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  1. #1
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    What's your routine?

    Hello all, I've just started riding regularly last year. It turns out cycling is a good hobby for me because I'm a sucker for customizing and tweaking things, and I had no idea there was such a wide range of options for bicycles!

    I mainly do it for fun (riding), but if I can get in better shape doing it, awesome!

    So my question is regarding eating before/after rides. Right now I basically just ride when I can, never planning on food before/after. What/how much do you eat before a ride? Is it like swimming where you should avoid a big meal before a long ride?

    I've read on these forums recomendations of eating before a ride, and eating protein 30 minutes after to help build muscle. How much Protein are we talking about 30 minutes after a ride? Are we talking chicken dinner, or are we talking a protein bar? (some people have said they drink a protein shake?)

    Basically I'm wondering what you all do specifically on your typical routines? Examples of what you might eat before (how long before) and after (30 minutes?) your regular rides?

    Thanks!!

  2. #2
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    As far as quantity and content it depends where you are and on what the goals are. A good general rule or routine to help support your riding and your recovery is eat a decent size meal around an hour or more before, and eat another within an hour after.

    Welcome to the site and to posting
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    Immediately post ride consume carbohydrates. You can add protein in a 4:1 ratio carbs/pro. Repeat in about 20-30 minutes, and about an hour or so later you can have a big protein meal.

    The amount varies with overall activity level. One rule of thumb for an active individual (as opposed to a weekend warrior) is 1.5 grams protein per kilogram of body weight. This is total DAILY consumption, not the post workout snack. The post workout snack should not be more than ~25% of total daily protein consumption. So you can see there is not a lot of protein needed immediately post workout. Without getting into a lot of cellular biochemistry the muscles need glucose before they can begin to use the amino acids to rebuild.

    For the post workout snack almost any protein will work. The whey supplements work, but are not necessary IMHO. A PB&J sandwich on whole grain bread with a glass of chocolate milk is close to the ideal ratio and amount of carbs/protein. The fancy potions and powders work also, but the simple is cheaper. Whey is touted as better, but the difference is small. Whey is a structurally simpler protein, so it breaks down into the component peptides and amino acids faster, and thus is absorbed faster. This difference is minutes, though. Not hours. (Whey is the leftover waste from industrial cheese making. The cheese factories used to throw it out, or sell it as a cheap livestock feed supplement. Then someone realized they could make more money by peddling it at inflated prices to amateur athletes as magic stuff).

    As far as overall eating for performance, individual variations abound. I find a carb breakfast works best for me, with dinner being the protein heavy meal. Others have the opposite. During the ride I snack lightly on whatever trail mix I throw together. I haven't had much luck with gels during the ride. They tend to bother my stomach and bowels. Try different things, and keep a diary of how you feel during the ride. You will soon learn what works for you.
    So many trails... so little time...

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    Thanks guys, appreciate the feedback!

  5. #5
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    You're welcome.
    Dave is right about 4 to 1 ratio but that's not 100% for everyone so if you share where you're at with stats and training, what your struggles are, and what your goals are I'd be glad to help further with more detail.
    "Tortured by mental illness" ~monogod

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    Quote Originally Posted by theMeat View Post
    You're welcome.
    Dave is right about 4 to 1 ratio but that's not 100% for everyone so if you share where you're at with stats, what your struggles are, and what your goals are I'd be glad to help further with more detail.
    yeah, some research suggests 3:1, others 5:1. The key take-away point is more carbs than protein initially. There does seem to be some ethnic/racial differences in nutritional needs, but solid research is lacking in this area. The differences between individuals is probably greater than any ethnic differences.
    So many trails... so little time...

  7. #7
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    I guess my goal is to just start taking advantage of the excercise of my new hobby/passion.

    I'm 6'2" 270lbs - I've been the same size/weight since college (age 34 now).

    Right now I'm considering changing up how I eat (not necessarily how well/what I eat, besides maybe more protein "snacks" after rides etc).

    I haven't eaten breakfast regularly since high school. I basically eat nothing before lunch, then dinner, then probably a snack or two in the evening. I've heard about how it's better to eat more often in smaller doses to keep your metabolism burning, and I've seen bean pole skinny people eating all throughout the day that makes me think it works -also heard that not eating breakfast etc your body thinks its starving and stores fat, burns muscle etc.

