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does fiber give you digestive problems while riding?

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does fiber give you digestive problems while riding?

Old 04-26-15, 09:03 AM
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does fiber give you digestive problems while riding?

Is it good to have little or a lot of fibers on the bike? Does it take longer to digest and give you digestive problems?

I'm planning on eating dried dates instead of clif bars all the time, since its significantly cheaper, but it does have quite a bit of fiber (1.6g/date). I have sensitive stomach, will the fiber make things worse.
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Old 04-26-15, 11:40 AM
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It is not your stomach where the problem occurs! Fiber gives you problems no matter what your are doing, not just bike riding. You need a certain amount of it, but too much will send you to the crapper all day. Everybody is different and has a different fiber tolerance. You will simply have to determine yours. OTOH there is the positive jet propulsion effect to consider.
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Old 04-26-15, 11:48 AM
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Originally Posted by greenlight149 View Post
Is it good to have little or a lot of fibers on the bike? Does it take longer to digest and give you digestive problems?

I'm planning on eating dried dates instead of clif bars all the time, since its significantly cheaper, but it does have quite a bit of fiber (1.6g/date). I have sensitive stomach, will the fiber make things worse.
I suspect that you'd have to eat a lot of dates to have issues with the fiber. Most likely more dates than you're likely to eat on a ride anyway. I've used dried fruits as on the bike energy food for decades, usually dried apricots, but also dates, figs and raisins, and never had issues except that they can make me thirsty.

However everybody is different, so I suggest you try it out and see how you do.
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Old 04-26-15, 11:50 AM
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And then there are prunes. Oh excuse me, dried plums. Political correctness and all.
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Old 04-26-15, 01:50 PM
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Dates and beans should fix you right up.
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Old 04-26-15, 01:52 PM
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Originally Posted by rpenmanparker View Post
It is not your stomach where the problem occurs! Fiber gives you problems no matter what your are doing, not just bike riding. You need a certain amount of it, but too much will send you to the crapper all day. Everybody is different and has a different fiber tolerance. You will simply have to determine yours. OTOH there is the positive jet propulsion effect to consider.
and it's a great way to flick riders off your wheel.
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Old 04-26-15, 02:00 PM
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Originally Posted by greenlight149 View Post
Is it good to have little or a lot of fibers on the bike? Does it take longer to digest and give you digestive problems?

I'm planning on eating dried dates instead of clif bars all the time, since its significantly cheaper, but it does have quite a bit of fiber (1.6g/date). I have sensitive stomach, will the fiber make things worse.
I bring dates, raisins, prunes and other dried fruits on my rides; also nuts like cashews and almonds. I have no problems with these, unlike Gatorade, which has way too much sugar and makes me feel bad.

Larabars are basically dates and nuts with maybe a fruit added for flavor. Shouldn't be too hard to mix up a batch of your own for a lot less money.

But everyone's system is different so it'll take some trial and error on your part to know what you can and can't eat on a ride. Cyclists need carbs but too much all at once is no good, either. Google what the pros eat on their rides.
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Old 04-26-15, 02:14 PM
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By definition, fiber is the part of your food that's undigestible. You need a certain amount of bulk to keep things 'moving,' but get too much and you'll have problems whether or not you're on your bike.
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Old 04-26-15, 02:19 PM
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The only thing that seems to upset my stomach on the road is the sugary energy drinks. Since I switched to Skratch labs I don't have that problem anymore. I've been able to eat pretty much anything that is considered road cycling food.
I think you'll be fine eating dried fruit but you'll never know till you try. You're gonna have to put in some trial eats when you are getting some long saddle time to figure out what works for you.
It's taken me a few seasons to get my cycling diet adjusted to what works for me.
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Old 04-26-15, 02:21 PM
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Originally Posted by BlazingPedals View Post
By definition, fiber is the part of your food that's undigestible. You need a certain amount of bulk to keep things 'moving,' but get too much and you'll have problems whether or not you're on your bike.
Once the fiber gets to the large intestine, the bacteria that live there digest it, creating the toxic gas.

