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  1. #1
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    Does anybody have experience training 20 hours a week? I need nutrition advice

    I am a cat3 and looking to get my upgrade either later this year or next year. I am spending June-August doing high mileage and volume. I don't have a coach and need some advice. It will be much appreciated folks.

    My riding schedule looks like this (every ride has about 40-80ft/mi elevation):
    M: Easy 2-3 hour ride
    T: Hill work pushing hard, PM easy 1 hour spin
    W: Easy 2-3 hour ride
    Th: Easy 2-3 hour ride
    F: 5 hour long ride
    S: 2-3 hour ride
    Su: Easy 2 hour ride, PM easy 1 hour ride

    I really need help with my nutrition. I don't know how many calories I should be eating a day and feel like I can't stop eating. Maybe I need the fuel since my body has never gone through consecutive 20+ hour weeks, but does 5000-6500 calories a day sound about right? Mainly it is from bananas, brown rice (a LOT, 10 cups cooked a day), lentils/legumes, dates, some gels. I have other things but that is the 95% bulk of my diet

    I have gained 3lbs since last week starting this training cycle. I am slightly tired throughout the day but that is to be expected.

    So...

    If you have experience, such as when you were younger etc of high volume training and how you managed the hunger and the caloric needs -- its like a full time job just making sure you eat enough let alone 3 hours a day training -- please pitch in

  2. #2
    Senior Member robabeatle's Avatar
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    At 20 hours, I'm guessing you are building base. This means ~zone 2. At that low intensity, you are burning mostly fat. I am in a ~20 hour base block myself , though no hard intensity days at all. My hunger levels are elevated but not extreme and I am losing weight. I am pegging ~180 W for 4 hours per ride. This burns about 2400 calories. My weight is about 165 right now. Add to that my base metabolism and I am burning 4500-5500 calories per day. If I were to add intensity, even dropping hours, my hunger goes wild. Last, a much more knowledgeable and talented poster in the race forum often says that you can get skinny or get stronger but rarely can you do both at the same time. If I were to give you completely generic advice, which is rarely useful, I'd say drop all intensity, make the shortest ride 3 hours and be sure to properly fuel during the ride. Oh, eat protein, more than what you listed. Several studies show that long endurance efforts use a bit of protein and so you daily intake should be above average.

    All of this is pretty useless without knowing what races you are targeting to get your upgrade points. It might not even make sense to be putting in these huge hours in light of that.

    tl;dr Any intensity will drive up hunger levels. Couple that with huge hours and you will be hungry. You caloric levels sound about right, though it depends somewhat on your weight. Good luck.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by robabeatle View Post
    At 20 hours, I'm guessing you are building base. This means ~zone 2. At that low intensity, you are burning mostly fat. I am in a ~20 hour base block myself , though no hard intensity days at all. My hunger levels are elevated but not extreme and I am losing weight. I am pegging ~180 W for 4 hours per ride. This burns about 2400 calories. My weight is about 165 right now. Add to that my base metabolism and I am burning 4500-5500 calories per day. If I were to add intensity, even dropping hours, my hunger goes wild. Last, a much more knowledgeable and talented poster in the race forum often says that you can get skinny or get stronger but rarely can you do both at the same time. If I were to give you completely generic advice, which is rarely useful, I'd say drop all intensity, make the shortest ride 3 hours and be sure to properly fuel during the ride. Oh, eat protein, more than what you listed. Several studies show that long endurance efforts use a bit of protein and so you daily intake should be above average.

    All of this is pretty useless without knowing what races you are targeting to get your upgrade points. It might not even make sense to be putting in these huge hours in light of that.

    tl;dr Any intensity will drive up hunger levels. Couple that with huge hours and you will be hungry. You caloric levels sound about right, though it depends somewhat on your weight. Good luck.
    The only intensity is that hill session because I still want to make sure that I am not losing my speed in favor of a larger aerobic system. I will drop it though then.

