It was great to see 30 or so fellow riders at the workshops held in Albany this week. I trust everyone is as enthused as I am about the ride (providing my arm mends!). I've just prepared some notes for clarification about carbs, fat and eating for the ride from the workshop to share with you.
1. It appeared that Tarquin (from the bike shop) contradicted my advice from the previous evening, saying carbo loading isn't necessary. Whilst it is true that a strict carbo loading regimen before the ride starts isn't essential for us recreational cyclists, it is fundamentally true that, for best performance and well-being you will need to maintain your carbohydrate intake during each day of the ride and top it up each night. I'm sure the meals provided will be just the right thing! Not sure about where we will source our snacks for between meals, however!
2. Tarquin's statement that you will mostly be burning fat isn't quite complete, and may have led you to think that you don't need to maintain a good level of carbs. Muscles at rest do prefer to burn fat, but during a prolonged aerobic activity like the ride, your muscles want carbs and whilst you will burn some fat, you'll only continue to burn fat properly if there is enough carbohydrate in your system. If you don't top up carbs after about an hour, you'll start to suffer the negative metabolic effects, including 'dead legs', shakes and lethargy. My goal for each day is to enjoy the ride, and be happy and ready for the next day's ride...without pain, discomfort, nausea or worse. Eating (carbs and a little protein) in the recovery window ie. within 20 minutes after the day's ride finishes is also an important component of maintaining well-being.
3. Regular carbohydrate foods do NOT have a stimulant effect on one's digestve system, unless they are high in fibre...that is wholegrain type products. Things like pasta, white bread, rice & other milled cereals are almost devoid of fibre and will not cause alterations in bowel consistency. However, because you will probably eat more of everything than you usually do (because you're doing more physical activity than usual) then you may need to defecate more often than usual. But it's not the carbs per se!
The things most likely to cause diarrohea will be excessive use of sports drinks & gels, which can cause a kind of osmotic diarrhoea due to the solute load in them. Most of my friends who ride seriously in Perth (and who do the 'Ride for Youth' from Albany to Perth each year) have given up on these type of products and rely on water, diluted honey, snakes & jelly beans, jam sandwiches, bananas and low-fat muesli bars to provide carbs on the ride, and don't have any problems any more.
nb: if you increase your milk intake significantly beyond your usual, you might also experience gut discomfort (bloating/gas and/or diarrhoea) due to lactose overload (intolerance). Yoghurt is better as it has virtually no lactose.
The AIS website has two very good fact sheets that might be useful...see
Hope this helps