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Eat before or after morning workout

Old 12-26-16, 09:48 AM
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Eat before or after morning workout

Was contemplating this this morning as i was game planning my workout (20 minutes on spin bike followed by 20 minutes on rowing machine)

Today, breakfast won the coin toss as i slept in and, frankly, just felt like having some breakfast, But

Whats the general consensus among my fellow Clyde's? And by workouts i don't necessarily mean cycling or cycling specific ones, it could be anything your doing in the off season

Old folk tales and wives tales abound about this i know , similar to the "never eat after 6" ones, and things like that

Do you like to slog through it in an extreme calorie deficit and then get on with the day, (some people say they can hit the gym just fine after a cup of coffee), Or do you schedule it a little later when you have some fuel to burn?

Or is it entirely situational?
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Old 12-26-16, 09:59 AM
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I think it's down to what works for the individual. I like to have something before, as for me, it gives me energy; if I don't, I get light headed and swimmy somewhere mid-workout. I'd say experiment and do what works...
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Old 12-26-16, 10:32 AM
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Your body will burn more stored fat if you work out in a fasted state.

If you were to eat then go work, you are burning glycogen and not stored fat.

If you are not used to burning stored fat (being fat adapted) you may bonk a lot sooner than you would if you ate.

I am fat adapted and I work out while fasted with no trouble what so ever
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Old 12-26-16, 10:33 AM
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Both. I eat a well balanced nutritious breakfast then ride anywhere from 40-60 miles. By that time, I am ready for my next meal and some recovery.
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Old 12-26-16, 10:38 AM
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I'd postpone the meal until after my workout for two reasons.

The first is that I don't like to ride hard immediately after eating, so if eating before,I'd want 1/2 hour or so to digest before riding.

The second is that I tend to eat after a workout anyway, so if I ate first, Id end up eating twice.
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Old 12-26-16, 03:40 PM
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I am on thyroid meds so I take mine and work out in the hour long window it renders me unable to eat. I used to get incredibly nauseous if I worked out without having eaten.
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Old 12-27-16, 03:36 PM
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Shorter exercise (1 hr) don't eat. Longer exercise, eat something. And then throw in there how you feel when you do that and modify from there. "Science" has gone back and forth on this but I think the general consensus is that for the purposes of weight loss (fat body %, yeah, we know) it is best to exercise without eating. You then have a time frame to take start fueling the body to take the most advantage of what you just did. This again is debated over and over. I personally get some easily digestible protein in my body anywhere from 30-45 minutes after I stop.
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Old 12-27-16, 03:43 PM
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Try it both ways and see what works for you. If I don't eat something before riding, I get nauseous within half an hour or so; even a couple bites of a breakfast bar will do. Your Stomach May Vary (YSMV).
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Old 12-27-16, 03:52 PM
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Originally Posted by FBinNY View Post
I'd postpone the meal until after my workout for two reasons.

The first is that I don't like to ride hard immediately after eating, so if eating before,I'd want 1/2 hour or so to digest before riding.

The second is that I tend to eat after a workout anyway, so if I ate first, Id end up eating twice.

You must do short rides if this is the case. A ride for me is 2.5-3.5 hours. That usually puts the meal time in the correct time frame.

Yes, I would not eat before a 10 mile ride then eat again.

But doing a good decent ride does require some nutrition.
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Old 12-27-16, 04:07 PM
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Originally Posted by ClydeTim View Post
You must do short rides if this is the case. .....
Actually, it's quite the opposite. I must have been born with the camel gene. I used to do centuries and longer based on last night's dinner. Likewise I could do with much less food or hydration on long rides than my buddies, who'd complain that I never wanted to stop.

Part of this might be genetic, and part habit and training since most of us never ate or drank on rides as much as modern riders do. I don't say this is smarter or better in any way, but it's what we did, and we all managed to survive fine.

IMO. too many riders today get overly worked up over stuff that doesn't matter as much as they believe.

Listen to your body and do whatever works for you, regardless of what works for others.
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Old 12-27-16, 11:37 PM
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I usually do a morning workout without eating first. Occasionally I might eat 100-200 cal prior to my workout, if I felt hungry and I have the time to start a little later.

