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Road Cycling “It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.” -- Ernest Hemingway

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Old 04-15-18, 10:24 AM   #1
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Fasted Cycling... didn't know I was doing it

Seems to be a lot written about it with a lot of anecdotal information but next to nothing when it comes to actual research. (e.g., google: "fasted cycling" or "fasted training" which apparently are somewhat tangentially related, 'intermittent' eating practices or 'alternate-day fasting' or, 'interval eating').

Seems to be just the opposite of starting the day with a big farmhouse meal. It's definitely contrary to the pancake dinner the night before a bikethon.

The idea is going for a ride in the morning with nothing in your stomach since dinner at ~7P the night before. No breakfast... just, a cup of coffee and-- only drinking water during the ride-- the idea being to get your body in the mode of metabolizing its own fat for energy, which carries on throughout the day. There's probably some good psychology involved like, giving you something to look forward to after the ride. Then too, there's the 'buzz' of starting the day with a workout, etc.

After thinking abou it, how different is it that than some days on a tour where you ride for miles after breaking camp before hitting a small town with a diner for eggs'n bacon'n, biscuits and gravy... But, that's different than making a general practice of it although it may be easier for commuters to try and anyone with mornings set aside for cycling...
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Old 04-15-18, 10:36 AM   #2
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Isn't that just going to tell your body you are starving and go into fat saving mode?
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Old 04-15-18, 10:40 AM   #3
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Isn't that just going to tell your body you are starving and go into fat saving mode?
Not really. The body has plenty of stored glycogen to handle even a spirited ride of several hours. My problem is, on days when I do get out and ride before breakfast, starting about 4 hours after I get home, I want to eat everything in sight. I much prefer my normal breakfast, then riding around 1 hour after. I can get ~4 hours of riding with no dramatic increase in hunger.
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Old 04-15-18, 10:42 AM   #4
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Isn't that just going to tell your body you are starving and go into fat saving mode?
No worries there in this day and age... starvation mode requires something a lot more dramatic than skipping breakfast before a bike ride.
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Old 04-15-18, 10:44 AM   #5
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Not really. The body has plenty of stored glycogen to handle even a spirited ride of several hours. My problem is, on days when I do get out and ride before breakfast, starting about 4 hours after I get home, I want to eat everything in sight. I much prefer my normal breakfast, then riding around 1 hour after. I can get ~4 hours of riding with no dramatic increase in hunger.
Based on what I'm reading on this, glycogen stores are used up fairly quickly.
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Old 04-15-18, 11:02 AM   #6
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My habit has been a long ride, or a long run, on Saturday usually after 12 without having had either breakfast or lunch. I have never felt like my body was going into "starvation mode" and trying to store up fat. However, I do feel like I need to exercise some discipline after the ride, limiting myself to a few hundred calories immediately and then holding off for an hour or more before eating in earnest. No beer right away (tho I sometimes fail in that).

Deliberately eating something, like some fruit or pastry, before going out (not immediately before but earlier) I do have more energy starting at around the 1-1:30 hour point. More pronounced after 2 hours (riding, I don't run that long). I think that probably IS due to the glycogen being replenished. So I don't think that they are depleted all that quickly unless you're hitting intervals or something.

Also, I don't think it makes much difference as far as "fasted ride" goes, unless the ride lasts at least an hour, and more like an hour and a half.
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Old 04-15-18, 11:10 AM   #7
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Based on what I'm reading on this, glycogen stores are used up fairly quickly.
If operating around threshold, an average person can deplete their glycogen stores in about 20 minutes. At moderate intensity, if takes around 90 minutes. I haven't really noticed any benefits to riding without eating. It's been almost exclusively out of necessity, as I need to get on the road by 5am so that the rising sun doesn't turn me into a crisp.
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Old 04-15-18, 11:17 AM   #8
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Seems to be a lot written about it with a lot of anecdotal information but next to nothing when it comes to actual research. (e.g., google: "fasted cycling" or "fasted training" which apparently are somewhat tangentially related, 'intermittent' eating practices or 'alternate-day fasting' or, 'interval eating').
How To Tap Into Fat For Fuel | Triathlete.com


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Old 04-15-18, 11:27 AM   #9
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I've been doing it for years, first with running, then with cycling. It ain't no big deal. Borne out of necessary, really, rather than a conscious decision do it for training benefit. I don't want to waste time sitting around in the morning waiting for food to digest. I'm usually out the door within 20 minutes of waking.
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Old 04-15-18, 12:13 PM   #10
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I've been doing it for years...

