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  1. #1
    Watching and waiting. jethro56's Avatar
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    How do you describe hunger?

    How I experience hunger has evolved in the last 10 weeks since I went cold turkey on sweets. Back in January I would have said hunger is an almost uncontrollable urge to eat cheesecake. Id buy a Sara Lee Cherry Cheesecake and tell myself that Id just have a little because I was a good boy . I had done all the planned workouts since last time I gave into this urge and deserved a treat. More often than not, once I started in Id eat the whole thing. Soon afterward, Id feel regret and shame.

    Now Id describe hunger in two ways. The first is after a weight resistance workout and the feeling is a general feeling of depletion. Ive found that if I eat a banana asap afterwards the depth of the depletion is greatly decreased. Ive never been fond of bananas before but now theyre like magic. The second feeling of hunger is a low grade headache that appears fairly predictably if I havent eaten for awhile. Thru experimentation, Ive found that If I eat high fiber complex carbs that It shows up at a rate of 100 calories per hour. In other words, if I eat 400 calories then itll be back 4 hours later. Once the feeling starts happening only carbs will make it go away. High protein food must be eaten before I get this feeling.

    I no longer view a growling stomach as a sign of hunger. Its just a sign that my stomach is empty.

    So how do you describe hunger?

  2. #2
    Senior Member WonderMonkey's Avatar
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    Hunger = "The body's signal that it feels it needs to eat something"

    The body does its' job and the brain gets in the way if we let it. Bad habits mis-lead the brain. As those bad habits are broken, or at least new habits put in place, then we can more consistently trust what we think we are hearing.

    Since getting locked-in I only occasionally actually crave food. I eat better and more frequently so the urge to actually consume calories is gone. Here and there I get it of course and I let myself indulge (every 14 days) but I usually substitute a large portion of veggies and the like and I'm ok.

  3. #3
    Senior Member goldfinch's Avatar
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    I always feel like you are a few months to a year ahead of me on this journey. I am at the cheesecake stage right now.

    I hate to do it but I am going cold turkey on sweets. I have to figure out what fruits will work. When I was actively losing weight I ditched all refined sugars but did eat fruit.

  4. #4
    Watching and waiting. jethro56's Avatar
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    Goldfinch:
    The shoulder injury pretty well put a gun to my head. No way I could spend 2-3 hours a day at the Y. My knees just can't take that kind of abuse. The more I learn about inflammation, the more I see how trying to "Out-ride a bad diet" is so counter-productive.

  5. #5
    Senior Member whitenhiemer's Avatar
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    *Gastric Bypass Patient*

    Hunger for me is a mystery, before my surgery I never really knew what true hunger was. I ate either because I wanted to eat, or I was bored, or other people were eating around me, so I would join in. There was no physical reason to eat, although later there was usually a physical reason to stop. So after my surgery in recovery I still wanted to eat, but I couldn't, so my eventually my habitual "want to eat" sensation was broken. After that I still didn't know what hunger was, I would go through the day then all of sudden I'd have some abdominal discomfort immediately followed by a fainting sensation. Ooops, I forgot to eat again, better eat something before I pass out. Now I've got it pretty well balanced out, I try to eat on a schedule whether I'm hungry or not, it keeps my hunger down and I don't have to be confused about it.

    To tell you the truth, I still don't understand hunger, I never have. But at least I'm in better control of myself.

  6. #6
    Senior Member goldfinch's Avatar
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    It is hard to understand because appetite does not necessarily correlate with the need for nourishment.

  7. #7
    Senior Member nkfrench's Avatar
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    Sometimes I start feeling cold, other times I start sweating.
    Stomach growls and feels hollow. Sometimes it feels like my blood has been replaced with some kind of acid and I feel sore and kind of sick.
    Overall I start feeling weak and lethargic.
    My thinking gets fuzzy and I can't focus. I sometimes get whiny. All I think about is food.
    I used to work on a crossword puzzle after exercise while dinner was cooking. I couldn't figure it out. After dinner, it was very easy.

    Appetite just doesn't seem to shut off after eating what should be an adequate meal.
    Something odd is that I have found I can blunt my appetite by just searching for recipes and adding them to my collection. I guess there is some "virtual eating" going on.