    Typically in the summer I try to ride each day after work and the weekends (mostly on a bike path right by my condo), my typical circuit is 9 miles, but I do the full lap sometimes depending on time/energy of 18miles. Last weekend I did some exploring off the bike path through the woods and ended up going 27 miles (and felt like I could have still done more). ...anyways right now I'm sort of limited to weekend riding as it's dark before I leave work. I've started getting some decent winter apparrell so I can keep riding as much as possible. Also, I've never really had any issues of over tiredness or bunking from rides. When I first started, then again the beginning of this last summer I had that "aches so good feeling" in my muscles the next day of my muscles waking up and strengthening.

    Anyways, back to eating:
    So I'm thinking of switching "to the norm" and having breakfast, maybe start packing small snacks to eat between meals (I guess protein snacks) at work. I'm just starting to google high protein foods and protein snacks to get ideas.

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    Seems like you've been doing some homework so that's good. It seems you have a pretty good grasp of the info too, even better.
    Few things I'll throw out there. As far as "mini meals" or the keeping your body from fasting, and keeping protein always available for fitness gains, and curbing storage throu this....It works for many, and many need to dial in some. It can/ may take your body some time to realize that it doesn't need to store, or store as much, and you may and maybe should gain muscle from this so don't live by the scale short term. Once you got it going a month or so you can start to dial into where your weight and fitness goals are.
    I'd say eat breakfast, especially for an active lifestyle, and whether you do mini meals or not and you just don't like to eat breakfast, if that works for you go with it, and try doing some more cardio type exercise before that first lunch meal, and at least you'll do more cutting as opposed to storing.
    Of coarse it's a matter of calories in and calories out, and for many timing and content is key while for others it's not. Same thing with cycling carbs, or intermittent fasting. Imo mini meals is less bad / more better than those, especially in terms of health, and more successful for more people, especially long term or toward fitness goals.
    No matter what you decide one thing is true for everyone. Don't make huge changes and make them for at least 3-4 weeks so you can see how it feels, and what it gives and takes.
    "Tortured by mental illness" ~monogod

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    Long been realized frequent small meals is better healthwise than the standard 3 large meals. However, our entire societal norms, culture, and economic/political system forces you into the 3 meals pattern.
    So many trails... so little time...

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by dave54 View Post
    Long been realized frequent small meals is better healthwise than the standard 3 large meals. However, our entire societal norms, culture, and economic/political system forces you into the 3 meals pattern.
    Idk, I'm amazed how many people don't realize this. Furthermore think many people who start exercising start eating more often simply because they're more hungry, and don't have a clue that eating more often is 60% or more of that equation for feeling better and finding success.
    "Tortured by mental illness" ~monogod

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    Bulwyf, you didn't share anything about the size or content of your diet so ? But you have shared that you're 270lbs and your now once week exercise routine leaves you feeling fine during and after. With that I'd say that 1.5 grams protein per kilogram of weight taken daily isn't that important, nor is upping carbs. If you want to be anal about it and make sure you get the most muscle and performance benefit from your exercise then maybe slightly up your carbs a couple of days leading to your exercise, and up proteins for a couple after. I'm a firm believer that for most the best way to make changes that last you should make small doable changes every few weeks or month or so. Since we don't know your diet I'm only guessing but will mention for your consideration that you start to replace simple carbs with more complex ones at most or all times other than right after exercise, that you consider that adding meals will up your calories unless you adjust the size and/or content of your other meals, and that you eat breakfast and a good small slowly digesting meal which includes proteins before bed.
    "Tortured by mental illness" ~monogod

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    I make it easy for myself. No meat for breakfast, does not sit well in my stomach. Eggs and some fruit an hour or so before my ride. Slam at least one water bottle right before we hit the dirt. Chocolate milk after a ride and a beer and try to get food in my stomach within an hour of riding

  13. #13
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    I work most nights leaving for work at 8:30 pm, and get home at 3:30 am. This is when I eat more of your junk food type things, then go to bed at 4-5 am. I normally get up around 10:30 am do a stretching routine I have done for years, then my age of sit-ups and pushups (54). If I ride during the day either a 25 mile round trip commute to town or my 22 mile regular loop ride I don't eat before the ride, don't usually drink anything or even take water with me.

    When I get back from the commute or road ride which I do everyday I will make a green smoothie which is my first food of the day:
    1 grapefruit
    1 orange
    1 apple
    1 pear
    2 bananas
    Tbsp flax seed
    1/4 tsp turmeric (heaping)
    1 tsp cinnamon (heaping)
    1 cup or more spinach raw
    1 cup or more kale raw
    5 ice cubes
    Blend until smooth, delicious!

