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What does 135 carbs per hour look like, & do we believe its the reason why racing is so much better now?

Are Carbs the real deal?

  • Yes, Vino told me

    Votes: 2 28.6%
  • Lol, no. I am Vino.

    Votes: 2 28.6%
  • Carbs are fake news. You just need dozens of bananas.

    Votes: 3 42.9%

  • Total voters
    7
Since we heard about this at the Giro, I'm presuming theres going to be a lot more mentions of it at le Tour. & I have questions!

My Energy Gel of choice only has 22 carbs in it. Which means to match the pros, I need to eat at least 7 an hour. Every hour. Since energy gels are expensive & damn near impossible to open whilst moving & without scissors, what else are they consuming along with them?

Wouldn't they need to be constantly eating? How come we don't see them constantly eating?

We've known for years carbs are good for athletes, how come we've only suddenly discovered we need to eat lots & lots during an event is even better for us? Do other endurance athletes in other sports do the same?

Does the science actually support this? Would the dude who consumes 155 carbs per hour have more of an advantage?

At what point (if any) would it start to affect riders health?

Do we believe it? Or do we believe the whole carbs thing is a cover up? Believe it or not... i'm something of a sceptic myself.

(I did have more questions, but I forgot them whilst I was typing)
 
Long rides with efforts I tend to take 100g per hour. For me long is 4h or more. Efforts typically accumulate 80-100 min of 20+ min intervals a bit below threshold.

I rarely use gels and just put the sugar in bottles, cuz I jam econo. It's also easier to consume just drinking. One bottle is calorie sludge with caffeine, one plain water. Easy to ram 250-300g into a basic 750ml bottle if one boils the water while dissolving the sugar into it (so must be done the night before). Big rides I also carry one small flask of concentrate sugar sludge. Refill water as needed.

With pro tour logistics I think taking in more is very easy. Never had any stomach issues, but many fellow riders don't have as resilient guts.

Regulars will know that I am a cynic. Of course the sugar thing is also propaganda. But man does consuming this stuff lower RPE during efforts and speed up recovery!
 
Long rides with efforts I tend to take 100g per hour. For me long is 4h or more. Efforts typically accumulate 80-100 min of 20+ min intervals a bit below threshold.

I rarely use gels and just put the sugar in bottles, cuz I jam econo. It's also easier to consume just drinking. One bottle is calorie sludge with caffeine, one plain water. Easy to ram 250-300g into a basic 750ml bottle if one boils the water while dissolving the sugar into it (so must be done the night before). Big rides I also carry one small flask of concentrate sugar sludge. Refill water as needed.

With pro tour logistics I think taking in more is very easy. Never had any stomach issues, but many fellow riders don't have as resilient guts.

Regulars will know that I am a cynic. Of course the sugar thing is also propaganda. But man does consuming this stuff lower RPE during efforts and speed up recovery!
One of the impacts of races getting ever faster is less low-watts riding early in stages. Riders in the past (and some still do) eat easy to digest solid food and some probably still do sandwiches. But that’s a lot harder to manage if the whole stage is at a hell-bent-for-leather pace.
 
There is fructose (regular sugar) and glucose/dextrose (grape sugar). AFAIK the body can only turn so much fructose into glucose in an hour, so I mostly put glucose in my bottle (like a 80:20 ratio). I buy it at volume in the drug store. It's much cheaper than buying sports products, which are basically the same. Also get some citric acid powder and dump and it in, and it actually tastes pretty nice. To top it off add some green food coloring. That being said, I usually don't cycle that long, that it makes much of a difference LOL
 
I try not to be a judgmental person, but when I see amateurs carrying around pocketfuls of individually packaged gels for training or even racing, I do tend to think less of them. It seems like an absolutely obscene amount of trash to generate just to nurture a vo2max of 57. Pretty narcissistic.

I pour maple syrup into a soft flask which generates less waste (I hope), is cheaper, logistically easier and less messy. I haven't figured out a downside yet.

> how come we've only suddenly discovered we need to eat lots & lots during an event is even better for us?

Triathletes have been eating like this for ages. Cyclists are a bit slow to change. But I think it's also because the body was thought to only be able to process a certain number of grams per hour, and it's only recently become a consensus that consuming more than that number, i.e. creating an environment of surplus carbs, is helpful during exercise, and after as well for the sake of recovery.

> Wouldn't they need to be constantly eating? How come we don't see them constantly eating?

I assume their bottles have ~100g as well and they drink one an hour in normal weather conditions.

