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Training & Nutrition Learn how to develop a training schedule that's good for you. What should you eat and drink on your ride? Learn everything you need to know about training and nutrition here.

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Old 03-16-14, 11:21 AM   #1
mennace
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is there a low (no) carb fuel for long rides?

i have been using high carb liquids (gatorade) and gels (GU) for energy on longer rides as well as cliff bars, etc. i have decided to go low (NO) carb diet to loose some lbs.. what do you eat and drink for energy that is low carb or no carb? is there such a thing? i though about bringing a bag of bacon or dried meats for energy, just wondering if that would give me the fat turned to carbs that i need for long trips. can't seem to find much on nutrition for no carbs while riding and what to eat before a long ride. should i just blow off the carb diet for the long rides?
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Old 03-16-14, 11:31 AM   #2
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I had a buddy who tried this. He was on the Adkins diet After about 50 miles he was shot. We forced him to drink a bottle of Gatorade. After about 15 minutes, he was good to go again.

The time to restrict carbs is NOT during a long bike ride. Analogy: your car will weigh less and get better gas mileage just before the gas tank runs dry leaving you stopped on the side of the road.
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Old 03-16-14, 12:08 PM   #3
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If you plan on riding long distance low-carb, then you will also have to keep your intensity much lower. The reason for this is that fat fuel is much slower burning then carb fuel. High glycemic carbs provide instant energy but they don't last very long... fat is slow release fuel but also much longer lasting then carbs . It's very easy to deplete all the glycogen stores very fast. OTOH your body has enough fat stores to provide energy for many days. If you never done this before then start of easy, it takes a bit of time for your body to adept and reprogram itself to using fat instead of carbs for energy, first few rides may be a bit of a shock your system. Don't cut out all the carbs from your diet because it will affect your athletic performance too much, you can eat about 100-200 grams of healthy carbs and still loose weight, just avoid junk carbs.
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Old 03-16-14, 12:28 PM   #4
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I have Type 2 diabetes and part of my controlling it is low carb. But now when I ride long distances. I eat as needed so the body is fueled. Complex carbs early on but also simple carbs during to keep energy up. It won't take long for you to figure put what is best for you.
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Old 03-16-14, 12:57 PM   #5
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Water plus the ample amounts of excess fat you carry on your body. You don't need to eat additional fat for fuel and it wouldn't get digested fast enough to be of any help.

Your performance will be lower without any carbs.
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Old 03-16-14, 01:46 PM   #6
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You might check out the link below of a blog by a doctor who is an elite cyclist/swimmer and low carb guy.
He talks about how low carb diet affects performance and how to do low carb fueling while riding.

Start Here The Eating Academy | Peter Attia, M.D. The Eating Academy | Peter Attia, M.D.
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Old 03-18-14, 10:51 AM   #7
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You might check out the link below of a blog by a doctor who is an elite cyclist/swimmer and low carb guy.
He talks about how low carb diet affects performance and how to do low carb fueling while riding.

Start Here The Eating Academy | Peter Attia, M.D. The Eating Academy | Peter Attia, M.D.
Honestly, I haven't found Dr. Attia's advice to come close to working for me. He seems like a smart guy, but on the carb thing he tries to do the jedi mind trick.

If you want to turn the intensity up, you have to fuel it with carbs. If you don't like sugar, then stay with something like waxy maize. Honestly, there isn't a lot of difference. I think that starches or glucose are probably better options that fructose or sucrose, but overall, when on the bike, you want fuel that your body can quickly mobilize.

If you're riding for less than 2 hours, try taking just water. It shouldn't be that big of a deal.
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Old 03-18-14, 02:22 PM   #8
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Carb burning is for energy. Fat burning is for hibernating.
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Old 03-18-14, 02:53 PM   #9
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A riding buddy tried putting chunks of dark chocolate in his (dry) water bottle. It did not go well.
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Old 03-18-14, 03:28 PM   #10
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I went on a low carb diet to drop half my body weight (315->165). Worked great, and I still keep my carbs relatively low (around 25% of my total calories). But on days when I ride (or the night before a race/big ride) I go ahead and eat carbs. Carbs are the fastest available energy, and as long as you don't go overboard (i.e., consume 1000 calories to fuel a 500 calorie ride), you'll burn the carbs while you ride.

Go ahead an have a yogurt, a piece of fruit, maybe a bowl of cereal or granola bar before you ride and add a carby snack every 45 minutes or an hour while you ride. If your total calories are less than your total expenditure for the day, you'll still lose weight in the long run, and you'll be able to take advantage of the boost in available energy.