    I will include more protein then and thanks for the caloric advice, that sounds about right then. I can't imagine pros and how much they eat. Holy cow

    Thanks for your advice sir

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    Elite Rider Hermes's Avatar
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    No, 5000 tp 6,500 calories per day does not sound right. I have power on the bike and an easy ride for me is 300 to 500 Kjoules per hour which converts to 300 to 500 calories per hour. 700 calories per hour is a lot of sustained power even for a Cat 3 looking to upgrade to Cat 2.

    Your training does not make sense to me as written i.e. how can you get ready for races in September by doing lots of junk miles? Except for the desert, most racing is winding down in August and racers take September off and start on their fall program of strength and adaptation. They follow that with some base and then build cycles getting ready for racing in the spring. Of course, training is seasonal and it depends on weather and access to resources.

    Assuming there are races in September, I would add in some build cycles in July and August.

    I quit doing base / junk miles per se. I do not do stage races and my events are shorter. I focus on tempo efforts and efforts that match the power and speed requirements of the races I plan to do.
    "Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." Einstein

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    Huh? 700 cal/hr is a bit under 200W average power. A cat 3 should be able to do that easy. Might be a bit much for z2/base miles depending on how strong the OP is, but if he's got a 300W FTP, 190W is probably upper z2.

    Not sure about the OPs race schedule, so maybe base miles now are good. Calling them junk miles is a bit strong.

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    Elite Rider Hermes's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by achoo View Post
    Huh? 700 cal/hr is a bit under 200W average power. A cat 3 should be able to do that easy. Might be a bit much for z2/base miles depending on how strong the OP is, but if he's got a 300W FTP, 190W is probably upper z2.

    Not sure about the OPs race schedule, so maybe base miles now are good. Calling them junk miles is a bit strong.
    A lot depends on terrain and he has sort of hilly terrain so it is harder to keep power up on the downhills but not impossible so I assumed more z1. Easier constant power rides work on flatter terrain without much stopping or starting and on the trainer. But OP asked 5000 to 6500 calories per day is realistic and for z1/z2 base miles on his terrain and I say no. Maybe he does 3500 in 5 hours.

    IMO, base miles are a waste of time unless you are a road racer doing long races, stage races or a newer racer needing to build up a base of endurance. For a Cat 3, wanting to upgrade to a Cat 2, and depending on the targeted races, I stand with more build with a lot more intensity closer to what will be required to race. However, that was unsolicited advice he did not ask for.

    And maybe OP is a crit racer with a lower FTP but better sprint performance. He has not said.

    He has asked for nutrition advice and I was trying to point out that his caloric count was too high. He wants eating advice to manage high volume.
    "Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." Einstein

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    You've gained weight and you are tired.

    Eat less and take one or two rest days a week.
    ...

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by achoo View Post
    Huh? 700 cal/hr is a bit under 200W average power. A cat 3 should be able to do that easy. Might be a bit much for z2/base miles depending on how strong the OP is, but if he's got a 300W FTP, 190W is probably upper z2.
    You have to include stuff like stop signs, red lights, cars and people that force you to coast. I saw some professional rider power numbers from a recent stage race and the riders average 210-235w for the entire stage. That's on closed roads with highly motivated pros with big FTP's. If I target ~200w when pedaling an "easy" ride for me will average around 125-140w for 2-3 hours but I do deal with lots of traffic lights etc.

    To the OP, I would suggest using the Kilojoule number from your rides and convert 1:1 to calories burned. Add that to your RMR and try eating that many calories per day (assuming you want to maintain your current weight.) If you don't know how to estimate resting metabolic rate than spend some time researching it online.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hermes View Post
    A lot depends on terrain and he has sort of hilly terrain so it is harder to keep power up on the downhills but not impossible so I assumed more z1. Easier constant power rides work on flatter terrain without much stopping or starting and on the trainer. But OP asked 5000 to 6500 calories per day is realistic and for z1/z2 base miles on his terrain and I say no. Maybe he does 3500 in 5 hours.

