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Old 07-09-07, 10:16 AM   #1
mcompton1973
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Atkins and cycling

ok,
the only time that I have been very effective in losing weight was when I did the Atkins diet. Not even the "WHOLE" Atkins, but an extremely reduced carb diet. I was never one to eat 20 pounds of bacon and cheese and think it was healthy just because there were no carbs...

I have only been into cycling for about a month...and started mainly too lose weight but I also really enjoy it...which should help. In talking with my DR he seems to think that I am intolerant to carbs. I have done other exercise programs and diet programs, and I am never very successful when it comes to inches or weight. in 3 months I worked out 6 days a week (3 days of lifting and 3 of cardio for 30 mins) and I lost 2 pounds and 2 inches. this was in conjunction with reduced calorie diet and eating 5 -6 small meals etc.

So I think that I want to go no/low carb again, but my concern is this...with very limited carb, how will that impact cycling? does anyone have experience with that? I thought the carbs were needed for activities like cycling. Thanks.
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Old 07-09-07, 10:33 AM   #2
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Atkins is bankrupt for a reason. Low-carb doesn't work for cycling...
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Old 07-09-07, 11:04 AM   #3
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Well Atkins is bankrupt because they poured tons of money into marketing a bunch of products that got to market right about the time that the whole "craze/fad" was ending...but that alone does not show that the diet was bad. can you give me more info other than doesnt work for cycling?
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Old 07-09-07, 11:21 AM   #4
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I maintain a relatively low carb diet and cycle, but I find that some carbs in the form of gels or energy drinks are necessary to maintain energy and muscle strength on longer rides. At some point my body just can't burn fat fast enough to keep up. For me that point is around 25 miles, but I have heard of other low carb cyclist who can go longer than that. If my priority was strictly weight loss, I would probably hold back more on carbs to force fat burning at the expense of overall performance, and I would tone down the intensity of rides to a more easily sustainable pace. Given that I am more interested in cardio fitness I go ahead and hit the carbs while training.
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Old 07-09-07, 11:26 AM   #5
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yeah, my goals at this point are to get more fit and loose weight. Once I have the weight gone, then I will worry more about increasing cardio fitnes etc.

Thanks.
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Old 07-09-07, 12:14 PM   #6
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But increasing cardio fitness can only help you lose weight -- I'm not sure they should be thought of as two separate things.

I'm sure others will chime in about the specifics regarding low carb diets and cycling....
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Old 07-09-07, 12:14 PM   #7
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I believe there are bad long term affects of the diet.
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Old 07-09-07, 12:19 PM   #8
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Atkins works for people who get no exercise, and it does so at a cost to your body's general health. If you are getting any exercise at all (30 min daily) you would be burning off the excess carbs from even a typical American diet.
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Old 07-09-07, 12:48 PM   #9
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Yes, the key is exercise. But you should still be concerned with matching your dietary intake to your exercise level. To lose weight, you want to eat fewer calories than you burn. This website provides an easy way to track your meals: http://www.fitday.com . I've tried close to all the diets out there, low/hi-carb, low/hi-fat, low/hi-protein, vegetarian, paleo, etc. The only consistent factor relating to weight-loss amongst them all was to eat less than you burn.

However, some of them provide this weight loss at the expense of health and fitness resulting in continual fatigue, listlessness, apathy with limited fitness-gains due to muscle-loss as well. Atkins is one of these diets (along with any of the other low-carb diets). Low-calorie diets with large deficits end up destroying too much muscle in order to get higher weight-loss rates. Sure you'll end up as a thin twig, but you'll also have no muscle-tone and still have love-handles and a double-chin. It is low muscle-glycogen from low-carb intake that destroys muscle the fastest, eating more proteins may help rebuild the damage afterwards, but it does nothing to ward off muscle-catabolism in the first place.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mcompton1973
yeah, my goals at this point are to get more fit and loose weight. Once I have the weight gone, then I will worry more about increasing cardio fitnes etc.
To lose as much fat as possible as quickly as possible, you must burn off as many calories per day as possible. By riding 150-300 miles/week, I burn off about 3000 calories per day and eat about 2500 in order to lose 1-lb/wk (most of those calories from carbs). In order to do the longer 3-4 hour endurance rides that burns the most fat, you have to improve fitness to the level where you can actually DO that type of riding. So you can try to lose the fat first, but in the long run, it will come off faster if you focus on fitness first, then the weight-loss is a healthy side-effect of being in shape.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mcompton1973
Well Atkins is bankrupt because they poured tons of money into marketing a bunch of products that got to market right about the time that the whole "craze/fad" was ending...but that alone does not show that the diet was bad. can you give me more info other than doesnt work for cycling?
Fads come and go. Performance nutrition has been around for several millenia and has not changed that much. The diet of an Olympic runner is not that much different from that of a TDF champion or even a competitive bodybuilder. Here's some links of interest:

BF - Q about hear rates, losing fat vs lean body mass
BF - Im beating a ded horse but.... ATKINS AND CYCLING?!?!?!
BF - How Do I Lose FAT, not just Weight?