Not sure why you're imagining you'd need to slog through it with an extreme calorie deficit? I routinely do 1-2 hour workouts/rides with zero calorie intake, burn 550-850 cal (measured with a power meter). I figure I have 1500 cal of stored carb in the form of glycogen and many thousands of calories of stored fat. I (and you too) have plenty of stored energy.

If your problem is hunger post-workout, I'd for sure do the workout fasted, save some calories for later. I've posted this before- a recovery drink with around 0.4 gm/kg pro and 0.8 gm/kg carbs "re-sets" my appetitive back to normal & I no longer get the post-workout starvation feeling.
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Old 12-28-16, 08:11 AM
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It has changed for me over the few years since I started riding. At first, I couldn't ride anywhere without a bunch of water and a full belly. And I'd have to eat during the ride to keep from bonking. Now coming up on 4 years and 15,000 miles into riding, I regularly do 30+ miles with no food or water. Last night I rode 31 miles and didn't eat much before and ate nothing after I got back, allowing me to fast into the night. It's 8am now and I still haven't eaten anything and I'm not hungry.

My theory is your body adapts and rebuilds itself internally to more efficiently allow for regular cycling. Recently, I've also worked to become fat-adapted. Meaning changing my primary fuel source from sugar/glycogen to using stored fat and ketones. This can be done by adopting a ketogenic diet. Initially bike rides were harder when doing this, but after almost a month, they are getting easier again and I'm losing body fat in the process.

Something interesting that I've noticed during this process is that when I come off a long (30+ mile) ride, that I'm in ketosis (verified by ketostix) whether I've had carbs or not. Meaning the process of cycling burns off all of the carbs/glycogen in your body and forces you into a state where you are buring fat/ketones for fuel. I suspect this happens to anyone that regularly does longer rides without them knowing it. Meaning, the act of longer distance cycling is similar to fasting in terms of what it does to the body. Sends you into ketosis. The choice then is to stay in ketosis after the ride or eat a bunch of carbs telling your body you prefer it to burn sugar primarily.
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Old 12-28-16, 08:36 AM
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haven't had a morning workout in a long time. but my quick 2 cents: a small box of raisins will burn right up if you don't want to deal with a meal ahead of time

but nutrition timing is complex. I like to have a meal in me prior to a workout, but not just before. maybe an hour or two before. that's where the little box o' raisins comes in. I'll eat those on my way out the door. or if I drive to a bike trail, then I'll eat em while I load the bike.

then there's the duration of the workout. I've read that 45 minutes is like a magic number & after that you'll need some kind of refueling. I often go 1.5 hrs with nothing but water & wind up pretty hungry at the end

after-workout nutrition is important too cuz you'll soak up some protein & simple carbs. like protein powder mixed w fruit juice. it's disgusting but if you drink it quick you fuggedaboutit

right now my regular workouts are during my 1 hr work lunch breaks. typical procedure is 1/2 my lunch on the way to the gym. 1/2 chick cutlet w small lettuce wedge. 1/2 hr of weight training or stationary bike, shower dress back to work. later in the afternoon around 2-2:30 I'll have the other 1/2 of my lunch when I go get my coffee. I try to avoid bread in the middle of the day

if I hit the gym again after work I'll have as mall box o raisins, maybe covered in yogurt, those are yummy lately. after work I'll do 40 minutes, like stair climber then treadmill. then in the 40 min car drive home I'll have my evening lettuce wedge, baby carrots & granola bar. at home I have dinner

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Old 12-28-16, 09:25 AM
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Originally Posted by Heathpack View Post
I usually do a morning workout without eating first. Occasionally I might eat 100-200 cal prior to my workout, if I felt hungry and I have the time to start a little later.

Not sure why you're imagining you'd need to slog through it with an extreme calorie deficit? I routinely do 1-2 hour workouts/rides with zero calorie intake, burn 550-850 cal (measured with a power meter). I figure I have 1500 cal of stored carb in the form of glycogen and many thousands of calories of stored fat. I (and you too) have plenty of stored energy.

