5 ways to improve your cycling endurance

Boost your endurance on the bike to ride long distances with ease.

Knowing you’re able to ride as long as your route, riding mates or imagination requires is a very powerful feeling. Conversely, feeling dread about passing the one-hour, two-hour or three-hour point will limit your training and fitness gains, and ultimately your enjoyment.


1. Think about your fuel

To really have good endurance you need to make the most of your internal reserves. These are glycogen (carbohydrate) in the muscles and liver, glucose in the blood stream, triglycerides (fats) stored in the muscles and that all-important biggest store of fuel: body fat.

So which of these fuel tanks is most responsible for keeping you riding? Well, it won’t be a lack of fats, lactic acid overload or a lack of oxygen that makes you get off the bike. Instead, running out of muscle glycogen, low liver glycogen or low blood glucose levels is what will stop you in your tracks. One or all three of these will cause the infamous ‘bonk’, ‘wall’ or ‘the knock’.


2. Increase your carbohydrate intake

To elongate your endurance you need to make sure that before long rides you have one or two days where you ensure that carbohydrate foods are eaten every three hours, with plenty of water consumed with each meal. This carbo-loading helps you stock up with muscle glycogen, but only if you ride very easy on these days. Carbo-loading but hammering short, sharp rides because you feel good does not maximise glycogen.



3. Eat an early pre-ride breakfast

Even starting with your glycogen stores stocked up does not guarantee you maximal endurance. The morning of the ride you should get an early breakfast of carbs, protein and fat around two to three hours before you head out.

Eat too close, say an hour before, and you’ll reduce rather than increase your endurance. So, either get up early or drink a carb-rich drink as you leave the house to start riding.


4. Stay topped up throughout your ride

Aim for 200 to 400 calories in liquid or solid form but know (by trying them out on training rides ahead of the main event) that they sit well on your stomach. If you are confident that your levels are high, you can start a ride fasted, but you need to feed religiously every 20 minutes or you will crash soon after missing one or two feeds. Aim for around 60 grams of carbs per hour during the ride as an estimate.

Researchers in the USA have shown that consuming 15g honey or glucose taken every 10 miles during a 64km ride improves performance compared to water alone. Riders with the high glycaemic glucose and low glycaemic honey got home 2.75 minutes earlier, having averaged almost 40 watts more output over the last 10 miles compared to water drinking-only riders.

If you find you regularly get dropped at the end of rides and have been riding on water alone, this research is especially for you!


5. Train your body for endurance

To really get the most from your body, start in the weeks, or rather months, beforehand with regular riding to make your body fitter and better at using its fat stores. Fit riders use higher amounts of fats and are more efficient at stretching out carbohydrate reserves. Use this simple reminder about what makes you fitter: A B C. That is, Aerobic riding four to six hours a week, Breakfast-less rides for up to two hours to make your body fat-burning savvy, and Consistency.

Teaching your body to go longer is a talent that is earned. If you do have a tendency to do too much, then lose motivation, ride yourself into illness or always feel you’re the only person who never seems to progress, take heart. Almost anyone can extend their endurance and achieve 100k, 100 miles or more. You may not set a competition record along the way but you can still make the distance.

Consistent riding gives you improved endurance and better use of fats. Once you start to increase your longest ride, the challenge is to set a bigger goal every second or third week. By taking yourself physically and mentally into new time-zones you experience the feeding, pacing and fatigue tests that new horizons bring. Choose riding buddies with a similar or higher stamina and stay close together so you can encourage each other.




Could your daily cycle commute be saving your life?


New research suggests we need an hours’ exercise per day to counter eight hours at a desk

The latest research into the perils of modern working practises, published in the Lancet(link is external) on Wednesday, suggests the current WHO recommendation of 150 minutes of exercise per week may not counter the risk of premature death caused by long hours of desk work.

However, the team of international experts behind the paper found this risk was eliminated among those who did at least an hour’s physical activity per day, and only sat for four hours per day.

