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  1. #1
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    Weight is killing me! Nutrition for biking?

    I just got home from a 19.5 mile ride and the last 2 miles were hell, my legs were dead. So far, since getting back on the bike (I stopped biking in 2003) in late winter 2012 (but only sporadically) and more recently 2x a week or more, I have lost 20 pounds from 286 to 266, I really need to get down to 200 or even 210. I used to be able to do this ride with no problem.
    On the bright side, last winter when I took my bike out of the garage and it was an effort to finish 4 miles.
    I just hope I don't loose weight on my legs. I tend to carry my weight up top and so my legs are thin compared to another 6'2.5" 266lb man.

    I've never had this happen. It was usually breath, or exhaustion, not my legs. I ate a teaspoon of peanut butter before the ride, (and that's all I had to eat today), so I am wondering if anyone knows how much and what I should eat before a ride?

    PB seems like a good candidate, high in fat, very calorie dense and won't cause a sugar high/low. Does anyone have anything to offer here?

    Chris

    EDIT: Also, how long before a ride should I eat something?

  2. #2
    Climbers Apprentice vesteroid's Avatar
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    There is no magic formula. Eating is not a once per day activity. Some days suck, some days go well, again, there is no magic formula.

    staying hydrated in advance, and during the ride helps. Eating well day In and day out helps. Go ride.

  3. #3
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    You need to eat a balanced diet to hope to have the energy to live let alone ride. Check out a book called "Ride your way Lean" by Selene Yeager from Bicycling magazine. It's a great source of information.

    Karen
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    Movement is a medicine for creating change in a person's PHYSICAL, EMOTIONAL, AND MENTAL states.

  4. #4
    Senior Member lubers's Avatar
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    Good start on the weight loss, balanced diet is the key along with your biking, had issues with my back the last two years so I stopped riding and the weight exploded. Went from 255 to 300, just picked up a used mountain bike to start the process all over again to lose weight, had to get a bike that would hold up since I sold my Cannondale T800. Mother in-law is a dietitian so she is going to lay out a plan for me, hopefully I can get the weight back down again with eating right and exercise.
    Jeff

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  5. #5
    Lover of Old Chrome Moly Myosmith's Avatar
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    If I understood your post correctly, you went on a 19.5 mile ride after having nothing to eat all day except a teaspoon of peanut butter. You have ridden "sporadically" for less than a year and only recently began riding twice a week or more. This sounds like a recipe for a bonk. To lose weight you need to run a caloric deficit, but you can't put athletic demands on your body and expect it to run on next to nothing. I don't know why it specifically hit your legs this time but I can tell you that you need to improve your nutrition vastly if you expect to train hard. Figure your base metabolic rate (approximately your ideal body weight in pounds x 10) and the approximate number of calories you burn through exercise and other physically demanding activities. This will give you an idea of the number of calories per day you need to maintain your current weight. You should not consume less than 2/3 of that number on a regular basis and you need to consider food quality, variety and portion size to meet your nutritional needs. A teaspoon of peanut butter isn't a bad thing, it just isn't anywhere near the nutrition you need for a day, much less for a 20-mile training ride.

    As far as how long before a ride should you eat: just don't load up on a heavy meal within an hour or so of riding. A light snack of simple and complex carbs with a little fat and protein before the ride (a handfull of whole grain cereal, a granola bar, oatmeal raisin cookie, fig newton, piece of fruit, etc. would be fine. Carry a granola bar or some other snack with you in case you start to bonk. On long rides figure on taking in a couple hundred calories about once an hour for moderate effort to prevent bonking. Stay hydrated. Nutrition is your friend, not the enemy. Just avoid pigging out on large portions and skip the high calorie/low nutrition junk foods when fueling your ride.
    Last edited by Myosmith; 02-16-13 at 08:10 PM.
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  6. #6
    Captain Big Ring tractorlegs's Avatar
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    What you eat before and during a ride is largely an individual decision, and I think most of us have learned through experience what works and what doesn't. But what works for me oftentimes doesn't work for others because we're all individuals. I eat extremely high carbs before and during rides. Others here avoid carbs at all cost (because they're trying to lose weight) and ride effortlessly as well. It's an individual decision, and probably the best thing for you to do is study and use trial-and-error and see what works best.

    Tactically, I would simply start logging rides and diet in a notebook for a couple of weeks, then start eating what works. For example:
    Day 1 - Peanut Butter and 19 miles, the last couple of miles my legs gave out
    Day 2 - A couple of Bagels, rode 22 miles and my legs were ok but I felt sluggish
    Day 3 = Didn't eat anything before the ride, went 10 miles and felt fine

    You get the picture. After recording logs like this, after a while you have documentation of what works and doesn't work.

    I can't overemphasize that different foods work for different people.
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  7. #7
    The Left Coast, USA FrenchFit's Avatar
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    Yo Christo: Only bonks I've had is when I've eaten before riding. Akin to a Hunter's Diet, I fast during the day, except for coffee. Maybe something very light mid-morning, like a fruit & nut bar, but that's it. On a long ride, I'll bring bars and maybe a Springer Waffle, but I won't eat those until I feel a real need to recharge. I'll often bring those home with me. Opposite with water, I hydrate before, during and after, one bottle charged with something like Cytomax, especially if my destination is the gym amd I'm going to be lifting.