So to answer the question in my case, 100g of carbs in an hour looks like a liter of liquid, or ~125mL of maple syrup (also technically a liquid). Depending on the expected ambient temperature and exertion level, I modify the dilution of the bottles or the maple syrup. It really is not that hard to manage carrying a lot of carbs somewhat invisibly. The harder thing to hide is liter upon liter of water, e.g. for a 5 hour ride in 35C weather. But obviously the pros are not hiding that, they are getting tons of bottles from the team car.
 
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I try not to be a judgmental person, but when I see amateurs carrying around pocketfuls of individually packaged gels for training or even racing, I do tend to think less of them. It seems like an absolutely obscene amount of trash to generate just to nurture a vo2max of 57. Pretty narcissistic.

I pour maple syrup into a soft flask which generates less waste (I hope), is cheaper, logistically easier and less messy. I haven't figured out a downside yet.

> how come we've only suddenly discovered we need to eat lots & lots during an event is even better for us?

Triathletes have been eating like this for ages. Cyclists are a bit slow to change. But I think it's also because the body was thought to only be able to process a certain number of grams per hour, and it's only recently become a consensus that consuming more than that number, i.e. creating an environment of surplus carbs, is helpful during exercise, and after as well for the sake of recovery.

> Wouldn't they need to be constantly eating? How come we don't see them constantly eating?

I assume their bottles have ~100g as well and they drink one an hour in normal weather conditions.

So to answer the question in my case, 100g of carbs in an hour looks like a liter of liquid, or ~125mL of maple syrup (also technically a liquid). Depending on the expected ambient temperature and exertion level, I modify the dilution of the bottles or the maple syrup. It really is not that hard to manage carrying a lot of carbs somewhat invisibly. The harder thing to hide is liter upon liter of water, e.g. for a 5 hour ride in 35C weather. But obviously the pros are not hiding that, they are getting tons of bottles from the team car.
I read lots of this w great interest. I have done a few 5-7 hours rides in the last 2 years. My volume is much lower. Many, many hundreds in not thousands of currently cult training plans are telling riders that they can get results w look less of everything, no more traditional volume training instead super focus on technology and technical data. And stranger still, in my immediate area which has great weather and a proximity racer base from Southwest US, you don't often find races with significant climbing, and even Pro,1,2 seldom over 90 minutes.
From what I know lots of available calories need to be in your system at the line of an hour or 90 minute crit or circuit race.
I have done a fair amount of officiating and race marshalling duty, in majority of American racing ,again most short and fast, almost none allow handups or feeds. Can't remember a crit in recent years that had a feed zone.
Your maple syrup recipe sounds about right w most current popular nutrition available at @40 grams per gel.
So if I have pro math correct and apply it to an amateur racer ,even a good one, 100-120 grams per hour.. Sounds achievable with your recipe and two bottles, a little something in your jersey.
To me, my observation, nutrition is not a really big concern for most people out rolling around and doing moderate training, a bottle of Log Cabin should be fine. Plenty of sandwich and energy bar recipes that you can make for pennies and will give you all you need for effort- ride length ratio for majority of people.

Would be curious to see the numbers.. Tour of Switzerland, probably had more race miles, hours riding, higher average speed and more feet of climbing in the eight stages than half of US pros race in a season.. Just guessing
 
The maximum absorption rate of a single carbohydrate source such as maltodextrin is 60 grams per hour, dual source such as by adding fructose it's 90 grams, with gut conditioning and the right products 120+ grams per hour. But the riders are not just turning up and doubling how much they consume per hour, they have to gradually add 10-20g per hour / day more over several weeks before and during the race until their gut can oxidise that many carbs per hour, then after the race they return to normal human maximum of 60-90g per hour again. I think the riders are consuming a lot more than you notice on TV, a lot of it on small descents when motos are generally not filming.

There's a good paper on it here.
 
The cal intake itself isn’t speeding up the riders but it allows the same wattage to be pushed longer and probably improves recovery / reduces fatigue, but probably only on the harder stages.

If you know RER at various intensities, which you can get from a VO2 Max test, then do the math you can know how many cals to take in to prevent glycogen from dropping below around the 50% point. That seems to be where performance starts dropping quickly, as opposed to the normally cited 2,000 stored calorie mark. I doubt this is an issue in most easier peloton stages but should be for stages with average Wattage above 250-300.

Maple syrup and thick sugar water are probably fine for the vast majority of people but the fancy gels have a slightly better glucose:fructose ratio and a lot of them use maltodextrin which allows more to be absorbed with less strain on the gut.
 
I try not to be a judgmental person, but when I see amateurs carrying around pocketfuls of individually packaged gels for training or even racing, I do tend to think less of them. It seems like an absolutely obscene amount of trash to generate just to nurture a vo2max of 57. Pretty narcissistic.

