What is carbohydrates for cycling we will cover in this blog. During and before cycling it is important to use carbohydrates to provide yourself with fuel during cycling. When you are exercising you use two types of fuel. These are fats and carbohydrates in the form of glucose. The ratio between these two fuels depends on various factors. Think of the duration and intensity of the training, but also the availability of the nutrients.
In this blog we therefore explain what is carbohydrates for cycling and how you can perform optimally while cycling.
Why use carbohydrates for cycling?
Glucose is our body’s favorite type of fuel. Especially during intensive training or competition. Glucose is also called fast fuel because it is more easily converted into energy in the body. This in comparison to fats. Therefore, it is an efficient fuel. Our body can store a limited amount of glucose. Generally, we store 300 to 600 glycogen in muscles and about 80 to 120 grams in our liver. Refueling before your ride, for example, is very important.
But what is carbohydrates for cycling really? Depending on your intensity and effort, the internal glycogen supply can be exhausted within 40 to 90 minutes. How do you handle this during a longer ride when the stores are already closed? After all, you still want to be able to keep up with your performance. Especially on rides of more than an hour, your glycogen stores alone will not be enough to keep you going at a relatively high intensity. During a competition, for example. It is therefore important to fuel your body with carbohydrates during the ride. It’s best to start fueling early, since you can’t just eat or drink that much carbohydrate.
The body can generally absorb and use 60 grams of carbohydrates per hour from food and drink. If you consume more, then you run the risk of gastrointestinal problems. Therefore, consuming 60 grams of carbohydrates for cycling is sufficient. For rides longer than 1 hour to a maximum of 2 hours, you can combine carbohydrates with your glycogen supply. If you are going to do a longer ride (>2.5 hours), you may want to avoid even more glycogen depletion and reduced performance.
There is a way to increase carbohydrate intake. By consuming different types of carbohydrates, namely glucose and fructose (2:1 ratio), you could increase your total carbohydrate intake to 90 grams/hour or even slightly more, which is beneficial. Note that the latter is quite difficult to achieve and you may need some nutrition training. This way you can practice with this intake and train your gut in it.
How much carbohydrates you need for your ride we have listed for you below:
– For rides less than 1 hour, a carbohydrate intake of 30 grams/hour is usually sufficient.
– For rides of 2 to 3 hours, a carbohydrate intake of 60 grams/hour is sufficient.
– If you are cycling for more than 2.5 hours, aim for a carbohydrate intake of up to 90 grams/hour (provided it is from glucose + fructose), to maintain performance.