    IMO, base miles are a waste of time unless you are a road racer doing long races, stage races or a newer racer needing to build up a base of endurance. For a Cat 3, wanting to upgrade to a Cat 2, and depending on the targeted races, I stand with more build with a lot more intensity closer to what will be required to race. However, that was unsolicited advice he did not ask for.

    And maybe OP is a crit racer with a lower FTP but better sprint performance. He has not said.

    He has asked for nutrition advice and I was trying to point out that his caloric count was too high. He wants eating advice to manage high volume.
    How much time a week do you train?

    20 hours/week is a lot for most amateur racers. If he could do 20 hours/week in z3+, the OP would probably be a pro.

    So to take advantage of all that training time pretty much requires a lot of z2 riding. And the training volume will help.

  10. #10
    Senior Member robabeatle's Avatar
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    Further:

    We don't know his weight, his goal race dates, what he means by easy ride, etc. So any advice is hardly better than a guess. I would say that 20 hours a week is a ton of work and it is easy to burn out on this much riding. More likely a bad idea than not.

    Some people do great on huge miles/low intensity for part of their season. I would suggest, as was stated above, that a build block(s)would be better most likely soon.

    I will take back my thoughts on the caloric estimate, it is a bit high. I have been consistently riding 4 hour base rides (~180 W) and my PT reads ~2400 kcal at the end of these flat rides. But, his one data point on weight increase is meaningless. Eat a bunch of carbs and you will hold onto water. I forget but it is something like for each gram of carb you hold 3 grams of water. Watch weight over a longer period of time, measuring at the same time each day.

    Meh...

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    5-6k calories is nothing if you are training hard for those 20 hours. But you need more than just calories. The diet you listed is mostly carbs, while it should be balanced (proportional amounts of protein, vegetables) regardless if it's 5k or 10k calories a day.

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    Quote Originally Posted by valygrl View Post
    You've gained weight and you are tired.

    Eat less and take one or two rest days a week.
    This makes absolutely no sense as you probably didn't read my OP. I increased my training load by roughly 6 hours so of course I am going to be tired. That is something you simply cannot get around in training high volume. The weight gain ended up just being water weight from glycogen stores.

    Quote Originally Posted by Hermes View Post
    No, 5000 tp 6,500 calories per day does not sound right. I have power on the bike and an easy ride for me is 300 to 500 Kjoules per hour which converts to 300 to 500 calories per hour. 700 calories per hour is a lot of sustained power even for a Cat 3 looking to upgrade to Cat 2.


    Your training does not make sense to me as written i.e. how can you get ready for races in September by doing lots of junk miles? Except for the desert, most racing is winding down in August and racers take September off and start on their fall program of strength and adaptation. They follow that with some base and then build cycles getting ready for racing in the spring. Of course, training is seasonal and it depends on weather and access to resources.


    Assuming there are races in September, I would add in some build cycles in July and August.


    I quit doing base / junk miles per se. I do not do stage races and my events are shorter. I focus on tempo efforts and efforts that match the power and speed requirements of the races I plan to do.
    I have now been eating more along the lines of 4000-5000, usually more like 4000-4500 though. It does vary, it is not every day that I will be hungry enough to put away 6500 calories.

    There are two road races in September that if I can podium on both I will be able to get my cat 2 upgrade. It will be a chore I tell you with a couple really strong boys in the pack but I think I can lay it down. So yes, I am building my base right now and in the latter of July and all of August I will add in intensity as a build prior to the September races

    Also, I don't know where you guys came up with the 700 cal/hr figure, or 3500 cals in 5 hours number to get to my caloric intake, but I am only 56kg and 172cm.

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    OP - I went through a similar build last winter, almost three months of 16-18 hours/week. Some observations...

