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  1. #1
    P51
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    Electrolytes, simple carbs, pre-diabetic

    I'm a newbie, just getting up to the 50 mile range for long rides. After the rides, I feel wiped out the rest of the day. The first time I rode that far in hot weather, I had heart palpitations later in the day. I generally use a gel before the ride, eat a Clif Bar in the middle, and lots of water plus a liter or quart of Gatorade. After the ride, I drink another Gatorade.

    I suspect my symptoms after the ride are from electrolyte loss. Me and my clothes are covered in salt by the end of the ride. How much electrolytes should I be using?

    Also, I'm pre-diabetic, according to my doctor, so I don't like using a lot of simple sugars. I'm trying to figure out how to get energy on my ride, replace my electrolytes, and not overdo the simple carbs for recovery. I'm afraid this will become a bigger issue as I lengthen my rides.

    Any suggestions?

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    Administrator CbadRider's Avatar
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    You could try eating saltier foods like nuts or pretzels on your ride. In really hot weather I skip water and only drink electolyte stuff like Gatorade.
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  3. #3
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    Ask your doctor.

    You're pre-diabetic, that means your blood sugar is high. Nurse the gels slower when you're under load, or move to Clif Shot Bloks and eat 1 at a time instead of 3. A little alcohol (a glass (=4oz! NOT a 10oz goblet!) of wine, an ounce of whiskey, one beer) once in a while somewhat helps with glucose tolerance.

    Seriously though, ask your doctor. You don't want to pre-load if you're pre-diabetic, because your pancreas is failing its insulin reaction. When I pre-load, my body stores lots of sugar as glycogen; when you pre-load, your body goes "uh... ok..." and struggles. When you're already under high metabolic demand, though, the glucose goes quick; your insulin reaction isn't as dramatic or important anyway. But it's still stressful.

    See how this is difficult? Doctor will still be taking shots in the dark, but he's had a lot more experience with this stuff and studied it more than I have.
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    Senior Member Chaco's Avatar
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    Not a doctor, but in exactly the same situation as you. I've had to avoid heavy carbs for 4 years now.
    For rides under 90 minutes I use the electrolyte tablets from Hammer or Nuun. They have no carbs, just electrolytes. I put one tablet in each 20 oz. water bottle, drink about 20 ozs. per hour, and this sustains me just fine.

    For rides longer than 90 minutes, and especially harder rides, I use Extend bars. Also, a banana might help. After 90 minutes, your glycogen reserves are almost depleted, so there's less of a worry about spiking your sugar levels.

    After hard rides of 2 hrs. or more, a protein shake with fresh fruit does the trick.

  5. #5
    P51
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chaco View Post
    For rides under 90 minutes I use the electrolyte tablets from Hammer or Nuun. They have no carbs, just electrolytes. I put one tablet in each 20 oz. water bottle, drink about 20 ozs. per hour, and this sustains me just fine.
    What is your weather like? I ride in hot, humid weather with lots of hills, and a 90 minute ride is pretty taxing (I'm a 50 yr. old newbie).

    Quote Originally Posted by Chaco View Post
    After hard rides of 2 hrs. or more, a protein shake with fresh fruit does the trick.
    During the ride, or after? If during, where do you come up with a protein shake?

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    For 50 miles by a newbie, I'm going to guess you're riding >3 hours. North Alabama is similar to Cary (or at least Chapel Hill!), so I'm guessing your situation is similar to mine, although I've not been diagnosed as pre-diabetic.

    Agree with Chaco on the electrolytes. Shoot for adding a Nuun to a water bottle when you refill after 2 hours. Gatorade, unfortunately, has turned into sugar water, so if you drink that stuff, add a salt pill. Alternately, see if your favorite convenience store has a V-8.

    If you believe Gabe Mirkin (drmirkin.com), you'll exhaust your muscle and liver stores of sugar in two hours. That gives you liberty to eat carbs while you exercise, since the sugars will go straight to your muscles. I'd skip the Gatorade after the ride, and go for a peanut butter sandwich or something similar with a lower glycemic load, but with some protein. The goal at that point is to reload the muscles, without spiking your blood sugar.

    Keep drinking! (water, that is.)
    Last edited by pdlamb; 06-27-11 at 01:54 PM. Reason: corrected verb tense. oops!

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    Senior Member ericm979's Avatar
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    I'd suggest eating real food before and after the ride. That way you'll get more than just simple sugars. Save the expensive nutritionally limited sports food for riding.

