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  1. #1
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    Do you fuel up before riding when trying to loose weight?

    For a long time I have lived under the idea that working out (cardio) was best done on an empty stomach in the morning. That allows the body to tap into fat stores for energy since there is no food in your system. Well...I have been riding this year much more than I have in the past...part is to loose weight, part is for general fitness so that I can do more trial riding this year and actually enjoy it because I am not so out of shape. So now I am trying to figure out...should I eat before I ride? I know if I don't the ride suffers. But I also don't want to hamper weight loss. Thoughts?

  2. #2
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    Pre-Ride: Banana.

    I work on the idea that my body will be in a higher metabolic state for a while for having worked. I usually cycle around 2 hours or so, and that's enough time to tap yourself if you don't fuel up with at least something.

    The idea of weight loss isn't direct targeting of stores of fat, its more a myth then anything in my opinion. The target should be to elevate your metabolism, and to develop muscle and cardiovascular strength to alter your body into burning away excess fat during rest.

    You don't have to tank up before a ride at all, this will actually hamper you. What you should do is at least have something that's going to sit right, and give you something to use before your body turns on itself for food.
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  3. #3
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    Yeah..just for the record...a pre-ride meal might be a peanut butter sandwich 30-45 minutes before riding...if I expect a hard ride...maybe a bowl of oatmeal instead of the sandwich. Not a full meal but something that has some complex carbs and maybe a little protein.

    But I also get what you are saying. I believe the cardio on an empty stomach is valid...but I just don't think it translates well to something like biking. I think it's geared more towards running on a treadmill or working out on the elliptical. But even kinda realizing this...I still sometimes feel like I shouldn't be eating before riding. I guess it's just a mental block type thing. That's why I am wondering what others do.

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    My thoughts : I always eat before a ride...you need fuel to perform. Just ride hard and you'll burn it off....rather than not having the energy to push yourself and instead just get by. Pulling primary fuel from your fat stores is inneficient

  5. #5
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    No, its not really mental block really, I think a lot of people dislike eating before a ride. I personally HATE eating before riding, I hate the feeling I get when its not right.. I couldn't stand to eat oatmeal before riding, I know the result. Worst thing I ever did was eat beef jerky before a ride. That day was a lesson I will never forget. On the otherhand, I would eat like its going out of style if I was on an off day

    Banana are pretty much one of the few foods I can down before eating without my body revolting against it. The others are Yogurt, Almond Butter on Rye with Honey. Experiment and find what you like
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  6. #6
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    I never eat before a ride! If I'm leaving at the crack of dawn (most rides lately) I'll have a banana, and maybe something else very simple (cliff bar etc...). Look up "bonk training"... During the ride I'll have a couple of gels and something like cliff block shots... They're easy to consumme while riding w/o stopping.

    I can now ride >4hrs on a road bike with my body burning nearly 2000 calories while consuming 400-500. The more fat you consume during rides the more ATP you'll teach your body to create which helps your body convert fat to glucose. I know I would probably ride a bit better if I ate more. However, I want to drop a bit more weight to improve my climbing...

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    I lost 86 pounds in 3 months once (normal weight was 180-190 cut, hit 240ish then dropped it).

    I lost 25lbs of muscle, but I'd only eat a bare minimum during that. I was hungry a lot, but the weight came off. I was 2 hours in the gym and 30-45 runs a day...sometimes two. Total overtraining.

    That was 15+ years ago. Today I find the best way to lose weight for me is heavy lifting in the gym. Unfortunately today I am also dealing with a shoulder and knee that need surgery so I am turning to biking for weight loss.

    My main trick is to target what lean body mass you want to hit. Only eat that many calories.