Middle-aged cycle commuters typically 4-5kg lighter than those who drive to work

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Researchers analysed data from 16 previous studies encompassing more than one million people, and predominantly focused on those aged over 45 living in the USA, Western Europe and Australia.

In a two- to 18-year follow-up the risk of dying was 9.9 per cent for those with desk jobs that did little activity, compared with 6.8 per cent for those who sat less than four hours per day and were active for at least one hour per day.

While not everyone lives within cycling distance of work, or feels safe cycling on UK roads, there are other smaller things people can do to improve their health. Five minute breaks every hour are believed to be beneficial, as are replacing some of each evening’s rest time with some form of physical activity.

Standing desks(link is external) have been mooted as a solution to computer-based work, with recommendations people spend two hours standing at work, building up to an ideal four. Meanwhile staff at the journal that published the study, the Lancet, have introduced cycle desks.

Stay Cool on the Hottest Rides


Your performance doesn’t have to dip as the temperatures rise. Here are 8 strategies for success.

As soon as you start pedaling, an internal battle begins between your skin and your cycling muscles. Your skin needs your blood to radiate heat, help you sweat and keep you cool. Your muscles need it to get the oxygen and nutrients they need to keep your cranks turning. When the outside temperatures rise, that battle becomes particularly fierce—but skin always wins when the threat of heat illness rises, taking juice away from your muscles. So basically, you’re going to slow down unless you can keep yourself cool.

The heat battle is all too familiar to James Herrera, CSCS, with Performance Driven Coaching and the Wounded Warrior Project who has trained and worked with athletes from the high dry heat of the Southwest to the muggy sweltering conditions in the Southeast. “The humidity thing is a new beast for me,” says Herrera, who is currently practicing in Jacksonville, Florida.

“I’ve had to employ all those strategies I’ve prescribed to people living in muggy climates for years. That being said, it’s not as bad as I thought once you acclimate and pay attention to the details,” he says. Here’s what he recommends.

Pre Cool your Jets

Drink something really cold before you head out—a slushy if possible. Research shows that athletes were able to run nearly 10 minutes longer in tests to exhaustion in the heat after drinking an iced slushy compared to when they drank just cold water. “I have a smoothie for breakfast, which works as a slushy since I make it in a blender with ice cubes and frozen fruit,” says Herrera. “I also have my Americano over ice, so I can get my caffeine fix without heating up my core.”

If you happen to have access to a cold pool or other body of water, taking a plunge before you roll out also will help you stay cool longer, but unless you’re doing a triathlon or live near a creek, that’s not always a practical option.


Pedalling the pounds away: Why cycling could be the best way to lose weight

As the Tour de France gets into gear and the world’s elite cyclists compete to conquer climbs and steer clear of skin grafts, new research reveals the true impact of the cycling boom here in the UK. Studies from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, published in a Lancet paper on Diabetes and Endocrinology, reveal that cycling is the best activity to combat the obesity epidemic, with men in particular most likely to gain from a ‘get on your bike’ approach.

Over 150,000 British adults, aged 40 and upwards were measured, weighed and surveyed about their activity levels for the study. Researchers, led by Dr Ellen Flint, discovered that for the average man, cycling to work instead of driving was associated with a weight difference of 5kg (11lbs).

For men in their thirties onwards, the need to manage weight gain and combat the associated health risks that come with it is essential. Research shows that muscle mass, aerobic capacity and flexibility in men naturally goes into decline at this age. But by maintaining exercise levels through sports such as cycling, those most at risk of ‘middle age spread’ or its deadlier form – metabolic syndrome – can put up a strong fight for a longer, healthier life.

“Two thirds of the UK population don’t achieve weekly recommended levels of physical activity,” says Dr Flint. “But our study found that those who do manage to build physical exertion into their commute tend to be less heavy and have less body fat than people who drive all the way to work.”