FWIW, don't sweat it too much when you see you've gained a few lbs the day after a big ride. That's just your body stockpiling water and fuel to repair itself. Stay the course and your weight will continue its downward trend in the long run.
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Old 03-18-14, 09:16 PM   #11
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Most folks' limit for calorie consumption while riding is 250/hour. I figure that for most rides under 12 hours, one can eat about half what one burns, thus many riders don't even need the 250. The rest comes from glycogen and fat. IOW don't even worry about it. Eat to fuel your effort, mostly carbs. Over 3 hours you want some protein too, maybe even a little fat, but not much. You'll go faster and actually burn more fat.
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Old 03-19-14, 08:09 AM   #12
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Since I am diabetic, this is a major concern for me. As noted in other posts you need some carbs for long rides. I reconmend various fruits either fresh or dried. Oranges, grapes and raisins seams to work best for me. Typically, I will eat about half of the callories that I burn on the ride. You may also want to look at the glysemic load of what you are eating. A low glysemic load means it is easier for your body to process the sugar in the food. I also take trail mix with me which I eat if I find myself running out of energy while on the trail.
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Old 03-19-14, 08:35 AM   #13
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Since I am diabetic, this is a major concern for me. As noted in other posts you need some carbs for long rides. I reconmend various fruits either fresh or dried. Oranges, grapes and raisins seams to work best for me. Typically, I will eat about half of the callories that I burn on the ride. You may also want to look at the glysemic load of what you are eating. A low glysemic load means it is easier for your body to process the sugar in the food. I also take trail mix with me which I eat if I find myself running out of energy while on the trail.
Type 1 or 2? The Type 1s I ride with eat the same as everyone else. Clif bars, gels, blocks, sports drink, etc. The difference is that they track their blood sugar during the ride so they know how much and when to eat. They're in their 50s and still riding hard, so they're doing it right. Almost unheard of just a decade ago.
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Old 03-19-14, 09:47 AM   #14
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Lots of good info here.
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Old 03-19-14, 10:14 AM   #15
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In the day to day I practice low carb eating and have been riding every day at moderate intensity and have had not had any issues, when I crank it up I like to make my own power bars with oatmeal, nut butter, raw nuts, and a small amount of honey. These have less sugar than commercial products, the honey is better for you, and it has a nice macro profile with the distribution of fats, protein, and carbs.

I have tossed these to fellow riders on longer trips and they describe them as being rocket fuel... it gives a quick boost from the simple sugars in the honey, the oatmeal has a longer burn time, and then you have some protein and fats in reserve.

The kids still have trouble keeping up with me on longer rides.
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Old 03-19-14, 10:37 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mrtuttle04 View Post
Since I am diabetic, this is a major concern for me. As noted in other posts you need some carbs for long rides. I reconmend various fruits either fresh or dried. Oranges, grapes and raisins seams to work best for me. Typically, I will eat about half of the callories that I burn on the ride. You may also want to look at the glysemic load of what you are eating. A low glysemic load means it is easier for your body to process the sugar in the food. I also take trail mix with me which I eat if I find myself running out of energy while on the trail.
If you check your blood sugar levels during exercise, you'll see that you don't have the massive spikes you'd ordinarily see from carby foods. Don't be afraid to eat things that are ordinarily off limits. You might consider trying a few things and testing yourself on your training rides to see how YOUR body responds to different foods during a ride.

(FWIW, weight loss, exercise, and a hard look at my diet reversed my diabetes - won't work for everyone, but it's doable!)

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Old 03-19-14, 02:07 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post
Type 1 or 2? The Type 1s I ride with eat the same as everyone else. Clif bars, gels, blocks, sports drink, etc. The difference is that they track their blood sugar during the ride so they know how much and when to eat. They're in their 50s and still riding hard, so they're doing it right. Almost unheard of just a decade ago.
I am type 2. I do not check as I am riding but I do check every morning. Thanks to a change in diet and my bike riding my blood sugar has been under control for the last 9 months and the doctor has taken me off of two of the three medicines that I used to take. When riding, I pay attention to what my body is telling me and eat when I start to loose energy.
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Old 03-19-14, 02:13 PM   #18
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If you check your blood sugar levels during exercise, you'll see that you don't have the massive spikes you'd ordinarily see from carby foods. Don't be afraid to eat things that are ordinarily off limits. You might consider trying a few things and testing yourself on your training rides to see how YOUR body responds to different foods during a ride.

(FWIW, weight loss, exercise, and a hard look at my diet reversed my diabetes - won't work for everyone, but it's doable!)

BB
Thanks for the info. Yes I do relax my diet some especially when I ride more than 20 miles. I am doing the same thing as you to reverse my diabetes. As of my last doctor's visit, my diabetes is under control and I am now taking less medicine (I am down to 1000mg of metformin twice a day). If I can completely come off the medicine and maintain my blood sugar, I will then considered my diabetes reversed.
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