I'm not a doctor but…
Cycling injury, recovery and health issues.
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I bought a packet of protein bars the other day from the supermarket, and if my rides when I'm going to take them are 100-140km when should I be eating these? I currently take water, sports drink, a couple of muesli bars and a couple of protein bars.
What do they do for me, when should I be taking them to make riding the easiest/recovery the smoothest?
The rides I go on will usually have at least 2 decent climbs in them.
Think something like this, if I had 2 muesli bars and 2 protein bars should I just eat them when I feel hungry (am I overthinking this)?
I would use something like the Winners carb bars rather than protein. You will find more bang-for-your-buck energy input from something like that. I would only use protein bars if I was trying to put on muscle mass after a weights session at the gym. Plus they taste horrible.
I take protein within 30min after a ride when I need to double up (i.e. commuting) and take the ones toted as for recovery- they tend to be a mix of carbs and protein. I also tend to use a half serve (powder or bars) to assist recovery. During riding stick with mainly carbs.
And yes the protein bars taste blurgh, powder is much better mixed with low fat milk (probably also helps hydration to some degree also).
Have a read of this AIS factsheet
I wouldn't normally eat a protein bar during a ride, it's more like something I would have to aid recovery when I finished. My rides aren't typically much longer than about 3 hours though. I think the protein might help you feel more full, which might not be a good thing as you need to keep your carbohydrate intake up over the course of the ride and if you feel full you won't eat (maybe, unless you force yourself).
I've been using Sustained Energy for a while now and I find it's pretty good because it's a liquid so it's easy to take in and digest. It does have protein in it so I don't feel hungry but I am pretty good with keeping my intake up and I know how much I have to drink and how often to stay fuelled.
I think the numbers that are usually thrown around are 30-60g of carbohydrate per hour is what you should be taking on board to stay fuelled during the course of the ride. A muesli bar is probably 20g of carbohydrate, so you would need 2 or 3 per hour if you were just using water and muesli bars for fuel. A banana is probably 25-30g of carbohydrate. A bottle of gatorade is something like 40g of carbohydrate.
edit: I just looked at your strava ride link, you rode nearly 5 hours, that's a long time. The last 5 hour ride I did I had at least 7 gels and a bottle of sports drink and 2 bottles of water, I thnk I had a winners bar or something in there too and I still bonked with 15km to go to the finish. True it was at race pace, but even so I would be eating a lot more than a couple of muesli bars on a 5 hour ride at any pace.
Giant Trance | Giant Reign 3 | Trek Madone 4.5 | Look 695 SR ipack | Fuji Track 1.1
So muesli bars are better than protein bars during? And more than two for 140km? And a big breakfast beforehand...
Edit: Pound for pound muesli bars leave protein bars for dead in the carb stakes...
UNCLE TOBYS Muesli Bar – Chewy – White Choc Chip
Serving Size: 31.3g (1 BAR)
Carbohydrate 20.4 g
ProteinFX LO CARB Bars 60g
Carbohydrate- sugars 3.5g
Yes, go for muesli bars or something with enough carbs in it during the ride and save the protein bars for immediately after the ride to aid recovery. There shouldn't be any need for a massive breakfast beforehand as long as you are eating regularly on the bike, I usually feel worse if I eat too much beforehand. For a long (3 hour) weekend ride I would probably only have some toast or a bagel and a glass of juice before leaving, and during the week just an Up n Go before heading out the door.
You can have a go at making your own muesli bars if you are feeling adventurous, I followed this recipe from CyclingTips and thought they were pretty good. I have also been known to take fruitcake with me, a 50g slice should contain about 28g of carbs
The other thing to think about is hydration, this is especially important in the warmer months. The farthest I can go on two bottles is about three hours in summer, a five hour ride would probably be more like four bottles. Dehydration will seriously negatively affect your performance.
Giant Trance | Giant Reign 3 | Trek Madone 4.5 | Look 695 SR ipack | Fuji Track 1.1
FWIW, my (non-cycling, but gym) PT doesn't recommend nuts for activities which require carbs. Something something insulin levels... I'm no stinkin' nutritionist. She recommends dried fruit (dates and stuff) for endurance, or gels for high intensity stuff. Seems to work for me, but I'm just a fred so take that as you would advice from any fred.
EDIT: Oh and... protein shake within 30 mins. Protein bars as part of a balanced diet to increase protein intake = bigger muscles. Fred disclaimer once more.
Muesli bars are rubbish if you are doing a long high intensity ride. They stick to the roof of your mouth and present a real choking hazard I find. I have to slow right down and get the HR almost to recovery level before I can get them in. Plus they are hard to digest and offer little usable fuel at training or group ride pace.
Alternatively I need to swig large volumes of water to keep my mouth wet enough to be able to swallow.