One such cyclist is Darren Cole, 34, from Beeston in Nottinghamshire.

“I was 20st (127kg) in 2011 when I started riding along the canal paths from home to work a couple of times a week.”

Darren concedes that at first it was breath-taking – in all the wrong ways. “I was wheezing along and it took me around 50 minutes to do six miles.”

But as he began to feel the benefit of a new meal plan too, he invested in a road bike and began riding at weekends. “Today I’m 11st 6oz (74kg) and I commute 22 miles a day as well as racing for Beeston CC. I’ve rode on 100-mile sportives, appeared in Cycling Plus magazine and this September I’m aiming to cover around 200 miles in two days in aid of the Childhood Eye Cancer Trust(supported by Vision Express).”


Read more here

5 Foods That Help Replenish Electrolytes



Skip sugary sports drinks and opt for nutrient-rich fruits, veggies, dairy, and whole grains to replace lost minerals.


Replenish the Right Way

Most exercisers can get away with gulping water after a workout, but endurance athletes—anyone training for a marathon or playing hours of tennis in the hot sun—need to put extra effort into replenishing the minerals flushed out via sweat. Sure, electrolytes come standard in sports drinks and energy bars, but they’re usually accompanied by a hearty helping of calories and added sugar.

A better way to replenish the electrically charged particles needed to maintain fluid balance in the body and aid the muscle and nerve functions necessary for athletic performance: Pick up a spoon and fork.
“Foods contain so many more electrolytes, as well as vitamins and other health-protective compounds,” says author and sports dietitian Nancy Clark, RD. Here, how to replace five key electrolytes with healthy, whole foods.


Salt Crystals



We’re told to just say no to sodium, but it’s the electrolyte we lose in the highest concentration when we sweat. Salt helps the body hold on to water, keeping you hydrated for a longer period of time. Still, there’s no need to down an entire bag of pretzels postworkout.

“You can easily replace the 800 mg of sodium lost in two pounds of sweat during a hard hour-long workout by enjoying a recovery snack of chocolate milk and a bagel with peanut butter,” says Clark. Athletes can also consume a salty meal, like soup, before a strenuous sweat session, so their bodies are better equipped to retain fluid and maintain hydration throughout exercise, she adds.


Typically paired with sodium, chloride is found in table salt and processed foods like deli meats, condiments, canned soup, and potato chips–and like salt, it’s typically not lacking in the American diet. The mineral, which is needed to maintain fluid balance, blood volume, blood pressure, and body fluid pH levels, is also lost in high concentrations via sweat. Skip the snack food aisle and replenish chloride with whole food sources such as olives, seaweed, rye, tomatoes, lettuce, and celery.

For a portable, potassium-rich postworkout snack, pick fresh or dried fruits like oranges, melons, raisins, or prunes. During an hour of hard training, you might lose 200 to 600 mg of potassium, which supports cell and heart function, regulates blood pressure, prevents bone loss and kidney stones, and plays a vital role in muscle contraction. To replenish, Clark suggests snacking on a medium to large banana (450 to 600 mg of potassium). Other whole foods rich in potassium include baked and sweet potatoes, green leafy vegetables such as spinach and kale, peas, beans, and avocado.


Milk may not seem like the best courtside companion, but researchers at McMaster University in the UK found that the calcium-rich beverage does a better job than water or sports drinks at rehydrating the body after a workout. Why? Milk delivers a mix of carbohydrates, calcium, sodium, and potassium, along with high-quality protein, which aids muscle recovery. Aim to include calcium-rich foods like milk (regular or soy) and cereal, yogurt, or a latte each day, Clark advises.



Along with calcium, magnesium aids muscle contraction, nerve function, enzyme activation, and bone development. To replenish stores of the mineral after exercise, Clark suggests chowing down on leafy green vegetables, whole grains, nuts, peanut butter, dried beans, and lentils as often as possible. The added benefit: Magnesium helps fight fatigue. When you’re low on the mineral, your body demands more oxygen–and energy–during physical activity, and therefore you tire more quickly, according to researchers at the U.S. Agricultural Research Service.


