Training & Nutrition - Diet question
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Okay, I am looking for some advice here. Since January, I have been on a low carb diet. No white potatoes, white bread, corn (miss my popcorn!) or other high carb foods. Now, I am starting to ride my bike more and more (did my first 70 mile ride today!) and I have read that you need to carbs to keep your muscles working. My caloric intake varies, sometimes as low at 1000 calories a day. So far, I have lost 52 pounds, and I want to loose another 10 or so. During todays ride, I consumed a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, and then after the ride, I had a grilled cheese sandwich to maybe load some carbs so my muscles would recover quicker. Up till now, I have assumed that sticking to the diet and riding the bike helps get me into a 'fat burning' mode, as hopefully my body is using up some of that reserve that I have built up. Any comments??
When I do reach a weight that I am comfortable with, I will start to work in a reasonable amount of higher carb foods so I can maintain my weight, and still get more usful foods for my biking needs. Sound like a good plan??
Any guidance will be appreciated!
From the account of your 70-mile ride, it sounds like your diet must be suiting you just fine.
I myself am forever skeptical of diet plans that concentrate on "don't eat this" and "don't do that." To me it's just more American Puritanism gone amok. We Americans are supposed to respond to guilt and fear and presumably not to positive encouragement and reason.
I imagine it's good to avoid a lot of highly refined foods, as by their very nature they're simply not nutritious! But carbohydrates are vital to healthy functioning, and I imagine an active cyclist or walker could eat pasta three times a day every day and still be in mighty fine shape. One thing is known for certain: Americans on the whole eat too much animal protein.
As always on these touchy issues, I disclaim by saying this is JUST MY PERSONAL OPINION.
06-11-01, 12:16 PM
I invite you to research this one on your own.
In my opinion, cycling is a demanding aerobic activity that depends on optimum nutrition. Carbohydrates are a valuable part of a nutritious diet, and are the principal fuel for cyclists.
Cutting back on excess calories is necessary, but doing without
the carbs your body needs is counterproductive to health.
I believe as you continue to cycle, if you will pay close attention to ensure your diet is well-balanced, your increasingly healthy body will shed more and more excess weight. The move toward a more healthy weight is a natural outgrowth of a healthy,
well-exercised body, but a healthy body is not always the natural result of weight loss. Your priority should not be weight loss, but a healthy body. :)
Here's a great link:
Once again, great advice! Thanks, gents!
Boy, that gasman site looks like it will offer a lot of direction, thanks Pete! Your points are well taken.
Nebill--would like to add also, You've mentioned riding in or with a club. I'm sure there is a vast plethora of good "been there, done that, did that" advice there! Pete is right on, as usual, focus on giving what your body needs. Trim does not always equal fit or healthy.
It is a blast reading your posts!!!! Your new found love of the sport and unadulterated enthusiasm for cycling is a breath of fresh air! Anyway, sounds like you had a good ride!! This weather is finally Great! ride long and prosper. Stan.
06-12-01, 11:15 AM
Ah, but there are carbohydrates and there carbohydrates. Without going into too much detail, there are two basic types of carbohydrates. I believe they are called amylose and amylase. I cannot recall off the top of my head which is which, but one type is very easily processed by the body producing a momentary excess of available nutrition which promotes an insulin response which quickly packs the excess away as fat. This type is found in the foods we commonly call "simple" carbohydrates - white flower, sugar, rice, potatoes.
The other type is more slowly processed, sort of time-release energy and does not stimulate the insulin response as readily. This type is found in foods such as basmati rice, sweet potatoes, barley, etc.
These latter foods have lower glycemic indexes, which is a measure of a food's propensity to promote the insulin response.
In Cycle Sport a few months ago, Jonathan Vaughters had an article recommending the lower glycemic index carbohydrates for cyclists. They are actually best for everyone. Focusing on low glycemic index foods can actually reduce or eliminate many diabetics' use of insulin (only with testing and doctor's advice, of course).
Do a search on "glycemic index" and you will get lots of good info. You could start here:
Also, this book has an excellent discussion of this subject as well as a lot of other stuff:
Eating Well For Optimum Health: The Essential Guide To Food, Diet, And Nutrition by Andrew Weil
06-13-01, 05:12 AM
There's another aspect that I think is worth mentioning, but I hesitate because I'm not sure of the current medical community stance (this week/month/year). But it's an effect that long distance cyclists are familiar with...
The bodies fat burning, um, hardware can be trained and conditioned. John Forrester, in his book Effective Cycling, even describes a ride regimen to put this, er, mechanism in motion (not a big problem for you guys who have been dropping 30-50 lbs.) It is something your body needs to be conditioned for to make long rides more enjoyable.
His approach is draconian... basically ride looooong, and don't eat. I find that it is sufficient to do long rides. Even with this conditioning, burning fat will not replace glycogen stores for quick energy. And even at best, your body will not convert fat quickly enough to let you maintain a 20 mph average. But when your body needs to, it can transition to the blubber backup without causing so much distress.
Here are some observations from a still overweight but 40 pounds lighter 56 year old.
Your body needs carbs, especially complex carbs.
I've learned that "diets" and cutting out certain foods may help you lose weight in the short run, but you are not supplying what your body needs for cycling.
I have not changed my eating habits, other than cutting out the junk, and have lost 40 pounds in the last 12 months.
I ride 25-30 miles each Saturday and Sunday, do group rides of 15-25 miles, occasional metric centuries, and 10-15 miles two or three nights a week after work.
Cycling (or any aerobic activity) is the key to weight loss!!
06-15-01, 06:11 PM
Ron, congratulations on your weight loss, I'm amazed at the success stories here on the forums. Of course it's not just weight, but fitness, and body composition we're after.
I think you hit the nail on the head as far as diet is concerned. You still need a variety of foods to keep your body functioning, but in moderation, possibly with more emphasis on decreasing the fat content in foods.
That combined with the aerobic effect enhances the weight loss and helps to keep it off.
All things in moderation...except biking, of course!
Thanks for the advice!
Since I have already passed my target weight, I am going to modify my diet. Two days ago, I added up my calories, and they only came up to 535 for the day (not counting a banana, I didn't know the value for that!) I think that I was probably at a point where I could have been depleting some of the wrong things! I am going to go with a better rounded diet (in moderation!) and keep spinning!
Some people have mentioned differences between simple carbs and complex carbs. I think this is pretty important. Barry Sears of the Zone Diet addresses these quite a bit it conjunction with eating adequate (not large) amounts of protein. I think he makes some good points about eating in general. I've found you need to read up, digest all of the information out there and try to find an eating lifestyle that feels right for you. Lots of different people have good but sometimes conflicting information. Eat lots of fruits and vegetables for your carbs and you can't go wrong.
This thread has a link (http://22.214.171.124/showthread.php?threadid=1800) to a recent article in Outside magazine that is pretty good about diet and bicycling.
Also, this is a website (http://126.96.36.199/) I work on for the USDA called the "Interactive Healthy Eating Index" which allows you to calculate and track you food intake. It contains a vast database of foods and allows you to track summary data for a revolving 20 day period so you can see your progress.
Sounds like you've been doing pretty good so far though!
What a great resource! After entering some of my menues, I came up with a lot of frownie faces! Thanks Riderx, now I can make up some menues, run them through the program, and see how well they are going to meet my nutritional requirments.
nebill - Just remember the emoticons (smiley/frownie faces) are based on recommendations for your entire daily intake, not just one meal. Also, these things are based on the food pyramid and other USDA recommendations which may not be the targets you are shooting for in your own personal diet. That said, the actual values and graphs can still be used to gauge how you are doing in relation to your own food goals.
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