When family and friends who don't bike see what I eat every day and when I ride, it can be a little embarrassing. Most people are concerned about eating too much. My concern is to eat enough.
We did a lot of experimenting during the past few months. We did a nutrition comparison of a bunch of the top selling energy gels, energy bars, and electrolyte drink tablets. Using this information, we put together our own bike food and drink. We use plain electrolyte tablets (no added sugar). Using a tablet per water bottle and adding 150 calories of sugar, we make our own energy drink. Two bottles on the bike: 300 calories. Add to that a medium banana (about 100 calories, plus that nice potassium), two granola snack bars (about 150 calories each). That adds up to 700 calories, all of which get consumed for one of our daily metric rides. My back-up stash is a few dozen jelly beans (10 calories per jelly bean). This costs about $3-4 per ride. (All this is in addition to my usual ride-day breakfast of oatmeal, a cup of sliced fresh fruit, a tablespoon of sliced nuts, and a half cup or so of plain Greek yogurt and a couple cups of strong black coffee.)
If I take fewer calories with me on a ride, I run out of energy during the ride. 700 calories (plus my emergency jelly beans) seems to be my sweet spot.
Give me some sugar, baby.