  8. #8
    Lover of Old Chrome Moly Myosmith's Avatar
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    It's important to differentiate between cravings and hunger. Real hunger is a physiological drive to replenish missing nutrients. Cravings are psychological urges to eat for reasons other than nourishment. Often if you are "hungry" for a specific, not terribly nutriative food, it is actually a craving and will diminish over time if ignored or if you distract yourself with more healthful activity. To deal with hunger, you must eat what your body is short of. This can be a bit tricky as just filling up on calories won't necessarily do the job. Also "fullness" has absolutely nothing to do with true hunger. The stomach (organ not body region) is a processing plant, not a fuel tank. This is why products that use a lot of fiber and non-nutritive filler to make you feel "full" don't work. You feel "full" for a short time but your nutritional needs aren't met so you get hungrier as soon as the stuffed feeling subsides. If you like feeling like you just ate a brick all day, give them a try but don't expect any lasting results.

    "I eat and eat and eat but I'm still hungry."

    How many times have you heard, or said that. There are three possibilities here: 1) you are mistaking a craving for hunger, 2) your body needs a specific nutrient and you are eating the wrong things, 3) you have a physiological problem in which you body isn't turning off the hunger signals (Prader Willi Syndome is an extreme example of this) but a physiological defect as a cause of hunger is rarer than most people would like to believe.

    The most important concept I found when looking for a way to control my weight was to greatly reduce the emphasis on calories contained in a food and instead look for nutritional density. This is why many "diet" foods don't work. They are low in calories but also devoid of many nutrients, so you will always be hungry no matter how much you consume. What works for me is to try look for the maximum amount of an appropriate balance of macro and micro nutrients as I can fit within the desired daily caloric intake. Eliminating high nutrient density foods just because they have a relatively high number of calories is a mistake. Look more toward portion control than elimination of healthful foods and skip the junk and filler foods including 90% of the "diet" foods on the market.
    Lead, follow or get out of the way

  9. #9
    Watching and waiting. jethro56's Avatar
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    Well put Myosmith! I do think that there are biochemical reactions in the hypothalamus that make a craving more than just a sublimation of an emotional desire. When I cut sweets out of my diet, there was definitely an increase in intensity of the cravings. They peaked around the ten day point. If it was just psychological then I'd think the trigger(s) would reappear. I will say that boredom eating is pretty much psychological though.

    I most heartily agree that diet foods are just a marketing gimmick. Claims of low fat is really suspect as well.
    Last edited by jethro56; 04-17-13 at 09:17 AM.

  10. #10
    Senior Member goldfinch's Avatar
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    Drive to eat even when you have had enough is not just a psychological phenomenon. Hormones like leptin and ghrelin play a big role. Leptin is an appetite suppressor and many obese people appear to have leptin resistance There are numerous other factors as well. Even how much you sleep. Figuring out these factors is subject to all sorts of ongoing research.

    On an individual basis it is hard to see exactly what plays into your own drive to eat and you can easily fool yourself. Instead, it may be best to try to figure out what works as a practical matter for you in both losing weight and maintaining weight loss and not assume that what tools you use are the right tools for someone else. This includes figuring out exactly what is best for you to eat. There likely is an element of magical thinking involved in designing a diet (think paleo) but what the heck, if a little magic helps go for it.

    Day two of no sweets except for a banana. I intensely want a brownie.

  11. #11
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    There is a difference between "hunger" and a psychological "addiction" to food. I've noticed that after a few weeks on a low carb diet, I don't experience "hunger" unless I deplete my nutrients through exercise. However, when consuming a diet of more than 100 grams of carbs per day, I begin to feel the need to eat more.

    I don't know how it works. I'm trying to lose fat... but a diet that uses fat to fuel my dietary needs and energy for exercise causes me to lose weight and not be "hungry." However, carbohydrates (which are excellent at fueling exercise) cause me to feel hungry (and I crave and eat more of them) and pack on the weight quickly. I guess it's what they call "carbohydrate addiction?" My situation is probably not the norm... I'm diabetic, and without insulin my body does not use carbohydrates (sugars) well for energy. And yes, I have insulin to help with that... but the affects of insulin on weight loss or even weight maintenance (let alone health) are not easy to deal with.

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    Quote Originally Posted by goldfinch View Post
    Drive to eat even when you have had enough is not just a psychological phenomenon. Hormones like leptin and ghrelin play a big role. Leptin is an appetite suppressor and many obese people appear to have leptin resistance There are numerous other factors as well. Even how much you sleep. Figuring out these factors is subject to all sorts of ongoing research.

    On an individual basis it is hard to see exactly what plays into your own drive to eat and you can easily fool yourself. Instead, it may be best to try to figure out what works as a practical matter for you in both losing weight and maintaining weight loss and not assume that what tools you use are the right tools for someone else. This includes figuring out exactly what is best for you to eat. There likely is an element of magical thinking involved in designing a diet (think paleo) but what the heck, if a little magic helps go for it.