Bodybuilding.com - Anabolic Ammunition Arsenal (look about 3/4 down page for calorie-mix calculator)
ABCbodybuilding - A Scientific Investigation into the Rationality of Post Workout Carbohydrate Consumption
ABCbodybuilding - Analysis of Nutrient use during Low, Moderate, and High Intensity Exercise
Bodybuilding.com - Post Workout Supplementation
Bodybuilding.com - Importance of post Workout Nutrition
SparkNotes - Functions of Carbohydrates
Peak Performance - How much protein do athletes need? note "up to 150gm a day" for performance athletes.

And some real studies:

JAP - Carbohydrate feedings before, during, or in combination improve cycling endurance performance
JAP - Improvements in exercise performance: effects of carbohydrate feedings and diet
JAP - Carbohydrate feedings and exercise performance: effect of initial muscle glycogen concentration
JAP - Water and carbohydrate ingestion during prolonged exercise increase maximal neuromuscular power
JAP - Effect of carbohydrate feedings during high-intensity exercise
JAP - Muscle glycogen storage after prolonged exercise: effect of the glycemic index of carbohydrate feedings

AJCN - Nutrition and Endurance.PDF
AJCN - Ketogenic low-carbohydrate diets have no metabolic advantage over nonketogenic low-carbohydrate diets
AJCN - Carbohydrate administration during a day of sustained aerobic activity improves vigilance
AJCN - The role of dietary carbohydrates in muscle glycogen resynthesis after strenuous running
AJCN - Effects of low energy diets on work performance.PDF


Here's a good site that summarizes the available info in easy-to-digest layman's terms: http://www.cptips.com

Last edited by DannoXYZ; 07-09-07 at 01:27 PM.
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Old 07-09-07, 01:14 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DannoXYZ
Here's a good site that summarizes the available info in an easy-to-digest layman's terms: http://www.cptips.com
First of all, Danno - great post!!! Secondly, I've been using this site (link above) for years. Even though I don't think much (if any) has changed on the site, I still go back to refresh my memory. GREAT infor on that site!

... Brad
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Old 07-09-07, 01:29 PM   #11
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here is the thing...
I exercised regularly for three months.
burning somewhere around 300-350 callories a day.
as I stated earlier I did about 30 mins of cardio 3 days a week, and lifted 3 days.
I ate on average about 1800 calories a day. this should have resulted in a minimum of 500 calories deficit per day. so for 90 days, that is 13 weeks. should have lost at least 13 pounds. At Least.

I kept food journals etc to make sure that I am not eating more than 1800 a day...and in 13 weeks, I missed 2 days other than Sunday.

I am not looking for a quick fix...but the fact is that exercising and diet through "normal" diet is not working
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Old 07-09-07, 01:35 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mcompton1973
here is the thing...
I exercised regularly for three months.
burning somewhere around 300-350 callories a day.
as I stated earlier I did about 30 mins of cardio 3 days a week, and lifted 3 days.
I ate on average about 1800 calories a day. this should have resulted in a minimum of 500 calories deficit per day. so for 90 days, that is 13 weeks. should have lost at least 13 pounds. At Least.
You are correct with your math. However, you are lifting, so some extra weight may be due to an increase in muscle. You will increase some muscle with aerobic exercise also. You really need to look at body fat loss/gain as opposed to your total weight loss/gain.

... Brad

Last edited by bac; 07-09-07 at 01:43 PM.
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Old 07-09-07, 01:41 PM   #13
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I suspect you may not be tracking ingested calories accurately. It's easy to "make deals" and cheat. With such a low-calorie diet, it's very easy to feel hungry and cheat. Thermodynamics cannot be circumvented, at least in this universe. Energy cannot be created out of thin air or destroyed. IF you are maintaining a steady weight, then calories-in MUST equal calories-out.

What's missing here is your basal-metabolic rate for maintaining steady weight. While there ARE calculators out there that uses height, weight, body-fat, etc, they aren't super-accurate. What you've done is gathered your own data and have discovered that your BMR is 1500 calories/day (assuming you counted your food-calories accurately). What you have to do now is increase your exercise rate to 800 calories/day in order to lose 1-lb/wk.

