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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 03-13-09, 12:51 PM   #1
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Beginner needs help!

Hi I'm fairly new to biking. I was wondering what I need to eat before I ride and after I ride. Right now I am moderately biking for about 15 miles. I am training to do a 40 mile ride in a few months, but I am very new with nutrition for biking. I am biking to lose weight. I am 5'4 and 200 pounds. I read info that says to eat carbs and all but I don't want to gain weight....I really need to lose it! What's a good plan I can follow?
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Old 03-13-09, 10:35 PM   #2
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Carmichael's "food for fitness" is a really good guide.

Start with a good basic diet. Something like south beach is a decent start - fresh vegetables, fresh fruit, whole grains, quality protein. Limit the simple carbs and refined flour. Less processed is better.

This is all about managing your blood sugar. If you eat simple sugars (anything with a high glycemic index), your blood sugar goes up, your insulin goes up, you store the sugar as fat, your blood sugar goes down, and then you get hungry again.

During exercise, things are different. You are burning sugar, so extra simple sugar coming in doesn't have a bad effect. Something like 250 cal/hour is all you need.

When you start doing longer rides - say, 2 hours or more - a recovery drink/small meal is important as well.

Most people ride too hard when they start - try to be able to talk comfortably for most of your riding.

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Old 03-14-09, 10:35 AM   #3
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Well, you need to be careful about diet and exercise.

It takes 70 or so miles for a large person to burn a pound of fat. That is assuming, of course, that the rider does not eat more calories as a consequence of exercising and that is almost never true.

Exercise has 3 main benefits for weight loss

1) The human body is set up to survive famines. If you lower your caloric intake, the body decides to scale back its metabolic rate so you can survive the famine. That response makes losing weight really tough. The great thing about exercise is that it prevents the body from scaling down the metabolic rate.

2) When we try to lose weight, we want to lose fat. But in diets, the human body usually loses a lb of muscle for every lb of fat. That is not a good thing. If you exercise, it will prevent weight loss of the exercising muscles (a good reason to do a little cross training). Sometimes, you can look considerably better and lose very little weight. This comes from losing fat and gaining muscle mass.

3) The final benefit of exercise is burning calories. But as I said, it takes a bunch of exercise to lose any significant weight. It can be done but it takes a really huge amount of exercise and keeping a close restraint on the diet.

Something to be aware of is that for aerobic exercise, you need carbohydrates to burn. So eliminating or even severely limiting them from the diet is counter productive. You just will not feel good when you exercise.

Another thing is that the human nervous systems burns only carbohydrates. It can not burn fat. It needs something like 300-500 calories per day which is quite a bit (brains are very expensive). If it does not get them from the diet, the body will convert muscles into carbohydrates.

Now most people's diets are replete with "empty calories" and high fat foods. Eliminating those or limiting them to sensible levels can be a relatively painless way to lose weight. Even switching from whole milk to skim milk makes a difference. You do that in enough different things, it adds up to a substantial amount.

Take it slowly. The rule of thumb is that if you are losing more than a lb per week, you are doing something really extreme that you can not sustain. You will hit a target weight and go back to the old habits and gain it all back. The trick is to make a life style change that you can live with.
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Old 03-14-09, 10:40 AM   #4
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I can't tell you what you should eat, but i can tell you what I eat: One piece of fruit, eitehr an apple or a banana, before my 10 mile commute to work. I also have half a glass of water. Been doing this for years.
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Old 03-22-09, 01:06 AM   #5
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I recommend, there's a lot of good information there about simultaneous fat loss and muscle gain. If you want to lose fat you need cardiovascular exercise and a calorie deficit. Very low carb diets are an effective way to drop body fat fast. I eat less than 30 grams of carbs on five and a half days out of the week and I have enough energy to lift weights five days in a row and bike.
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Old 03-22-09, 06:00 PM   #6
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Legumes are a great source of protein and fiber. Whole grains are important, but it is wise to vary them, mixing wheat, oats, barley, rice, quinoa, millet, amaranth, etc. Most people end up using the first 3 which is fine, however many people have sensitivities to grains containing gluten (often they are unaware of this fact until they get very sick), so it's wise to vary them.

In response to the post above this regarding a very low carb diet, be careful. Do your research because long term consumption low in carbs can cause a lot of problems. First one, the brain functions solely on burning carbs. Two, overconsumption of protein (red meat and seafood) can led to gout in men which is extremely painful. Three, not every diet works the same for everyone.

If I were you, I'd keep a food diary of EVERYTHING that you eat for a week including portion sizes, times of day, and how you felt after eating the meal. Then you have a map of what you are consuming and when. This will give you some idea of where you can then tweak your dietary plan. Especially when you are noticing that certain meals with certain ingredients make you feel bad, ie. sluggish, tired, sick to your stomach, etc. Those foods/meals may not be agreeing with your system and would best be replaced by something that makes you feel good.

Good luck!
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