    It sounds like you could use some more electrolytes. I prefer to keep my electrolytes and calorie sources separate so I can adjust them individually. You need a lot more electrolytes when it's warmer, but your calorie consumption stays the same. I use endurolytes, and for long rides (5+ hours) one or two salt tablets.

    Two hours is roughly right- I've seen people who ran out of gycogen well before that, and well-trained athletes can go longer.

  8. #8
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    Check out coconut juice.
    Rules are meant to be broken. Specifically: 1, 2, 3, 22, 24, 26, 27, 29, 30, 31, 33, 34, 36, 37, 39, 41, 48, 49, 50, 56, 58, 60, 65, 71, 73, 74, 76.

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    Senior Member Chaco's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by P51 View Post
    What is your weather like? I ride in hot, humid weather with lots of hills, and a 90 minute ride is pretty taxing (I'm a 50 yr. old newbie).

    Our weather in San Diego is very temperate. Today, for example, it's 65 F. My typical training ride is 1 hr. and 50 minutes, with 2,000 feet of climbing. If it were a lot hotter, then I'd probably eat an Extend Bar one hour into the ride.

    During the ride, or after? If during, where do you come up with a protein shake?
    Protein shake is after the ride, preferably within 30 minutes of stopping. This is supposed to help in keeping your body from using your lean muscle as fuel. Once you're not a newbie anymore, you won't find a 90 minute ride that taxing, especially as young as you are. I'm 63 :-) .

  10. #10
    P51
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    Quote Originally Posted by alxndr View Post
    Check out coconut juice.
    Sounds great, but it's bloody expensive.

  11. #11
    just another gosling Carbonfiberboy's Avatar
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    What your doctor is worried about is your spiking your blood sugar by eating stuff like simple sugars which stress your pancreas in response. So when you aren't riding, get your carbs from fruit and vegetables. Especially no beer, colas, sports drinks, stuff like that. No carby snacks like bread, sweet rolls, stuff like that. Only have a small amount of real carbs like rice, potatoes, cereals, stuff like that. Certainly no more than 1/4 of your plate simple carbs. On the bike is a different story, however, because your body responds differently while you are exercising.

    I ride with a couple of type 1 diabetics. Their regimen is no preride food. Nada. Nothing for breakfast if it's a morning ride, nothing within 3 hours if it's an afternoon or evening ride. That way they avoid spiking blood sugar and having that mess with their ride. Then during the ride, consume the standard 250 calories/hr., mostly or all carbs, if you are riding hard, less if you are taking it easier, down to maybe 150 cal./hr. So a lot more than you are eating now. Make an effort to eat more. It takes conscious effort to eat enough. So that's about 1 Clif Bar/hr., more or less. You don't have to worry about eating all those carbs because your insulin response will be very different than when you aren't riding.

    If you eat like that while you're riding, you shouldn't have to eat so much when you are finished with the ride. You can go right into your normal carbs-from-fruit-and-veggies routine and have a normal meal, because your glycogen will not be so diminished. You shouldn't feel so wiped out, in fact you should feel great. Your feeling wiped out is almost certainly blood sugar related and nothing to do with electrolytes. You have a ton of electrolytes in your body and it takes a heck of a lot of riding to really diminish them.

    What is happening to you is that you are greatly diminishing your glycogen stores while riding. So as soon as you finish your ride, your body's economy completely changes and your blood sugar goes to hell. Then you have that sugary Gatorade, which spikes your blood sugar, but that gets cleaned out pronto, getting used to replenish glycogen, and your blood sugar is back in the toilet and you feel lousy.

    So don't use a recovery drink unless you can't eat a normal meal right away. Even a recovery drink will only hold off the blood sugar demon for an hour or less. So you have to eat normally as soon as possible after the ride. Try eating a small but normal meal, waiting an hour, and having some more. Then maybe waiting an hour and having another small serving.

    IOW, it's OK to eat half a pizza, as long as you only eat one slice an hour. Of course stop when you aren't hungry any more. But start the after-ride eating process even if you aren't hungry. A symptom of low blood sugar is initial lack of hunger.

    Don't use Gatorade. You could try a sports drink like HEED or Cytomax, as long as you also have a bottle of plain water. I also separate my electrolytes out from my hydration and food. That way I have control over each nutritional aspect. I use Endurolytes, which are quite mild. About one/bottle of liquids seems about right, or one/hr. Some people use more. If you don't feel thirsty in warm weather, take more Endurolytes until you do feel thirsty.

    On a short ride of an hour, maybe even up to 2 hours, it's not really necessary to eat or drink anything, though a little plain water might be nice. Your regular diet will easily replace any losses.