And 30-minutes a day is NOT sufficient, it's just a warm-up. And lifting doesn't require 3-days. You'll end up burning more calories weekly by cutting that back to 1 day of lifting and adding two more days of biking. And you need to be doing AT LEAST 1-hour. That will triple the fat-calories burnt even though you've only doubled the time. That's due to the rates of lipolysis and fatty-acid metabolism:

AJCN - Lipid metabolism during endurance exercise - Horowitz & Klein.


If you integrate the surface-area under the curve, this gives you the total fat-burned during that time-slice. The 2nd 30-minutes burns over twice as much fat as the 1st 30-minutes. Adding those two together will give you over 3x the total fat-burned during a 60-minute ride compared to a 30-minute.

If you have limited time, then it's better to take a day off to get your work & other stuff done and then do a full 60-minute ride every other day. A 2-hour ride on the weekends will burn off over 7x as much fat as the 30-minute cardio workout.

Last edited by DannoXYZ; 07-09-07 at 04:40 PM.
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Old 07-09-07, 03:18 PM   #14
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Danno,

thank you. You saying that my Basal rate is low, was a huge revelation to me. I have seriously tried VERY hard to be VERY good about my caloric intake several times trying to loose weight. That make since to me as well. to give quick background, I was in the Milirary, and ate a ton every day, and stayed slim because of the workout load. Then I injured my knee and was unable to train. For about 5 years I was VERY lazy...and just recently (really since the end of November) I have been trying to do more to loose the weight and be more healthy.

So the question is this. If I ride 3 or 4 days a week for an hour, and 1 day a week I ride for closer to 2 hours...and I continue to try and eat1800 calories or so, would my BRM eventually rise?
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Old 07-09-07, 04:03 PM   #15
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Sure, BMR could rise over time. When you get to a lower body-fat percentage, BMR will go up since you don't have as much insulation and the majority of calories burned daily is to maintain even body-temperature. Fat is a better insulator than muscles.

Also with more muscle-mass, BMR goes up as muscle at rest burns more calories than fat, but it's not a huge difference unless you lose a lot of fat and gain a lot of muscle.

But BMR will decrease with lower body-weight since it'll take less energy to move a lighter body around.

So there are push & pull factors on both sides.

Last edited by DannoXYZ; 07-09-07 at 04:42 PM.
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Old 07-09-07, 08:05 PM   #16
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I successfuly ride my bike with a high fat/low carb diet. I may not be about to win le Tour De France but I get along fine. Yes if I want to do some sprint training then carbs help but for low intensity rides I fuel up with fish oil capsules. 4-5 capsules an hour is good.

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Old 07-10-07, 06:40 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mcompton1973
yeah, my goals at this point are to get more fit and loose weight.
Just eat what you're eating and do more cycling. I wouldn't get rid of carbs, they are hugely important.

http://bikeforums.net/showthread.php?t=296070
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Old 07-10-07, 06:44 AM   #18
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the bottom line is: you would not drive 'cross country on an emtpy tank of gas, and you should not try and ride on a 1/2 full or empty tank.
Carb up + ride hard, knowing that you've eaten to win.
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Old 07-10-07, 07:44 AM   #19
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The success I had in weight loss can be directly attributed to a simple concept -- the understanding that processed foods pack more calories into a smaller package.

Think for a second about the volume of two extremes; a thousand calories of vegetables vs. a thousand calories of vegetable oil. The former will completely fill your stomach, while the latter will barely line your stomach walls. It takes a few weeks for your palate to adjust, but once you find the pleasure of eating unprocessed fresh fruits, vegetables and grains, you will find that you can finish each meal filled and fulfilled and begin an "effortless" decline of body weight. All without the charts and graphs, and scientific explanations - just as nature intended.
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Old 07-10-07, 08:19 AM   #20
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mcompton1973: you can also look into carb cycling. I lift and just started to ride to lose more fat. I'm not too concerned about the weight part, more so on the bodyfat %. I'm in a recomp phase, perhaps you're in that phase too rather then just losing fat. My bf% has slowly been dropping as I have been adding on muscle in places that never existed on me before

Recomp - it is a slow, yet steady body transformation whereby you seek to both lose body fat and gain lean body mass, concomitantly.
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Old 07-10-07, 08:23 AM   #21
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IF you are going to be doing a fair amount of cycling each week, then of all the great info in this thread, I think this is the most relevant and significant paragraph for you, compton:

