Question for Those who Add Carbs to Ride or Run

(Central Florida Bob ) #1

For the last 5+ years, since I’ve started cycling again, I’ve never done a ride that took over 1-1/2 to 2 hours of pedaling time. Because of my long habit of eating TMAD, my morning 1 or 2 hours riding is always fasted.

This Saturday I turn 70 and a few months ago I decided to increase my mileage to the point where I could go out to ride my age in miles on my birthday. My wife and I used to do that over 10 years ago, back when we rode together, but that was before keto and TMAD.

I’m interested in suggestions on something to bring along, to eat before the ride, or both.

I’ve never felt a need to eat while riding or felt like I should eat something, but this may be the thing that gets me there. I’ll be riding at the time of day I usually have breakfast. While I don’t have the typical high carb stuff around the house, the one thing I have that might be helpful is some dehydrated apples that are baked. Just apples with no added sugar or flour or anything. It turns out to be 1 gram of carb per 1 gram of apples. I could carry some of them, but the grocery store is close and I could go get a little of anything.

I’ve done century rides (100 miles) many times but always by that axiom of “eat before you’re hungry, drink before you’re thirsty,” so I guess I can’t help but think that way. The last time I did a century was around 20 years ago.

(Bob M) #2

I always drank when I was thirsty. After reading “Waterlogged”, that’s even more what I do now.

If you’re slow like me, 100 miles takes a while. I used to average only 12 miles per hour with stops, etc. So, 5 hours for 60 miles. Back when I was doing that, I was eating higher carb during the rides, though nothing like what most recommendations were. I remember taking small shots of espresso that had carbs in them (20 grams?), so I could get my minimum daily requirement of coffee. :wink:

You might be able to find some “protein” bars that aren’t too carby. Those might help. For true keto stuff, that seems harder, as most stuff isn’t really meant to travel.

(Central Florida Bob ) #3

Sounds like me. I’m especially slow in headwinds. They’ll suck the life right outta me. But I always figured that when you included stops it’s really close to 12 mph average. Under 13 for sure. I’m figuring on leaving at around 7:30, which gives me pretty much 10 hours to finish.

I designed a route that I’ll do in laps and no more than 5 should be required. There are two convenience stores and a couple of small strip shopping centers I’ll go by on every lap, so plenty of options for water I/O.

(Bob M) #4

I usually carried everything, but there were times when I stopped at convenience stores. In fact, I put money ($20 or so?) in the bag where I had tubes and other repair stuff, just in case.

Back then, I used a water pack on my back, and then brought extra bottles too. There were some hot days when I ran out of water though; not many, but two-three. I bought something then.

Headwinds definitely suck. I had “hills” that took me the time. I used to make my route especially hilly at times, which was easy to do where I lived then. And then I always did the very steep (11% gradient was what I calculated at the steepest part) but very short hill near my house before getting home. Where I live now, it would be more difficult to get many hills in.

Good luck, and enjoy the rides!

(Bacon is a many-splendoured thing) #5

What about cheese, cooked bacon, roast beef, or beef jerky? Something keto that doesn’t really need refrigeration. Hard-boiled eggs would be another possibility. :bacon: :egg: :cheese:

(Central Florida Bob ) #6

Turns out my real problem is storage room on the bike, not what to bring. I leave in about a half hour. There is some bacon I could take, but I don’t want to just put it in my jersey pocket. Thankfully, there’s a grocery store and a 7-11 close to the route.


I hope you have a nice tour! :slight_smile:

I bought some nice smoked pork from the farmer’s market today… I would think about that if I wanted some dense, tasty travel food! :wink: And fatty pork is one of my top satiating options. I love eggs but their calorie density is low and their satiation effect isn’t as good either (for me. these things are highly individual) so if storage space is really tight, fatty meat, the kind that lost pretty much of its water (good smoked meat and my roasts tend to have that) sounds the best.

My bike has a basket that can hold 90 eggs in cartons (it’s a very vital role of my bicycle, getting eggs in that amount) so storage wouldn’t be MY problem! Especially that I never go for long tours, I just can’t handle them. I probably could bring food for several days in my backpack, though. I don’t like to ride with a backpack though.

Storage space was my problem on motorbike tours. I brought super dense vegetarian keto food (ghee mixed with walnut) and visited supermarkets. They are very useful, after all. Now that I eat meat (and I am not very choosy about the source due to finantial and availability reasons), it’s probably even easier to get some okay food there. But I still like to bring some really good items.


