I will start with a massive disclaimer – I AM NOT AN EXPERT ON THIS SUBJECT MATTER.
There that should do it…
Not being the fittest guy on a bike I like to try and at least eat correctly before and during a ride to keep my energy levels up. This usually means getting the carbs into my system a few days before and having a good hearty breakfast on the day of a ride. My favourite fuel filled breakfast is a big bowl of porridge with a banana and raisens – they get cooked in there too as I love a nice warm mushy banana!
While a chocolate bar can give you a little burst of energy I heard that chocolate can prevent your body absorbing some of the good stuff that your body needs. It can prevent you from absorbing iron among other things and that helps to oxygenate your body. So, well balanced cereal and energy bars are the best on the trail foods – though a little bit of chocolate can’t hurt – just not that Mars bar!
This afternoon I just bought some energy gels and hydrating tablets for a what I am expecting to be a hard couple of days riding with Mudtrek at the weekend. The idea is that these replace the essential fuels, vitamins and nutrients that you lose while sweating etc and if taken correctly can give you a supply of carbohydrates to keep you going.
I can’t say I have scientifically tested any of the brands I use but they seem to do much the same job. Hydration tablets / powders ensure your body refuels regularly and consistently throughout your ride. I tend to use TORQ and there’s a great feature on their website that explains what and how much you should take, here’s a snippet:
Our guidelines are simple. Take 2-3 TORQ units per hour. 1 TORQ unit is 30g of carbohydrate, or 1 TORQ gel, 1 TORQ bar or 500ml of TORQ energy drink. If the weather is hot, it makes sense to consume more 500ml energy drink units, because you’ll be getting fluid and electrolytes with your carbohydrate to facilitate hydration. In cooler weather, overconsumption of TORQ energy will fill you bladder and your exercise will be interrupted by toilet stops! This is where drinking less, but gaining TORQ units through the more concentrated TORQ fuel sources (bars and gels) makes more sense.
For full and comprehensive info read the full article here. I have got out of the habit of using the Fuel in my hydration pack, but I do use gels and for these I just take what’s on offer usually. Today I bought a big box of High5.
Taking the scientifically calculated dose of these things is tricky in my opinion (and on a long day in the saddle pretty tricky to carry too) – the important thing to remember is that if you are feeling tired its probably too late to take a gel to recover. So if you think you are in for a tough ride then try to remember to fuel up before you feel yourself flagging.
After a long ride it is possible you will want to eat everything in sight. Properly refueling is also important – a slice of cake and a cup of tea works wonders but you should also consider refueling drinks too. Bizarrely I just read that chocolate milk is good for this!
Like I said I am no expert – so just do your research or speak to your local bike store for advice.
EDIT – here’s some additional info from Bike Magic