Over the past several months, I have paid very close attention to fueling myself for optimal performance.
I have concluded the following:
- Maltodextrin-based energy gels such as Gu (my favorite to date) are essential to maintaining high performance over multiple hour efforts. I’ll consume up to three (3) packets per hour when working hard, dropping that to 1.5-2 per hour for more moderate efforts. Smaller riders might need only two.
- I’ve also noted that if I feel a little weak after perhaps not consuming adequate calories during the day prior, one energy gel pops me up to where I ought to be— this is very consistent.
- Caffeinated energy gels are superior to non-caffeinated, so long as no more than 80 mg of caffeine per hour is consumed.
- The Gu Roctane variant is generally of no extra value over the plain version for efforts under two hours, but I have a sneaking suspicion that it actually is superior to plain Gu for efforts 2.5 hours or longer. Which I’d rather not accept as true, since it costs twice as much. So I take some of both, and use the Roctane version for longer, harder efforts.
- Fructose or sucrose products are OK in small amounts (100 cal / hour max) as baseline calories, but just do not work as primary fuel.
- Many riders who get tired past two hours are probably not fueling properly.
These are my personal observations, as analytic and objective as I can be, since my goal is what works for longer and harder efforts.