    Supper is usually around 5:00pm, either chicken, pork, beef, sometimes with pasta, or potato, and another vegetable (cooked).

    After supper I go to bed till about 8:00 pm, leave home at 8:30 pm, commute round trip 25 miles to work and back, repeat.

  14. #14
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    I'm digging that chocolate milk is good source of protein. hehe, was always one of my favorites!

    Typically I crawl out of bed and hop in the shower and jet out the door to head to work, minimal time to do anything in the morning.
    Today I got up early before work to go for a ride, didn't quite make it out of bed because it was dark and there were some rain / snow flurries mix. Did have time to have breakfast though! Hopefully go for a ride tomorrow morning. Body needs to adjust to getting up earlier/going to bed earlier: I'm feeling the missing sleep as I type this.

  15. #15
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    Diet is at least 70% of fitness. Track calories until you understand what's good and bad in your diet. Assuming you want to get your BMI in line, try limiting total carbs to less than 100grams a day. Fill up the rest of your caloric goal with fat/protein. Tunes your body into utilizing stored fat instead of burning ingested carbs/sugars.

    You will lean out and ride like an animal. Will take months of dedication but is very worth it.

  16. #16
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    So do most of you watch your carbs, and mainly intake them after a ride/excercise in the 4:1 carb : protein ratio?


    Edit: seperated : and p in the carb/protein ratio because it was making a
    Last edited by Bulwyf; 11-12-2013 at 12:15 PM.

  17. #17
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    Only those adjusting their power to weight ratio. Less weight = more power!

    I am convinced we all eat too many carbs daily.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bulwyf View Post
    So do most of you watch your carbs, and mainly intake them after a ride/excercise in the 4:1 carb : protein ratio?


    Edit: seperated : and p in the carb/protein ratio because it was making a
    Nope, At first, when I started to take diet more seriously as a means to fitness goals, there was a learning curve to figure what was around that 4 to 1. After a while you start to get a better idea and it becomes easy imo. If I start to get too skinny or my energy level falls off I up carbs some. If I start to gain too much I cut back to around 3 to 1 for a while. It's amazing how what you start eating might not be likable at first and then many times becomes what you prefer. Like whole wheat instead of white, or yam instead of white, used to love soda now i don't. The only rules i try to stick to are complex carbs instead of simple, and 4+ meals a day. But sometimes it's just not doable to eat 4x and for me it's not worth it if you can't have a slice of pizza or whatever once in a while. The other thing i find amazing is how once you stick to a cleaner diet and exercise for long enough you start to feel better, look better, sleep better etc, and it motivates you to do it more and it gets much easier.
    For me i eat around a 4 to 1 just about all the time and it works for me. If you're trying to loose weight and are/want to cut down on carbs then more carbs before and more proteins after is what you want, not the other way around. So before a pbj on ww with banana, and after grilled chicken with veggies is a good example.
    Last edited by theMeat; 11-12-2013 at 06:09 PM.
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    Recent research is showing good results by not paying too much attention to total calories and just eat in the right ratios. The old ratio was 40% carb/30% protein/30% fat for diet averaged over multiple days. Difficult to maintain that exact ratio every day, so if it averaged that over a period of several days it is still OK. The current recommended ratio is 50-55% carb/20% fat/20-25% protein . Current WHO recommendations are even higher at 70% carbs.

    Carbs should be from whole grains, fruits and vegetables, not added sugars (gel blocks work well for most people; however they are not considered healthy). Avoid processed foods as much as possible. Minimize (but not completely eliminate) meat. I am not trying the start a vegan/carnivore argument. A vegan diet can be as healthy as a diet with small amounts of lean animal protein (<2-3 ounces per day, red meat 1x per week or less). If you eat this way you do not need to closely watch calories, you will be at or under a good caloric level.

    You can track your daily diet with the USDA food tracker on-line https://www.supertracker.usda.gov/ or any number of smart phone apps.

    I like the USDA site. You can print reports showing ratios, nutrient, calories consumed through activities, etc. (I gave my doctor reports for a month of daily records, and he put them in my file.)

    If you want some reading material on eating patterns for maximizing performance, google for books on Nutrient Timing.

