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  1. #1
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    burning fat vs. carbs

    Has any one tried a high fat, low carb diet for bike racing? when I say low carb I mean 30-70g carbs and about 150g protien a day and the rest in fat

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    NO, Nobody has. At least not with good results!

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    I would like to hear an answer.
    It is a big world and nobody is a big word.

    So how about higher fat/lower carb diets or higher protien/lower carg diets.

    I believe there is a lot of prejudice out there on this topic.

  4. #4
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    The human body cannot convert fat to glycogen fast enough to sustain high intensity cardiovascular excercise.

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    I tried an"atkeins" type diet a few years back. It wasn't to prepare for a race or anything but just to drop of few pounds and shed some fat for the summertime. I did it full stop wouldn't even put milk in my coffee. I lasted 4 days like that was suppose to last 2 weeks. I was eating steak and eggs for breakfast. chicken and bacon for lunch fish whenever I could fit it in. It was the longest 4 days of my life. I have absolutley no energy , motivation to do anything and was starving most of the day. It seemed like I was on it for weeks, finally I threw in the towel on the fifth day. I had some rice and chicken from a local chinese place and once the carbs from the rice hit my system I felt alive again. The diet in my opinion if realy unhealthy for you. I feel that if you eat 5 to 6 small well balanced meals throughout the day cut down on the overall sugars from pastas, potatos, candy , soda etc and eat more fresh fruit veggies and lots of water you'll be in much better shape than any sort of fad crash diet. In the end I did lost lots of fat but I lost a lot of overall size as well, I felt lousy most of the time, I was much weaker in the gym and worse I had little desire or energy to get there. Now-a-days simple healthy eating I feel is the ticket at least for me. hope this helps man

  6. #6
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    So what is your optimum fat/protein/carb ratio?

    Oh and distance are you training for.

    I believe Pacman indicated that fat is the primary source of energy for (rule of thumb) greater than two hours Spangly. Also that the liver function is trainable with long rides. So the question may be is a long ride the only way to train the liver.
    Last edited by jeffscott; 09-11-2006 at 07:12 AM.

  7. #7
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    There is marked variability between people when seen 'real world'. You can certainly induce your fat-burning enzymes by carb restriction and training, but your intensity will suffer. My wife is very efficient w/ fat, and keeps herself in better shape by carb restricting. She will drink some gatorade during intervals or long/hard rides. She can do an hour or two at an easy pace without bonking.

    I am different, and bonk easily, even w/ carbs. However, in 2002 after I burned out on the XC thing, I played around. I started trying to do long road rides on just water. Initially I bonked within an hour and had to switch to gatorade. After 3-4 weeks of 1-2 long rides/week, I actually completed my long loop on just water. Let me tell you, I wanted to lie down and take a nap in the middle of it. BUT I got better at using carbs. I was also MUCH slower than normal on that loop.

    IMHO it is good for weight loss but not for performance...and most research bears this out.

  8. #8
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    The DOC beat me to it - scientific studies have repeatedly shown that high carbs are the way to go for endurance performance.

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    Do you have a reference that indicates the optimum ratio of carbs protein and fat?? for plus 4 hour endurance training.

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    Happened to read this article this morning, hope it helps:

    http://www.bicycling.com/article/0,6...0381-1,00.html
    "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

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    Thank you very much. I will try to track down the U of M Research.

  12. #12
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    Lisa Dorfman recommends for endurance sports:

    65% of calories carbohydrates (simple and complex)
    15% of calories protien
    20% of calories fat

    Please note this is from the Vegetarian Sports Nutrition guide.


    The science: For sports lasting longer than 90 minutes, glycogen from carbohydrates is the primary fuel. Endurance athletes who train on successive days need a minimum of 8–10 grams of carbohydrates per kilogram of body weight daily to restore their glycogen levels.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by jeffscott
    Endurance athletes who train on successive days need a minimum of 8–10 grams of carbohydrates per kilogram of body weight daily to restore their glycogen levels.
    Is this actually supported by research? This is thrown around often but I don't know if I've ever seen studies backing this up. Up through 4 hours it appears a heavy carb diet is useful. But after that the benefits tail off rapidly. At least this is what I've read.

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    I don't know she has some impressive credentials.

    I think I understand the utility of having carbs on board just prior to the event.

    I worry about a couple of things though it seems simple loading carbs and then restricting either your effort or your distance is an easy trap to fall into.

