Nutrition for a Century+


New Member

Yesterday, I did my first imperial century (well, ~110 miles), from London and into Kent. I'd really not thought about how far I was going to go - other than I wanted to take my road bike out for a spin, so I hadn't planned my nutrition at all.

I'd had a fair amount of complex carbs for dinner on Friday night, but on Saturday only ate some porridge, and had a Rice Krispie Square thing in my pocket for the ride.

After about 50 miles I bought a sandwich (as I didn't feel I could eat much more), but then around mile 70 I started cramping in both my legs hard. After struggling uphill, I bought some high calorie stuff (Lucozade, energy tablets and a mars bar), which got me feeling much better.

However, I really didn't get my nutrition right - which culminated in me fainting whilst getting my dinner last night (very low blood sugar was the cause, as eating more simple calories made me feel right as rain again).

What's the best plan of attack for food that you can carry along on a ride of about 100 miles in length? I was carrying about 2l of water with me.

I'm guessing the best approach is going to centre around some form of high-carb fairly simple calories - but I'd be interested to hear what other people use!

Thanks in advance!



New Member
South Beds.
Congrats on the ride Rob.
I've not cycled that far before in one day.
With regards to your cramping....did you take fluids on board before you thought you needed them?
2 litres for 110 mile ride doesn't seem much to me...but then again everyone is different.
The simple calorie intake foods are best carried with you if you don't want to take a rucksack/panniers with you.
I too would have had a high carb dinner the previous night.
Perhaps energy drinks might be useful too?
Bananas are good for longer distances as they are a slower burning calorie food. Chocolate works for me too.
You could always pack some small snacks into your jersey too. Salt intake might also be required after all that sweating. Peanuts are good for fats, salt long as you either stop or don't choke on them when your riding along..:wacko:


New Member
I did a 147 km leg on tour with four panniers etc. It was a hot day. I survived on a packet of McVities digestives and about 4 bottles of lucosade sports and water....perhaps not the best advice though.

From now on I will carry a packet of lucosade energy tabs on longer rides. I eat porridge with honey for breakfast before riding as well


As has been said, everyone is different, but for me the following seems to work well:
Dinner the night before: a pasta based dish
Breakfast: Porridge, coffee, orange juice and possibly a slice of toast.
The ride: A couple of bottles of energy drink (or one energy drink and one of water). A banana (eaten after about 45-60 mins), 2or3 SIS go bars (nibbled at every 20 minutes or so), a bit of malt loaf to nibble at when I don't feel like energy bars, a couple of SIS Go gels for the last couple of hours on the bike.

I know the energy food isn't overly tasty but it does work (at least for me). Whatever you choose to eat though, the key is to eat little and often (the same goes for drinking). In my experience I've always got home easily with this regime and felt pretty spritely afterwards.


New Member
Bourne End, UK
I try to do ride a 100+ mile at least once a month and quite often do it many days in a row when touring.

My main fuel will be a carbohydrate drink, I will usually get through a litre in 60 to 70 kilometres at this time of year. In summer the intake can double, so I tend to use just water a lot more. Other than that as cake stop somewhere on the way wound does the trick.

This is what I find works for me, it wont be right for everyone and doesn't take into account how hot/hilly/windy the ride might be.

I used to carry bonk rations around with me but, once I got used to cycling this sort of distance, I didn't use them that often. I think its mainly a matter of getting used to it.


New Member
Bromley, Kent
Hi Rob,

Your body can only store so much Carbs before it just disposes of the rest. Your best bet is to take on some fat (non saturated) that will help. Fat can be stored and used at a much lower rate than carbs so can be used over a much larger distance. of course take on carbs as this will be used up in your early part of the ride (can't really tell how long it will last as I don't know the speeds and climbs your doing)

Fab Foodie

hanging-on in quiet desperation ...
Kirton, Devon.
Hi Robjs

Congrats on your first 100+ ;)

I think your main mistake was waiting to 50 miles before taking on board was too late!

The rule for going for distance is "Eat before you're hungry, Drink before you're thirsty"...Triathaletes call fuelling "The 4th discipline".

You need to start re-fuelling from the off, otherwise by 50 miles you've used most if not all of your glycogen supply and it takes time to replenish this. Also even energy drinks do not replenish the body as instantaneously at we might hope!

