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I am planning to do some (1-2 hours) base training rides in the morning before work. Should I eat something before the ride?

From my knowledge, there should be enough glycogen in muscles to power me. Are there any other considerations? What if I increased load to strength and interval training?

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up vote 9 down vote accepted

I think that is question can at least be partially answered by whether or not you can tolerate food in your stomach. While having a big heavy meal would probably be bad, having something in there, plus doing some refueling along the ride will help you keep from bonking and also make sure you are not running on a deficit for the rest of your day.

I find that if I have a light breakfast and then add to that energy gels about every 45 minutes I am pretty good. My riding buddy, on the other hand, eats a McDonalds McMuffin and hash browns which would make an explosive exit if they were in my stomach.

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Eating shouldn't be an either/or activity, but you're right to question the items and the timings.

You should be looking for something slow release before - so the fats in a muffin combined with the slow release carbs in the dough are cunning (my favourite is a jam sandwich - fast release fructose from the jam, inhibited a little by the fat in the butter, with the slow release from the bread kicking in later). It's the morning, so maybe a milky, sugary coffee could be in order!

Then remember to refuel during, quick release, so gels or powder in your water bottle are great.

Don't overlook the recovery mixture. Your body is in heavy replenishment mode for 20-30 minutes after a workout and will be looking for proteins to help muscle recovery as well as new sugars to boost the blood sugar for the day ahead.

Interval training will strain the body more than long, slow, distance, so you'll definitely want to look at the refuelling strategies (you can buy specific post-exercise energy drinks).

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If you're training your muscles - for strength or endurance, I would eat.

But if you are training your energy transport and metabolism then there is a lot to be said for not eating. Training on an empty stomach will force your body to burn fat earlier. By spending longer burning fat your body will adapt to this mode and increase its efficiency at doing this, so that your endurance past your stored-glycogen limit will improve.

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