I pour maple syrup into a soft flask which generates less waste (I hope), is cheaper, logistically easier and less messy. I haven't figured out a downside yet.

> how come we've only suddenly discovered we need to eat lots & lots during an event is even better for us?

Triathletes have been eating like this for ages. Cyclists are a bit slow to change. But I think it's also because the body was thought to only be able to process a certain number of grams per hour, and it's only recently become a consensus that consuming more than that number, i.e. creating an environment of surplus carbs, is helpful during exercise, and after as well for the sake of recovery.

> Wouldn't they need to be constantly eating? How come we don't see them constantly eating?

I assume their bottles have ~100g as well and they drink one an hour in normal weather conditions.

So to answer the question in my case, 100g of carbs in an hour looks like a liter of liquid, or ~125mL of maple syrup (also technically a liquid). Depending on the expected ambient temperature and exertion level, I modify the dilution of the bottles or the maple syrup. It really is not that hard to manage carrying a lot of carbs somewhat invisibly. The harder thing to hide is liter upon liter of water, e.g. for a 5 hour ride in 35C weather. But obviously the pros are not hiding that, they are getting tons of bottles from the team car.
+1 for using maple syrup or even agave syrup during longer rides. I also mix a lot of dextrose in to one water bottle, along with a bit of commercial sports drink like Skratch (mainly for flavor). As noted elsewhere, it does take conditioning to get comfortable with the calorie intake, especially at higher effort levels. And certainly some of the fans here products that are quite expensive, like martin, make it even easier (but I will leave that for the pros that nearly double my FTP wattage!)
 
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+1 for using maple syrup or even agave syrup during longer rides. I also mix a lot of dextrose in to one water bottle, along with a bit of commercial sports drink like Skratch (mainly for flavor). As noted elsewhere, it does take conditioning to get comfortable with the calorie intake, especially at higher effort levels. And certainly some of the fans here products that are quite expensive, like martin, make it even easier (but I will leave that for the pros that nearly double my FTP wattage!)
Yea, flavor is the hardest part of the equation if you go the homemade route. For my bottles, I use gatorade because it's very cheap and has multiple palatable flavors. Then add salts and maltodextrin (more carbs without increasing sweetness) as necessary. Sometimes I add BCAAs and/or creatine and/or caffeine if I'm feeling like some marginal gains.

It's actually quite easy to customize your drinks for sweetness, caloric content, and saltiness, to match the duration, intensity and weather of your ride. For those who stick with pure pre-made mixes like Skratch, not only are they way over-paying based on the ingredient content, they have little control over the make-up of their drinks. That is, you can't modify the sugar content separately from the salt content. There are commercial services that will create a custom mix for your personal sweat rate and needs, but those are even more expensive than off-the-shelf mixes like Skratch. Crazy! Takes very little effort to figure this out on your own. I don't have any special insight into what the TDF teams do, but I can only assume they're customizing the mix based on rider (at least for leaders) and weather before each stage. For training, many riders are probably too lazy to think about this in great detail, but the Adam Hansens of the peloton have plenty of room to nerd out.

I will have to try agave syrup to mix things up.
 
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Maple syrup and thick sugar water are probably fine for the vast majority of people but the fancy gels have a slightly better glucose:fructose ratio and a lot of them use maltodextrin which allows more to be absorbed with less strain on the gut.
Maple syrup already has a very close to ideal glucose:fructose ratio (it is mostly sucrose which is 1:1).

Maltodextrin is not as cheap as table sugar, but it's only a few dollars per pound, which is an order of magnitude cheaper than the fancy gels. (edit: Maurten gel costs $9 USD for 25g, or you can get 3.6kg of maltodextrin for $31 USD, which is 1/42 the price, and that's without resorting to brewery supply stores) You can use it to fine-tune your ratio if you think it's that important; I mainly worry about palatability, as 100g+ of table sugar would be hard to choke down in a single .75-1L bottle.

Do not fall for the hype. That said, if you do buy off the shelf, I find tailwind nutrition and gu roctane powders to pretty much check all the boxes at some fractional price of maurten/sis etc.
 
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Maple syrup already has a very close to ideal glucose:fructose ratio (it is mostly sucrose which is 1:1).

Maltodextrin is not as cheap as table sugar, but it's only a few dollars per pound, which is an order of magnitude cheaper than the fancy gels. (edit: Maurten gel costs $9 USD for 25g, or you can get 3.6kg of maltodextrin for $31 USD, which is 1/42 the price, and that's without resorting to brewery supply stores) You can use it to fine-tune your ratio if you think it's that important; I mainly worry about palatability, as 100g+ of table sugar would be hard to choke down in a single .75-1L bottle.