Coffee and Cycling, a perfect pair



In 2011, Robbie Schaeffer, Gideon Kleinman, and Tim Rettele debuted Pedalers Fork along a Calabasas creek near the rise to popular Santa Monica Mountains cycling routes and mountain biking trails. Over 200 seats accommodate a restaurant, bike repair shop, and 10 Speed Coffee bar with single-origin beans roasted right upstairs on a vintage Probat. It’s a cyclist’s paradise.

At the end of the ride, you need more caffeine because you need a physical pick me up
Kleinman and Schaeffer met through cycling and remain active, hitting the roads and trails almost daily. Kleinman said, “Coffee shops and cafes are meeting places to begin and end rides. A lot of times you’re meeting people pretty early to go on these rides. You need caffeine and a little boost to get going. At the end of the ride, you need more caffeine because you need a physical pick me up. You are physically drained.”

Other businesses had previously accommodated cyclists with bike racks, coffee, and beer, but the Pedalers Fork partners were looking to take the relationship between coffee and cycling to new heights. Toward that end, they launched breakfast, lunch, and dinner daily, along with a coffee bar and full-service bike shop. A professional mechanic is on-site full-time and they even sell four brands of bikes, including titanium Moots from Colorado and steel Cielo from Oregon. Kleinman said, “We wanted the ultimate hangout that’s fun for everyone, but for cyclists, there’s that cool little nod.”

23504 Calabasas Rd., Calabasas, 818.225.8231,


Elysian Valley, a neighborhood sandwiched between the 5 and 2 freeways and the L.A. River, has been gaining traction with new backstreet cafes, galleries, and the versatile Spoke Bicycle Café, which captures the neighborhood’s shifting zeitgeist. Laurie Winston previously worked in environmental science and partner Richard Latronica works in tech while roasting coffee and brewing beer at home. They often bike the path that parallels the L.A. River and decided to open Spoke Bicycle Café for people with similar interests.

You can learn a lot about a person during a long bike ride or over a cup of coffee
The open-air café features a corrugated metal roof, brick walls lined with bicycle tires, chicken mural from artist/bike tech Cache, and mismatched seating that includes a huge tan and black lounge piece that resembles a serpent. Views peek out onto the bike path, passing trains, and the tree-filled “river.” A coffee bar houses a Nuova Simonelli espresso machine and vac pots that brew ultra-local (as in, just a mile or so away) Trystero Coffee beans. They’re working launch a food menu that reflects “California with an emphasis on local, fresh ingredients.”

According to Winston, “We always planned our rides around coffee and food and we actually didn’t know that many other cyclists felt the same way until after starting the business. We’ve since realized there is a whole tribe.” She also promoted caffeine’s pre-ride energizing effects, but pointed to “a way to create community and build relationships” being at least as powerful. She added, “You can learn a lot about a person during a long bike ride or over a cup of coffee.”

3050 N. Coolidge Ave., Los Angeles, 323.684.1130, Open Thursday to Sunday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.


Tami Spenst and husband Chase planted The Wheelhouse, their industrial chic coffeehouse and bike shop in the Arts District, right by The Los Angeles Gun Club, in 2015. A wood-panel patio with metal railing gives way to an airy space with concrete, white and blue walls. Downstairs, a coffee bar with La Marzocco espresso machine brews Olympia Coffee. You’ll also find communal wood tables, a bike repair counter, and gear. Upstairs, a loft stocks even more bike accessories. Chase first fell for cycling and Tami was enamored with coffee. When they met, they exchanged passions.

The menu reads like an airport departure board, with listings like daily brew, fancy brew, espresso+chocolate, chai+milk, and tea. Tyler Wells, the co-founder of bygone Handsome Coffee Roasters and still thriving Blacktop Coffee, consulted on the program.