    - Your diet seems to be shy on protein and fat.
    - You need to vary your source of carbs. Brown rice is good, but switch out with white and sweet potatoes and other stuff. Ditto with the fruits, you live in the fruit bowl of the country, take advantage of it!
    - Dump the gels. For what you're doing, food works better. Keep the gels for races.
    - I see no recovery time in your schedule. A 2-3 hour easy ride isn't recovery. Move the time around so you have at least one day with a max of one hour of easy spinning. If your work/life schedule precludes this, cut your hours. Your body needs the rest to absorb the training...so does your head. It won't eliminate the tiredness, but it'll take the edge off, and will keep you from physically and mentally burning out.

    Good luck with the upgrade!
    Regards,
    Chuck

    Demain, on roule!

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    Quote Originally Posted by revchuck View Post
    OP - I went through a similar build last winter, almost three months of 16-18 hours/week. Some observations...

    - Your diet seems to be shy on protein and fat.
    - You need to vary your source of carbs. Brown rice is good, but switch out with white and sweet potatoes and other stuff. Ditto with the fruits, you live in the fruit bowl of the country, take advantage of it!
    - Dump the gels. For what you're doing, food works better. Keep the gels for races.
    - I see no recovery time in your schedule. A 2-3 hour easy ride isn't recovery. Move the time around so you have at least one day with a max of one hour of easy spinning. If your work/life schedule precludes this, cut your hours. Your body needs the rest to absorb the training...so does your head. It won't eliminate the tiredness, but it'll take the edge off, and will keep you from physically and mentally burning out.

    Good luck with the upgrade!
    Great great set of tips man. I'll definitely do these. I have no work or anything since college let out so it is just so nice to ride every single day.

    I do have a slight concern though that came up. My family will be going on a 10 day vacation out of the country next weekend (not this one) and I wont be able to ride my bike Only run. Am I going to still get the benefits of the 3 weeks of 20+ hours of training? I want to take it as a recovery week, or recovery 10 day period, but I don't know how to maintain what I've built up. From what I've read, maintaining fitness is easier than the build to get it but how do I do that specifically?

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    Senior Member Looigi's Avatar
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    Nutrition advice: Read "Sports Nutrition for Endurance Athletes" by Ryan.
    Ride more. Fret less.

  16. #16
    Senior Member robabeatle's Avatar
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    On the trip be as active as possible, you really don't have much choice. If you have not been running, don't go out and run 6 miles on the first shot. You may injure yourself. If you can hike, that is a great option. Good luck and have fun!

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    Quote Originally Posted by sprince View Post
    5-6k calories is nothing if you are training hard for those 20 hours. But you need more than just calories. The diet you listed is mostly carbs, while it should be balanced (proportional amounts of protein, vegetables) regardless if it's 5k or 10k calories a day.
    At 300W, that's roughly 1000 cal/hour. Or 20,000 cal/week of riding. Assuming OPs RMR is 2000 cal/day, eating 5000 cal/day is a bit too much. 6000 cal/day is 8000 cal/week too much.

    And that's averaging 300W/hour for 20 hours each week.

    Which is a crazy level of effort for that many hours unless the OP has an FTP north of 400W. Even with a 400W FTP, 300W is pushing into z3.

    On edit: OK, OP weighs 56 kg. Assuming his FTP is in the 220W range (4W/kg, a good cat 3 guess), 150W would be a good average power. Which is a bit over 500 cal/hr. At that weight, I'll change my assumed RMR to 1500 cal/day. That's now 10,000 cal/week burned riding while needing 10,500 cal/week from RMR, for a total burn of 20,500 cal/week.

    And you're advocating he eat 5,000-6,000 cal/day, or 35,000-42,000 cal/week?

    Oooh kay.
    Last edited by achoo; 06-19-14 at 02:05 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by hambertloot View Post
    This makes absolutely no sense as you probably didn't read my OP. I increased my training load by roughly 6 hours so of course I am going to be tired. That is something you simply cannot get around in training high volume. The weight gain ended up just being water weight from glycogen stores.



    I have now been eating more along the lines of 4000-5000, usually more like 4000-4500 though. It does vary, it is not every day that I will be hungry enough to put away 6500 calories.