    Day two of no sweets except for a banana. I intensely want a brownie.
    Drop the banana (it has carbs) and your craving for the brownie (more carbs) will go away. It' called carbohydrate addiction.

  13. #13
    Senior Member goldfinch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by InTheRain View Post
    Drop the banana (it has carbs) and your craving for the brownie (more carbs) will go away. It' called carbohydrate addiction.
    You can't totally avoid carbs. And see my signature.

    Research is still hard to pin down, partly because there are so many variables and long term research in the area of diets is difficult. With that caveat, this is an interesting study on diet type and changes in food cravings: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23010779

    I think people overemphasize the psychological component of the drive to eat too much. Maybe it is because people think that if something is psychological it can be easily fixed. I don't know.

    My hunch is consistent with what researchers say, that hormones in the body monitor what fat you have and drive you to want to eat if there is a perceived imbalance, demanding more fat on the body than what the body should have. At some point, the amount of energy your body wants to store is set too high, maybe from a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Some people seem to be able to overcome this drive through the use of various tools. The issue is to what extent is the type of diet you eat a significant tool. The jury is out.
    Last edited by goldfinch; 04-17-13 at 12:04 PM.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by goldfinch View Post
    You can't totally avoid carbs. And see my signature.

    Research is still hard to pin down, partly because there are so many variables and long term research in the area of diets is difficult. With that caveat, this is an interesting study on diet type and changes in food cravings: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23010779

    I think people overemphasize the psychological component of the drive to eat too much. Maybe it is because people think that if something is psychological it can be easily fixed. I don't know.

    My hunch is consistent with what researchers say, that hormones in the body monitor what fat you have and drive you to want to eat if there is a perceived imbalance, demanding more fat on the body than what the body should have. At some point, the amount of energy your body wants to store is set too high, maybe from a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Some people seem to be able to overcome this drive through the use of various tools. The issue is to what extent is the type of diet you eat a significant tool. The jury is out.
    It would be difficult to avoid all carbs. However, if you get your carbohydrates from green vegetables that have a low glycemic index, you can avoid the "hunger" that follows as well as the insulin spikes.

  15. #15
    Senior Member goldfinch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by InTheRain View Post
    It would be difficult to avoid all carbs. However, if you get your carbohydrates from green vegetables that have a low glycemic index, you can avoid the "hunger" that follows as well as the insulin spikes.
    And rainbows will magically appear.

    Believe me, I have experimented with different types of diets. I did a low carb diet early on for several months when I was on a trip without my spouse. I was hungry. I introduced substantially more carbs back into my diet (my husband is a vegetarian and we don't keep meat in the house). I was hungry. The question is whether I can control binge eating as I do not have much control over the fact that I want more food than I get. I find that I can control binge eating the best by not having highly desirable foods available. For me, highly desirable foods are sweets and breads, which do happen to be carbohydrates. Once I start eating candy or brownies or homemade bread I have a hard time stopping. Whether that is a psychological issue or physical issue or combination of both, it doesn't matter. What matters is what works. For me it works best to limit access to those foods. However, carbs like most fruit do not seem to have the same effect on me and I don't binge on fruit. I enjoy fruit far more than vegetables so I see no strong reason at this point to cut it out of my diet. That said, I don't drink fruit juice, the calories are too high for the food value. I emphasize fruits that are lower in sugar like blueberries and rasberries. Banana's are high in sugar and are "sweetest" food I allow myself. I try to the extent I can to follow the simple advice of Michael Pollan,"eat food, not too much, and mostly plants," and I stay away from the empty calories as best I can. Myosmith and I are on the same page with that suggestion. But it doesn't mean that I won't still be hungry.

    As I have said, there is no clear answer on the best diet for weight loss and weight maintenance and certainty about what to eat or not eat is always suspect. Diet research reminds me of a comment a law professor of mine once made: you can find a case to support whatever position you want to take. Similarly with diet research. You can make the case for just about anything. What I would call "mid-term" studies show no real difference in keeping weight off if you eat low carb or eat high carb. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19246357. Experiences with hunger and satiety were similar with all the diets. Interestingly, those on the Weight Control Registry who have kept off their weight tend towards low fat diets. Most people who eat low fat eat high carb. Rarely is protein substituted for the reduction in fat. Now I am not claiming that a low fat, high carb diet is best. Those on the registry may have used that diet because it is popular rather than because it is better. But it does show that it is possible for people to keep off weight on high carb diets. But, unfortunately, whatever type of diet you follow most people gain their weight back. There doesn't appear to be magic in any diet. For example, in one carefully done study comparing different diets compliance turns out to be a big problem, no matter what the diet:

