New to energy supplements....how and when?
I have been riding pretty consistant for about a year now and my rides are getting longer. I have been dabbing into energy suppliments such as GU gel and Nature valley granola bars. I have been using GU gel with good results. A few weeks ago I was on about a 3 hour ride covering just over 20 miles. I used a couple of the energy gels and noticed I felt better and my muscles seemed to recover faster. Also the other day I was looking at Clif bars. They seem to be about the same as the nature valley granola bars I had been buying just more expensive.
Can I get some tips on when to use things such as GU energy gels, granola bars, clif / powerbars and gatorade type drinks?
Trek Fuel EX8 29er (Rhythm Pro wheels, SLX 2x10 Crank)
I use Crank Sports e-Gel (better tasting and more nutrition than GU) before my ride and about once an hour after that. For shorter rides, I just take one before I start but longer rides taking 2 or 3 definitely helps my body cope with the extremes of multi-hour rides.
I have become a Hammer fan even though the stuff is not free. Try Hammer Heed during a 1 to 2 hr ride. You won't feel like slowing down and I think it's got some of the healthiest ingredients available -- no processed sugar, etc. The Nature Valley and Cliff Bars are good for calories.
You can always make your own:
No-Bake peanut butter energy bars.
1 1/4 cup natural-style peanut butter (the only ingredient should be peanuts.)
1/2 cup ground flax seed
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 sliced almonds
1-2 scoops or your favorite protein powder (I use chocolate flavored).
1 cup honey
3 cups dry uncooked old-fashioned oatmeal
1: Combine peanut butter and honey in a large nonstick bowl and toss in the microwave for 14-20 seconds. Just enough to soften them up.
2: Mix in the protein powder if using.
3: In another bowl combine the rest of your dry ingredients.
4: Add the peanut butter and honey mixture to the dry ingredients.
5: Mix well. It gets thick so don't be afraid to get your hands in there.
6: Line a 9x9 or 12 x 8 pan with wax paper. Dump the mixture into the pan. Place a second sheet of wax paper over it and press it into the pan.
7: Cut into 20ish bars
8: Wrap each bar in foil and store in plastic bags.
I store mine in the fridge all though it is probably not needed.
Congratulations on increasing the length of your rides! A couple of things to think about when it comes to nutrition on the bike: calories, electrolytes, and hydration.
Calories: you are burning about 600-700 calories/hour, but can only process between 250-300 calories/hour. So, no matter what your source of calories, make sure that you don't overload the gut by consuming more than the amount you can absorb (this will vary from person to person so you'll have to do some testing here). If you consume too many calories, you overload the gut and in effect cause a traffic jam at the stomach which can lead to GI issues.
Electrolytes: make sure you are getting electrolytes (via supplements or included in your sports drink). Most folks think of electrolytes in terms of preventing cramps, but its primary function (specifically sodium) is to activate the glucose transport mechanism which accelerates the absorption of calories and improves hydration.
Hydration: obviously, water is critical because dehydration leads to GI issues, cramping, and bonking (and more). Aim for 24oz of water/hour. Also, keep in mind that if you are eating gels, it takes about 12oz of water to digest your gel. A lot of riders forget about drinking enough when they have gels.
If you experience GI issues, I would suggest cutting out the protein. It is a very complex molecule that takes time (and energy) to break down. It has been shown to be a major contributor to GI distress. And, I bet those No Bake Peanut Butter Energy Bars still taste delicious without the protein powder.