Cycling Energy Requirements

Cyclists typically burn between 500 and 1,000 calories per hour, with the greatest factor obviously being speed. At 14 miles per hour the range is typically between 400 and 600 calories per hour. And at 20 mph, the range is typically between 800 and 1,200 calories per hour.

Does Age Make a Difference?
Age has very little to to with energy expenditure in cycling and therefor energy requirements of the rider. Most research has actually shown that a youth compared to an adult of the same gender/weight/size can actually burn slightly more energy, most likely do to efficiency gains as a rider ages.

Calculating Your Requirements
To get an estimate of your energy requirements based on speed, duration, gender, weight and height, we recommend using this calculator:

cycling energy calculator

Should You Use e-Fuel or e-Gel?
As a cyclist you really can use either e-Fuel or e-Gel (with water). Both provide basically the same nutritional benefits, the difference being one is in drink form (e-Fuel) and the other is a gel that consume straight out of the pack and then drink water. Runners tend to prefer energy gels so they don’t have to carry the water weight, but for cyclist that are already carrying bottles this is less of an issue.

e-Gel e-Fuel

How Much to Use?
If you are using e-Fuel (or any other sports drink), the American College of Sports Medicine recommends drinking between 16 and 32 ounces per hour during training and competition. If you are going easier, the weather is cool and low humidity then you can be at the low end of the range. If you are going hard and the weather is hot and/or humid, then you’ll want to be near the high end of the range. Most athletes don’t drink nearly enough, and the thought of drinking that much seems impossible. Understand that you body can easily burn off more fluid than this, and if you’re not replacing it then your performance is going to suffer – not to mention increased risk of cramping, injuries and slower recovery.

If you are using e-Gel for cycling you would typically use 1 to 2 per hour and drink water, again using the recommendations above. Easy rides in cool weather, 1 per hour. Harder rides or races in hot or humid weather 2 per hour. The theoretical maximum that you would take e-Gel is one every 24 minutes (2.5 per hour) assuming you are drinking at a rate of 32 ounces of water per hour. For more on the water requirements of energy gels, please read this article:

Water and Proper Use of Energy Gels