Food for the Bike: Solid or Liquid?

What sources of food or sports supplements would be the most ideal to be eating on the bike to keep you energised and give you fuel for optimal performance?

Our choices include real food like; fruit, jam sandwiches, flapjack etc. energy bars, gels and carbohydrate drinks. Ultimately though these are divided into the three sections of;

  • Solid
  • Semi-Solid
  • Liquid

Some great research has been done showing that if all three variations contain the same amount of carbohydrate, protein and fat in them then the speed at which they’re digested is the same though the feeling of fullness is always most with solids despite the speed being the same.

Liquid options can vary in concentration with low concentrations of around 3-4g carbohydrate per 100ml promoting better fluid uptake or is more hydrating. A strong solution that is 6-8g per 100ml would be iso-tonic which has a similar concentration to blood will focus more on providing carbohydrate then hydrating and then the last being hypertonic 8g> per 100ml and will be purely focused on carbohydrate provision but will have a slower absorption rate and will cost you water from your body to move it across. Gels can be found in this area to and normally advertise what they are or you can work it out.

Solids come in many forms, bars tend to be higher in fat, and may have protein so consider the slower digestion and that if you have quite a few it will eat into your total daily amounts you should have. Personally If you’re not training for anything in particular then fuel your rides with food you will enjoy and make sure you get the most of the ride.

Ultimately consider what you’re doing; riding with friends, training for an event, racing etc. How you fuel on these should determine your choices as practicing for your race you should use what will be on your race, but if you’re just out on a jolly then the world is your oyster!

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