    I worry that wildly varing the blood sugar levels, and proably the electrolytes is just not the best way to go.

    I would like to basically understand how the liver can be trained, and what diet is best for this.

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    There are a lot of people with a lot of impressive credentials that disagree all the time. And then people with impressive credentials who do an about face several years after saying something else (see Friel with Sweet Spot Training).

    Carb loading isn't something I would recommend.

    The idea isn't to wildly vary the blood sugar levels. You want to maintain a steady flow of energy to the muscles. This is what Hammer claims maltodextrin does. I reserve judgement on that claim for now. But the idea is valid - to regulate energy getting to your muscles.

    How exactly do you want to train your liver? What are your target events and/or goals?

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    Long ago, I could mountaineer ski for plus twelve hours at a very high output. I remeber only bonking maybe twice. Buddies could go faster but the only one that ever got there before me was my brother.

    We would do this on very little food GROP etc.

    I would like to be able to go at a high output for up to twelve hours. My objective is to push up the long fire roads into the high outback of BC. Maybe not for twelve hours but if something goes wrong I still want to be able to get out.

    I think I must have had a pretty good liver back then?? I think its starting to come back, but older means smarter right.

  17. #17
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    Well let's see if my scientific data is good enough. I do 5+ hour road rides every weekend recently helping a friend train for ironman and this last Sat I did 6.5 hours & 97 miles. Friday I had a big slice of pizza and oatmeal raisin cookies for lunch, then for diner I had boiled sweet potatoes and plantain, snacked on oatmeal raisin cookies throughout the day. Sat morning before I left I had same boiled sweet potatoes and plantain, on the ride I took 2-24oz bottles of accelerade and 2.5 litres of water in my CB and ate 6 oatmeal raisin cookies. I refilled the empty 24oz bottles once each with water.

    I didn't bonk I felt great and I did all that on my 29-30lb Trance w/ 2.1" knobbies @ 70/65 PSI and felt great and could have kept going except I found out that the RocketV is not really a good road sadle and can rub you the wrong way. If not for the sore bum I could have kept going and to be very honest I felt very fresh and could maintain the same speed on a strecth of road @ 70 miles in as I can on a normal short ride/at the beginning. If I don't get lots of carbs the day before - pasta, sweet potatoe etc - I find I don't do so well and sufer from cramps.

    Avg speed was 15.3 mph, 3200ft of ascent and avg HR was 134bpm and I burnt 4,768 calories according to my Polar S725 HRM.

    After the ride as soon as I got home (rode from home) I had a nice big Whey Protein Shake w/ a scoop if ice cream in it and a bwhole wheat bagel w/ peanut butter, then a bit later some sweet potatoe and plantain and about 1 hour before my afternoon ride (told ya I still felt good after the 6.5 hours) I had some salsa w/ cream cheese and corn chips. I had a short 1.5 hour nap during lunchtime. Afternoon ride was 29 miles and I took along a 24oz bottle of accelerade and 3 oatmeal rasin cookies and felt great after (cept for the still sore bum)

    Quote Originally Posted by normZurawski
    Is this actually supported by research? This is thrown around often but I don't know if I've ever seen studies backing this up. Up through 4 hours it appears a heavy carb diet is useful. But after that the benefits tail off rapidly. At least this is what I've read.
    Last edited by LyNx; 09-12-2006 at 07:13 PM.
    One day your life will flash before your eyes, will it be worth watching??

  18. #18
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    Thanks lynx I will crunch the numbers

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dengsxr
    I tried an"atkeins" type diet a few years back. It wasn't to prepare for a race or anything but just to drop of few pounds and shed some fat for the summertime. I did it full stop wouldn't even put milk in my coffee. I lasted 4 days like that was suppose to last 2 weeks. I was eating steak and eggs for breakfast. chicken and bacon for lunch fish whenever I could fit it in. It was the longest 4 days of my life. I have absolutley no energy , motivation to do anything and was starving most of the day. It seemed like I was on it for weeks, finally I threw in the towel on the fifth day. I had some rice and chicken from a local chinese place and once the carbs from the rice hit my system I felt alive again. The diet in my opinion if realy unhealthy for you. I feel that if you eat 5 to 6 small well balanced meals throughout the day cut down on the overall sugars from pastas, potatos, candy , soda etc and eat more fresh fruit veggies and lots of water you'll be in much better shape than any sort of fad crash diet. In the end I did lost lots of fat but I lost a lot of overall size as well, I felt lousy most of the time, I was much weaker in the gym and worse I had little desire or energy to get there. Now-a-days simple healthy eating I feel is the ticket at least for me. hope this helps man
    You failed to make it through or complete the 2 week induction phase (Phase I) by only lasting 4 days. So obviously your opinion is from that side of the coin.

