Author Topic: Getting hungry too fast while riding  (Read 3136 times)

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Offline BikeFreak

Getting hungry too fast while riding
« on: March 29, 2013, 12:32:35 pm »
Hi,

This post is targeted towards those of you who have toured the ACA maps in US. I have posted this in a European bike forum, but it seems that people back here have a hard time understanding how food supplies are in the US.

I myself am from Europe and have toured Northern Tier, Pacific Coast, Great Divide Trail, Atlantic Coast, Transamerica and and parts of Western Express.

Background:
When riding I never use a stove. I eat from super markets, grocery stores, gas stations, family restaurants, Subways, Burger Kings etc. Anything at hand along side the road. And you know how difficult it can be getting food in the middle of Montana, Kansas etc.

My riding style is approx 125 mi/day. Approx 60 mi before 1 or 2 pm and the rest thereafter. On my last tour I realized that I either

1. Get hungry too fast.
2. Or my blood sugar level drops too fast.

However I do not know what applies in my case.

Typically I would eat breakfast consisting of oatmeal and stuff as much as possible into my stomach. Then add a drink and maybe a granola bar/chocolate bar. I hope this should last the first 60 mi, but it rarely does. After a few hours a need to top up with chocolate bars, granola bars, peanuts, drinks or whatever to keep going till noon where I will have some sort of meal. After the meal at 1 or 2 pm I get going again, but the topping up has to be done again.

The reason for this posting is that basically I don't like that many chocolate bars, granola bars etc and would rather have something different. Also, because of the heat I spend too much money at gas stations buying these quick fixes = chocolate, soft drinks etc. The quick fixes are not bad - they work very well - but I would rather have the option to try something else. But as you know, in the middle of Montana/Wyoming/Kansas ... something more wholesome is very difficult, because ACA maps take you along the quite roads.

Now here is the problem, at least what I believe:

Riding for 1 hour at approx 15 mph burns approx 650 kcal (based on internet information). Riding 60 mi will thus burn 2600 kcal. Looking at oatmeal (or any other grain) they contain approx 375 kcal pr 100 gram. If I really push it, I can eat 200 grams = 750 kcal and then there is no more space left in my stomach. Then I can add a chocolate bar of 240 kcal. Then a drink of 150 kcal. Now I total at 1140 kcal. But I am still far away from my 2600 kcal which I need in order to make the first 60 mi. I believe this explains my hunger after some hours of riding. I do know that chocolate bars and soft drinks are bad, but I just don't have many options at the tiny gas station somewhere in Kansas (when refueling to make it to the first meal around noon).

I do like fruits: When possible I get bananas, apples, pears, peaches etc, however there is a problem with that. They are tasty but contain a lot of water. Thus my stomach is filled very quickly with too few calories.

You folks who follow the ACA maps do know that food can be a problem on route. There are plenty of gas stations, but stores with healthy food can be a problem - also you need to observe their opening hours.

So my question is: What do you guys do in order to get all the calories? Do you drink pure olive oil? Are you actually able to do 60 miles with only one single meal and no snacks/drinks at all? When posting, please consider that many ACA cyclists have a daily milage of 60 miles in total, so making a comparison to my daily milage, you need to basically imagine that you eat breakfast, have no lunch, but a meal in the evening.

Lucas

Offline staehpj1

Re: Getting hungry too fast while riding
« Reply #1 on: March 29, 2013, 03:22:10 pm »
I never found it to be a big problem.  With a few of the following items in my jersey pocket (among other things) I manage to stay fueled fine. 
  • a sleeve of fig newtons
  • a few granola bars
  • fresh fruit
  • dried fruit
  • baked goods
  • a pack of jerky

If you don't mind stopping you also could make any number of more elaborate snacks.

Offline Pat Lamb

Re: Getting hungry too fast while riding
« Reply #2 on: March 29, 2013, 06:25:33 pm »
I usually figure I need refueling after about 30 miles.  (A big pancake, egg, and sausage breakfast might take me 40.)  Looks to me like your breakfast, BikeFreak, is heavily tilted towards carbs.  They vanish pretty fast from my digestive system unless there's something to slow them down, like fats and proteins. 

I'd suggest you think about adding meats or cheese to your mid-morning and mid-afternoon topping up.  Solid cheese (cheddar, pepperjack, etc.) will usually last 2-3 days if you buy it in a resealable bag.  Meats can be more perishable, but you can find small (3 oz or less) cans or bags of tuna, pepperoni, jerky, etc.  Add some fruit (oranges and apples) and crackers or bagels.  Think "Hobbit" and it's second breakfast and tea.

Some of this you can find at the gas/convenience store.  Some you'll have to spend an extra 5-10 minutes per day going through a grocery store to get.  Get Pete's fig newtons or Oreos while you're in there!

Offline John Nelson

Re: Getting hungry too fast while riding
« Reply #3 on: March 29, 2013, 08:17:20 pm »
I eat at least every hour. I have no problem carrying enough food to do that. Maybe four pieces of fruit, a package of cookies, a few candy bars, a sandwich, etc. I don't find it an issue.