Chase Spenst said their mission is to “create and connect community.” He and his wife saw distinct pockets developing in the Arts District and dwindling parking, adding, “We felt that introducing every day bicycles was the perfect way to stitch it all together.” Coffee is a “strong community builder” that’s already ingrained in the Arts District. For the Spensts, “Pairing coffee with bicycles was the perfect way to connect the cyclist and the non-cyclist in one space to make bicycles more approachable.”

“They both inspire passion and devotion,” Tami Spenst said. “For a lot of people, coffee and/or cycling become integrated into their day to day routine. It becomes an identifier, part of their fabric. When you meet others who share your drink or go to your shop or ride where you ride or how you ride, it’s unifying — you’re part of the same tribe.”

1375 E. 6th St., Los Angeles,


The San Gabriel Valley is also a bustling destination for bikers, with roads that snake north to challenging San Gabriel Mountain trails, and to streets that provide scenic rides through the suburbs. Vincent Choi started Cycle de Pro in 1999 and eventually expanded the company beyond a City of Industry bike parts warehouse to open a retail shop with a large coffee component that’s especially well situated for cyclists.

The Sierra Madre shop features sidewalk seats under sky blue umbrellas, a bike repair shop in back, and a coffee bar by the entrance with La Marzocco espresso machine, cascading nitro cold brew on tap, and beans from 9Bar Roasting in Northridge. Their sturdy custom barstools may best exemplify the convergence of coffee and cycling, with metal bases designed to resemble bicycle tires, complete with pedals. Don’t be fooled. You’ll need to jump on an actual bike to get moving, or maybe just drink another cold brew, which could probably double as rocket fuel. My barista/bike tech made sure to ice down the cup before serving, warning that with undiluted cold brew, “You wouldn’t sleep for a month.”

140 Sierra Madre Blvd., Sierra Madre, 626.355.1688,

Power vs heart rate

Power meters are ubiquitous now at the pro level. By measuring wattage, riders and coaches can quantify not only their real-time output, but the training load for every interval, race, training week and more. Does this mean that training with a heart-rate monitor is outdated and less accurate? Well, that depends who you ask. We talked to several experts, from physiologists to to WorldTour team managers to elite coaches.

Q: Will a power meter improve my riding?

A: Used correctly, in most cases, the answer is yes. They can eliminate guesswork in your training, help you train more specifically and help track your performance over time. But a power meter is a tool, not a magic bullet.

In a perfect world, an investment in a nice power meter would make you go faster instantly. But unlike the latest state-of-the-art aero bike or lightweight carbon hoops, a power meter only offers only the potential for speed.

“It’s easy to expect too much and it’s something we see relatively often,” says Elliot Lipski, physiologist and cycling coach at trainSharp. “At the end of the day, the only way to get better is to put in hard work. It’s up to the rider to produce the power themselves – unless, of course, you have a motor in the bike!”

Q: Are power meters essential to success in cycling in 2015?

A: It depends on who you ask. Among elite cyclists, those not using power meters are few and far between. However, they have both the access to the expensive devices through teams or sponsorships and, crucially, the coaching expertise necessary to analyse the data.

But as an aspirational amateur, do you need one? If you’re a racing cyclist, the answer is yes, according to Lipski. In training they can benefit everyone, he says, while in racing it’s more discipline-specific: vital in time trials, where success and failure depends on following pacing strategies; less so in a road race, where going with attacks might be necessary regardless of whether ‘computer says no’.

For coach Ben Wilson of Personal Best Cycling Services, power meters are a “valuable addition to an amateur cyclists’ toolkit”, but are by no means essential. “It’s easy to get caught up in technology but for most of my clients cycling is a hobby and, as such, should be fun,” he says. “There is no substitute for getting out on the road and riding a bike.”

Q: I have a heart rate monitor. Will that still help me?

