How to get carb intake >100 g/hr in long course triathlon

Does anyone have experience with or direct knowledge of techniques athletes are using to achieve a carbohydrate intake at or over 100 grams per hour? This in the context of long course triathlon, 112 miles on the bike carrying almost everything with you. Gatorade and bars available along the route. Related question, do average age groupers need to take in that much, or are these new, 100+ numbers only appropriate for the eight hour folks? I’m more of a sixteen hour athlete, but let’s focus on the twelve hour point. Also, those carb intake numbers are only for the bike portion.

I have used rice balls at the 70.3 distance, along with the Gatorade Endurance served on course. Just not sure they are calorie dense enough for a full.

This post is tri specific, but the topic should be of interest to anyone heading out on self supported long rides.

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Hello! In my experience, you should try to increase during training, even if it is a short training, to eat each 20min or 15min if possible. You can add maltodextrine and fructose to your drink at 5-10%. About eating, I do recommend you to alternate between sugared and salty flavours, like guava bars and almond bars. The amount I have handled is about 100grams of bars and 0.6 litre of drink per hour. A total of 120gr/HHCC per hour at the end. Try new flavours during trainings, cause as long as the competition, the more the need of different flavours to facilitate your gut.

Good news: Fast Talk Labs has a story in the works on the topic of ultra-high carb intake. I believe @eklidbury is planning its release in mid-June.

Dave Trendler
Fast Talk Labs

The science is at 60-90g/hr, I know many athletes that are in the 100-120g range, this needs to be built up to but is for sure attainable. In the past 40-60g/hr was the golden standard but this is quickly becming 60-90g. I might suggest using the strategy of slow carbs first, then fast carbs. This idea is using more complex carbs via solid food first, then switch to fast carbs like gels etc. I coach athletes to split the ride in half and use slow carbs in the first 1/2, then fast carbs. Another way to hit the 60+g/hr is using a high carb drin k mix like Skratch hyper fuel shihc deliever 400 caloroes and 100g carbs. This technique has become very popular and you can think if it as hydrating and fueling at same time. If you really want to dial in your nutrition on the bike you should look at the INSCYD metabolic profile testing. This pinpoints your fat and carb combustion as well as determines the power at which you move from fat to carbs for fuel. Know this info and you should never bonk again. I offer this service if you are interested. I hope this helps.

The 100g of carbs per hour is attainable with lesser risk of stomach distress with specialized products such as Skratch Superfuel, Infinite GoFar or Maurten gels. One Maurten every 15 minutes gets you to 100g.

With solid foods it would be VERY difficult to get to 100g per hour. For example, it would take 4 bananas, 11 Oreos, 2 Clif bars (blegh, not a fan), 3 Pop Tarts, or 30 of Trevor’s favorite go to - Swedish fish.

While someone could maybe consume those quantities for an hour, maybe two, I doubt it would be feasible over almost 6 hours (estimated bike split for a 12 hour IM). And impractical to carry.

Maurten gels are my go to and what I recommend to clients. No real flavor profile (avoids flavor fatigue), lite sweetness profile, and osmotic gel so the athlete can take them without water in order to separate out fueling vs hydrating. They do lack electrolytes so you would need a separate product for that regard. Infinit offers customizable mixes of their GoFar that you can add electrolytes to, as well as beta alanine, and still get an osmotic mix.

But coming back to your question of “is the 100g more for 8-hour finishers?” My answer would be those are the athletes who stand to gain the most from training their GI system to take in that much. Athletes trending above 10 hours take on a lot more GI distress risk relative to the time gain they might realize from a “hyper-fueling” strategy.

Depending on some assumptions, you can easily be oxidizing 500kcal of carbohydrate per hour even at modest workloads. Doing this for 12 hours means a rough prediction of 6,000 Carbohydrate Kcals which is far above the ~~1,300 stored kcals of carbohydrate that are accessible and beneficial to Swimming, biking, and running! Therefore, over the course of 12 hours you need to make up a (6,000-1,300) deficit which is ~400kcal (100g) per hour! Again, these are rough numbers to illustrate a point.

In my opinion, eating on the bike is easier than on the run and so I would recommend that you experiment with taking in as many calories during the bike as you’re able so that you begin the run with your tanks as full as possible.

I had Tim Noakes on my podcast and asked him his thoughts on the strategy. Here is his 1 min response.

Full interview here.