Fuel the work that needs to be done!

Fueling - Thoughts & Points of Consideration, recipe of the month and sport nutrition science article highlight...

By Noa Deutsch 6 min read
Fuel the work that needs to be done!

It has been a bit of a struggle to come up with an idea for the first sports nutrition & recipes article, mostly because it is such a broad topic and there is so much information to cover that I kept thinking… “where do I even begin?!”

I decided to keep it simple and start by creating a ‘formula’ that will be used each month for this topic:

  1. General practical sports nutrition advice
  2. Recipe - Either one that I created/developed or a link to one that I found somewhere and love (or maybe even both!)
  3. Science - A quick summary of a recent sports nutrition article, ‘translating’ the information (or a link to someone else doing so). In some cases, this will be a part of #1: providing practical advice based on the science.

Now that you know what to expect, lets get on with it!

The information below is taken directly from my book ‘Gravel Rided & Snacks’, which was (self) published in the winter of 2021. It includes 7 gravel riding routes around the lower mainland and BC with maps, photos and descriptions along side 8 simple and easy to make real fuel recipes. I am sold out of physical copies and will not be printing more at this point, but you can buy the e-book version and stay tuned for V2 of the book - coming in the fall/winter of 2022!

Fueling - Thoughts & Points of Consideration

Below are points of consideration to encourage you think a bit more about what you are putting in your body while riding.

Carb Appropriately

A lot of athletes look for the latest upgrade, smallest of marginal gains, supplements... But in the process they often forget about the basics. Carbohydrates at the right time and the right amount are probably the best ergogenic aid - Are you using it to it's potential?

I dislike both 'high carb' and 'low carb' terms and prefer using 'adequate carb' instead. Your needs will vary day to day, depending on your training and/or event(s). Some days you'll need less carbs, and other days you'll need more carbs - The key is to fuel the work that is to be done, that day and the following days too.

So, the first step should be obvious: Analyze what the riding (work) you're about to do demands of your body. Is it a recovery spin? A harder training session? A long endurance ride? A week long event or training camp? What phase of the season is it? When is your next training session? As an example, if you have a long endurance ride today and a harder training session tomorrow, under-fueling your ride today could potentially mean struggle during tomorrow's hard ride!

I am not providing guidelines for grams of carbohydrates per kg: It depends on too many factors! Be smart about your intake, for carbohydrates and amount of food in general. There is no one size fits all, context is everything and when in doubt, consult with a professional.

Flavor Fatigue

Yes, flavor fatigue is a real thing and variety really is the spice of life (or your ride). Most of the time, you'll get tired of consuming sweet foods and at one point, the thought of eating another (insert whatever food here) might turn your stomach inside out. But you need to fuel... So what can you do to combat flavor fatigue? Its pretty straight forward:

  • Use both sweet and savory snacks. Sometimes a few pretzels mid ride is the only thing you want to eat. Pack variety in your jersey pocket or bag.
  • Different textures help. Avoid carrying only gels, for example. Mix it up with chews and real food.

Context - Always fuel the work that needs to be done!

I am obviously an advocate of eating real food while riding, as evident from the recipes in the book, but there is a time and place for various approaches and as mentioned before, context is everything. Use real food when appropriate, but don't dismiss the role of various sports foods like gels or chews.

Example: A 3 hour ride with efforts in the middle.

  • Eat real food in the early stages of the ride when the intensity is lower
  • Switch to gels or similar to fuel the efforts: Think fast fuel to go fast!
  • Back to real food for the remainder of the ride

Another example is for long events… Eat real food earlier in the event, then as more fatigue sets in as the event goes on, switch to gels, sports drinks, chews, etc.

The recipe of the month is also from the book, and my all time ride fuel favorite…

Ride Waffles

I take these waffles on almost all my long rides, gravel or road. I even brought my waffle iron to Clinton with me a few years ago, just so I can make waffles to fuel a few 120km+ rides… The ingredient list below is for the 'base' recipe and you can add any mix ins you want for variety, both sweet and savory! I included my favorites, but feel free to make these waffles your own and mix in whatever you want (Makes 4 waffles).

  • 1/8 cup butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 tbsp coconut sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/3 cup + 1 tbsp tapioca flour
  • 1/2 cup brown rice flour
  • Pinch salt

Vegan Option - Coconut oil instead of butter, vegan yogurt of your choice and egg replacer of your choice

Sweet Variations
  • Chopped banana & chocolate chips
  • Blueberries or raspberries & lemon zest
  • Chopped cherries
  • Chopped banana and peanut butter
  • Pumpkin puree (2 tbsp) & cinnamon
  • Sautéed apple & cinnamon (~1 tsp)
Savory Variations
  • Leave the sugar out for these
  • Sautéed chopped red pepper, mushrooms & shallots
  • Shredded cheese
  1. Melt the butter or coconut oil and set aside
  2. Pre heat your waffle iron to the desired settings, depending on preference and the waffle iron make/model
  3. Mix the tapioca flour, brown rice flour, baking powder & salt in a large bowl
  4. In a separate bowl, beat egg or egg replacer with sugar, butter or coconut oil and yogurt of choice
  5. Add the wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix to combine
  6. Add whatever mix ins you want and combine
  7. Pour the waffle mix in your iron and cook
  8. Let cool on a rack before wrapping individually

CHO periodization in cycling Case Study: The application of daily carbohydrate periodization in a cycling Grand Tour

Strobel Nicki, Quod Marc, Fell J, Valerio Dominic, Dunne David & Impey Samuel. (2022).

This is not the first study looking into the carbohydrate intake of pro cyclists during a grand tour, but it is the latest, and since the Giro recently ended, I felt it was worth highlighting. Of course, it also happens to be relevant to the practical guidelines discussed above, so there is that!

This study looked at the carbohydrate intake of one rider during the 2021 Vuelta a Espana. Riding a grand tour is no joke. The 2021 event in question featured 3417km and ~50,00m of climbing… In 3 weeks. Ouch. This was an observation study following a 26 year old rider on his 6th Grand Tour event. His role within the team was that of a ‘domestique’, supporting the team’s GC leader on hilly and mountain stages.

I won’t get into all the nitty gritty details of the study design, all the data, etc - You can read all that by clicking the link above if you are interested. Below are charts that show CHO intake per stage and per hour for each stage.

  • This data does not include meals (breakfast, post race and dinner).
  • The riders weight fluctuated between 65kg to 68.4kg, which is relevant to illustrate the magnitude of CHO intake during each stage.

The data highlights the variability of intake day to day and the discussion points at the start of this article - The need to fuel the work that is to be done on the day and on the next day, etc. The trouble with the typical generic recommendations for carbohydrate intakes is that they are simply not dynamic enough to reflect the demands of each day and week to support training and specific event demands.

We often think about periodization as an annual plan, but it can also be applied to a week, a month, or any other period of time. And of course, it can also be applied to nutrition, in this case carbohydrate intake.

Do you have questions? Ask them below in the comments so we can keep the discussion going… And if you found this information interesting, I would appreciate it if you shared it with others!

That is all for this week’s edition of Endurance Collective! I hope you found this article valuable & interesting. If you are not a subscriber yet, hit the button below! Next week is dynamic cycling analysis week (aka bike fit) and I will share my May bike fitting data as I have done a few weeks ago, as well as discuss the key differences between a road bike fit and gravel bike fit - It will be a good one…

This weekly publication is still fairly new - If you would like to support my work, you can ‘buy me a coffee’ on Ko-Fi (if we have met, you will know that I will very likely use the money to buy coffee, and/or coffee beans…)