It’s almost December, and while there are still a few moderately warm days that make it possible to get outside for a ride, most of us have resolved ourselves to time on a trainer. While riding a trainer can be hard and sweat-inducing for the hour or so we’re watching a video, it’s important not to overdo it with food and fluids.
Why You Should Avoid Eating
As bicyclists, when we are out on a long ride during the season, the tendency is to eat and drink as much as possible. This way we replenish lost calories while staying strong as the road changes from climbs to flats, to sprints, then maybe back to climbs over the course of the three or four hours.
By comparison, while an inside trainer session can be physically demanding for the hour or more you are on the bike, you are not burning through the same amount of calories you would during a road ride outside. Chris Carmichael makes this point in his article “Should Cyclists Eat During 1-hour Workouts?”
He says that, even though it feels like you are working hard during your indoor training session, you are not fully depleting your glycogen storage of carbohydrates and sugars.
That is why Carmichael states that eating anything during indoor training is not necessary. In fact, he notes that, in some instances, taking on carbohydrates via a food source, such as a bar or gel, may even negatively affect training.
Hydration is Essential for Indoor or Outdoor Training
Whether you are riding outside for three to four hours or doing an intense workout on the trainer for an hour or more, drinking fluids is essential. In fact, hydrating while on a trainer is even more important because, as Carmichael points out, “you still need to take in fluids to help manage [your] core temperature.”
When we ride a trainer, we sweat a lot more and can overheat quickly. This is much different from riding outside where a natural airflow keeps us cool and we don’t sweat as much. During outside rides, many cyclists tend not to drink enough or very frequently.
Sports Drinks Versus Water for Indoor Training
Sports drinks are made to replace (and or replenish) your internal glycogen storage. They contain a lot of sugar. Your body, however, usually stores enough glycogen to get you through a 60 to 75 minute workout, even at high intensity.
That said, unless you are pushing harder than normal or you are doing back-to-back trainer sessions, a sports drink isn’t needed. In fact, Carmichael says plain water should be fine. In either case, he states that the goal should be to consume 1 to 2 bottles every hour.
Personally, even when I’m doing an intense session on the trainer, I struggle at times to drink a whole bottle. Sometimes I drink a bottle and a half.
Sports nutrition as far as drinks, bars, gels, or chews is a great thing to which to have access, especially for long-endurance riding. But to use these nutritional supplements during an hour or longer indoor training ride just adds unneeded sugar and fat. Instead, as Carmichael states, aim for a good carbohydrate-rich meal before or after your training session.
What do you drink during your training rides, water or sports drink? Do you eat anything during your trainer workout? If you enjoyed reading this post, please like, comment, and share.