  8. #8
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    if you don't have fuel to burn, your body will burn the muscle that you've built.
    nutrition is vital to successful riding performance...many will argue what is best. i prefer a couple of eggs and some fruit...but never within an hour or so of leaving the house.

    i prefer only gel and shot bloks during my rides, and since i sweat alot in hot conditions, i pack a few hammer endurolytes with me to prevent cramping. i also like the camelbak elixirs and hammer fizz to put in my camelbak. simple electrolytes and no fluff with a hint of lemon lime flavor.

    hammer nutrition has a philosophy that eating solid foods during a ride (and this can also pertain to pre-ride) will rob the muscles of blood needed for performance. instead the blood is busy in the stomach digesting food...hence liquid diet since it is easily digested.

    i'll add....losing weight and losing fat are not the same. if you lose muscle mass, you'll wonder why your conditioning is stalling. losing fat comes from a combination of eating properly (lean proteins, minimal processed carbs) and exercise with weight or resistance. so, you can maintain the same weight on the scale, while building muscle mass and losing fat....and no, you won't be "bulking up"...instead you'll be leaning out and getting stronger!

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by loopsb
    My thoughts : I always eat before a ride...you need fuel to perform. Just ride hard and you'll burn it off....rather than not having the energy to push yourself and instead just get by. Pulling primary fuel from your fat stores is inneficient
    This

    Weight loss is more about what happens after exercise than during.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by cracksandracks.com

    i'll add....losing weight and losing fat are not the same. if you lose muscle mass, you'll wonder why your conditioning is stalling. losing fat comes from a combination of eating properly (lean proteins, minimal processed carbs) and exercise with weight or resistance. so, you can maintain the same weight on the scale, while building muscle mass and losing fat....and no, you won't be "bulking up"...instead you'll be leaning out and getting stronger!
    Just for the record...when I say loosing weight...I mean fat loss...not just weight loss. I am heavily muscled, I just need to shed a lot of the adipose covering the muscle. I could certainly stand to loose 50+ pounds of fat. I am am around 290-295 atm but would love to be down to around 225 by next spring so I can possibly enter some races.

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    I am am around 290-295 atm but would love to be down to around 225 by next spring so I can possibly enter some races.
    No reason you can't enter at 290-295. Believe me, I raced at 285. Its totally doable. Its YOUR race
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  12. #12
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    Right...but right now even I am way too out of shape...I figure by the time I am in shape enough to try a race I'll hopefully be down in weight as well. I can ride pretty well around town, 12ish miles with about 1000 feet of climbing in a bit over an hour but I have found that doesn't translate well to riding trails and unfortunately there are no trails nearby...closest are about 50 minutes away. But even if the weight doesn't come down much, as long as the fitness is improved...maybe even by this summer...I really want to try an event or two. Just for fun...even though I do love to be competitive.

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    I am used to working out early without food on board as well. For me it depends on how long of a ride I am going on. I also try to ride first thing in the morning. For an hour ride I don't bother to eat anything. Last summer when I was doing some 2+ hour road rides, I had to eat before (usually a muffin with peanut butter) and continued to consume calories while riding (gel packets, electrolyte drink, shot blok, etc). I found that I could ride harder if I did that and avoided a post ride headache.

    Endourance nutrition is new to me, so I am still figuring out what works best for me.
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    I always fuel up with a little something before a ride. Usually oatmeal, but sometimes it's just a Honey Stinger bar with water or coffee.

    For hydration & carbs during the ride I used to use Gatorade and gel, but just switched over to HEED by hammer nutrition. The stuff is pretty good. It supplies better carbs than Gatorade and it has allowed me to cut back on the gels.

    To me the toughest thing to do is to make sure I don't eat too many calories post ride. It's amazing how the post ride appetite can be pretty voracious, so I try to monitor how much I eat post ride.

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    I find that without enough protein in my system I bonk fast. I try to scarf down at least 20 grams of protein for every hour I'm riding.

    I'm working on losing weight right now and doing it mostly through diet due to a knee injury. In the past 4 weeks I've lost 10 lbs. Breakfast every morning is a protein shake with 50 grams of whey; it gets me through to a medium size lunch (6" Subway or something similar). If I'm working out that day I get in another 20 grams of protein pre-workout and 30-50 grams post workout. Dinner is something light, typically fish and vegetables.