A: There’s a popular belief that heart rate training is ‘old school’ and power training is ‘new school’. Lipski, for example, says that those using heart rate as opposed to power – assuming it’s not a financial decision – are likely to have an “old school mentality”, while coach Nick Thomas refers to heart rate as “dated training.”

In Hunter Allen and Andrew Coggan’s book ‘Training and Racing with a Power Meter’, they go as far to say that going off heart rate alone could easily “mislead you about your performance or even undermine your confidence”.

Since heart rate is influenced by so many other factors, such as hydration, stress and lack of sleep, they argue that sometimes you’re better off simply using perceived exertion, or “feel”.

But that old school tag is unfair, according to Dr Iñigo San Millán, an exercise physiology professor at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, who has tested riders on the Cannondale-Garmin pro team for the past six years. While an advocate of power meters, he says that without heart rate data to complement power data you’re not getting a true picture of the physiological cost of your training: “[A power meter] is a great tool, but I think people are going to the extreme by saying heart rate is old school. It’s not at all. You still see in sports like track and field, running and rowing athletes still training with heart rate in a very scientific manner. With heart rate you’re actually using a physiological parameter. Watts are the end product of the physiological and metabolic events [in the body].”


50 ways to be a better mountain biker this winter

With dark days, darker nights and weather that’s verging on the criminal side of foul, it’s little wonder that mountain bikers sometimes have a hard time keeping their spirits up when the winter months draw in.

Still, with all that spare time on your hands it seems somewhat foolish to spend it polishing your top tube. We think winter is the perfect time to take a close look at everything in your life to do with bikes and find out just how well it works.

From maintenance tips for bike and body, to skills advice and valid excuses to spend your cash on bike-related stuff, we hope our list of ideas to boost your riding will encourage you not to hang up the wheels until summer but instead keep you out on the trails whatever the weather, making the most of what can be a very beautiful (and productive) time of year.

Get motivated

1 Own goal

Pick a target and give yourself something to aim at. There are now enough events of all sorts on the race calendar to keep you amused every weekend of the year. Cross-country, enduro, endurance, downhill, cyclocross… the list is endless and once you’ve picked your poison you’ll have plenty of motivation to get fitter and faster.

2 Ride, don’t race

Some people just don’t like closed-circuit mountain bike racing. If you’re convinced it’s not for you, then look elsewhere for a goal to keep you going over the winter. Check out adventure races, which mix running and riding with navigation and often require plenty of brainpower and hill skills as well as fitness and riding ability. You could also have a crack at a long-distance cycle route; while they’re not usually technically challenging, the point-to-point nature hits the spot for many people, and they traverse some beautiful parts of the world.

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Some strange things that happen to your body while riding.

There are many benefits to cycling. Cycling is good for your heart, your muscles, waistline, lifespan, mental health and even your immune system. However, some weird things can happen to your body while cycling.

Racer Cough: You cross the line of a crit or cyclocross race and walk around with a nagging cough for several minutes afterward. Blame bronchoconstriction: It’s similar to what happens in people with asthma, but it can happen to anyone.

Metallic Taste: You’re hammering up the final roller to the town line sprint and you taste blood in the back of your throat.

Runny Nose: Your nasal passages get irritated and mucus production ensues. Interestingly, some scientists believe that air pollution, particularly the nitrogen dioxide found in car exhaust, is a big trigger—which explains why you may find yourself dripping like a faucet when you bike outside, but not during spin class.

You need a bathroom… NOW: The sudden, urgent need to poop is more common in runners because of the inner jarring mechanics involved in running, but cyclists are not immune—especially on long rides where we’re throwing back a lot of sugary foods and there’s not a lot of blood flow through the gut to manage digestion.

Tingly fingers: Your hands play a pretty important role in controlling your bike. So it can be disconcerting when your hands start tingling—or worse, when they go numb.

Mad itching: Three minutes into a ride, your thighs start itching like crazy. In some cases it’s just dry skin or a natural response to warming up as your capillaries and arteries rapidly expand and stimulate nearby nerves.