The OP may not have problems on the bike but later.
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Old 04-26-15, 02:24 PM
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My carbon fiber frame doesn't give me digestive problems very often. Maybe skin to carbon contact via the handlebars is making you sick? On a serious note, fiber does upset my stomach sometimes while riding, so I usually limit my intake of them and eat more of some homemade bars which are lower in fiber but still high in energy.

+1 on the dried fruit. I think I am going to get a home food dehydrator because it is cheaper than store bought. There are so many different kinds of fruits you can use.

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Old 04-26-15, 03:00 PM
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Dried apricots are my favorite.
I bought a home fruit dehydrator hoping it would convert the apricots from my backyard tree to tasty dried ones.
I didn't realize that the ones in the store use sulfur to keep that beautiful color. Mine turned dark brown.
I got rid of the dehydrator.

High fiber means more time in the bathroom, including more than one visit before a early morning ride.
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Old 04-26-15, 03:20 PM
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Originally Posted by coolcamaro12 View Post

+1 on the dried fruit. I think I am going to get a home food dehydrator because it is cheaper than store bought. There are so many different kinds of fruits you can use.
In your dreams. Unless you have a tree for every fruit you want to dehydrate, it will cost you a fortune. Are you forgetting that it takes several pounds of fresh fruit to make a pound of dried fruit? And high quality fresh fruit is expensive. Buy dried fruit at Costco. You can't even come close to that at home. Just talking about price. No other considerations at play here.
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Old 04-26-15, 05:01 PM
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It seems like one doesnt need to eat many dates per hour. Considering that almost all of the carbs come from glucose and fructose (16grams/ medjool date), when combined with my electrolyte/carb drink (40grams/ 24oz bottle), or half a bottle depending on temperature, i probably dont need to eat more than one per hour, giving me combined 56grams of carbs/ hour, which i read should be more than enough, anymore than that and you wont digest it.

how many do you guys eat per hour? do you aim for a specific number of grams/hour of carbs?

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Old 04-26-15, 05:25 PM
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Originally Posted by greenlight149 View Post
I'm planning on eating dried dates instead of clif bars all the time, since its significantly cheaper, but it does have quite a bit of fiber (1.6g/date). I have sensitive stomach, will the fiber make things worse.
Since you have a sensitive stomach, I'd suggest you try eating the amount of dates that you plan to consume on the ride, but do it at home in case you have issues. Maybe do this while you're doing some work outside at similar temps you'll be riding in. You don't want to turn a good ride into a crappy ride.
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Old 04-26-15, 05:45 PM
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Originally Posted by greenlight149
...giving me combined 56grams of carbs/ hour, which i read should be more than enough, anymore than that and you wont digest it.

how many do you guys eat per hour? do you aim for a specific number of grams/hour of carbs?
200 calories/hour is my magic number. YMMV.

BTW, you'll be fine with dates. Figs are one of my main on-bike energy sources. The ones I use have 5g of fiber per 110 calories. I also eat oatmeal for breakfast. I almost never have to take a dump when I'm out riding, and I do at least one 6-hour ride per week. A little fiber is a good thing, as far as I'm concerned. It makes you feel more full. Any time I go on just liquid and/or gels I get that empty feeling in my stomach. Again, YMMV. Most of my rides are long, endurance-based rides. For the short, intense stuff I generally don't eat anything. I don't do many 2-3 hour super intense rides where drinks & gels are best.
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Old 04-26-15, 06:20 PM
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Fiber is far more than simply an inert indigestible substance - it is vital for the establishment of a healthy population of gut bacteria flora. It is estimated that 97% of Americans are eating a fiber deficient diet. If a person is having problems eating a fiber rich diet then it is likely that they have gut flora that is unhealthy. Eating fiber will eventually correct this.

"...Fiber has long been linked to better health, but new research shows how the gut microbiota might play a role in this pattern. One investigation discovered that adding more fiber to the diet can trigger a shift from a microbial profile linked to obesity to one correlated with a leaner physique. Another recent study shows that when microbes are starved of fiber, they can start to feed on the protective mucus lining of the gut, possibly triggering inflammation and disease.
"Diet is one of the most powerful tools we have for changing the microbiota," Justin Sonnenburg, a biologist at Stanford University, said earlier this month at a Keystone Symposia conference on the gut microbiome. "Dietary fiber and diversity of the microbiota complement each other for better health outcomes."..."

