For a long time people have spoken about having food on the bike, and it’s definitely known it will improve and/or maintain our performance in rides over 90mins. Anything less the effects would not be significant and probably won’t contribute to exercise performance.
Knowing we should eat is one thing but how often and how much is another.
It’s worth just recapping that our maximal capacity of carbohydrate intake per hour is;
- 60g an hour for Glucose
- 30g an hour for Fructose
Both using different transporters (or trains), meaning we can achieve up to 90g an hour which is worthwhile in long hard days in the saddle.
BUT! A long-time people have said little an often is better than larger single servings which other than maybe from a stomach comfort point of view had no backing in those words. I have been one of the first people to research the frequencies of carbohydrate on cycling performance and I am the first to do it with maximal glucose intakes at 60g an hour.
My research proved that taking 20g every 20mins improved repeated timed efforts over a 4-hour ride when compared to 60g once an hour. Also making this a unique finding and proving that the frequency we have our food makes a difference on exercise performance.
In practical terms what does this mean? Well, when out on our big rides opting for small pieces of homemade flapjack or bought malt loaf; cereal bars and such that equate to around 20g of carbohydrate and are low in fat would enable you to easily keep the frequency of your feeding up and enhance your performance rather than taking that big hit all at once.