    My goal on a workout day is 1 gram of protein per pound of target body weight. So... 200 lbs of protein per day.

    On a non-workout day I shoot for 150 grams.

    This is what works for me.
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  16. #16
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    My rides are about 3 hours and start first thing in the morning. I just feel that if I donít eat something then I start to run out of energy and tend to fight the trail rather than enjoy it. That said, I canít just eat and ride. If I get up early enough I eat some oatmeal. If Iím eating and walking out the door, itís a banana and then cliff bars on the trail.

    Iíve lost about 25+ lbs since last year. OK, my wife wants credit too because she changed up our dietÖ but the weight loss for me was just a bonus. My focus has been on cholesterol numbers which came down dramatically with the exercise (and diet).

  17. #17
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    I work for a wellness center that operates out of a fitness spa. As a perk of the job, I get to sit in on the lectures from people who have many years of education and experience and are paid very well to share their knowledge on matters like this. From discussions I've had with these individuals, I have come up with the following (for what it's worth)-

    Cardio on an empty stomach is great for burning stored fat but only if that exercise keeps your heart rate in your fat-burning zone. Mountain biking is usually more strenuous than that.
    If you jump into a ride and start pushing hard your muscles will quickly use up your glycogen stores. When they are spent your body will look for calories in the stomach. If your stomach is empty, your body will use the next easiest thing to burn which is skeletal protein (muscle).
    Eat something that your body can burn fast- whole oats or fresh fruit is my preference. That will give your body something to burn while you get moving. By the time your warmed up and into your ride, your metabolism will be in full swing and working on those fat stores. If it's a longer ride bring a couple of snacks with you.

    Just my thoughts. And the thoughts of some well-paid professionals.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by h_daddy
    I work for a wellness center that operates out of a fitness spa. As a perk of the job, I get to sit in on the lectures from people who have many years of education and experience and are paid very well to share their knowledge on matters like this. From discussions I've had with these individuals, I have come up with the following (for what it's worth)-

    Cardio on an empty stomach is great for burning stored fat but only if that exercise keeps your heart rate in your fat-burning zone. Mountain biking is usually more strenuous than that.
    If you jump into a ride and start pushing hard your muscles will quickly use up your glycogen stores. When they are spent your body will look for calories in the stomach. If your stomach is empty, your body will use the next easiest thing to burn which is skeletal protein (muscle).
    Eat something that your body can burn fast- whole oats or fresh fruit is my preference. That will give your body something to burn while you get moving. By the time your warmed up and into your ride, your metabolism will be in full swing and working on those fat stores. If it's a longer ride bring a couple of snacks with you.

    Just my thoughts. And the thoughts of some well-paid professionals.
    I think you got the info wrong on that. Most work on a bike should have you in that fat burning zone...it's not like you are doing sprints.

    Also things like whole oats and the right kinds of fruits don't burn fast, that's the reason why they are good starting meals. Highly glycemic foods (like quick oats/cereal/grape juice) are good post workout though. If you are dieting you'd probably skip the postworkout 'meal' and just get some fluids back into you.

    I lost 86lbs in 3 months. I did overtrain and use an ECA stack. I worked out on a fast around 6am and then had my first meal at 11am...second meal around 5pm and that was it. Bare basics to only feed the lean muscle mass I wanted to shoot for. My workouts were about 2hours and I rant 30-45mins a day.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by alkemyst View Post
    I think you got the info wrong on that. Most work on a bike should have you in that fat burning zone...it's not like you are doing sprints.

    Also things like whole oats and the right kinds of fruits don't burn fast, that's the reason why they are good starting meals. Highly glycemic foods (like quick oats/cereal/grape juice) are good post workout though. If you are dieting you'd probably skip the postworkout 'meal' and just get some fluids back into you.

