Difficulty eating during ride

Discussion in 'Cycling Training' started by jpwkeeper, May 31, 2016.

  1. jpwkeeper

    jpwkeeper Member

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    Most of my rides aren't long enough to warrant eating, but I went for a 3 hour ride this weekend and brought some Clif Bars. I generally try to eat half a bar every 30 minutes.

    After one hard section of riding I hit a relatively flat section and my timer dinged so I tried to eat. I found eating really, really hard to do. I'd take a bite and have trouble swallowing it. I wasn't ever nauseous, but it was like I was really, really not hungry. Swallowing each bite was an act of will. This persisted for the rest of the ride (I never tried to eat again), and the last 30 minutes of that ride were a serious slog that certainly felt like at least a mini-bonk.

    Hydration wise I was drinking Low Calorie gatorade and water. I'm pretty sure my hydration levels were good; it wasn't hot.

    Is this common? I'm one of those people who generally can't eat for a while after a long ride, and this held true here as well. I didn't get hungry till around 2 hours after I'd finished.

    Should I start bringing Gels or Chews with me for when my appetite tanks, or should I instead switch over to full calorie Gatorade and eat less?

    This is important because I'm getting ready for the Garret County Gran Fondo, which will be 42 miles and 5200 feet of climbing, with the worst of the climbs in the 2nd half of the ride, so I've got to be able to get nutrition down.
     
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  2. Corzhens

    Corzhens Well-Known Member

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    I wonder why you are eating when riding. It is natural to drink because the physical exertion makes the rider lose body fluid thru sweating so the thirst would make you drink (although the amount to drink should be moderate only). With eating, I don't know with the guys here who are veteran riders. But if you ask me, I would rather stay hungry than eat during a ride for definitely I would have indigestion. That's why I always eat a heavy breakfast when I would ride long distances so my stomach would not grumble while riding.
     
  3. divinemaredi

    divinemaredi New Member

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    Not that I've tried it before, but I can just imagine it being really difficult to eat while cycling, especially after reading your experience! But perhaps something like chewing bubble gum won't be so daunting to do...
     
  4. An old Guy

    An old Guy Member

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    Eating is important. I don't have a need to eat on rides shorter than 60 miles. I just don't ride that hard anymore.

    You might want to use food you like a lot rather than Cliff Bars. I like 3 Musketeer candy bars and chocolate milk. Some people like fruit pies from convenience stores.

    Stopping to eat is easier than eating while riding.
     
  5. Veater

    Veater New Member

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    It's possible that forcing yourself to eat was unnecessary, because of the gatorade. I don't know, and I'm certainly not an expert, but I think the gatorade contains the carbs you need to maintain your energy during the ride. Obviously if you were riding infinitely, you would need something more substantial eventually, but if you would normally go more than 30 mins without eating, then I don't think you need to eat every 30 mins during a ride. I think the recommended amount is once an hour, you should aim for 30g of carbs. I would probably swap to the full calorie Gatorade and try that next time, and maybe have the bars ready to eat if you feel the Gatorade isn't enough.
     
  6. OursIsTheFury

    OursIsTheFury Member

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    Why not just stop the bike and take a bit of a rest, THEN you eat? When your adrenaline is pumping because of riding, your GI tract slows down, and all the functions go to your brain and lungs. Eating or even simply drinking while riding would definitely lead to disaster, you may choke on your food or drink, you may not notice what is happening around you and would lead to an accident, and you may even end up having to slow down because you are getting full.
     
  7. jpwkeeper

    jpwkeeper Member

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    I just learned the answer to this question the hard way. I was doing a 44 mile ride in the mountains and failed to eat during the ride. This was a brutal ride with tons of climbing (around 100ft per mile average, starting out with an 11.1% average climb for .7 miles). Even the small climbs were so steep they put me deep into the red, and there were a LOT of small climbs. Being so focused on the climbing, which I've never had available to me being a flat lander, I didn't eat enough; I ate 2 chew gels and the first one didn't come until around halfway through, after the 2nd big climb.
    I bonked. Just before the first rest stop, I was climbing a smaller but really steep climb and I hit the wall. After that, I could barely turn the pedals even on the very rare flat areas. I couldn't eat anything; I tried but it just wouldn't go down.
    Worse, though, were the negative thoughts, which are not exactly typical of me. I was convinced that I couldn't go on. This unholy miasma settled over me and I couldn't shake it off. Luckily this was a supported ride and I was able to SAG it back to the start.
    Turns out, this is part of bonking; the brain resorts to these types of tricks to keep you from continuing because, if you keep burning through that glycogen, it'll start to have trouble functioning. There have been reports of guys actually hallucinating during a severe bonk.
    The strange part, looking back, was that I wasn't actually tired. My legs didn't hurt. I didn't cramp. I was plenty hydrated (I even needed to pee when I got to the rest stop). It wasn't hot. But no amount of internal pep talking could make me take one step towards my bike. I was convinced that I couldn't even push the bike up the hills anymore.
    Not knowing what it was, and not really being hungry after having to quit a ride I'd been trying to do for 4 years, I didn't eat until much later. Once I ate, that negativity started to lift. Two days later I took a local ride and absolutely crushed it, so obviously there was no deep muscle fatigue there.
    So basically, on Aerobic rides you burn though your glycogen slowly. If your body can get sufficient oxygen to your muscles you'll burn fat for fuel. Moderate exercise gives you about 90 minutes before you run out. But rides like this where I was spending a lot of time deep into the red, I burned through it fast.
     