    There are two road races in September that if I can podium on both I will be able to get my cat 2 upgrade. It will be a chore I tell you with a couple really strong boys in the pack but I think I can lay it down. So yes, I am building my base right now and in the latter of July and all of August I will add in intensity as a build prior to the September races

    Also, I don't know where you guys came up with the 700 cal/hr figure, or 3500 cals in 5 hours number to get to my caloric intake, but I am only 56kg and 172cm.
    You'll burn about 700 cal/hr riding at a 200W average power.

    Although at 56 kg, maybe that is a bit much. 200W is a good z2/endurance/base level of effort for someone with an FTP of 300W. But for you that'd put your FTP at over 5W/kg, which is pretty much pro level. (6 W/kg puts you almost into "win TdF" range...)

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    Quote Originally Posted by achoo View Post
    At 300W, that's roughly 1000 cal/hour. Or 20,000 cal/week of riding. Assuming OPs RMR is 2000 cal/day, eating 5000 cal/day is a bit too much. 6000 cal/day is 8000 cal/week too much.

    And that's averaging 300W/hour for 20 hours each week.

    Which is a crazy level of effort for that many hours unless the OP has an FTP north of 400W. Even with a 400W FTP, 300W is pushing into z3.
    Not everyone weighs 120 lbs and burns 2k calories per day while at rest. You have assumed a lot.

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    Quote Originally Posted by sprince View Post
    Not everyone weighs 120 lbs and burns 2k calories per day while at rest. You have assumed a lot.
    I assumed a lot to show the crazy levels of RMR and sustained effort riding it takes to need to eat 6,000 cal/day - your recommendation to the OP on how much to eat.

    Did you keep reading?

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    Quote Originally Posted by achoo View Post
    I assumed a lot to show the crazy levels of RMR and sustained effort riding it takes to need to eat 6,000 cal/day - your recommendation to the OP on how much to eat.

    Did you keep reading?
    Yes I did read it all. You seem to assume extremely low numbers for both watts and metabolism. For example I typically eat 4-5k calories while training no where near that many hours per week. According to bikecalculator.com, I burn 823 calories per hour on a fairly conservative ride (~20 mph, 0% grade, 244 watts). So if I did absolutely nothing but ride and lie in bed (which is completely unrealistic), that's 2,500 cal resting + (823 cal * 3 hrs riding) = 4969. I didn't recommend how much the OP should eat, just pointed out that with that level of work there is nothing at all unusual about the reported calorie intake.

  22. #22
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    I really don't think it's realistic to discuss how many calories rider X should eat/day. There's too much we don't know, most importantly the rider's ability to count calories. I say, let the scale decide. Eat so as to maintain, slightly lose, or slightly gain weight, depending on goals. The big thing is the macros: how much of what? No scale's gonna weigh in on that, so to speak. I think it's good to go a little on the high side on protein, if there's any doubt. Carbs enough for performance goals, protein enough to keep the leg pain somewhat at bay, and fat enough to keep the weight where it needs to be. I think the OP's way light on protein. Way light. Also way light on fat. That's why he's hungry all the time. Sounds like a vegan diet. If a rider's gonna eat that way and ride that much, he or she needs a pro diet coach. IMO he should either eat a normal natural foods diet or at least a pescatarian diet. Mediterranean diet works well. Where's the half a plate of vegetables? Etc. /rant

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    Just as an additional data point...My ride yesterday included an hour with an AP of 209 watts, which came up as 753 kj. Training Peaks uses a one kj = one calorie formula, so that's 753 calories. OTOH, I'm big (6'2"), fat (185) and old (62), so my 209 watts might not take the same amount of energy as the OP's.
    Regards,
    Chuck

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    I'll add another data point if it helps. My ride yesterday was 2 hr @ AP 218W. Training peaks spat out 1282kj

    OTOH, I'm short (5'8), fat, (175lb on a good day), and not quite as old as revchuck (55)

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