balancing food intake

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balancing food intake

Postby jules21 » Tue Nov 22, 2011 8:20 pm

not what you think. since i've started ramping up training for the ACE250, i've done a couple of 350km weeks. previously i was doing perhaps 200 km weeks.

my problem is that despite eating big meals, i feel weak and keep hunger flatting on rides. i can only conclude that i'm not taking in enough calories - which is mind boggling as i'm eating like a horse. i feel full after meals, but it's not enough. my partner thinks i have worms. i'm also getting left for dead by other riders who i'm sure i'd normally leave eating dust, as i just have no energy.

so what do you 'real' big km riders do for energy?
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Re: balancing food intake

Postby Le Velo » Tue Nov 22, 2011 9:45 pm

I ride anywhere from 350 to 400km week in week out and have done a big 1200kms ride over 7 days recently
Food intake wise I have breakfast (rice puffs with skim milk and honey) then a glass of water with my supplements / vitamins. Within 30min of riding I have a power bar gel, drink 1 biddon of high energy 5 per hour, usually 1 banana or winners bar at the 1:30hour mark and another gel, protein shake within 20 min after riding, then lunch and dinner as normal. Have a healthy balanced diet in general without too much junk or greasy stuff but I'd say in your case you are adding an extra 150km in 1 go which is most likely the reason, backing it up could be an issue, not enough rest / recovery beetwen rides maybe?
With food it may not necessarily nbe about the quantity but also about quality ..... Grilled chicken, plenty of veggies' stay away from saturated fats and white breads, avoid fizzy drinks, piece of fruit is a good hunger buster for an afternoon snack, some nuts are a good source of energy, etc ... Listen to your body and try to find the right balance I guess
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Re: balancing food intake

Postby clackers » Wed Nov 23, 2011 9:11 am

As I understand it, Jules, we can load up on the carbs beforehand but our immediately available glycogen supply (in our liver?) is limited, and excess is just converted to fat.

As a result, we only get a couple of hours before that 20 minute or so switchover to our longer term but lower output fat reserves - your dreaded bonking.

Le Velo consumes during his ride. The sugars take effect within about five minutes, any more complex carbs withn a couple of hours (which is why gels and bars are less useful in the final stages of your ride).

The Tour competitors are eating and drinking monsters during the event!
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Re: balancing food intake

Postby Jean » Wed Nov 23, 2011 11:10 am

200km weeks to 350km weeks is a pretty big straight up jump. It could be dietary, at least in part, but I suspect you've just knackered yourself, particulary if you haven't paid attention to base training. Gradual increases in effort are, as I understand it, the way to go, and maybe you should take a few days rest to let your body recover from the sudden increase in work effort.
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Re: balancing food intake

Postby ColinOldnCranky » Wed Nov 23, 2011 2:44 pm

It takes some time to condition the body to dig deep into those other metabolic reserves so your question may simply be asked too soon.

After going to bed, you in essence awake out of a fast (conventionally fast is considered to be an extended period in which you consume less energy than half of the bodies energy requirements). While inthat fasting mode your bodies metabolic rate actually goes up. (Forget the oft mentioned starvation response, nothing to do with this - that cuts in days later.) It is indeed a good thing as you can hold this mode for up to 72 hours (they say). A suggestion - If you make a habit of NOT eating the breakfast and extending your fast to, say, lunch, you will train the body to dig deep.

I still extend my fasting on a daily basis until I get to the coffee stop on the way to work and I have done forty five minutes of riding. I like to think that I am able to dig quite deep in my reserves despite having minimal body fat.

A training strategy for some high energy sports like swimming used to be (still is??) to not eat brekky before training, or at least not energy food, do the hard laps and then come back and replensih, extending the need for the body to dig deep. Later when competition comes around you DO load up with energy so that your body, now capable of digging deep, digs deep LATER so those deep energy resources will last further into the event.

btw if anyone has any explanation for breakfast being "the most important meal of the day" other than the usually homilies like "it gets you ready to tacke the hard day from the start" and "it clears the cobwebs", I would be genuinely interested to hear of it.

And of course, whatever you decide, these matters are hard to quantify and whatever we try, as a subject we tend to see what we expect to see. So expect a lot ff pasionate views with a paucity of hard data. Mine included.
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Re: balancing food intake

Postby dynamictiger » Wed Nov 23, 2011 4:57 pm

btw if anyone has any explanation for breakfast being "the most important meal of the day" other than the usually homilies like "it gets you ready to tacke the hard day from the start" and "it clears the cobwebs", I would be genuinely interested to hear of it.


I am not qualified to comment on this on my own. However I have been under a nutritionist for 3 months this year and they were adamant I was to eat before any form of exercise. When I questioned this the answer given to me by them was that our body will not switch to fat burning until after breakfast. Now I as I said am not qualified to comment on this specific aspect. However my experience following their advice more or less to the letter for six out of seven days a week was a loss of near on 15 kilograms all of which was lost from my 'fat' percentage as measured by both their electronics and my gyms caliper method.

By the way, the diet was pretty strict so on the seventh day I had a cheat day - eat whatever I want.

As for balancing food intake. I only know one way to balance it. Put as much in as comes out = balanced :)
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Re: balancing food intake

Postby ColinOldnCranky » Wed Nov 23, 2011 9:53 pm

dynamictiger wrote:...and they were adamant I was to eat before any form of exercise. When I questioned this the answer given to me by them was that our body will not switch to fat burning until after breakfast.


Which seems to me to be saying that, as the body doesn't know breakfast from any other meal of the day (notwithstanding the function of the pineal gland), the only way to get the body to go chase those fat reserves is to have a meal first and get the blood sugar up. Sounds real odd to me, why does the body then go chasing those fat reserves?