Fiber-Famished Gut Microbes Linked to Poor Health - Scientific American
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Old 04-26-15, 07:39 PM
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If a person has very high digestive motility, dewatering of the stool is often barely complete at the time that it is expelled. Adding a large amount of fiber to the mix further r*tards the dewatering as the fiber has a high affinity for water. In other words even with a healthy flora colony in the digestive tract, a high fiber diet can push a person into a very unpleasant regime.
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Old 04-26-15, 07:40 PM
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Originally Posted by Ball Bearing View Post
Fiber is far more than simply an inert indigestible substance - it is vital for the establishment of a healthy population of gut bacteria flora. It is estimated that 97% of Americans are eating a fiber deficient diet. If a person is having problems eating a fiber rich diet then it is likely that they have gut flora that is unhealthy. Eating fiber will eventually correct this.

"...Fiber has long been linked to better health, but new research shows how the gut microbiota might play a role in this pattern. One investigation discovered that adding more fiber to the diet can trigger a shift from a microbial profile linked to obesity to one correlated with a leaner physique. Another recent study shows that when microbes are starved of fiber, they can start to feed on the protective mucus lining of the gut, possibly triggering inflammation and disease.
"Diet is one of the most powerful tools we have for changing the microbiota," Justin Sonnenburg, a biologist at Stanford University, said earlier this month at a Keystone Symposia conference on the gut microbiome. "Dietary fiber and diversity of the microbiota complement each other for better health outcomes."..."

Fiber-Famished Gut Microbes Linked to Poor Health - Scientific American
While that may all be true as general dietary guidance, it is contextually incorrect for promoting a high fiber diet during endurance exercise.

In direct answer to the OP's original question, high fiber is not good if you are riding for any real level of performance. Your body will waste a lot of energy on digestion that it could otherwise use to fuel your muscles for better performance. I would recommend very conservative use of dried fruit if you are going to ride with any kind of intensity for more than a couple of hours. Easily digested items that have a moderate to high GI rating are the way to go.

And as others have suggested, you just need to get out there and determine what will not upset your stomach understanding that this may very well change over time.
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Old 04-26-15, 07:50 PM
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Originally Posted by Clipped_in View Post
While that may all be true as general dietary guidance, it is contextually incorrect for promoting a high fiber diet during endurance exercise.
This may be true if a person suffers from the effects of unhealthy gut flora. I eat a very high fiber diet every day and I also do not have any problems with energy levels on long rides, nor do I experience excessive gas of digestion problems.

Co-incidentally, I do not consume gels or sugary drinks.

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Old 04-26-15, 07:56 PM
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So you are saying that a high fiber diet does improve endurance exercise performance?
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Old 04-26-15, 08:11 PM
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Originally Posted by Clipped_in View Post
So you are saying that a high fiber diet does improve endurance exercise performance?
Have a look at the videos I posted. It seems very reasonable that the healthier a person is the more energy and stamina he will experience.

I typically don't eat much (usually not at all) on my rides if under around four hours duration and it puzzles me when I see fellow cyclists eating gels because they are running out of puff.
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Old 04-26-15, 09:55 PM
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my understanding is that the harder you are exercising, the more blood gets diverted from your stomach to your muscles, thus making digesting more difficult.

Therefore, it might be ok to eat a certain amount of fibers during lower intensity riding, but if you are pushing hard for 3 hours, the digestive system will change accordingly, and the same amount of fibers might cause problems. Thats probably why gels are preferred for fast digestion, especially during hard efforts.
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Old 04-26-15, 10:04 PM
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We can speculate, guess and analyze forever, or the OP can simply give it a shot. It's not like the consequences would be expensive or life threatening.

Dates may be perfect for him, or they may give him gas or cramps. He'll never know until he tries.
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Old 04-26-15, 10:21 PM
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Originally Posted by FBinNY View Post
We can speculate, guess and analyze forever, or the OP can simply give it a shot. It's not like the consequences would be expensive or life threatening.

Dates may be perfect for him, or they may give him gas or cramps. He'll never know until he tries.
i will try it out, but since i only need one or two per hour in combination with a carb drink, i think it should be ok in that amount.
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