If your problem is hunger post-workout, I'd for sure do the workout fasted, save some calories for later. I've posted this before- a recovery drink with around 0.4 gm/kg pro and 0.8 gm/kg carbs "re-sets" my appetitive back to normal & I no longer get the post-workout starvation feeling.
This.. and the recovery drinks posted by @Heathpack are, as the kids these days would say, PoundSign Awesome. Especially the Creamsicle one... Mixed with a jar of clear is the issue I am having with it right now
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Old 12-28-16, 09:53 AM
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Originally Posted by Jarrett2 View Post
It has changed for me over the few years since I started riding. At first, I couldn't ride anywhere without a bunch of water and a full belly. And I'd have to eat during the ride to keep from bonking. Now coming up on 4 years and 15,000 miles into riding, I regularly do 30+ miles with no food or water. Last night I rode 31 miles and didn't eat much before and ate nothing after I got back, allowing me to fast into the night. It's 8am now and I still haven't eaten anything and I'm not hungry.

My theory is your body adapts and rebuilds itself internally to more efficiently allow for regular cycling. Recently, I've also worked to become fat-adapted. Meaning changing my primary fuel source from sugar/glycogen to using stored fat and ketones. This can be done by adopting a ketogenic diet. Initially bike rides were harder when doing this, but after almost a month, they are getting easier again and I'm losing body fat in the process.

Something interesting that I've noticed during this process is that when I come off a long (30+ mile) ride, that I'm in ketosis (verified by ketostix) whether I've had carbs or not. Meaning the process of cycling burns off all of the carbs/glycogen in your body and forces you into a state where you are buring fat/ketones for fuel. I suspect this happens to anyone that regularly does longer rides without them knowing it. Meaning, the act of longer distance cycling is similar to fasting in terms of what it does to the body. Sends you into ketosis. The choice then is to stay in ketosis after the ride or eat a bunch of carbs telling your body you prefer it to burn sugar primarily.
It's normal to see ketones in the blood with prolonged, strenuous exercise. The liver is stimulated to generate glucose in this context, because ketones will cross the blood brain barrier (whereas fatty acids will not). Basically any time you're training to "metabolize fat", you will be generating ketones before you are glycogen-depleted in your muscles. (The glycogen in your muscles is there to be used locally by those muscles. The liver is responding to the relative levels of insulin and glucagon in the blood). Even people who are not carb-depleted, whether by following a kerogenic diet or just by virtue of performing strenuous exercise, will do this.

As you become more trained over time, it's a normal response for you to need less calories to fuel a ride. Basically your fat catabolism gets trained just like everything else. Back in our couch potato days, when we never did any strenuous exercise, our bodies were really well-trained at fat storage, when you think about it. It's a know fact that carb-feeding seems to have a different effect on lean, active individuals than on overweight, sedentary individuals. I would speculate that these metabolic differences are the reason this carb-feeding difference has been seen.

We should never extrapolate too broadly based on one person, because there truly is a huge spectrum of physiology. But I was fat my entire life. Five to six years ago, I decided to lose weight. Lost 50 pounds and settled in a weight of 130 pounds last year. Now I find that I'm semi-resistant to weight gain. I have a basically good diet, but definitely will eat way too much cookies, candy, pretzels, cakes, ice cream, etc. Every day I eat stuff like that. But I sit stably at 130 pounds pretty much all the time now, maybe 10 months?

I work with a coach, race time trials and do a lot of intense workouts. I fuel as minimally as I can during workouts/rides. My sense is that I've changed my metabolism & my entire relationship to food (less hunger and drive to eat). Never went the route of ketotic diet, although I think the concept is interesting. It would just be really hard for me to turn my culinary life upside down to go ketotic.

I'm still a little squidgy and wouldn't mind losing another 10 pounds. I might work on that project at some point, but I'm not in any huge hurry. I find with weight loss, I go through periods of losing weight, then long stable periods at whatever weight. Then when I get around to it, more weight loss.

As an aside, all I ever hear people say is that weight is lost in the kitchen, exercise is a minor component. My sense is that's completely untrue- I think the answer lies in intense workouts and then you need less attention to every molecule you eat, which is an high-energy state of vigilance. Which is not to say I don't believe you need to watch calories. And when I decide to lose weight, I'll count calories every day. Even when not counting, I've learned generally how many calories are in many items, which helps me make good choices. But personally, I think the intense exercise puts you in a state where your body starts to maintain a lower weight automatically. Hugely important. But again, I am one person & my experience could be unique rather than universal.
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Old 12-28-16, 10:30 AM
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I learned the hard way that if I eat anything before a workout it doesn't sit well in my stomach, and actually feel sick mid-workout. That said, I do try to eat something small before and during a workout, a small baggie of trail mix for instance. Anything more and I'd be better off on the couch. On a 50 mile ride, I'm fine with just plain water and recover with a bottle of chocolate milk, even after fasting all night (and not eating in the morning) I never feel hungry after a ride. My work is physically demanding and I find that a 6oz bowl of cereal and 2 cups of coffee in the morning is all I need to keep going for a 12-13 hour shift, well that and water throughout the day.
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Old 12-28-16, 01:37 PM
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ride<25 miles=breakfast afterwards. ride>25 miles=breakfast before or, sometimes when on tour, not that far down the road.
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Old 12-28-16, 02:30 PM
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Originally Posted by Heathpack View Post
Not sure why you're imagining you'd need to slog through it with an extreme calorie deficit? .