    The inability of the volunteers to maintain their diets must give us pause. The study was led by seasoned investigators who were experienced in the performance of diet and drug trials. The participants were highly educated, enthusiastic, and carefully selected. They were offered 59 group and 13 individual training sessions over the course of 2 years. Nonetheless, their body-mass index (the weight in kilograms divided by the square of the height in meters) after 2 years averaged 31 to 32 and was moving up again. Thus, even these highly motivated, intelligent participants who were coached by expert professionals could not achieve the weight losses needed to reverse the obesity epidemic.

    http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMe0810291.

    Even though the drive to eat too much may be in large part physical, the solution may be mostly behavioral.

    All we can do is experiment to see what works best for ourselves.
    Last edited by goldfinch; 04-17-13 at 06:01 PM.

  16. #16
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    Weight is not always a good indicator of health (even though many people make that assumption.) Some of the unhealthiest people I have met are vegetarians, high endurance athletes, and those on high carb diets. I'm not an advocate of no carb... however, I'm firm believer in low carb (around 100-150 grams per day to maintain weight, less than 50 grams per day for weight/fat loss.) I also know that cultures with low carb diets have nearly non-existent rates of diabetes (too late for me.) I don't want to lose weight to get to a number by losing fat, but also losing significant amounts of muscle tissue.

    If you, or anyone else is interested, "Primal Blueprint" and marksdailyapple.com have some interesting concepts and theories concerning diet and exercise. Mark, himself, is a former world class endurance athlete and ate the high carb diet that was recommended for him. He indicates that his body was not healthy with the extreme amounts of cardio training and the associated carbohydrate diet. He says that he is healthier at 60 than he was in his 20's and a world class athlete. Anyway, his explanations, theories, and concepts make sense to me and produce results (when I can maintain the program.) There is no question that whatever you do to lose weight, build strength, and improve conditioning is going to require hard work and discipline.

  17. #17
    Watching and waiting. jethro56's Avatar
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    I think the New England Journal of Medicine editorial points out the failure of Sacks to design a valid experiment. I agree that the my present solution is behavioral. The behavior I accept now is that sweets are off the table forever for me. The banana deal is kinda an exception as I don't perceive them as sweet. I know they have fructose in them but somehow I have never felt compelled to eat more than one. The reason I eat them at all is that after a resistance workout I try to get my protein meal in. I eat 200-300 calories of skinless baked chicken breasts. That's close to zero carbs. If I don't eat a banana asap, my system just can't covert the protein fast enough and I feel depleted. I think getting the glucose back in the system is what I need but haven't found anything fast enough without fructose.

    InTheRain: I went thru a couple years treating Type2 with drugs. Since my version was insulin resistance I was able to get off the meds after losing weight and exercising. While on the meds, carbs were pretty well counterproductive. I still check my morning levels maybe once a week. The highest I've seen in the last year was 102. This morning, as most mornings, it was 75. The normal to low readings lead me to think that I could go ahead and eat sweets. As long as my readings stayed below 100, I didn't need to worry. The trouble with that thinking is that the potential for type 2 is still there and I was treating it with exercise alone. With the diet and exercise I have dual control.

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    Watching and waiting. jethro56's Avatar
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    InTheRain: You posted while I was composing. marksdailyapple is a really cool site. I found him after I revamped my approach and we agree on many things. I'd add patience to the list of requirements.

  19. #19
    Senior Member goldfinch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jethro56 View Post
    I think the New England Journal of Medicine editorial points out the failure of Sacks to design a valid experiment. I agree that the my present solution is behavioral. The behavior I accept now is that sweets are off the table forever for me. The banana deal is kinda an exception as I don't perceive them as sweet. I know they have fructose in them but somehow I have never felt compelled to eat more than one. The reason I eat them at all is that after a resistance workout I try to get my protein meal in. I eat 200-300 calories of skinless baked chicken breasts. That's close to zero carbs. If I don't eat a banana asap, my system just can't covert the protein fast enough and I feel depleted. I think getting the glucose back in the system is what I need but haven't found anything fast enough without fructose.
    I agree on the bananas. They are the highest sugar fruit I can eat without feeling like I am getting sugared out.

    I think a long term experiment on diet is about impossible to do. You can't exactly lock people up and force them to eat a particular diet for a couple of years. Or more.