Offline windrath

Re: Getting hungry too fast while riding
« Reply #4 on: March 29, 2013, 10:16:24 pm »
Bikefreak -

Based on my experience as a coach and an athlete, there are two things you might consider doing differently:

a) By stuffing yourself in the morning, you are taking in far more calories than your body can use in a period of time.  That throws your body into trying to store all those calories which can result in low blood sugar and feeling wiped out.  The other factor with eating so much is your body has to decide whether to use its blood supply and energy to digest or exercise.  It will pick digestion which leads to feeling sluggish.  I would try eating much less in any given meal and snack more frequently.

b) This leads to my second comment.  I think you are over-estimating how many calories you are expending.  You don't say what your heart rate is when riding, but I would guess (at 15 mph) you are expending much, much less than 650 kcal/hr.  For me, I believe my expenditure when touring is closer to 200 calories per hour (at 12-14 mph, fully loaded, my heart rate is around 110-120).  The combination of this and the over-consumption in "a" above leads to a significant imbalance.

As one post suggested, carbs are through your system quickly compared to protein and fat.  For our kind of exercise (continuous touring at a relatively calm heart rate), your mix of carb-protein-fat should be around 40-30-30 all the time. 

I would also suggest drinking more because, sometimes, dehydration takes on the form of feeling out of energy.  So, when feeling out of gas, reach for water and see what happens 15-20 minutes later.  It will also help with digestion. 

I come back from every tour gaining 10-15 lbs because I eat in anticipation of running out of gas.  It has never happened.  Perhaps I am unique, but when pressed, I have been able to ride 100 miles (6 hours) with 2 water bottles, 4 granola bars.  I was dehydrated at the end, but did not lack energy.

Hope this helps a little.  Good Luck figuring it out.

Offline Westinghouse

Re: Getting hungry too fast while riding
« Reply #5 on: March 30, 2013, 04:11:41 am »
That's a bit too technical for me. I do understand the getting hungry part. You have to keep snacking. Keep a lifesaver in your mouth and it will help to maintain blood sugar levels. So does prune juice but too much at once will elevate levels too high too soon which can set you to spinning in the head. Try using Cytomax. I have found it to be most beneficial. It is branch chain amino acids and a specially formulated complex carbohydrate. It does what it says it does on the label, and very well at that. 

Offline BikeFreak

Re: Getting hungry too fast while riding
« Reply #6 on: March 30, 2013, 04:43:32 am »
Hi and thanks for all your answers.

staehpj1:
1. I never tried the newton figs. I will try that next time.
2. When you mean baked goods, do you mean, for instance, those blueberry, chocolate chip etc cupcakes available at virtually all gas stations?

pdlamb:
1. Will cheese also be OK for 2-3 days at temperatures around 100 degF?
2. How will beef jerky hold up in the heat?

windrath:
Concerning a): When stuffing I feel great the first 3-4 hours, not sluggish or anything at all. I also tried what you recommend, but more to an extreme: Not eating breakfast at all for the first 15 mi (first hour of riding) until I reach a place to buy food. In these cases (which I really try to avoid) I feel completely wasted and empty on arrival. If you recommend snacks all day long, what sort of snacks would you suggest?

Concerning b): I don't know my heart rate. I just picked the figures from webpages - and many seem to agree on that figure. However I can say, that 15 mph is a pace where my heart is not racing at all and I rarely sweat unless it is 100 degF.

You mention a carb-protein-fat ratio of 40-30-30. For oatmeal this ratio is 68-20-12. Is it really that bad?

I think one of your most valuable comments is the one on water. I don't drink a lot of fluids in general because I don't feel thirsty at all. So maybe I should force myself to drink more even though I don't want to.

PS: I forgot to mention: I weigh 155 pounds, and after 30 days of riding I typically loose 10 pounds of body weight. After a few weeks without riding I gain the 10 pounds again.

Lucas

Offline staehpj1

Re: Getting hungry too fast while riding
« Reply #7 on: March 30, 2013, 10:52:59 am »
2. When you mean baked goods, do you mean, for instance, those blueberry, chocolate chip etc cupcakes available at virtually all gas stations?
I like to buy good baked stuff at a bakery when I get the chance.  Granted they are not all that frequent on most rides.  When that isn't an option I might buy the occasional danish, bear claw, sticky bun, snack cake, pie, or whatever at a gas station.

Offline Pat Lamb

Re: Getting hungry too fast while riding
« Reply #8 on: March 30, 2013, 10:55:50 am »
pdlamb:
1. Will cheese also be OK for 2-3 days at temperatures around 100 degF?
2. How will beef jerky hold up in the heat?

I've carried hard cheese for 3 days with temps in the 90s (F).  It gets oily, but it's still fine.  If you can buy it in a resealable pouch, that helps with packing.  Avoid shredded cheese and the soft cheeses.

Meat drying was invented to store it through the year.  Jerky will be fine.