There is no imagining about it ----

If your last meal was at 7pm the previous evening and you workout at 8 am , that's 13 hours plus an hour to workout (yes, this is a cycling forum, but I will add that I was not talking about only cycling as the workout of choice)

So now we are talking 15 hours, so that is definitely in a fasted state
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Old 12-28-16, 04:00 PM
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Originally Posted by DMC707 View Post
There is no imagining about it ----

If your last meal was at 7pm the previous evening and you workout at 8 am , that's 13 hours plus an hour to workout (yes, this is a cycling forum, but I will add that I was not talking about only cycling as the workout of choice)

So now we are talking 15 hours, so that is definitely in a fasted state
I eat dinner at 6 pm, ride the next morning at 10 am. 16 hours between meals. I am definitely not doing a ride that burns 1600 calories on an empty stomach. Calories according to Strava. No monitors. Calories range from 1500-1600 'ish on my posted rides of 2.5 thru 3.5 hours.

Even if I am not riding, a well balanced meal says I should eat something in the morning.
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Old 12-28-16, 04:47 PM
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Originally Posted by DMC707 View Post
There is no imagining about it ----

If your last meal was at 7pm the previous evening and you workout at 8 am , that's 13 hours plus an hour to workout (yes, this is a cycling forum, but I will add that I was not talking about only cycling as the workout of choice)

So now we are talking 15 hours, so that is definitely in a fasted state
Sure but being fasted is no problem. Our bodies are designed to fast for portions of the day. That's why we have body systems to store fuel sources (fat, glycogen and in a pinch muscle) and then convert those stored fuels into available energy on-demand, including during the workout itself.

Any kind on non-intense activity, like sleeping, house chores, weight lifting, even easier bike rides, can be fueled by stored fat, no problem.

The limiter becomes intense activity because part of any intense effort will be anaerobic, and anaerobic efforts are fueled by glucose/glycogen and you have a finite supply of that. Maybe 2000 cal for a well-muscled man, 1500 for a smaller woman like myself. None of us are doing any kind of sustained pure anaerobic effort, so we are fueling most of our workouts with a mix of fat & glucose. Even without eating, we all have a couple of hours-worth of stored energy once we start working hard, fasted or not. So for non-intense workouts, you really are fine not eating prior. You might need to train up to it, but it's very reasonably achievable. Not necessary of course. Just useful if you are trying to minimize calorie intake for the day.

I do eat before long rides, like most people here. I figure on those Im going to have to fuel anyway and it's easier to just eat part of that total intake prior to riding, the rest of it on the ride itself.

If you feel like eating breakfast, by all means do. Not all eating needs to be dictated by your ride/workout schedule. But I don't think seeing a 40 min fasted workout as resulting in an extreme calorie deficit is actually that accurate. But my perspective is maybe a little different, since I routinely create a calorie deficit on a long ride that is equal to my daily calorie allotment and that does not seem in the slightest to be 'extreme' to me.
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Old 12-29-16, 10:48 AM
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coincidentally this article popped up today. What to eat before, during and after a workout
By Jacqueline Howard, CNN

What to eat before, during, and after a workout - CNN.com
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Old 12-29-16, 12:05 PM
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Originally Posted by rumrunn6 View Post
coincidentally this article popped up today. What to eat before, during and after a workout
By Jacqueline Howard, CNN

What to eat before, during, and after a workout - CNN.com

Typical of mainstream media coverage of topics like this: flawed.