    If I ate meals morning and afternoon, I'd gain 20-30 pounds for sure.

    As said, everyone's different. Eating before physical exersion is an absolute no go for me. I once did a bowl of oatmeal about two hours before a long ride, (200K); no legs and it just about killed me at mile 30.
    Last edited by FrenchFit; 02-16-13 at 09:01 AM.

  8. #8
    Senior Member goldfinch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FrenchFit View Post
    Yo Christo: Only bonks I've had is when I've eaten before riding. Akin to a Hunter's Diet, I fast during the day, except for coffee. Maybe something very light mid-morning, like a fruit & nut bar, but that's it. On a long ride, I'll bring bars and maybe a Springer Waffle, but I won't eat those until I feel a real need to recharge. I'll often bring those home with me. Opposite with water, I hydrate before, during and after, one bottle charged with something like Cytomax, especially if my destination is the gym amd I'm going to be lifting.

    If I ate meals morning and afternoon, I'd gain 20-30 pounds for sure.

    As said, everyone's different. Eating before physical exersion is an absolute no go for me. I once did a bowl of oatmeal about two hours before a long ride, (200K); no legs and it just about killed me at mile 30.

    I would say FrenchFit is the exception.

  9. #9
    Lover of Old Chrome Moly Myosmith's Avatar
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    I agree with FrenchFit that everyone is different, and his approach is as different as any I have seen. Whatever works for you, but Tractorlegs had a good suggestion. Keep a log for a while and use it to develop and refine your own plan. You will figure out the what, when and how much to keep you adequately fueled while still losing weight at a decent rate.
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  10. #10
    The Recumbent Quant cplager's Avatar
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    If I ride more than a hour, I'll start eating when I ride. If I wasn't well nourished when I started, I'll eat as early as 30 minutes into riding.

    What works while riding varies a lot for different people. I can do goo, but prefer dried fruit, pretzels. Some people like bananas. For a recent ride, I bonked badly and as soon as I had my teeth into a Clifbar, I started feeling better.For longer rides, cream cheese or peanut butter bagels work well for me.

    One other thing that can cause me to bonk is lack of water. I now read some people saying things like "You can wait until your thirsty to drink," but if I do, then I'm pretty much screwed.

    To the OP, 20 miles for somebody who hasn't ridden that distance recently is not trivial. Given your response, I'd say build up more slowly as well.

    Whatever you do, keep riding. You'll figure it out.

    Cheers,
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  11. #11
    The Left Coast, USA FrenchFit's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FrenchFit View Post
    Yo Christo: Only bonks I've had is when I've eaten before riding. Akin to a Hunter's Diet, I fast during the day, except for coffee.
    Correction: It's "Warrior's Diet", and there is a book by that name, not to be confused with the Paleo diet or Farmers/Hunter's Diet. I'm not necessarily recommending the book, but there is researched point of view that fasting during the day is very good for the body.

  12. #12
    Senior Member CommuteCommando's Avatar
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    What works for me;

    -Breakfast every morning 1 oz Peanut butter on wheat bread.
    -Commute to work-1 hr by train-20 min by bike.
    -Banana Mid morning
    -Two grilled chicken tacos from lunch truck (the only thing they have that will not totally screw with my LDL/HDL)
    -Orange Mid afternoon
    Ride 20 min to 90 min back to train station. Take a Clif Bar for a longer ride.
    -Dinner.

    YMMV
    As much as you paid for that Beemer [Mercedies, Audi, Escalade], I'm surprised it didn't come equipped with turn signals.

  13. #13
    Commuter & cyclotourist brianogilvie's Avatar
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    As everyone else has said, people differ. These days I can ride up to about 40 miles without eating, but if I'm going to be out longer, I eat during the ride, starting about 20 miles in. I aim for 200-300 calories an hour on longer rides, which is the most that the typical person can digest during endurance exercise. While riding I usually stick to simple carbohydrates that are easily digested, though on my first (and so far last) 200K ride, I sat down for about 20 minutes with a tuna salad sandwich for lunch. I can't eat a lot of fat when riding, because it digests slowly. I don't worry about a sugar high because I'm burning 500-600 calories an hour and only replenishing half of that.

    Keeping a nutrition diary, as tractorlegs suggests, is a great idea.

    A teaspoon of peanut butter has only about 30 calories. That's only 3-4 minutes of cycling at a decent pace; I can't see much difference between that and not eating at all. It could be you bonked because you ran out of fuel, but it's also possible that your legs were fatigued. You don't say whether 19.5 miles is a long ride for you, or whether you did anything the previous day from which you hadn't fully recovered. The first time I did a two-day tour, I learned that the distance that was easy to do the first day took a lot more out of my legs the second day.
    Public accountability: my Beeminder weight loss graph.

  14. #14
    Senior Member rumrunn6's Avatar
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    re: "a teaspoon of peanut butter before the ride, (and that's all I had to eat today), so I am wondering if anyone knows how much and what I should eat before a ride?"

    ummm ... yeah, a bit more than that ... LOL
    cycling is like baseball ~ it doesn't take much to make it interesting

  15. #15
    Senior Member gunner65's Avatar
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    How about a teaspoon of peanut butter on a piece of whole wheat toast with a banana? You need to eat way more than that.

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