For energy during the ride, fruits a bad choice as it’s processed much slower, you could have it 1+hrs ahead of time, but that’s really hard to gauge. You really want higher glycemic stuff when doing any variant of TKD. I use Highly branched Cyclic Dextrin or Dextrose. Goes in, burns right then, you incinerate is as a fuel as you’re riding, and then it’s gone. Even a full scoop isn’t enough to reload all your liver and then fill muscle glycogen, so you don’t have to worry about spilling them over.

I do a combo of both TKD and CKD, specifically so I can have the fuel advantage, but also retain more or less full muscle glycogen stores. The difference whether in the gym or on the trails is literally night and day. On long rides (depending on what you’re dealing with) fat can be a good fuel if it’s flat most of the time, but if you’re up/down constantly and really pushing the legs, or simply at a fast pace, the carbs are better. Many people just throw a scoop down right as you start your ride, then trickle feed another while riding, which would be good on long distance ride.

(Central Florida Bob ) #9

Addendum - it was mixed results. I didn’t do the planned 70 miles. I ended up with a metric century - 100 km, 62 miles.

I messed up my hydration and electrolyte balance. The old rule of thumb about drinking was “drink before you’re thirsty” and I didn’t obey that. On top of that, I had nothing like those sports drinks, no sugar free Gatorade, at least not until it was too late. At around mile 62, as I was planning how to get the last 8 miles, I decided to stop for another drink at a gas station/convenience store and had to step off the bike. I couldn’t do it. I got a horrible leg cramp as I went to pull my leg over the bike. It went away when I straightened out that leg, but then I couldn’t pedal because of the cramp. Basically trapped standing over my bike.

A couple of minutes later I could get off the bike, but then I called my wife to come get me and bought a nearly quart bottle of sugar free Gatorade. By the time my wife got to the gas station to get me, I had drank the entire bottle and I might have been able to ride again but didn’t.

The weather for the next few days will keep me off the bike while I everything heals.


100km is nice too! (And quite impossible for me.) Congrats for that. Too bad you got that scare with lack of water/electrolytes. I never care about those as I never need focus on them but people are different and it’s not like I ever rode nearly that much anyway.

(Central Florida Bob ) #11

Thanks, Shinita.

I haven’t done a ride like this in quite a while, probably 15 years or more, and while I was relatively low carb I’d have some carbs “for energy”. (I was on Dr. Sears “Zone Diet” - not his 40-30-30 but more like 33-33-33) I didn’t run out of energy because of no food, but I shouldn’t have let myself get to that dehydrated and low electrolyte state.

(Robin) #12

I’m sure @Alecmcq can understand what you went thru.


Wow. I always need to build myself up when I skip some time. And my longest can be like 35km? With rest in the middle. When I truly stop cycling, I am sore after 10km… It quickly changes but it does take time. I suppose you still had bicycle rides just smaller ones. But if they were really small, wow, again! I couldn’t do that.
I have this with walking too except I am sure I could walk 50km any time if I had to (when I am healthy). That’s not much, after all. I just would be sore and whiney if I did it rusty.


Very helpful. I rode with a club about 30 years ago and was slow even then. Since then I have had intermittently ridden alone, anywhere from 5 - 20 miles at a time. I haven’t felt the like I could keep with a club especially as I would now be one of the older instead of the younger members but you have inspired me to go back to the gym to build up over the next month or so. I am in a four season location so no one starts riding seriously until March so I have a little time Plus I play tennis now three times a week so have not been entirely a sloth.

I had not considered the key would be electrolytes. Years ago I bought some pedialyte unflavored, wonder if something like that could work or I guess buy electrolyte packets at the Vitamin Shoppe since I no longer drink gatorade. Any other suggestions of products? Can I just have some salt and magnesium if I am only doing 30 miles or so? I wonder

@Shinita the road bikes that Americans use for Centuries are very light. Mine has the racing handlebars and weighs about 20 lbs or so and has very skinny tires. It is not designed to hold a basket or go to the store. I used to have a hybrid when I first joined the club and it was much harder to ride the distance


I would attempt to figure out how long it is going to take you and at what intensity you will be riding. Is it a flat 70 miles, or is it lumpy? Will you be stopping for a coffee halfway through? If the intensity is low, then fuel accordingly. Bring some salted macadamia nuts and some bananas (2), and maybe a gel to get you home if needed.
Back a few years ago, I did most rides in a fasted state. It did not matter if it was 50 miles or 100 miles; if the intensity was low (zone 2), then it was a non-issue. However, when the intensity picks up and the duration is longer, I always bring carbs. I have not bonked in over 20 years now. Do not make the mistake of not eating or being too afraid of carbs. Carbs can be your best friend when on the bike.

