Frank's eating intervals: gels > blocks > bars > every half hour

So I listened to this podcast (https://fascatcoaching.com/tips/what-to-eat-on-the-bike-during-training-and-racing/) wherein Frank says you should be eating every half hour while riding hard. He’s quite specific about what too. And in what order.

It seems like a lot of food to me. I read somewhere (possibly Joe Friel’s book) that you can only really metabolize 100 calories an hour while working hard.

And the gels and bars (never tried blocks) I use are both around 180 calories. So having one of those every 30 minutes seems like a recipe for stomach upset.

What do people think? I know the calories metabolized number will vary by rider. And I know that the calorie counts vary by product.

But do y’all really eat that much? More? Less?

cmkl

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This was my 4.5 hour ride Sunday organized from top left to the right, every 30 minutes

Gels = 100 calories
1/2 pack blocks = 80 calories
bars = 240 (Clif) 250 Bobo’s

  • 1.5 bottle of GU Roctane (360 calories)
    90 min Total averaged out to be 790 calories or 527 calories per hour

was burning about 675 calories per hour during the ride (from power data :: 1 calorie = 1 kiloJoule, roughly) . So did a pretty good job keeping up. Everyone is individual and you can train your gut to absorb more carbohydrate. To do so you want to eat up to your limit of getting an upset stomach and find your edge. Do the math like I did above and test out what works for you!

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Consuming 527 calories an hour while riding hard didn’t make you want to barf? How much gut training do you have to do to get to that point? It’s definitely something I would like to try as my last 4+ hour rides have both had bottom-falling-out moments. Not bonking exactly, but where I’ve felt like my energy balloon has sprung a slow leak.

Thanks for sharing. I definitely need to experiment more.

Cool idea to snap a photo. Maybe I will attach the photo to Training Peaks workout

Remember that 240 calories came from my hydration which had 240 calories per bottle.

but nah, no barfing :slight_smile:

Good point. It’s a lot easier to metabolize liquid calories than solids – even gels. Could a rider do the whole refuelling thing with liquids? Or would that require bladder tension training in addition to gut efficiency intervals?

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I think you want to stick with gels> blocks> bars every 30 minutes and additionally get some calories from your drink mix @ 1-2 bottles per hour. Would NOT recommend using 100% liquids. Logistically difficult for starters…

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like the photo breakdown! Just joined so haven’t listened to the podcast yet, but curious @FRANK why the specific order of gels-chomps-bars.

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listen to the pod :slight_smile: we go into that - its a function of how hard you are riding/racing & breathing and able to swallow and not have to chew :slight_smile:

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I’ll do that :call_me_hand:

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It does take a little while to get used to the intake and keep in mind that eating a bar right before you do a V02 interval might leave to some unwanted sensations, but when you time it right it can leave you ready to get the work done through your entire ride. Something I have found helpful is if you get off the bike and you feel you need to slam a ton of food, that means you weren’t fueling enough during the ride itself and you are stretching it too thin.

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I slammed an SiS Gel 20 minutes before Koppenberg a couple weeks ago and it was a huge mistake. I was burping it up and had discomfort until I got dropped near end of 1st lap and settled into my own pace. I know my own body and should’ve used better judgement. But for less intense and longer training rides I noticed that focusing on getting gels-blocks-bars on board at this interval made a big difference. I felt surprisingly powerful. I’m looking forward to testing this out at a faster paced, long gravel ride this weekend with the New Belgium Brewing FoCo Fondo pre-ride!

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Hey @FRANK listened to the podcast. there was some good tips in there (pre-open bars/waffles, pre-cut into smaller pieces for ease of eating at speed). I like the simplicity of the manta and planning of gels-blocks-bars, and getting to the calories per hour fairly easily. great.

