Time for the next course. In this second in a three-part series, Wahoo sports scientists Neal Henderson and Mac Cassin serve up knowledge on fueling strategies for during your workout to help you stay strong through the last interval. Hope you’re hungry for some top training tips.
Great information in these fueling podcasts.
RE podcast 2 (fueling during your workout) I have just a little confusion on fuel timing and nomenclature.
“During workout feeding” could mean drinking a water-electrolyte-carbo drink mix or “during workout feeding” could mean eating carbo only (no fats, no protein, low fiber) snacks- I’m picturing a gel pack. So these really seem like the same fuel input, the former is just supplemented with water and salts.
60-90 minutes was stated as the time for these fuels to enter the bloodstream. I’ve been told about 20 minutes for a gel to kick in when you’re riding. That’s a big discrepancy.
Also, near the end of the podcast it was stated that if you’re in a low glucose state you could rebound your blood glucose within 10-15 minutes of a feeding.
The two timeframes, 60-90 minutes and 10-15 minutes, are pretty far off. Did I misunderstand something?
Great questions! Fueling can be a tricky topic, because there are so many factors and variables that affect rate of digestion and how quickly that fuel can be utilized by your working muscles.
For starters, yes, during workout fueling really means anything that you put in your body. From water to electrolytes to carbohydrates. If you’re not taking in calories, I suppose you’re technically only hydrating, and not fueling, but usually that’s only applicable to rides of about an hour or less.
The 60-90 minutes for a fuel to enter the bloodstream is a general rule of thumb, but will vary depending on what that food is. More complex, whole foods will take longer because they have to be digested first (and since most of your blood is going to the working muscles and not the gut, that food will take a long time to digest). More simple carbohydrates like gels, chews and liquid carbohydrates can boost the blood glucose and give you some energy more quickly because some of that carbohydrate actually gets absorbed into the blood stream in the mouth, before it even hits your gut. Also, the type of sugars that make up the gel or food you’re eating makes a difference in the time it takes to enter your bloodstream. Some of the new products on the market act in a completely different way from traditional gels. Maurten, for example is a “hydrogel” which actually bypasses the stomach and goes straight to the intestines to be released into the bloodstream, no action by the stomach required- thus, speeding the delivery time and reducing the chance of GI upset.
So yes, there can be a discrepancy in the timeframes it takes for different fuels to enter the bloodstream. Sorry I couldn’t provide a more black and white answer, but as with all nutrition related advice, it’s best to take the information as a general guideline and experiment on yourself to see what fueling strategies work best for you as an individual!
Hi Guys - loving listening to your podcast series whilst out walking my dog! I have a question re: Liquid carbohydrates & homemade sports drinks. Generally, on longer rides, I supplement solid food/carb intake for the first 4-ish hours with homemade sports drinks. Then after about 6 hours, often I can’t face the thought of solid food anymore, so revert to liquid carbs in the form of SIS Beta fuel sachets (80g carbs per 500ml water mix). My homemade drinks are usually a 10% mix (ratio 2:1 glucose to fructose + 1 Hydro electrolyte tab), but I notice that SIS have recently changed their Beta Fuel recipe from 2:1 to 1:0.8 (Glu:Fruc) …which does not seem to be recognised as ‘the industry norm’. Here is their reasoning: Beta Fuel 80 - Sachet | Science In Sport @Coach.Neal.H@Coach.Mac.C - what are your thoughts on this? Should I be changing my homemade recipe to 1:0.8? Thanks for your insights.
Hi @Chrispenfold! Glad that you’ve been listening in. With sports nutrition, there can be quite a bit of variation in what will work for one person versus another. I haven’t used any of the newer SIS Beta Fuels personally, so I don’t have any experience from that side to speak of…and haven’t had any feedback from any athletes directly, either. That being said, looking at one of the cited studies (Fructose-maltodextrin ratio governs exogenous and other CHO oxidation and performance - PubMed) it looks reasonable. The downside, though, is that this is just one study. There’s quite a bit of evidence for the 2:1 Glu:Fru ratio…though that can be a problem for those who don’t tolerate fructose (Fructose intolerance: Which foods to avoid? - Mayo Clinic). Maltodextrin is a different type of carbohydrate than fructose (generally chain of glucose), and the new SIS Beta fuel is use Maltodextrin-Fructose for the .8 ratio. Ultimately, if what you’ve got works for you I tend to recommend sticking with a winner…but you could try the alternative on a less important training day first to see how you tolerate it. And then try again at a higher intensity day and see if there’s a benefit if tolerated well at first. Here’s another nice article about DIY drinks: DIY Sports Nutrition - CyclingTips Happy training!