Training & Nutrition - Low Carb Diet cyclist Steve Phinney
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I can ride continuously for three hours and go 60 miles without any hunger or food cravings or drop off in performance. And I ride as well in the last 20 miles coming home as I do going out.
Is this guy just well adapted. It seems the typical cyclist has a has more of a need for carbs. Maybe 20mph is quite easy for him if 3 hours of it doesn't slow him down. The guy is on a 50gram/day carb diet.
Any opinions ?
04-04-12, 12:47 AM
I used to classify my rides as one banana rides, or two banana rides or three. If I rode 60 miles, I had to take three bananas with me and had to eat one every hour. Otherwise, I would be running out of power and dragging my tail home, or ordering a taxi.
That’s because my body would run out of carbohydrate fuel, and even though I had tens of thousands of calories of body fat, I couldn’t use it efficiently for exercise. That’s where the concept of needing carbohydrates for exercise came from.That is a major exaggeration. Exercising at a moderate pace (say, at 140-150 bpm), you can go for a minimum of 3 hours without any food before you run out of power, lo-carb or hi-carb.
My gas tank got a lot bigger when I gave up carbs. Because we can only store maybe 1500 calories as carbs. If I burn 600 – 700 calories per hour, and I depend only on glycogen, that’s about two hours of fuel. But if I have 30,000 to 40,000 calories of fuel in my fat, I can ride for days.Nobody depends "only on glycogen" when cycling (not unless we're talking about short bursts of activity at 180 bpm.) Everyone burns fat as well. For sure, his ability to burn fat got improved vs. the average joe when he went on a high-fat diet, but even the average joe can get 200 calories/hour from fat. The flip side is that his glycogen stores are always depleted and I would expect that he has a low performance ceiling.
No study that went longer than two weeks has demonstrated the benefits of a high carb diet.Not true. For example, see http://jp.physoc.org/content/492/Pt_1/293.full.pdf+html :
Ten untrained young men ingested a carbohydrate-rich diet (65 energy percent (E%) carbohydrate, T-CHO) and ten similar subjects a fat-rich diet (62 E% fat, T-FAT) while
endurance training was performed 3-4 times a week for 7 weeks. Time to exhaustion at 81 % of pre-training maximal oxygen uptake increased significantly
from a mean of 35 min to 102 and 65 min in T-CHO and T-FAT, respectively, after 7 weeks... It is concluded that ingesting a fat-rich diet during an endurance training programme is detrimental to improvement in endurance. This is not due to a simple lack of carbohydrate fuel, but rather to suboptimal adaptations that are not remedied by short-term increased carbohydrate availability.Finally, even if you can adopt to a low-carb diet, why would you want to? It's unnatural and unhealthy. Primates and early humans subsisted for millions of years on plant-based, high-carbohydrate diets. In the modern world, healthiest societies with longest life expectancies are the ones consuming plant-based high-carbohydrate diets (sometimes supplemented by small quantities of fish.)
I have been having success with weight loss doing low carb, but find that trying to stay with the pack and take my turn out front, I need to have replenished my glycogen levels. Have been doing 3 group rides per week plus other activities and I cannot say that Phinney's diet would work for me, unless my fitness level exceeded those I would ride with. Having found that having a full tank vs. depleated my sustained higher output was greatly improved, though does come with a short term weight gain.
Your comment of
Finally, even if you can adopt to a low-carb diet, why would you want to?
The quicker weight loss I guess while trying to lose. But it does restrict a lot of tasty foods, which I would not want a long term elimination of.
As I track my diet/exercise/weight on a low-carb forum, I encounter comments to the effect that carbs are not required period. Just trying to field some opinions from here..
thanks for your comment
04-04-12, 07:37 AM
Finally, even if you can adopt to a low-carb diet, why would you want to? It's unnatural and unhealthy. Primates and early humans subsisted for millions of years on plant-based, high-carbohydrate diets. In the modern world, healthiest societies with longest life expectancies are the ones consuming plant-based high-carbohydrate diets (sometimes supplemented by small quantities of fish.)
For me, it has helped dramatically with my anxiety. It also has controlled my mood fluctuations brought about by blood sugar issues. If I subsisted on a whole food diet my entire life, I believe I would probably not have these issues.
Also, a low carb diet does not need to contain any animal products. There are plenty of higher fat plant based foods that can be eaten. It just happens to be easier any more satisfying (for many, not all) to include meat in a low carb diet.
As for being unnatural and unhealthy, the research I've read has convinced me of just the opposite. It agree that primates and early humans subsisted on a plant based diet, and that should still be a major component of our diet. The carbohydrate content of any individual food item was rarely very high when compared to the grain based diet that was brought on by modern agriculture. In addition, the ability to grow a bigger brain came about with the consumption of meat and higher fat foods.
Not sure what to make of this guy's results, it is interesting.
He also seems a little shy when discussing the peak performance on his diet.
04-04-12, 11:18 AM
Going on a no-carb or low-carb diet seems unnecessary to me, but I guess it depends what people mean by low. If you cut out refined carbohydrates, and confine yourself to non-processed foods, eating mainly plants, you'll get plenty of carbs but will be on a low-carb diet when compared with those who consume quantities of breads, sugary drinks, and so on. There's really no need for anything fancy in the way of diets.
It is the glycogen depletion effect of the ride and how quickly might they recover on a real low (like 50gram/day) diet? Something seemed unusual to me...
It must boil down to them being in pretty good shape and having pretty good fat burning ability. An average pace of 20mph must be a pretty low effort for them I guess, the RAAM guy's certainly would have no problem.
Speaking of RAAM, I did start reading the book "hell on two wheels" it sounded like suffering all right only made it half way though the pages.
Enjoy your riding all...
04-05-12, 09:19 PM
I don't do well on a high carb diet. In fact, going low carb was one of the reasons that I've lost about 80 pounds. I too can go long stretches without taking in carbohydrates or "carbing up" but with one catch, I can only work at a moderate load. Any time I try to push hard I run out of steam fast and get shakey until I slow down for a while. I can ride a relatively flat road at 14-15 mph for hours without extra carbs, but throw in some hills, sprints, or headwind and I'm SOL. Now I add some carbs before my ride and every 20-30 miles during and my perforance improves a lot. I don't worry about the carbs because they are being burned as fast as I'm putting them in so no worries about excessive insulin responses or depositing fat. I once heard the phrase "fat burning in a carbohydrate fueled flame" and that stuck with me even though I don't remember the source. I still eat a very carbohydrate controlled diet when I'm not working out but I add carbs as needed to fuel a workout. I do stay away from sports gels and drinks opting instead for oat based granola bars and oatmeal raisin cookies which give me less of the rush and crash than pure sugar products.
04-05-12, 11:39 PM
Changed to low carb not too long ago. Wasn't too hard to do since I did Atkins about a year ago for 6 months or so. At the end of day it seems like I am eating about 1:2:2 portion of fat : carb : protein by weight. Eating plenty of fruits, veggies, and not too refined stuff in general. Don't think my fat burning engine has improved any yet... but it hasn't gone down either. Haven't done FTP type of effort yet as I shouldn't have to use it for next few centuries lined up. When I really have more carb than protein is when I have longer ride and fueling myself... Nibbles of hammer solids or some bar, etc are pretty carb heavy. I am going to give it a whirl for at least until end of 3 centures planned out till end of May and see if my aerobic/fat burning engine really improved from it. If not... well, back to calorie counting. It is much easier to be on low carb diet though as I really don't have to count much. Hard to eat daily required calorie with low carb.
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