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    Talk to your doctor(s)! The following is what it is for me, and may not at all be what it should be for you!

    I'm type II diabetic and I've dealt with the same issues. Neither the PCP, a rider by the way, nor the endocrinologist had any concerns about my eating during rides.

    As for the "don't head for the shower, head for the fridge" advice in order to speed recovery upon return including the eating high glycemic food (fruit, for example), the PCP was more worried about my blood sugar being too low. But both had an empiricist attitude towards it. Try it, check your levels and see what they are. I did this on a number of occasions after eating upon ride's return, and my numbers were completely normal. I took my measurements a more aggressive 1.5 hours after eating, not 2 hrs as is often used.

    But again, talk to your doctors.

  13. #13
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Regarding the electrolytes ... they are just minerals like salt, potassium, calcium, and a handful of others.

    I use electrolyte tablets which you can get from Hammer Nutrition, or sometimes from a local health food store. On somewhat longer rides, I take one before the ride, and sometimes one in the middle of the ride. If the ride is quite long, I might take more ... approx. 1 every few hours.

    In addition to electrolyte tablets, I consume foods with electrolytes ... three of my favourites are salted almonds, beef jerky, and potato chips.



    I've actually stopped drinking sports drinks ... I think the last time I used a sports drink was back in October or November. So I cycled all summer without sports drinks.

  14. #14
    P51
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    Thanks for all the great advice.

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    I'm not allowed to send private msgs yet--only after 50 posts (maybe I should spawn off a bot), so ...

    If you are diagnosed as pre-diabetic and you haven't had it I would suggest asking your doctor for an a1c test. From the American Diabetes Association site: "The A1C test measures your average blood glucose control for the past 2 to 3 months."

    If he or she says it's not warranted now because you haven't yet been diagnosed with diabetes, just pre-diabetic, then I would say something like "I want to be sure".

    If you dr's diagnose of pre-diabetic was based primarily on your glucose level at the immediate time you had your labs it can be misleading.

    If others don't think the test would be worthwhile, I'd definitely be interested in hearing. Thx.

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    Senior Member Chaco's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by yirgster View Post
    I'm not allowed to send private msgs yet--only after 50 posts (maybe I should spawn off a bot), so ...

    If you are diagnosed as pre-diabetic and you haven't had it I would suggest asking your doctor for an a1c test. From the American Diabetes Association site: "The A1C test measures your average blood glucose control for the past 2 to 3 months."
    Very good advice, IMO. I took one at our local farmers market. It was $20, and required no fasting. The best analogy I saw about the A1C test is that it's like a candied apple. It measures the accumulation of sugar over a period of time. Also, from the results, you can establish your average glucose level over time.

  17. #17
    P51
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    Quote Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post
    I ride with a couple of type 1 diabetics. Their regimen is no preride food. Nada. Nothing for breakfast if it's a morning ride, nothing within 3 hours if it's an afternoon or evening ride. That way they avoid spiking blood sugar and having that mess with their ride. Then during the ride, consume the standard 250 calories/hr., mostly or all carbs, if you are riding hard, less if you are taking it easier, down to maybe 150 cal./hr. So a lot more than you are eating now. Make an effort to eat more. It takes conscious effort to eat enough. So that's about 1 Clif Bar/hr., more or less. You don't have to worry about eating all those carbs because your insulin response will be very different than when you aren't riding.
    Looking at the label on a Clif bar, it has 240 calories, 45g of carbs, 160mg sodium, and 230mg potassium. The main ingredient is brown rice syrup. It would be better if the sweetener was raw honey, but it shouldn't matter during a ride.

    Shouldn't that take care of the carbs and electrolytes both?

  18. #18
    just another gosling Carbonfiberboy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by P51 View Post
    Looking at the label on a Clif bar, it has 240 calories, 45g of carbs, 160mg sodium, and 230mg potassium. The main ingredient is brown rice syrup. It would be better if the sweetener was raw honey, but it shouldn't matter during a ride.

    Shouldn't that take care of the carbs and electrolytes both?
    Yes, that is a lot of sodium and potassium. One Endurolyte, in contrast, has 40mg sodium and 25mg potassium, as well as other minerals and Vitamin B6. I don't notice one/hr., but I do notice two. For more information on electrolytes, read:
    http://www.hammernutrition.com/knowl...ight.1274.html
    Don't read this as product hyping, merely as information. 3/4 teaspoon of salt/day is about right, add a little more when exercising.