The Winners bars are much better from a fuelling perspective.
I prefer gels and proper carb drinks like High5 or Endura.
For protein to assist recovery, carb drinks with a 25% protein mix like High5 4:1 or Hammer Perpetuum make a noticeable difference to recovery if used in the second half of rides over 2 hours, followed by the recovery drink in the first 30 minutes.
All this depends on how hard you go of course. If it's a cruisy ride it will just add weight.
Protein bars I used to use as afternoon snacks to keep the temptation to sugary stuff in check. Unfortunately they all use whey protein and I need to minimise dairy and soy.
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When all else fails, persistence prevails -- Lew Hollander
You saw the capitals, right? Low carb bar?
The bars aren't for cyclists, but muscle junkies who can't drink their protein at the time of consumption. I personally would be suggesting you take a couple muesli bars, and one protein bar, on the ride. I'd be aiming to eat the first muesli bar by 120 minutes, the protein bar after 2.5 hours, and the final muesli bar after 4 hours, depending on normal meal times and your protein intake from gels and meals beforehand. You NEED protein supplies to continue powering on after 3 hours. It might simply be a brain thing - slowing you down to ensure you don't die from muscle breakdown... same reason that rinsing your mouth with sugar drinks is just as effective as actually drinking them on a 2 hour ride.
Realistically, your gut is your gut. You might tolerate food intake well, you might not actually need food to continue pushing. I like bananas but dislike muesli bars because the sugar plays havoc with my stomach comfort. I would recommend trying BCAAs before and during your rides to see if that helps - or at least a strong set of proteins and carbs before riding the night before and before the ride. I found it made me quicker on long distances INSTANTLY.
You would be well served to experiment with eating half a protein bar at 2 hours or 3 hours, see what difference it makes. Remember that your body needs time to digest these things... that's why I think a lot of it ends up being placebo since cycling isn't a serious impact sport. This doesn't lessen the importance of taking your placebo though! You still have to put the food into your body 8)
am i abnormal in that i like protein bars? and the shakes, vanilla casein with water... oh my god it's like fairies peeing in my mouth.
i think i was addicted to them at one point, which was ironically hilarious as i was on a high protein diet to try lose weight...
Designs by Mitch - drafting specialist.
protein bars, powders etc are a waste of time and money. your body uses protein to repair muscle which takes anywhere from 1 to several days depending on the intensity of your ride. you know that soreness you get the next day, well that's your body repairing itself better than before, and its also telling you to take it easy until the job is done.
so consuming it before or just after makes very little difference as long as you have it in your diet. and with the average western diet, people consume about double the necessary protein required so no supplements are required unless u are on a special diet. you do NOT recover better/quicker with more protein, the excess is simply converted to fat and used later as energy. and not to mention, excess protein is bad for your health abut thats another discussion in itself.
what u are after is carbohydrates = the most efficient fuel for exercise. The one you are after is low GI carbos usually in the form of maltodextrin ...other sugars such as sucrose, dextrose, fructose are high GI so you will spike and then die very quickly. so look at the back of the package and look at the ingredients.
^^ you realise that this is in complete conflict with every single modern diet strategy for athletic performance of any kind, right?
There is good and bad, and the benefits I've had from supplementation have been enormous. You CANNOT eat enough of certain things to receive the benefits desired.
It's also very hard to put your body into a place where you need the supplements, but nutrition isn't a big bucket that you can throw your food into and assume that it doesn't matter when, or what, you put into it.
Hospital rehab recovery is very different to sports training recovery as well. I wouldn't be surprised if healing injuries was less time or substance sensitive, because it's just not the same process.
Rather than buy expensive protein bars with no idea of dosing levels, spend the money on a consult with a sports dietitian.
No one can tell you when and how many protein bars to eat unless you tell what the rest of your diet is.
There are basic principles of nutrition that make it a valid question... Once you rock out a five hour ride with some climbing and anaerobic efforts, you can eat spaghetti Bol until you want to puke, that reserve isn't going to last until hour five. A protein bar is going to help meet the needs. Timing that is worthwhile.
However - this doesn't mean eating several or even a whole bar! 10 grams of protein, or 7g of BCAAs, might be enough to light up your ride. Half a bar. Everyone has different needs, and I would never counsel them to just eat. There is no joy in cycling if you want to puke from the meal for an hour. I normally eat poorly because a stronger meal just makes me ill. One piece of supreme seems to be ideal lol
Also worth remembering that there are 5 hour rides, and 5 hour rides. I don't cope without assistance, but I take turns and burn my matches. I can see that being a nonissue for others who don't expect the same performance. I am certainly beyond what basic nutrition provides me from my diet. I won't eat protein bars etc because they are just too pricey. Only reason.
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