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    I get very cranky and lethargic when I'm hungry. Then, of course, there's the basics like the growling stomach, etc.

    As for urges, I have these horrible, uncontrollable cravings for McDonald's Angus burgers, and I don't know why. I dunno if they put crack in these things or what but I just gotta have'em! It's horrible.

    I can't seem to navigate myself away from garbage foods, no matter how hard I try. I get cravings for Snack Pack pudding, McDonald's, Hershey's chocolate, ice cream, etc.

    I've been trying to clean up my eating by not buying garbage foods. Thus far, I'm doing okay but I'm still eating Snack Pack (it's in the house...) and ate yet another McDonald's Angus burger last night for dinner after a 14 mile ride. I JUST CAN'T SEEM TO STAY AWAY FROM THE DAMNED THINGS!

    I understand one Angus burger every now and then isn't gonna kill me but I feel like I'm biking just to work off Angus burgers.
    - Dan \m/

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    Quote Originally Posted by InTheRain View Post
    It would be difficult to avoid all carbs. However, if you get your carbohydrates from green vegetables that have a low glycemic index, you can avoid the "hunger" that follows as well as the insulin spikes.
    Works for me <30g carbs a day, leafy greens 'only', for 16 months and I feel pretty darn good.... dropped 75 pounds and most of my geezer aches and pains have subsided

    eat to live, not live to eat... it's a big world out there... find some other pleasures, there are plenty of them

    Your mileage will certainly vary :-)

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    Watching and waiting. jethro56's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wooden Tiger View Post
    I'm biking just to work off Angus burgers.
    I think this summer's fructose relapse began when I started going on long rides. My riding buddy wanted to do a full century... (deleted more excuses) For me, anything over 20-25 miles and I have to replenish glucose levels. I've bonked a couple times and that is rather unpleasant. I chose riding snacks poorly (PayDays) I think if I go on long rides after my shoulder heals, I'm going to try fresh strawberries. They're another fruit that I don't find to be all that sweet. The great thing about those is that my Dad has been after me to take care of his strawberry patch.

  23. #23
    Senior Member goldfinch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jethro56 View Post
    I think this summer's fructose relapse began when I started going on long rides. My riding buddy wanted to do a full century... (deleted more excuses) For me, anything over 20-25 miles and I have to replenish glucose levels. I've bonked a couple times and that is rather unpleasant. I chose riding snacks poorly (PayDays) I think if I go on long rides after my shoulder heals, I'm going to try fresh strawberries. They're another fruit that I don't find to be all that sweet. The great thing about those is that my Dad has been after me to take care of his strawberry patch.
    Strawberries and berries in general are good, but they don't travel well.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by jethro56 View Post
    I think this summer's fructose relapse began when I started going on long rides. My riding buddy wanted to do a full century... (deleted more excuses) For me, anything over 20-25 miles and I have to replenish glucose levels. I've bonked a couple times and that is rather unpleasant. I chose riding snacks poorly (PayDays) I think if I go on long rides after my shoulder heals, I'm going to try fresh strawberries. They're another fruit that I don't find to be all that sweet. The great thing about those is that my Dad has been after me to take care of his strawberry patch.
    I've been doing well avoiding the high fructose corn syrup, saved for those blasted trips to McDonald's and ordering Sprites!

    Strawberries are great but as mentioned, they don't travel well. The same goes for grapes, and as far as apples, I absolutely HATE warm apples!

    I used to be sure to bring a Clif Bar along with me but I gotta be honest, they taste horrible, regardless of flavor. Believe it or not, I also read Clif Bars will give you about as much benefit as a candy bar, which actually surprised me, given the ingredients in Clif Bars.

    There are so many different opinions on what foods are good to eat before a ride, after a ride, during a ride, etc. I kinda figure carbs are decent to have before a ride but not afterwards. As far as meats like beef, beef is very difficult for the body to digest and in turn, it takes a lot of energy to do so, so eating beef prior to a ride is just going to make you tired. I've heard cheese is good to eat after a ride because it helps to repair damaged muscle tissue. Who knows if there's any truth behind that or not, I haven't personally done any research to prove it.
    - Dan \m/

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    I experimented with grapes on a ride. I took a baggie and taped it to my handlebars with enough of a hole to take out grapes. More bother than it was worth because it just didn't hold much. But the grapes were pretty good.

    Now, I just use almond butter sandwhiches on long rides and carry a couple of gels for emergencies.
    Last edited by goldfinch; 04-19-13 at 04:43 PM.

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