Nutrition is always important when talking about endurance sports, it probably is of greater importance than we often care to think of. If you forgot to fuel up properly before a ride, you'll surely feel it in your legs at some point. During longer rides, it is as important to fuel during the ride as before you jump on the bike. You easily burn more than 2000 calories, which is more than the amount you burn during a "normal" day without excercise. You're like a car, without fuel you stop. So what do you eat during a ride?
It all begins with hydration, drink enough and minimize the risk of cramps. I myself use and recommend the High5 electrolyte drink. It's really refreshing and the bubbly drink always tastes good and keeps the cramps away. And what's nice about is the easy preparation, just fill the bottle with water and put one or two tablets in and you're done. No shaking and filling needed as with preparing the "normal" energy drink. Minimizing the preparation time before heading out for a ride is important.
For longer rides (+100km) I usually have approximately one energy bar/40km depending on the activity level. I've found out that Maxim energy bars are suited "for my stomach". It is important to notice that not all energy bars and other products suite all. Some enjoy a banana, others get sick of a banana during a ride. I've tried out many different energy bars and different energy drinks, and the ones mentioned here suits me well. What is important is also that everything tastes good. Endurance sports is all about the feeling, and tasty nutrition gives you a good feeling, and even though it would have the same amount of energy in it than any other snack, you can pedal faster just because you enjoy what you're eating.
Sometimes you feel a sudden drop in energy levels and at that time energy gels are the best way to regain energy levels fast. Usually these are really like sugar in liquid form, and taste really bad. So be careful when buying them. Energy gels are also a good energy boost when you are approaching the end of a race and want to maximize your effort.
Caffeine is something that you might like to have to give an additional boost to your energy levels, but be careful, caffeine usually drains you a little, so be careful with hydration. All in all, you need fuel when you ride, especially if your ride is a longer one. And personally I think it is of great value if you enjoy the stuff you eat and drink.
Here you can see the data from Tyler Farrar (Team Garmin Barracuda), stage 2 in Giro d'Italia 2012. During 5 hours he burned more than 8000 calories! Beat that! And I'm pretty sure he didn't do it without having a proper meal and having something to eat and drink every now and then during the stage.
I'll be back with more photos from recent rides!
Have a good one!