The section where the "expert" is being quoted giving advice as to what to eat prior to a workout links to a meta-analysis of studies looking at carbohydrate ingestion during long TT type efforts of 1 hour or greater duration. Ie a threshold level effort- intense- when no one would argue that carb ingestion would be beneficial in theory. This is not the type of riding most people are doing on an every day basis. Typical rides contain periods of intensity and periods of lesser intensity- which means a greater amount of fat burning.


On top of that, these studies are not using athletes trained to fasted efforts or efforts in which carbs are limited- they are just taking normal subjects and those of us who train fasted intentionally know that it does take some time to train your metabolism to function differently than it used to.


For me, the fasted training began while prepping for a series of climbing endurance sort-of races. Logistically, you can't always eat when you want during those events and its hard to keep up with your needs once you're >6 hours into an event (your digestion does not function as well). So it behooves you to be able to burn fat as much as you can. Now I'm doing shorter events, TTs, maybe 1 hour for a 40k race. I wouldn't argue that carb ingestion during a race wouldn't result in greater power output but given the aero penalty for sitting up to eat or drink, I could pretty much guarantee carb ingestion would result in a slower time.


So I'm not trying to make out that fasted training or minimally-fed training is some sort of goal unto itself. Its just that some of us do this for very practical reasons. And therefore have some knowledge/experience with the subject.


I do agree with almost everything else in the article linked though, especially the stuff about recovery. I restrict intake before/after rides/workouts as much as I can. But I'm religious about my recovery- I always consume 23 gm protein and 50-60 grams of carbs within 20-30 min of any workout beyond a recovery ride.

Last edited by Heathpack; 12-29-16 at 12:35 PM.
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Old 12-30-16, 12:40 PM
  #23  
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Originally Posted by ClydeTim View Post
You must do short rides if this is the case. A ride for me is 2.5-3.5 hours. That usually puts the meal time in the correct time frame.

Yes, I would not eat before a 10 mile ride then eat again.

But doing a good decent ride does require some nutrition.

Not true! I personally know people who do 100k to a true 100 mile ride being fasted for days!
I personally am not in good enough shape to do long rides, but I do my biggest and killer work outs being fasted.
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Old 12-30-16, 12:58 PM
  #24  
DMC707
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i like the varied responses -- it makes for good discussion


As for me, it depends and thus far i dont have any rhyme or reason.


Yesterdays workout was done fasted, - was a 30 minute spin workout focusing on leg speed , - rpms above 120 with periodic jaunts up to 160 -- this was followed up with 15 minutes on the rowing machine

And today, -- had a bad saddle sore sso just did 30 minutes on the rower, -- but i did eat a small pastry (roughly 3" in diameter, ) and took a pre-workout drink before


Huge difference for me compared to some of you though, is that i have no desire whatsoever to do 2 and 3 hour rides, and the longest TT i will partake in is 20k. I am working on some track specific training (hence the overspeed workouts) and likely wont participate in anything on the road longer than a 45 minute +2 criterium or circuit race.

I was able to drop some pounds using a No sugar, no grains approach and felt like i was getting pretty fat adapted, but the infusion of carbs this morning 45 minutes before my rowing session made the workout go by so easily.



But its a fine line, - for most track events, and short duration mtb and criterium events which i prefer, it would be very easy to go overkill on the carbs and de-rail the great weight loss progress i have already made


I think in the morning i will try the exact same workout, except eat an avocado with a serving of iced coffee 45 min before as opposed to a pastry and a pre-workout drink , and see where that takes me. Similar calories, but this time from fat, and a jolt of caffeine from a natural source as opposed to a lab scientist project

Its the off season so a great time to experiment

Last edited by DMC707; 12-30-16 at 01:05 PM.
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Old 12-30-16, 01:20 PM
  #25  
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Originally Posted by NYSteve View Post
Not true! I personally know people who do 100k to a true 100 mile ride being fasted for days!
I personally am not in good enough shape to do long rides, but I do my biggest and killer work outs being fasted.

Again, it is what you consider a killer workout. If you consider a 20 mile all out ride at 20 mph, I could do it after fasting. But to maintain that for 40-60 miles is a bit different.


A killer workout for me is a century with 10,000-12,000 ft of climbing. I'd be a fool to do them after fasting for days.

Honestly, as I have mentioned before. Eat a well balanced diet. If someone feels the need to fast, there must be something fishy going on. Eat a well balanced diet and you'd never have the need to fast.
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