Brain fog: You wrap up a hard metric century and can’t figure out where you parked the car… or what your car looks like… or whether you even drove there in the first place.

Read more here.

Ingredients Found in Cycling Foods

For anyone who has ridden endurance cycling events or raced their bicycle, you know how important nutrition on the bike is.  But what exactly is contained within many of the most common cycling food products.  Here’s a list of 10 common food ingredients.


Found in: Hammer, Gu, and Clif products (though Clif uses organic maltodextrin)
This simple carbohydrate is found in many brands’ offerings as one of the main sources for calories in gels, blocks, and drinks. Technically, maltodextrin is a non-sugar carbohydrate. But that’s why it’s included in many sports drinks and gels: While not technically a simple sugar, it metabolizes just as quickly, “straddling a gray area” between simple sugars like glucose and more complex carbohydrates like starches.


Found in: Honey Stinger products

Dr. Stacy Sims, founder of Osmo Nutrition, states, “Honey is good when it is in something, but its higher fructose content can cause gastrointestinal issues if used straight-up. Raw honey is the best, as it has a lower (Glycemic Index) hit, which allows for more sustained energy,” and less likelihood of drastic blood sugar swings.


Tapioca Syrup
Found in:
 Clif Bar products and Skratch products
Tapioca syrup is another more natural, whole-food style of sugar. This isn’t inherently a bad thing, but you don’t need your on-bike food to be whole food—especially if you’re not putting in massive hours on the bike and eating most of your daily calories while you ride.

Tapioca syrup, though, is perfectly fine for sports performance purposes. It’s lower on the Glycemic Index than many other sugars typically used,  and works as a much healthier replacement for corn syrup.


Organic Brown Rice Syrup
Found in: Clif Bar products

People associate brown rice with health foods, which is what makes an ingredient like “organic brown rice syrup” sound better than many of the more chemical or sweet-sounding sugars, but it’s ultimately the same thing: a sugar that will fuel your ride.


Found in: Gu products
Some caution riders against consuming fructose, especially those riders susceptible to stomach problems and GI problems on the bike. Note that while fructose isn’t the sole form of sugar Gu uses, it is one of them.


Found in: Gatorade and Skratch products (though Skratch uses cane sugar)
Both cane sugar and regular sugar are sucrose.  A multi-source form of sugar like sucrose is much better for ‘parallel processing,’ as it allows the stomach to absorb more total sugar.


Found in: Skratch and Gatorade products
Dextrose is a simple sugar, but it will do the job and fuel your pedaling. As a simple glucose, it can come from corn, grapes, and beets, which makes it ideal for vegan athletes, who, Sims notes, have a very difficult time finding diet-approved simple sugars. If that’s a sticking point, make sure you check with a company before you start using its products.


Sodium Citrate
Found in: Gu, Gatorade, and Skratch products
Sodium and potassium citrates are easier electrolytes to absorb than straight sodium or potassium.  Sodium citrate is ideal when used as the primary sodium source. It is the ‘sweet salt,’ in that it allows a greater amount of sodium in a product without creating an overly salty taste. The citrate also works with aerobic metabolism, so there is no negative byproduct.


Potassium Citrate
Found in: Clif and Skratch products
The reason electrolytes were originally included in sports drinks was because the guy who came up with Gatorade figured if you lose salt in sweat, you should replace it.  As with sodium citrate, potassium citrate doesn’t produce any negative byproducts from its metabolism during exercise—meaning no nasty stuff transcends the kidney and ends up in our urine.


Found in:
 Clif and Gatorade products
Salt is just sodium chloride. While good in small doses, don’t reach for a salt lick while you’re riding. It pulls water into the gut because the sodium needs to be diluted before it can be absorbed, and the chloride changes the membrane potential of the intestinal cells, allowing them to open up, contributing to ‘leaky gut.’” And no one wants a leaky gut on the bike.

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