There's a bunch of theory behin all this I picked up from mom (the registered dietician), "feed zone portables" by Allen Lim and my trainer at lifetime. Basically it's all about replacing what the body burns through...and it burns through a lot when you ask it to do something silly like propel a bicycle across the Sonoran desert or over a mountain pass.
I figure I can make this useful for myself, as this post will know provide a nice checklist for rides and races. So, here goes.
What I eat during a race or long rides starts a few days in advance. It's not so much what I eat as what I drink. And that's water. A lot of it. Like one of those little 10oz bottles every hour I'm awake. This also means I pee a lot. It is a fact.
I also take a calcium-magnesium-zinc supplement every day, and try (often not very successfully) to get most of my calories from protein and veggies, and some fruit, limiting carb intake as much as possible without being a lunatic who eats nothing by dried mastodon meat and pine nuts.
There's a bunch of research as to why the protein emphasis. Mostly it's about having protein to rebuild the muscles I guess, and getting the body excited about the carbs I provide on the rides. Something about being more efficient at turning sugar into glycogen which is what the muscles use to go when your brain says "pedal NOW!"
Since 95% of my rides are in the wee hours, including the races, I have the following pre-ride nutrition almost always:
- 8oz coffee with a splash of milk (why 8oz? That's how big the cups at home are)
- tortilla (small) or 1 slice of toast with almond butter and ginger jelly (never tried ginger jelly? I think you're missing out...to me ginger jelly says "time to ride"!! or sometimes chocolate almond butter
- 50g Karbolyn (200cal worth) in 24oz water. Karbolyn is a "super carb" made by all American efx. Whatever stuff is in there (all natural!) there's no carb crash...My trainer at lifetime turned me on to it a a pre-workout neccesity, and I'm a believer
If the ride is under 2 hours, I take water. 1 big bottle per hour. That is all
If over 2 hours...
- 24oz (big bottle) with 1 scoop of carborocket half-evil per hour. 1st half of ride non-caffeinated. 2nd half, caffeine. Carborocket half-evil is 111cal of carbs per scoop (they recommend 3 scoops for 333 cal..half evil...get it?), plus electrolytes, and amino acids
- 1 roctane gel at hour 1
-1 gu/cliff/other 40 min later
- roctane 40 min later
If out for more than 4 hours, I try to have a waffle (Belgian cookie...because, cycling) or another tortilla or similar every 2 hours to give my stomach something to do.
I'm trying to consume about 300cal and 24oz of water each hour...the assumption is I have the hammer down. If I'm spinning on glass pedals, I'll reduce calorie intake
Post ride, 200cal protein shake with glutamine added. Also make sure to take my supps and fish oil post-ride.
I think I'd like to switch to more real food instead of gels but the gels are convenient. The concept of making my own awesomely perfect baked goods for rides is a cool. Practically...it ain't happening.
I have no idea if this schedule of eating will work for anyone else. You may try it and puke your guts out, or cramp, or you may have the best day ever on a bike. Roctane and carborocket may make you gag...maybe ginger jelly is the nastiest flavor you can imagine. Who knows?? One of the guys I met eats slices of ham wrapped around a stick of parmesean...another eats Oreos...another subway ham sandwiches....whatever it takes to get the sugar, salt, and aminos to replace what you used up.
Do remember pro endurance athletes have stomachs that are as finely tuned as their legs and arms. Where I can eat 350cal/hour of excercise before I hit gastric distress, pros can put down 500-600cal...
Anyway it turns out, be sure to think of me chugging along behind you imploring you to HTFU or wait up...I'm likely to do both.