.
Pretty much applies to me as well but, looking at it based on what those who've written about the process are saying, glycogen stored in the muscles would be used up in about 90 minutes of a normal bike ride and glycogen stored in the liver is used for the energy that the brain, blood cells and other bodily activities require. So, riding a couple of hours or more has you dipping into to your own fat for energy, which carries on for hours afterward so that you end up burning 300% more fat calories than you otherwise would. If losing weight is an objective, that's where watching what's eaten later becomes the key issue.
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Old 04-15-18, 03:33 PM   #11
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Burning glycogen stores vs fat is not a binary thing. Both are used. As work out progresses in intensity to anaerobic zone greater emphasis is on glycogen consumption.
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Old 04-15-18, 06:22 PM   #12
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Not really. The body has plenty of stored glycogen to handle even a spirited ride of several hours. My problem is, on days when I do get out and ride before breakfast, starting about 4 hours after I get home, I want to eat everything in sight. I much prefer my normal breakfast, then riding around 1 hour after. I can get ~4 hours of riding with no dramatic increase in hunger.
This was my reaction to riding fasted too but eventually I learned to curb my voracious appetite after a spirited ride and still lose some weight without suffering during a ride.
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Old 04-15-18, 06:25 PM   #13
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I don't know about other people, but I find if I jump on the bike without having eaten anything yet in the morning I don't have the output I am accustomed to having. It's on those days that the wind always seems to blow harder, the hills are always upward facing, and steeper than usual. And vehicle traffic seems heavier.
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Old 04-15-18, 06:54 PM   #14
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I sometimes like to run or ride on an empty stomach, whether it be skipping breakfast or lunch. I spent most of my life being super sensitive to blood sugar fluctuations and I find that occasionally doing so helps train my body to deal with it much better. My day to days are much much easier and more level now and performance wise, I find on long runs it has helped me switch to bodyfat burning more easily once glycogen is depleated, making “hitting the wall” much less pronounced.
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Old 04-15-18, 06:58 PM   #15
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I did it all through marathon training last fall. Need to get back into it. The earlier I start eating, the more I eat, and the more junk food I crave.
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Old 04-15-18, 07:12 PM   #16
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In a nutshell (works for me but I didn't realize there was discussion going on in training circles about it and the possible benefits)...

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Typically, fasted rides are done early in the morning, when the body is in a low-carb state having fasted for eight hours or more (your last meal being your dinner the evening before). Instead of wolfing down your normal pre-ride porridge, advocates argue, you should consider holding off on breakfast until you are back from your morning ride.
https://www.aquabluesport.com/blog/fasted-riding.html
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Old 04-15-18, 08:47 PM   #17
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I did it all through marathon training last fall. Need to get back into it. The earlier I start eating, the more I eat, and the more junk food I crave.
Funny how your eating plan during training can be the key to success while marathon training. As painful as it sounds (and it can be painful especially when one is a little over aggressive) IMHO, forcing yourself into fat burn mode once in a while during training pays some dividends on miles 20 through 26.2 (and beyond I’m sure).
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Old 04-15-18, 09:51 PM   #18
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a stick of string cheese is zero carbs... I usually have one stick but in line with the link above I apparently should make it ~3
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Old 04-15-18, 10:25 PM   #19
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I don't know what, if any, the official research says about it but all I have to offer is my experience: What I've found is that short (<1.5 hour) fasted rides felt good and I enjoyed eating afterwards as I felt like my body was much more receptive to the nutrients. Anything longer than 1.5 hours and I'd bonk. If I ate before a morning ride, it was usually like a banana or some light fruit that was easily digested as if I ate anything bigger I'd have stomach issues on the ride.
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Old 04-16-18, 09:42 AM   #20
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I've frequently done 1-3 hour rides sometimes fasted, sometimes not, but just not taking in calories during the ride. In winter, Lance and sometimes some of the Posties would go out for 6 hours with only water. The trick is to keep the effort down to where you are breathing a bit deeply but not rapidly. The idea is to stimulate fat burning, which means trying to keep the sugar from glycogen out of your bloodstream by simply not drawing on the glycogen. So take it easy when practicing this.
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Old 04-16-18, 03:41 PM   #21
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Proof today that fasted cycling doesn't prevent flats.

For the foodys, given that fasted riding doesn't determinatively mean, riding on an empty stomach-- that eating no carbs is the critical element-- another eatable, especially ~20 minutes after a ride to assist in muscle building, is...
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Old 04-16-18, 04:19 PM   #22
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Somebody owes you a lot of money.
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Old 04-16-18, 04:41 PM   #23
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Proof today that fasted cycling doesn't prevent flats.

For the foodys, given that fasted riding doesn't determinatively mean, riding on an empty stomach-- that eating no carbs is the critical element-- another eatable, especially ~20 minutes after a ride to assist in muscle building, is...
Birth defects? Reproductive harm? That takes some dedication to your cycling!
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Old 04-16-18, 04:59 PM   #24
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Proof today that fasted cycling doesn't prevent flats.

For the foodys, given that fasted riding doesn't determinatively mean, riding on an empty stomach-- that eating no carbs is the critical element-- another eatable, especially ~20 minutes after a ride to assist in muscle building, is...
Specific eating timing and recovery aside.. I eat a lot of mackerel and sardines in general. Great snacks and quick bites unless you are watching your salt.

Last edited by u235; 04-16-18 at 05:10 PM.
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Old 04-16-18, 05:03 PM   #25
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Did it for years. I used to call it "running on empty", apparently quite a few of us do it.

It seems to come naturally to some folks. Something in the genes, metabolism, or something
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