Quote:
Originally Posted by DannoXYZ
However, some of them provide this weight loss at the expense of health and fitness resulting in continual fatigue, listlessness, apathy with limited fitness-gains due to muscle-loss as well. Atkins is one of these diets (along with any of the other low-carb diets). Low-calorie diets with large deficits end up destroying too much muscle in order to get higher weight-loss rates. Sure you'll end up as a thin twig, but you'll also have no muscle-tone and still have love-handles and a double-chin. It is low muscle-glycogen from low-carb intake that destroys muscle the fastest, eating more proteins may help rebuild the damage afterwards, but it does nothing to ward off muscle-catabolism in the first place.
I lost 20lbs of flab in my first 5 months of cycling, without making any changes to my diet. Well, that's not true, I was actually eating more than I was prior to cycling. At the time, I did not yet know about the mechanism of muscle catabolism, but I am glad that I resisted the urge to speed up the weight loss by reducing my calories (carbs or not).

The bottom line is that the better your engine, the better you are able to workout, and the better you are able to burn fuel. It's an upward spiral cycle that, for me, beats the heck out of over-restricting calories for the sake of short-term reduction of the number on the scale. I suppose a compromise would be to reduce carbs except for during your bike ride and post-workout recovery meal.

Last edited by VanceMac; 07-10-07 at 05:29 PM.
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Old 07-10-07, 09:07 AM   #22
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However, some of them provide this weight loss at the expense of health and fitness resulting in continual fatigue, listlessness, apathy with limited fitness-gains due to muscle-loss as well. Atkins is one of these diets (along with any of the other low-carb diets). Low-calorie diets with large deficits end up destroying too much muscle in order to get higher weight-loss rates. Sure you'll end up as a thin twig, but you'll also have no muscle-tone and still have love-handles and a double-chin. It is low muscle-glycogen from low-carb intake that destroys muscle the fastest, eating more proteins may help rebuild the damage afterwards, but it does nothing to ward off muscle-catabolism in the first place.
I disagree!

if you are eating enough protein and fat, you'll get all you need to build and maintain muscle. Your body makes all the glycogen it needs under normal circumstances, however if you ride for hours at a time, you might need to carefully and judiciously add some carbs to your diet.


here's what you can expect if you switch to a low carb diet:
  • you'll have plenty of protein to protect your muscles.
  • your lipid profile will dramatically IMPROVE.
  • your long term health will improve-low carb diets are helpful in treating and preventing various diseases, such as diabetes, alzheimers, parkinsons, and on and on. Maybe even cancer (tumors live exclusively off of sugar. think about that....)
  • you'll be eating a diet that is much closer to the diet that humans evolved on. high carb diets are only a fairly recent thing, in evolutionary terms.
  • High carb diets are far more inflammatory than low carbs, and inflammation is becoming more and more the prime suspect as the cause of heart disease.
  • You'll be eating a diet that is much more similar to mother's milk.

important things to remember regarding performance on a low carb diet.
  • it can take a few weeks to adapt, during which time you may feel less energy, impaired perfomance, etc.
  • if you are riding really really hard or for a long, long time, you may need to add some carbs. start with a low carb diet, and add just enough to support your rides.
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Old 07-10-07, 09:17 AM   #23
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I didn't make meaningful progress on weight loss through ~2 yrs of bike commuting until I started adding in lunchtime rides and/or extending my am/pm routes in/out. When I was really losing weight I was probably getting half my calories from cheerios w/ skim milk and apples.
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Old 07-10-07, 10:21 AM   #24
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Originally Posted by dlew308
mcompton1973: you can also look into carb cycling. [/SIZE][/FONT]

This is the approach I would take. So long as adequate carbs are consumed for recovery and to prevent as much catabolism as possible on cycling days, you should be fine for weight loss. It works well for many people.
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Old 07-10-07, 07:12 PM   #25
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I have been on the Atkins diet for over 4 years now and have had no problem cycling. I have been increasing my mileage in preparation for a century ride. I rode 3 hours on Sunday with no problems at all. Racing may be an issue, as some of the info I have come across seems to indicate the twitch muscles need carbs, but I don't care much about that.

I suggest you read the entire Atkins book before switching to the diet and understand you are changing you bodies primary source of fuel from carbs to fat. This is not something you want to quit after you get to your desired weight.

It has worked very well for me. I have maintained my weight within 5 lbs over the 4 years and I play hockey, hike, and cycle with no ill affects. It takes a few weeks for your body to adjust and you will be weak, but once your body adjusts it is fine. Most people think Atkins is induction phase forever. I eat plenty of carbs, they are just in lower proportion to fat and protein and they are never from sugar.

Keep well hydrated when exercising.
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