My strategy is to carry both an Energy SIS or home-made from honey/fruit juice and water...I alternate swigs from each as I go.
I then carry nibble rations to munch on the go, something easily removed fro rear pockets and eaten whilst pedalling....Jelly babies are good, dried apricots too (but can be sticky!) and I start eating these from the off, every few miles as the fancy takes me.

After about 30 off miles I'd have a quick stop for a handful of salted peanuts and bit of Flapjack/malt loaf, stretch and more than 5 mins. Peanuts are not good to eat on the go, easy to choke on small bits, (eat 'em first then wash down with the flapjacks and drink). Foods that digest slowly are better for sustained energy release that glucose tabs or energy bars/gels which will cause all kinds of insulin ups and downs.
Repeat every 30 miles or so.

If I'm loaded with a packed saddle-bag for Credit Card style trips, I'd stop around 60 miles for a pub lunch...full fat coke and whatever takes your fancy!

If it's hot you need to obviously keep fluid intake and salt intake high.

I don't think that fat ingested on the road is of any great immediate benefit, the body will constantly bun a glycogen and fat mix as fuel cycling, but I'm not sure if it can take recently digested fat that circulates in the blood as an immediate source of fuel (I think it has to further process it and mobilise from storage), but it will help replace burnt stored fat with time.

With practice you'll find a strategy that works for you.

Also important to get a good high carb meal as soon as you stop, other wise a pint of milkshake would be excellent start.


Velo, boulot, dodo
I've always wanted to have a go at the exclamation mark thing.

I take dried figs and apricots. Don't eat too many tho'!!!!!!!!!!!!


palinurus said:
I've always wanted to have a go at the exclamation mark thing.

I take dried figs and apricots. Don't eat too many tho'!!!!!!!!!!!!

I've found those work very well, very easy to eat little and often which has been recommended in answers above. Fruit doesn't agree with everybody's digestion though :smile:.


New Member
I like to start on real food and gradually get closer to sugar. For example, for the Dun Run, it was chinese noodles and a pint before the off, then cold pizza slices, flapjacks, power bars, and jelly babies. With a big meal in the middle. Tip - for sociable rides, take stuff you can trade on the road!

You lose more fluid than you think on long rides - drink plenty and dive into the salty snacks too. It's possible to get a bonk-like slump from dehydration or running low on salt.


Cake connoisseur
longers said:
I've found those work very well, very easy to eat little and often which has been recommended in answers above. Fruit doesn't agree with everybody's digestion though :smile:.
Dried apricots would probably kill me off after about 20 miles, after which I'd kill off anyone riding behind me :tongue:

The little and often method seems to work well for me too, and I always take a mix of sweet and savoury. Pizza slices, chunky cheese rolls, eccles cakes, chocolate, home made flapjack, Nutrigrain bars and energy tabs will all put in an appearance on any long rides.

A bigger meal half-way also works ok.

A bottle of full-fat coke seems to go down nicely towards the end of a ride.

As Andy says, food you can barter or give away is good. On my first Dun Run I gave away/swapped about 2kg of home made flapjack between 5.30 and 7am...
when i had a bar bag i used to take mini mars bars and have one about every 30 minutes.
now i don't have a bar bag i take two (4 slices) marmalade or jam butties and have a 5 minute stop at about 50 miles for one and another stop at about 70 miles if i feel i need it or for when i get home.
for a drink it's usually two bottles of water with the occasional pint of milk if a shop is near to the first stop,but i'm trying to see how little i can get away with at the moment!
if you're just getting into 100mile rides them i don't think you can eat too much
my son has just started riding and is building up to ride the clubs 100 in may and he takes a rack pack full of assorted food with him ,even on the 70 mile rides he's doing at present.


New Member
Thanks everyone for the awesome advice - I'll be sure to let you know how my next long ride goes with better nutrition :-)

Better make sure I plan it a bit better next time too!


New Member
South Beds.
I feel spurred on to do some endurance riding...more so now I've read this thread again. I think my MTB with the slicks on might be a better option for comfort....but the road bike will certainly be quicker and return me more miles for my efforts. :smile:
Some top tips indeed. Snickers are good. peanuts, caramel, nougat, choccy...mmmmm one of my all time fave choccy bars anyway.
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