(Bob M) #16

I had a ride scheduled once. I was scheduled to ride 100 miles. The week before, I road a 100km (62 mile) ride, and they put a brutal hill in it. Some people walked up it. I was able to ride up it. That scared the crap out of me though – I barely made it 62 miles, why did I think I could ride 100?

So, the next week, I backed off the 100 miles and instead did the 100km ride. Now, I could’ve probably done the 100 miles, because this was flat and relatively easy. I cut something like 1+ hours off the ride from the previous week.

I forget which one of these, I think maybe the second one, was really HOT. I mean punishingly hot. (These were spring rides, so this wasn’t expected.) I also missed a feed stop and ran out of water. And if this was the second ride, I STILL cut a lot of time off the week’s previous ride.

Sometimes you can’t know what it’ll be like until you get out there.

I also used to use maltodextrin on my rides. I would add it to water along with salt. It is a slower processing carb though.

That cramp sounds like it sucked. Maybe take some LMNT with you next time? It’s the only stuff I’ve found that has enough minerals in it, tastes good, and has no carbs.

Though I also remember one ride where I ran out of water and stopped and got a Gatorade or something like it, and BAM! I felt better after drinking that.

And, you’re exercising enough some carbs aren’t going to hurt.

(Central Florida Bob ) #17

I started back riding again in 2018, and have been riding about 42 to 45 miles per week in three rides. I didn’t mean it was 15 years since I rode at all, just 15 years since I rode 70 miles or farther.

To prepare for this, my goal was to increase my mileage to that 70 mile goal per week, because my experience is that it’s usually enough preparation. Maybe it’s different for other people and places. Thanks to the weather, I only did one 70 mile week, but that only averages to a little over 23 miles per ride and I did daily rides farther than that many times since November.

(B Creighton) #18

Sorry you weren’t able to finish your race. I stopped using those sports drinks largely because of the artificial sweeteners - I still have some under the bed LOL. Now I make my own “sports drink” or use coconut water. Coconut water actually is the perfect electrolyte drink. I typically make my own with just our tap(practically mountain spring) water. I add a pinch of sea salt, and the contents of a calcium lactate capsule to about 1/2 gal. I have found this really quenches my dehydration, and actually allows me to drink much less. It is definitely easier on my cells than bottled water or plain tap water.

For your next race my suggestion would actually be a fat bomb. I make mine with soaked chia seeds(optional), powdered cacao from Costco, powdered peanut butter, melted virgin coconut oil and erythritol/monk fruit sweetener per taste. I think this would provide a much better long term energy source than fruit. It sill has enough MCTs and carbs for a quick energy pickup as well.

(Central Florida Bob ) #19

Interesting feedback. Is the calcium lactate for the calcium or the lactate ion? I think of lactate as a Bad Thing - or a Not Necessarily Good Thing - due to years of talk of muscle pain coming from lactic acid buildup.

On normal TMAD or fasting days, I supplement with a mix of 1/4 tsp each of potassium and sodium chlorides, and 200 mg of Magnesium glycinate lysinate (tablets). Sometimes I just mix the salts in water and sometimes I’ll mix it into lemonade. I can’t say it’s always the case, but I tend to have two glasses of that on fasting days and one on normal (TMAD) days.

I didn’t have an energy problem. My only problem was that cramp in the upper part of my right thigh - and I’ve had that at other times. I’m beginning to think that’s a stretching and strengthening thing. Sometime in recent memory, I started from a dead start in a too high gear and the muscle cramped so bad that I had to dismount and stand over the bike a few blocks from home. I pretty much couldn’t move. When I was able to get off the bike, I walked alongside the bike a hundred yards or two before it loosened up enough to get back on the bike and ride the last few tenths of a mile home.

I called my wife to come get me too soon. In the 20 or 30 minutes I was waiting, I drank almost a quart of Gatorade zero and then felt pretty normal. By that time, she was on the way to the gas station I was sitting at and almost there. I certainly could have made the 8 miles I needed to complete the 70.


The cause of cramping is unknown. What is known is that cramping is triggered by hyperactive nerves that can get overexcited with exercise and repetitively fire into the muscle (disfunctional nerve firing). If it were dehydration or a lack of electrolytes, then other muscles would also cramp, not just your quads. Muscle biopsies on athletes with cramps have shown that it must be something else. Nobel Prize Winner (Chemistry 2003), Dr. Rod Mackinnon has done a lot of research into this as he has also suffered muscle cramps.
In my own case, generally, it’s too much too soon.