But I don’t feel like you directly touched on the “why”. You both talked about the crusher and other races and how bars (two handed food) are harder to get down, and if slower fondo’s etc (zone 2 and below) to eat drink and be merry. but not why there’s a specific advantage in doing gels-blocks-bars. the carbs/calories from gels to blocks is essentially the same (brand dependent) being maltodextrin. the bars I get: different mouth feel, flavour, carb source.

If I can stomach just gels for a 4 hour race/fondo, then is there inherently anything negative in doing that?
I think in the intro of the podcast you had advised again but didn’t come back around to the “why” later.

Again, what you’re saying sounds good and makes sense, I’m just wondering why not “gel->bar->gel->bar” or another combo. thanks!

Thanks for listening! Yea, the biggest take home point is to eat every 30 minutes. Gels and block are ‘one handed’ nutrition we talk about and bar are inbetween one and two handed nutrition so it depends on what’s going on in your race. In training where you can put a foot down, two handed nutrition is more possible.

The gels and blocks order primarily comes from the assumed RESPIRATORY RATE from a hard race like a gravel or fondo. Usually the heat is on at the beginning and you’re breathing too hard to chew and swallow - thus gel and blocks. But after 90 minutes maybe there’s a lull in the pace, a downhill, etc… where chewing and swallowing is more possible.

We also talk about the order can be custom tailored to your ride or race. Like Coach @Isaiah mentioned maybe don’t have a bar right before a VO2 effort or crux moment in the race.

Ultimately I think if you are eating any combo or even all gels every 30 minutes (we talk about that in xc mtb racing) you are going to find success

Roger that. Makes sense, and clarifies things.
If you can eat it without choking or causing gasto issues b/c of intensity, then you’re good to go.

Yeah, I’d do a gel or maybe 2-3 blocks before a 20min hard interval, etc, but defs not a bar.

On the note of “one-handed-nutrition”, Clif Shots are my fave because of the built in “litter leash” - can rip the top off and instead of spitting a gel lid to the wind (sorry planet!) the lid stays attached the body of the gel and goes back into jersey pocket :slight_smile:
Also are pretty cheap. Although in Canada we have limited flavours, not like in 'Murica.

Excited to start my 6 week fondo plan in a couple weeks!

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I had quite a bit of luck last year training and racing Firecracker50 and Leadville100 with all liquid Infinit Nutrition, & skratch… But yes - logistically difficult (and expensive tbh). I would tell someone to try it if you really have trouble finding what works for you with solid foods. Gu + Skratch + random bars is working well for me so far this year

I tried the eating intervals on my last two rides. Maybe I just need to get used to it but it felt like I was constantly eating and after about the 4th or 5th round I started to slip.

I’m pretty sure I know the answer here, but at about mile 60 of an 80 mile ride I started to fall apart.

I’m assuming that I should chalk that up to not eating enough?

Also curious, if I’ve hit that mark where I’m falling apart, is there a way to eat enough to get it back during the ride? I.e. if I’m struggling at mile 60 of 100, should I start taking in more calories or does that create more problems?

Thanks!

Once its too late, its too late (at mile 60). You can’t really catch back up - prolly a good way to get an upset stomach or barf. A coke at a rest stop an a rice cake is a good dose to try to get it back tho!

Also bear in mind you are also getting tired from all that riding but you can stave off the fatigue by staying on top of your hydration and nutrition (every 30 minutes) - this literally is the keep the Ferrari gas tank as full as possible analogy. Keep working at it - the Spring/Summer is young.

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FYI @FRANK used this strategy on a metric century today and worked great. Undertrained (was my longest ride this year by 35kms) and didn’t bonk at all!
Went gel->1/2 pack blocks->waffle->gel->waffle->remaining blocks->gel over 3 hours. Not quite 30min intervals. Also 2x bottles of skratch (500ml,700ml), 1x 500ml water, bonus banana at aid station. HrTSS of 304 and set lifetime 60m and 90m heart rates :star_struck:

I may just have to get a power meter between now and June 1st when my fondo plan starts. :joy:

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That is awesome to hear - congrats and glad you found all the eating helpful!

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