For over a century, cyclists have known that stacking meals with carbohydrates is a requirement for riding fast [1, 2].
While lower cycling intensities draw on fat as an energy source, the harder you ride, the more your body taps into onboard carbohydrates (glycogen) to fuel your fastest efforts .
Said another way, if you intend to ride your best at or above a Tempo intensity, eating adequate carbohydrates is a nutrition absolute.
Understanding the role that carbohydrate plays in peak cycling performance and executing a carb-fueling strategy should be one of the highest training priorities for every competitive cyclist.
Graphic adapted from Brooks, 1997 .
To that end, I’ve assembled this guide to describe the three stages of carbohydrate fueling: before, during, and after an event or training session .
We’ll begin this guide by looking at stage one in the fueling process, or the period of time in the hours and minutes before your event.