    Let me share the other side of the coin - mainly to address or answer the original poster's question...

    My story is different. I had a target goal of shedding 30 pounds by dropping from 212 to 182. I chose the Atkins Diet as my vehicle to meet my goal. I survived the 2 week induction phase back in October of 2004. Shed the 30 pounds in 10 months working through Phase II and Phase III and have been in maintenance mode (Phase IV) ever since. It is only the initial 2 week induction phase, or Phase I of the Atkins diet that is a carb deprivation scenario. After that, the eating is not "no carb, but lower carb".

    Those who exercise in an athletic manner are indeed encouraged and allowed to eat more grams of carbs per day. It's different for everyone and is based on weight and effort. At my height/weight (6'3"/182) and effort - I eat in the 100 - 150 grams of carbs per day and certainly partake of Gatorade Endurance and Gu for actual races. 3 days prior to a race, my complex carbohydrate intake will increase a little bit and following the race, I taper back to a lower carb diet.

    The original poster asked if one could race (assuming mountain bike racing) on a low carb diet. He didn't specify at what level nor mention the endurance requirements of his racing. Is it beginner? Sport? Expert? Semi-Pro? Is participation more important than winning? Or is winning at all costs part of the goal? Hard to answer without knowing more of his goals.

    I doubt if you find anyone who road races or does a lot of endurance racing (road or mountain bike) who would be using or advocating a low or lower carb diet. I am a former marathon runner and certainly would be eating more complex carbohydrates if I were training and running marathon races. One has to compete at those levels and supply the body with what it needs for that type of endurance. But for shorter duration XC races and the shorter duration, intense effort power training that mountain bike racing requires - a lower carb diet can work with the traditional increase in carb grams leading up to the race followed by tapering of the carb grams post race. It may not get one to the podium at Norba Nationals, but for a local/state "just racing for fun and the challenge of it" type of rider - it can be managed and found to be a good fit.

    BB

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by jeffscott
    So what is your optimum fat/protein/carb ratio?

    Oh and distance are you training for.

    I believe Pacman indicated that fat is the primary source of energy for (rule of thumb) greater than two hours Spangly. Also that the liver function is trainable with long rides. So the question may be is a long ride the only way to train the liver.
    Fat is the stored fuel and carbs are the spark plugs. The comment was in the context of someone assuming (wrongly) that you have to eat enough calories to make up for those burned (hour-by-hour).

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by LyNx
    Well let's see if my scientific data is good enough...
    Well, that would be a perfect example of anecdotal evidence.

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    Lynx thank you again, you are one cycling/eating machine.

    Do I detect a hint of vegetarian here, also I guess you are mantaining your weight, and picking healthy food choices.(i picked good choices from the USDA nutrient data lab).

    Only those who provide better data can comment that this data is incomplete.

    I learned that with my guesses you are about equal kcal in vs kcal out.
    I think you ran about 11% protein, 14% lipids, 75% carbs.
    Your pottasium sodium ratio was about 1.1 to 1.

    I need to reduce my sodium, eat more plantian to correct my Na/K ratio.
    I need more protien than powerade has.

    You seem to run close to kcal in vs kcal out during your rides.

    4768 kcal for 6.5 hours is about 212 watts mechanical energy.

    Please correct me

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by jeffscott
    I would like to hear an answer.
    It is a big world and nobody is a big word.

    So how about higher fat/lower carb diets or higher protien/lower carg diets.

    I believe there is a lot of prejudice out there on this topic.
    No prejudice, just basic biochemical facts. High fat/low CHO diets are suboptimal for high level endurance performance. Especially if occasional anaerobic efforts are factored in, which is a spot-on description of mountain biking.
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    Quote Originally Posted by MTBDOC
    There is marked variability between people when seen 'real world'. You can certainly induce your fat-burning enzymes by carb restriction and training, but your intensity will suffer. My wife is very efficient w/ fat, and keeps herself in better shape by carb restricting. She will drink some gatorade during intervals or long/hard rides. She can do an hour or two at an easy pace without bonking.

