The term fuel is a bit funny, but it works well for this purpose and is the common term used to describe getting calories into yourself during long workouts and races. Many people do not want to eat or consume calories during this time, so it really often has nothing pleasurable about it; but we need to consume nutrients-that are the right fit for our bodies-or we will at some point not be able to go any further. The longer the workout or race, the more important it is to fuel properly. It also depends greatly on the individual. I have heard of many people whose bodies are very particular about what allows them to continue and avoid stomach discomfort. Personally, I seem to be able to eat a broad variety of things and do fine, so I am probably not the best to give advice in this area, but this is all about sharing my story and what works, so maybe something that works for me will work for others.
The general rule of thumb that I have heard is to consume 20% of the calories that you are burning each hour for long bike rides (let’s say anything 2 hours or over). That seems like a good place to start. You could figure out calories based on generalized workout calculations found online, or more specific if your watch or another program used estimates it for you. Then you can see how you feel and monitor consumption accordingly.
I am convinced that any calculations I have seen for calories burned for myself are not very accurate. Furthermore, when I’m working out at low intensity, which I pretty much always am on a long bike ride, I should be burning at least 50% fat calories, which I shouldn’t need to replace. Trust me, I have plenty of fat calories stored away for future use. But our bodies can only hold a smaller amount of carbohydrate calories, the easy-burn fuel, and that’s what we are concerned with maintaining at a level that allows us to draw what we need.
Then it depends on weather. If it is hot and I’m sweating a lot, electrolytes are vitally important and I will need way more water than I do on a typical Juneau day (pretty cold) or even in my garage.
Therefore, I base my own personal fueling plan based largely on instinct that day. It mostly seems to work. Maybe someday I will find something that makes me go super fast, but barring that, I haven’t had horrible bonks on the bike with my fueling. I do continue to experiment with different things to keep it interesting.
I will talk about what I actually consume on the bike and how tomorrow or a day soon.