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I am from India and it's really tough getting gels. So I thought I'd put for protein bars which are pretty easy to get. But Alot of people say to have carbohydrates every hour of your ride. Can anyone tell if having 4L of water and 2 protein bars is sufficient. Else can you suggest some snacks that can easily be made or bought.

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    Mars bar? Are they as ubiquitous as Coke, the drink found around the world? – Swifty Jul 24 '18 at 7:50
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    Vote to close as it really depends on too many factors: how hot it is, how hilly the terrain is, what your level of hydration and carb loading is, how fit you are, what type of protein bars you have, how you drink the water, etc etc. – RoboKaren Jul 24 '18 at 7:52
  • As an anecdotal evidence, I did a 5h tarmac/hardpack ride recently in 30C air. The 2.5L of water and 3x80g Snickers bars were just enough, I finished the last sip of water at the finish. – Klaster_1 Jul 24 '18 at 8:03
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    4 hours is so short you don't need to eat anything... And 1L water pro hour is for really extreme sport riding... – 9ilsdx 9rvj 0lo Jul 24 '18 at 12:38
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    @9ilsdx9rvj0lo Your absolutes are unhelpful. It's often recommended to eat something when riding for more than about 90 minutes, and people's water consumption rates vary dramatically. 1l per hour doesn't seem excessive on a hot day (hot relative to whatever you're used to). – David Richerby Jul 24 '18 at 12:48
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I'll concentrate first on the carbs side, because the water depends on so many factors.

Gels are around 30% non-sugar carbs with the rest water, according to the SIS ones I have here. They're actually a fairly heavy way to carry a small amount of carbs if you can get water along the way, but they're easy to consume while riding hard, and are meant to give a quick (but not too quick) energy boost.

Protein bars have more sugar (which you may or may not want) and a fair bit of protein, which is a poor energy source during a ride, and they're overpriced if you're using them as a source of carbs.

There are also energy bars. One I have here is 67% carbs (about 1/2 of that sugar) and 4.9g protein. It's based on oats and fruit. These are probably better than protein snacks for use while riding.

Alternatives you may find easier to obtain are bananas and dried fruit. Even bread-like carbs can be good (second breakfast after an early start for me might be a wrap with a banana and chocolate spread in it, for example). It partly depends whether you can stop to eat or want to eat on the go (in France, for example, a bakery stop for fresh croissants is good).] If you want to make something, flapjack is great (mainly oats, sugar, and butter, add dried fruit/chocolate chips/crystallised ginger if you like). Sweets have a place towards the end of a ride or for a specific effort like a big hill. They're essentially flavoured sugar so your energy levels go up fast -- and down fast. Jelly babies are popular in the UK, but they may not be available/suitable (gelatine tends to come from pork/beef).

It is perfectly possible to ride for that long without food (3.5 hour example in my case, after lunch), but you won't be as fast and you have to be careful. Make sure you're well fed to start with, carry snacks just in case, and don't even think about it if there are medical contra-indications. I just chose to keep going without calories on the exploring/training ride I've linked, as I wanted to try running on empty. I still got through a fair bit of water and the temperature wasn't much above freezing (I had to wait until after lunch for the ice to melt on the roads).

Water: on a hot ride I rely on topping up rather than carrying everything I think I'll need. A recent hot ride got me through 6 litres in 12 hours, plus 1 before I started and another 2 when I got back. That didn't feel like enough. Bottled water seems pretty easy to buy in India, unless of course you're out in the countryside for the entire ride. I'd plan to pass somewhere with water available every couple of hours, at least until you've got a good idea of how much you get through.


Links are to arbitrary examples, including my own rides. Products are ones I have lying around, usually because I picked them up cheap.

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You may know protein rich carbohydrate gels by another name. Like "porridge" or "dahl". Get yer grandma to knock some up, and stick it in a baggie with a rubber band.

Or you can go commercial. In my cupboard is a nice foil baggie full of Dahl Palak direct from your glorious motherland. Hmmm I might just heat it up and do some visualisation training for tomorrows ride.

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If it’s not extremely hot the water is probably enough.

Regarding the protein bars: It totally depends on their ingredients and their weight. Some are more or less typical chocolate bars which are marketed as “healthy” simply by printing “high protein” on the packaging. Others actually have a high protein content. Depending on the intensity of your ride a high protein or fat content could make them harder to digest and you’ll also lack carbs (especially if they are small).

Gels are mainly glucose and maltodextrin (and water). At least here in Austria you can get both cheap and in large quantities in powder form at an apothecary or at a sports supplement store. Either mix the powder with your normal drinking water or carry a small bottle with a highly concentrated solution. I usually add 15g of each – and a pinch of table salt – to each 800ml bottle I carry.

As others have said, you can also use any other type of easily digestible carbs: Dried fruit, soda (shake to get rid of gas), sweets, white grain (e.g. buns), rice (e.g. popped rice cakes) …

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