Do not fall for the hype. That said, if you do buy off the shelf, I find tailwind nutrition and gu roctane powders to pretty much check all the boxes at some fractional price of maurten/sis etc.
I admit I feel like a bit of a tool buying the name brand stuff, but I only race a couple times a year and I only use it for ultra distance races and not in training. I buy the bulk versions of those products which ends up costing like $20-40 for a 8-16 hour race (the Maurten dry mix is $1 per 100 cal in the 14x320 cal boxes, and I use half that and half Gatorade Endurance powder which is cheaper) and gives me the peace of mind of knowing I’ve got all my bases covered.

I’ll probably start experimenting with a homemade maltodextrin mix, but it’s hard not to be a bit worried something will somehow go wrong and blow my gut apart. For marathons and shorter I have my own flasks which I make ultra concentrated and are way more convenient than the 100 cal gels.
 
I admit I feel like a bit of a tool buying the name brand stuff, but I only race a couple times a year and I only use it for ultra distance races and not in training. I buy the bulk versions of those products which ends up costing like $20-40 for a 8-16 hour race (the Maurten dry mix is $1 per 100 cal in the 14x320 cal boxes, and I use half that and half Gatorade Endurance powder which is cheaper) and gives me the peace of mind of knowing I’ve got all my bases covered.

I’ll probably start experimenting with a homemade maltodextrin mix, but it’s hard not to be a bit worried something will somehow go wrong and blow my gut apart. For marathons and shorter I have my own flasks which I make ultra concentrated and are way more convenient than the 100 cal gels.
pro tip: gatorade endurance is just gatorade + more salts. If you do the math wrt the price difference, that's some of the most expensive salt you can buy.
 
But man does consuming this stuff lower RPE during efforts and speed up recovery!
What is RPE?

Triathletes have been eating like this for ages. Cyclists are a bit slow to change.

I'd say its only triathletes who are training for ironman who eat like this. That's because unless you are a pro cyclists don't have to conserve glycogen for running a marathon after a 5 to 6 hour effort in zone 3.

It was actually around the early / mid 90s that eating less carbs became common for ironman. Australian Greg Welsh who won the Hawaii ironman in 1994 turned the accepted wisdom on eating carbs on its head. The concept is to train the body to conserve glycogen by eating less carbs.

On gels, of course you can go the home made route and save money, not I am sure its easier to buy something prepared based upon controlled manufacturing, and some level of science. Less risk than mixing your own and getting the ratio wrong. And lets face it looking at the cost of bikes these days, a few bucks spent on energy gels is negligible.

But whilst this is an interesting subject, why is this in the Clinic? At least some mention of keytones might be warranted?
 
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Getting some good tips in here, thanks.

As to the question in the thread title, I think it is undeniable that additional fuelling will contribute to faster racing (or better endurance, which amounts to the same thing), just as equipment improvements, skinsuits, etc. help riders go faster.

How much faster? Someone smarter than me will have to answer.
 
I think the original point was to pose questions about the ratio of propaganda to reality when it comes to the claim that increases in carb ingestion have driven performance levels up. But many being cyclists, predictably we began discussing other kinds of ratios. 🙄😆

Cookster: RPE stands for rating of perceived exertion. Gunnar Borg has immortalized the notion and the scale (two, actually) in scholarly publications that should be fairly easy to find.
 
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A lot of placebo probably going on with the high carb intakes….however it does seem to help a little. As far as speeds ridden a lot has changed in cycling over the years. Indurain rode slower than the 2000s generation and the current gen is faster than the previous….
 
I think the original point was to pose questions about the ratio of propaganda to reality when it comes to the claim that increases in carb ingestion have driven performance levels up. But many being cyclists, predictably we began discussing other kinds of ratios. 🙄😆

Cookster: RPE stands for rating of perceived exertion. Gunnar Borg has immortalized the notion and the scale (two, actually) in scholarly publications that should be fairly easy to find.
How the heck are we supposed to tease apart the carb effect vs the sauce effect? They will be eating anything they believe will make them 1% faster, be it sugar or hormone infused olive oil, without regards to whether it's legal.

Technology has contributed to faster speeds.
Doping tech. (???)
Training tech (power meters, indoor training, wearable performance metric monitors)
Aerodynamics tech (bikes and clothes)
Comfort tech (wide tires etc)
Sugar tech.

These categories aren't mutually exclusive.

If anything, this thread is in the wrong sub.