    I am different, and bonk easily, even w/ carbs. However, in 2002 after I burned out on the XC thing, I played around. I started trying to do long road rides on just water. Initially I bonked within an hour and had to switch to gatorade. After 3-4 weeks of 1-2 long rides/week, I actually completed my long loop on just water. Let me tell you, I wanted to lie down and take a nap in the middle of it. BUT I got better at using carbs. I was also MUCH slower than normal on that loop.

    IMHO it is good for weight loss but not for performance...and most research bears this out.
    Couldn't have put it better myself. I have done long slow rides on the road bike (careful to avoid anaerobic levels of exertion if possible) with minimal CHO intake with the intent of weight loss while training the aerobic system, and had some success, but going fast was out of the question. And yes, it does leave you feeling sleepy and exhausted.
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  25. #25
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    JeffScott, I'm not all that scientific I just know I try to not lose weight as I'm pretty skinny already (for my taste that is) so I use the Polar software to track my weight and weigh every morning and after long rides to see how much weight I've lost and know kind of what I need to be eating to make sure I put it back on using the fact that my metabolism is kicked into high gear all throughout the day after the rides as well as the same day. I normally don't have any probs getting the weight back on.

    My massuse is always so shocked when I tell her what I burned during a ride and is always like "wow you burnt 2lbs of actual body weight" or something like that. She says that about 3,500 calories is equal to 1lb of body weight.

    As for the vegetarian, I kind of am I guess, but not really. I don't eat red meat only fish or chicken, they are easier for the body to digest and don't thefor sit on there as long,

    Also meat takes long to prepare etc. so I tend to stick to a more carb type diet which I know will keep my glycogen stores topped up. I get my protein from either minced chicken added to pasta sauce or from eating out at a very healthy grill - grilled everything, and normally it's a grilled chicken sandwhich, ceasar sald and grilled veggies. I also add frozen veggies into the pasta sauce. When I do cook it's a big batch that will last me at least 2-3 days whatever it is that I cook, supplemented by eating out. I also eat quite a bit of whole wheat and cinnamon raisin bagels with either butter, cream cheese or PB. Also I love salsa and cream cheese so that's a another snack that's pretty healthy and then every so often a nice big tub (1/2 gallon) of ice cream to help with some fat (eaten over the course of a couple days.
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  26. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by tommyrod74
    No prejudice, just basic biochemical facts. High fat/low CHO diets are suboptimal for high level endurance performance. Especially if occasional anaerobic efforts are factored in, which is a spot-on description of mountain biking.
    Two things can you briefly run through the biochemical fact for me.

    What is high fat??
    High carb seems to be 65%carb,20%fat,15%protein.
    High fat seems to be 20%carb,65%fat,15%protein???

  27. #27
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    Lynx

    Sorry for the cheap science, I am an applied scientist so you have to bear with me. I think I am starting to get it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jeffscott
    Two things can you briefly run through the biochemical fact for me.

    What is high fat??
    High carb seems to be 65%carb,20%fat,15%protein.
    High fat seems to be 20%carb,65%fat,15%protein???

    First off, I am a terrible poster here since I rarely look back at a thread after I have posted. Sorry about that.

    The problem with defining high carb or high fat is that it is only intended to imply that that micronutrient is presented in the highest amount of the three possible. It makes my job a ***** when I have a patient that says "I don't want to go on a high carb diet, I'll only eat 50% or less" well, that's still a high carb diet. Even at 40% CHO you can still have a high carb diet with 30% fat and 30% protein.

    I'm not a sports dietitian (I'm just a plain ol' RD) but trying to pin down a specific ratio of macronutrients by someone elses recomendation is bogus without a an exchange cart (cart full of gas exchange technology stuff). Even then, how you reacto to a given ratio on the bike may vary due to temps, altitude, or whatever. I might suggest just being festidious with your note taking and find out for yourself. For me, I know I like about 50% carbs, 30% fat and 20% protein under resting conditions but I race well on 80% carbs and 20% protein.

    Lastly, someone mentioned that glucose from fat (gluconeogenesis) is to slow to accomodate real cycling. I agree and add that it can be downright dangerous with impared thinking and control. Some epileptic kids are placed on ketogenic (low/no carb diets) to reduce seizures. They are like a carp when in full ketosis. It's also sad to know that this type of diet can lead to reduced bone density or gout if they subscribe to a high protein componant. Atkins was a novel experiment but unfortunatly seems to be losing interest not because of the potential side effects but loss of interest in 24/7 fat and meat.

    Cheers,
    Crockpot

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