  8. RapDaddyo

    RapDaddyo Active Member

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    I think the problem is with your choice of food. In races, you don't have time to screw around with complex packaging such as Clif Bars. My nutrition of choice is Hammer Gel, and they make a nice, small dispenser that I can manage with one hand and because it's liquid it's easy to swallow. Hammer Gel comes in a bunch of flavors, and my favorite is Raspberry.
     
  9. CAMPYBOB

    CAMPYBOB Well-Known Member

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    Exactly...the fuel tank is on empty pretty quickly when the motor is running at wide open throttle.

    I've always heard the 90-minute range, also. If riding at high power output it is necessary to both drink and to eat. Not doing one or the other is going to lead to the motor running at a reduced performance level.

    Gels, Shot Bloks, Gummy Bears, Syrup in a squeeze bottle, high energy bars and freeze dried fruit are my fuel during riding. As Rap stated, make it easy to eat on the bike.
     
  10. Gnufrau

    Gnufrau Active Member

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    I'll chime in with another "food is simply fuel" answer. My question is with the difficulty you had. Was it that you could not bring yourself to eat (could not face the fuel)? Or was it physically hard to swallow? if the latter, try softer fuels. If the former, it is just another thing to power through. . . ;)
     
  11. Dame6089

    Dame6089 New Member

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    Like other have said, it is likely the case that eating was not necessary for you in this situation. I know if I'm riding and sweating, the last thing I want to do is scarf some food down. And the fact that you didn't feel hungry means that your body didn't need the food that badly. You say the end of the ride was a slog, but that honestly may just be normal exhaustion and not lack of food.
     
  12. jpwkeeper

    jpwkeeper Member

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    It was that I could not bring myself to eat. It's something I'm actually going to train for in the next year; eating on easy recovery rides then gradually building up to eating in between harder efforts.
     
  13. jpwkeeper

    jpwkeeper Member

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    The problem is that I'm never hungry on the bike, no matter how much I need to eat. At the Gran Fondo, I was never hungry. I had planned on getting some nutrition down at the rest stop, but I bonked before I got there, and by then it's pretty much too late.
     
  14. jpwkeeper

    jpwkeeper Member

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    Thanks Bob. I'm going to experiment with these over the next year to see what works best for me.
     
  15. jpwkeeper

    jpwkeeper Member

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    Thanks Daddyo. I'll definitely look into those.
     
  16. Sally Ann

    Sally Ann New Member

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    Good you posted this. It is important for people to know the risks of low blood sugar during cycling. I have been cycling for years without eating much & never had a problem. Like people on here I thought there was no need to eat while riding. However, after I had hypoglycaemia during a recent ride I will always eat before I set off, carry food, and eat regularly during a ride. Don’t risk it. I kept riding even though I felt like I as going to faint because it was freezing & I was on moorland. I stopped at the first cafe I came to. My brain wasn’t functioning, I could hardly speak. I managed to order coffee & put loads of sugar in & gradually started to function again. I now realise cycling without taking food is foolish.
    Hitting the wall if just mental might be something you need to push through. If it is your body stopping functioning due to dehydration or low blood sugar pushing through can be dangerous. Drink eat & stay safe.
     
  17. jpwkeeper

    jpwkeeper Member

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    I'm glad I can help. This story actually has a happy ending. I went back last year and did the same ride again, but this time I actually stopped and ate around every 30 minutes (usually a strupwaffle) since I wasn't overly comfortable eating on the rather steep downhills. At the rest stop I drank some Coke and ate Bananas (Coke, FYI, is considered the single best Bonk breaker out there, so if you're bonking, stop somewhere and grab one ASAP). After the last big climb of the day, Bowman Hill where I had to push on the 18-20% sections but I rode the rest, I nearly broke down and cried. Then, only 5 miles from the end of the event, I saw two riders on the side of the road sitting under a tree. I asked if they were OK and one of them loudly proclaimed that he wasn't, so I stopped. He asked if I had any food, and I could see that glazed look in his eyes that told me that the Bonk was on. He was totally convinced he was incapable of riding the last 5 miles of the ride. I gave him an energy gel and talked to him for a bit and I could see his composure start to come back. SAG support was bringing him back fluids and he said he was going to wait for that, so I set off. I saw him at the end of the ride wearing his finisher's hat. I wish someone had done the same for me, but if I hadn't bonked that day I probably wouldn't have known what to do for him.
     
  18. Kakashi

    Kakashi Active Member

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    I think it's either your not hungry or you don't like what your eating. In my experience whenever I ride even for an hour, I get hungry and very thirsty at times so 2 liters of lemon water takes me only 3-4 hours to consume. And I must eat a good meal every 3 hours of biking if not I won't have any power to pedal anymore. Cycling expels a lot of energy, I just don't know the situation in your place, because I live in a tropical country, it's easy to get dehydrated here, and you use more energy when it's hot.
     
  19. reighn

    reighn Member

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    For me, after my two or three hours of riding my bike, I will accept and eat any kinds of foods. I'm so hungry after that, even i do biking for exercise, I need to eat of course, but when you said difficult, I think it's really difficult or hard to eat while riding.
     
  20. treecko142

    treecko142 Member

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    I see that there are concerns regarding hypoglycemia, but it's really only a concern when you are a diagnosed diabetic or if you literally haven't eaten the day when you are riding or the day before. As long as you have eaten enough before you start your long ride, you don't have to force yourself to eat. Of course, it's important to bring something to eat with you that you like just in case, but most of the time, fluids is enough. Your body will definitely feel it when you need to eat, not just your stomach, but you also feel a different feeling like light-headedness or numbness of your extremities, for example, which is different than the normal feeling you get when you are tired.
     
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