    I lost 86lbs in 3 months. I did overtrain and use an ECA stack. I worked out on a fast around 6am and then had my first meal at 11am...second meal around 5pm and that was it. Bare basics to only feed the lean muscle mass I wanted to shoot for. My workouts were about 2hours and I rant 30-45mins a day.
    I had always thought that highly glycemic foods were fast burn- you learn something new every day.
    As far as your heart rate on a ride- Obviously it depends on the terrain and what kind of shape you are in. Most of the trails I ride involve a substantial climb within the first five minutes. Personally, My heart rate is well above my fat burn zone after a minute of climbing.
    Regardless, if you lost that much weight in that much time, either you know your stuff and your dedication is impressive or you starved yourself (if we were talking face to face, that would have sounded funny and sarcastic). Congrats on the weight loss.

  20. #20
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    As far as your heart rate on a ride- Obviously it depends on the terrain and what kind of shape you are in. Most of the trails I ride involve a substantial climb within the first five minutes. Personally, My heart rate is well above my fat burn zone after a minute of climbing.
    I agree... I think Just to clarify for my benefit... which HR zone is that?

    I usually hit one of those climbs and my Garmin shows me bouncing between HR zone 3 and 4... and when it gets steep I get above zone 4... and once there for a while I walk

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by h_daddy View Post
    I had always thought that highly glycemic foods were fast burn- you learn something new every day.
    As far as your heart rate on a ride- Obviously it depends on the terrain and what kind of shape you are in. Most of the trails I ride involve a substantial climb within the first five minutes. Personally, My heart rate is well above my fat burn zone after a minute of climbing.
    Regardless, if you lost that much weight in that much time, either you know your stuff and your dedication is impressive or you starved yourself (if we were talking face to face, that would have sounded funny and sarcastic). Congrats on the weight loss.
    Highly glycemic are fast burn and cause spikes, that's not always bad, but pre-workout sets you up for basically bonking mid workout, things like whole oats keep your blood sugar more even and are slower burning.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dave94024 View Post
    I agree... I think Just to clarify for my benefit... which HR zone is that?

    I usually hit one of those climbs and my Garmin shows me bouncing between HR zone 3 and 4... and when it gets steep I get above zone 4... and once there for a while I walk
    There are a lot of charts out there that will tell you your ideal fat burning zone based on age, height, and wieght. DON'T BELIEVE ANY OF THEM!!! The only way to know for sure is to have an O2 test done (sometimes called a VO max test). In this test they put a breathing mask on your face while you do a light exercise. The mask is connected to a sensor that measures oxygen in vs oxygen out. This measures how many calories your are burning and how many of those calories are from fat. They increase the intensity of the exercise until they get a "peak" reading. When you want to lose weight, it is good information to have.
    For example: Most of those charts told me to keep my HR between 123-135. When I did the test I found my ideal fat burning range was 108-116, where I burned 14 calories a minute, 9 of which were fat.
    It might be difficult to find a place that does this testing. Usually really high-teck athletic training facilities or very nice fitness resorts. I would start by finding a group of competetive endurance athletes like marathon runners or triathletes and asking them about it.

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    I will say this: some of the most miserable rides I've done have been with no or very little food/carbs. After pushing hard for an hour or so, I will just run out of energy and have nothing left for even the slightest of inclines. Always take a snack bar or something now.

  24. #24
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    [QUOTE=NUTT;8069272]I find that without enough protein in my system I bonk fast.
    QUOTE]

    LIke Nutt, I have reactive hypoglycemia. If I eat oatmeal and then go ride hard over 45-1 hour I'm going to crash big time.

    I can ride for 1 hour in the morning without food but no longer.

    so on longer rides i have to keep gel packs with me and make sure I've eaten plenty of protein.

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    I always eat a bowl of cereal of honey bunches of oats with almonds before my morning ride and my afternoon ride I eat a zone bar... I can ride on an empty stomach but I always feel better if going over an hour if I had a little meal before. I usually have a whey protein shake with a little casein waiting for me back at the car. Eh, old habits die hard and I always feel good enough to run afterwards or annoy my roommate. Figure out what works best for your body

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