Quote
Concerning a): When stuffing I feel great the first 3-4 hours, not sluggish or anything at all. I also tried what you recommend, but more to an extreme: Not eating breakfast at all for the first 15 mi (first hour of riding) until I reach a place to buy food. In these cases (which I really try to avoid) I feel completely wasted and empty on arrival. If you recommend snacks all day long, what sort of snacks would you suggest?

IMHO, go ahead and eat a good breakfast.  And lunch.  Just take it easy for the first hour or so after eating.  The only time you might reconsider is if you camped at the bottom of a big, steep mountain and have to start climbing immediately.

And since you've lost weight on previous tours, sounds like your caloric estimates are marginally low instead of high.

Offline staehpj1

Re: Getting hungry too fast while riding
« Reply #9 on: March 30, 2013, 11:24:19 am »
I've carried hard cheese for 3 days with temps in the 90s (F).  It gets oily, but it's still fine.  If you can buy it in a resealable pouch, that helps with packing.
Quote
I can verify that while it gets kind of nasty looking it is still fine to eat.  We had 110F temps in the Mojave and oil separated out of the cheese, but we ate it and it was fine for a few days at least.  I have also carried hard cheese for a couple weeks on my sailboat in summer with no problem.

Hard salami and pepperoni hold up similarly well.

Offline RussSeaton

Re: Getting hungry too fast while riding
« Reply #10 on: March 30, 2013, 04:36:42 pm »
On tour I like to carry bread, peanut butter, and jelly.  Every hour or so make yourself a sandwich.  Some meats and cheeses may also travel well and work for sandwiches.  I eat every 20-30-40 miles when riding.  Generally a large refueling, not a light snack.  A hot dog or two at the convenience store.  Large soda or quart of chocolate milk or orange juice.

Offline bogiesan

Re: Getting hungry too fast while riding
« Reply #11 on: April 02, 2013, 09:15:07 am »
Nutrition for endurance activities is a fun research project. There are several books on the topic that cover marathoners, triathletes, long-range cyclists and the like. Lots of theories out there.

Here's what I know from practical experience:
Calorie consumption does not have a direct relationship with calorie intake at breakfast.
I need a variety of textures and flavors.
I follow The Zone as a nutrition plan (and I do not recommend it for anyone else) with 30/30/40 ratio of low fat proteins, good fats, and low glycemic carbs.
I carry cashews, dried cherries, bars that provide protein, an energy drink mix, sometimes hard cheeses.
Breakfast, no matter how big it is, only lasts about an hour as the food gets moved along the tract. Most of the nutrition is being processed in the lower tract so I just feel hungry and want something interesting to eat.

I play go. I use Macintosh. Of course I ride a recumbent

Offline paddleboy17

Re: Getting hungry too fast while riding
« Reply #12 on: April 08, 2013, 12:18:02 pm »
I believe that have faced the same demon.  Your metabolism is getting skewed, and without getting technical, you just need to eat more protein.  You can decide how you want to do that, but protein will take more time to digest, hence you will not get hungry as quickly.  It sounds like you are just gorging on carbs, and in your hopped up metabolic state you are just going to burn right through carbs.

You might have a secondary problem of trace minerals.  There are supplements (I call them dirt pills), but my personal answer is to drink lots of Gatoraide G2.  G2 has all the minerals and less sugar.  Besides the skewed metabolism, I also get muscle cramps, and those are caused by depleting my trace minerals.
Danno

Offline BikeFreak

Re: Getting hungry too fast while riding
« Reply #13 on: April 08, 2013, 02:57:31 pm »
Thanks for all your answers.

Concerning proteins: As already suggested plenty of times, this is the way to go. However as paddleboy mentions, they take more time to digest: I read somewhere on the internet that proteins need to broken down to carbs in order to fuel the muscles. This break down process (break down before they get available as fuel) requires energy. And that energy is taken from 1st hand carbs (like pasta, potatoes etc). Thus, it should be an "evil" cycle where valuable carbs are used for processing protein instead of being used as "fuel" right away.

I was always told that Tour de France racing (and alike) cyclists eat carbs alone.

I do drink Gatorade, however cannot remember if it is the G2 version - I just pick whats in the fridge. Or Powerrade. I like the stuff and could easily spend 10 dollars each day on "gas station Gatorade/Powerade". Alternatively I tried buying Gatorade powder (which is more economic) but that is a bit messy and tastes more chemial.

I never experience muscle cramps.

Lucas

Offline johnsondasw

Re: Getting hungry too fast while riding
« Reply #14 on: April 09, 2013, 11:35:53 am »
I don't get all that technical about it.  It takes about 5-7 days and I notice that I'm getting hungry all the time.  I then need to eat way more or I hit the wall a couple of days later and I mean hit the wall all day long.  So I load up the jersey pockets with whatever sounds good and snach constantly while riding.  I use bread, peanut butter, cheese, energy bars, etc. I never worry about ratios and never get cramps.  For dinner I make a good batch of spaghetti with ground beef (if available near the campsite). 
May the wind be at your back!