    Brown rice syrup is actually pretty cool. Look it up in the wiki. Honey contains a mixture of fructose and glucose, both monosaccarides. Table suger, sucrose, is the same two sugars but combined into a disaccaride. Brown rice syrup is much more complicated.

  19. #19
    P51
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    Today I tried HEED, one 24oz bottle per hour, plus one Endurolyte per hour. I felt much better during and after the ride. No cramps. Thanks again for all the advice.

  20. #20
    Senior Member Richard Cranium's Avatar
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    Today I tried HEED, one 24oz bottle per hour, plus one Endurolyte per hour. I felt much better during and after the ride. No cramps. Thanks again for all the advice.
    One tool in understanding your given physical status before and after exercise is the simple act of recording your weight.

    I've seem these Internet threads go back and forth about some mineral or sugar supplement but ignore the most basic principle of all. To exercise and feel well afterwards - you need to keep yourself hydrated. If you are concerned about your well being - then weighing yourself is the starting point of any inquiry.

    Assuming you have some mineral imbalance without even understanding what your "healthy" body weight should be seems silly to me.

    However, my comments are routinely ignored and disparaged. Perhaps using a scale is too inconvenient for most readers.
    Sorry about my comments - I thought you wanted honest feedback.
    2003 Lemond Wayzata - 2002 LeMond Malliot Jeune

  21. #21
    just another gosling Carbonfiberboy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Richard Cranium View Post
    One tool in understanding your given physical status before and after exercise is the simple act of recording your weight.

    I've seem these Internet threads go back and forth about some mineral or sugar supplement but ignore the most basic principle of all. To exercise and feel well afterwards - you need to keep yourself hydrated. If you are concerned about your well being - then weighing yourself is the starting point of any inquiry.

    Assuming you have some mineral imbalance without even understanding what your "healthy" body weight should be seems silly to me.

    However, my comments are routinely ignored and disparaged. Perhaps using a scale is too inconvenient for most readers.
    I've tried the scale thing, and it seems inconclusive in my case. Personally, I hold a lot of fluid in my stomach and gut. I'll often come back from a 3-8 hr. ride with a bit of a pot belly. Which doesn't mean I'm not dehydrated - I normally am after a hard ride. But the scale doesn't show it. Or maybe it's leg pump or fluid retained from burned glycogen? Or maybe it's from pushing electrolytes on a ride, which makes me retain more water than my usual low-salt life? LD riders often notice that they will pee like crazy a day or two after a ride. I don't understand it, but the scale doesn't seem to tell me much.

    Another weird thought: some researchers think that cyclists may perform best when slightly dehydrated: they're lighter, and lighter is faster. I don't seem to get lighter, though. And if one were lighter, might it be from dehydration or from pushing so much low residue food to get across the stomach wall quickly for a day or two that one's intestines are empty and one probably won't be able to eat enough fibrous food in a day to produce actual fecal matter?

  22. #22
    P51
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    Quote Originally Posted by Richard Cranium View Post
    One tool in understanding your given physical status before and after exercise is the simple act of recording your weight.

    I've seem these Internet threads go back and forth about some mineral or sugar supplement but ignore the most basic principle of all. To exercise and feel well afterwards - you need to keep yourself hydrated. If you are concerned about your well being - then weighing yourself is the starting point of any inquiry.

    Assuming you have some mineral imbalance without even understanding what your "healthy" body weight should be seems silly to me.

    However, my comments are routinely ignored and disparaged. Perhaps using a scale is too inconvenient for most readers.
    I read about the scale and how much you should lose in weight during a ride. I was thinking of getting one to keep in my car, or swiping the one out of our bathroom.

  23. #23
    P51
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    This free PDF from Hammer Nutrition was very informative.

  24. #24
    just another gosling Carbonfiberboy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by P51 View Post
    This free PDF from Hammer Nutrition was very informative.
    Yes, the Guide is very good and thorough. I've found all its advice to be sound, and when taken, successful. One does not need to use any particular product, or indeed any "product" at all, to use it. Though they do make it easy for us. A large number of riders use Endurolytes, as the cost is small compared to the benefit. Hammer Gel in the flask is probably the next most common product of theirs that I see.

  25. #25
    Senior Member Richard Cranium's Avatar
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    To anyone listening - "hydration status" like any other measure of well being isn't always going to track neatly along with performance or successful training. However, it is the best starting point available, far better than making wild guesses about mineral needs or the fine points of sugar digestion.
    Sorry about my comments - I thought you wanted honest feedback.
    2003 Lemond Wayzata - 2002 LeMond Malliot Jeune

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