preventing any stomach issues. – Well Mark, I don’t know about you but all this talk of
food had got me feeling a little bit hungry. – I think it’s time to hit
the coffee shop, Heather. – Yeah, well before we do that, if you’ve enjoyed this,
give us a thumbs up and hit the globe to subscribe. And if you want to see
the recipe of my favorite energy balls, you can find that down here. – If you’d like to see an ask the pros, where we ask them what
they carry on the bike, you can see that by clicking down here.