    Check your local community college for correspondence courses on nutrition. Or check the on-line MOOCS. Take any advice from the .com weightlifting web sites with a dose of skepticism. Most of the time they are 100% wrong and potentially dangerous.
    So many trails... so little time...

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    The USDA site is pretty cool. Trying it out. I might search for an app like you said. I use Sportstracker for my rides/any walking. Neat app also, helps motivate you to be more active as you can see any blocks of inactivity. Would be nice to find an app that does both so I don't have to enter the excercise into the nutrition app manually. That's not that major though.

    Quote Originally Posted by theMeat View Post
    It's amazing how what you start eating might not be likable at first and then many times becomes what you prefer. Like whole wheat instead of white, or yam instead of white, used to love soda now i don't.
    It's funny you say this, I was just thinking how everyone is saying whole wheat pb&j, I was going to just use regular white, but now I think I'll take the leap to whole wheat... heh. I know it's true that you adjust/get used to it, and it becomes the norm and you can actually like it/prefer it.


    On another note, I did get up early before work and went for a 9 mile ride today. Was kind of cold (New England, was some frozen water on the ground) but I made do with some of the new cycling apparrel I'm starting to accumulate. Stayed warm, have ideas for next ride of where I need to increase warmth.

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    Ok, so let me know if there's a more efficient or better way to alter my new morning routine:

    I get up and have my breakfast, starting out w/ 1 fried egg w/ cheese in an english muffin. Then I get ready for the ride and get to it, a little over 9 miles in around 50 minutes. I get back and hop in the shower, get ready for work, and have a couple "pinches" of almonds for my post ride protein on my way out the door.

  22. #22
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    Either way this is a huge improvement over not eating till lunch but since you asked...
    If getting more fit is paramount then this works, althou i'd recommend at least 30 min between eat and exercise, 60 is ideal. If loosing weight is paramount then exercise first and eat after since when you wake you're in fasting mode regardless of what you ate before bed, and you'll start cutting into stores right away instead of 20-30 min into it when you're fed.
    Also.... if fitness is more important then your diet will/can greatly support those efforts. If loosing weight is more important then exercise will support that. But either way it's much easier to control your weight throu diet since it takes only a few min to eat what it would take hours to burn off.
    Not going to say that you should never eat fried foods, you only live once, but a poached egg on a ww english muffin with a piece of fruit is a much better plan.
    "Tortured by mental illness" ~monogod

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    Hmmm, never really thought of a fried egg as a fried (frialator) food. Is it less healthy just because of the squirt of spray to grease the pan? Never had a poached egg, I'll look into it.

    I'd say getting more fit and losing weight are pretty even goals for me. But factor in getting up early and time constraints before work, I guess I'll try getting up and going for my ride, then coming back and showering/get ready for work, then eat some breakfast and protein.

    Thanks for the tips and all the advice Meat, one day I'll be able to rep you again, but the site wants me to spread the love some before I can again

    I already feel a lot more healthy since starting to ride last summer, better stamina, etc. Took a tour of Italy this summer with a lot of walking and climbing hills and stairs to get to old fortresses, etc. and didn't really get too tired from it compared to the exhaustion I probably would have gotten before riding.

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    Thanx for thanx, nice is nice.

    Yeah when it comes to eggs it's not that big a deal, but it will cut some saturated fat, it's just as easy and imo tastes just as good so as a daily regimen that'll add up. It's also better to mix it up some and not eat the same thing too often, you know, moderation. Have witnessed many times that for most it's about making small changes that add up over time that make it much easier and easier to stick with as a lifestyle.
    Kudos for you for getting up and exercising, yeah it's been cold out in the NE.
    "Tortured by mental illness" ~monogod

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    Hard boil the egg, make the smoothie like the one listed above, skip the cheese - it's almost as bad as the oil, you don't need the muffin. Better yet, skip the egg, add ground chia seeds and almond milk. Any time you can eat lower on the food chain the better your health will be. Not a vegan/vegetarian but I only eat about 8oz of meat a week and get the rest of my protein from plant sources.

    The ratios of the smoothie listed are different than the ones I make but same idea. Fruit, tons of green veggies, etc. I haven't tried the turmeric but like the idea. Same with the cinnamon. Other additions include ginger root, almond milk, chia seeds, carrot, coconut water, parsley, celery, etc. Everyday it's a bit different. Once you get the routine down it's easier than cooking and faster. I save the eggs for the weekend meals.

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