For me seven days doesn't cut it. I like to cheat with the juicy tasty sweet food as often as I am able to get away with it - riding is my way of getting away with it. Which got demonstrated very well when I had to stop riding for a while. :cry:
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Re: balancing food intake

Postby clackers » Thu Nov 24, 2011 1:15 pm

dynamictiger wrote: However I have been under a nutritionist for 3 months this year and they were adamant I was to eat before any form of exercise. When I questioned this the answer given to me by them was that our body will not switch to fat burning until after breakfast.


Hmm, I would have thought good advice, bad reasoning, DT. :|

In the parlance of those heart rate zone people, you're burning fat before breakfast, while sleeping, and while reading this (assuming your MHR is less than 50%), because you're in Recovery Mode.

AFAIK the main reason to eat beforehand is to ensure you have enough glycogen to complete your aerobic activity successfully.

There is a deliberate strategy for weight loss taking advantage of this called Bonk Training, but I've no idea how credible it is: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hitting_the_wall
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Re: balancing food intake

Postby Dizz » Thu Nov 24, 2011 5:46 pm

jules21 wrote: my problem is that despite eating big meals, i feel weak and keep hunger flatting on rides.


Early signs of insulin resistance? In other words your cells are not absorbing and releasing energy as they once did when you were younger.



jules21 wrote: so what do you 'real' big km riders do for energy?


We regularly train having had no food for 12 to 16 hours; drink only water during this period & for the duration of your ride. As for the ride itself make it long & Aerobic; at least until you adapt, which will take a few months at best.

This will increase your capacity to utilise body fat as fuel; the sparing effect on the decreased uptake of glycogen's means you will have more available when you need it. :D

This is only the tip of the iceberg; “ 'real' big km riders” control every aspect of food what, when, quality & quantity are essential components to Sports Performance Nutrition but to begin with I highly recommend you start with the Fasted Training Routine.
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Re: balancing food intake

Postby clackers » Fri Nov 25, 2011 10:27 am

Dizz wrote:
We regularly train having had no food for 12 to 16 hours; drink only water during this period & for the duration of your ride.


Dizz, this can't possbily be the advice you're giving Jules, who wants to ride a 250km Alpine event and probably faces at least eight hours in the saddle.

He needs to constantly fuel up on carbs like an athlete during the ride.

A sample calculation is done by the Canadian/Australian blogger Wade Wallace here for a 280 km event:

http://www.cyclingtipsblog.com/2008/09/the-long-ride/

There are lessons in that post for anyone who wants to ride aerobically for longer than two hours (a common time to deplete the body's natural 1500 calorie or so glycogen reserve).
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Re: balancing food intake

Postby silkishuge » Fri Nov 25, 2011 11:17 am

Hi Jules,
I read an interesting article recently which stated that most people can only store ~ 2000 calories in their body as energy. The rest of the energy would be obtained through burning fat. I am not someone who calorie counts but I find myselg in need of energy every 1.5 to 2 hrs.
I ride short distances through the week from my commutes. In the morning I ride about 30 to 60km and in the evening 34km home. The morning ride is longer becuase I ride with some mates. Over these distances, I find that a banana is sufficient to complete the ride. 30km ride takes me about 55mins and a 60 km ride about 2 hrs. I find that I am hungry ( in need of energy) after 60km rides but not in need of food after 30km with a banana. If I wanted to ride more than 60km (~ 2hrs) I need more food.
I recently did 3 days, ~ 600km and ~ 9000m of elevation gain and I had to eat more frequently. Perhaps < 1.5 hrs I would need some food. I snacked on red bean which is a good source of carbohydrates. I am sure there are other things which are better for energy but I was limited in choice. Buying food on the move and having liver disease , it was either rice balls or red bean so I chose the better energy option.
I think a safe rule of thumb is eat 2 hours. I also found that I got more tired if I allowed myself to get hungry and ate instead of eating before I get hungry.

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Re: balancing food intake

Postby Dizz » Fri Nov 25, 2011 11:42 am

clackers wrote:
Dizz wrote:
We regularly train having had no food for 12 to 16 hours; drink only water during this period & for the duration of your ride.


Dizz, this can't possbily be the advice you're giving Jules....



Yes, but it is for training, not for competition.

I had a look at your link they estimate that "5600 calories required for this ride" and that a fair amount if you don't burn body fat for fuel but do a search for how much fuel a kilogram of body fat can supply...

If you want to develop mid-life Insulin Resistance by all means guzzle down the carbs during all your training and if you feel a little flat just have more; this is a great way to ensure an ever decreasing level of performance with every passing decade; the effects are slow but certain.

However, when you race it is essential that Blood Glucose does not become depleted; it will not matter how well you burn body fat, if you run out Blood Glucose… its game over! So carbs have a valid role to play in competition and in some limited aspect of training.

One of the biggest mistakes that I see all the time is athletes fuelling their training as if they were competing; it just make your body lazy, sick & carb dependent! Fasted Training is the remedy; it’s not easy but it works!
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Re: balancing food intake

Postby clackers » Fri Nov 25, 2011 1:27 pm

Dizz wrote:
Yes, but it is for training, not for competition.


In any activity of moderate intensity or more, Dizz, the majority of your energy needs are supplied by carbohydrates.

Only low intensity stuff, less than 50% MHR, like commuting, or the 15kmh trekking people do across continents, or recovery rides for athletes, can happen day after day, hour after hour, on body fat alone.

Not 'training' as we know it. Certainly not for Alpine climbing.

Dizz wrote: do a search for how much fuel a kilogram of body fat can supply...


Yes, mate, a kilogram of fat is worth about 9000 calories versus 4000 for a kilo of starch or sugar, and we can survive for weeks of low activity just on our reserves.

The issue is that it's slow to draw on, and requires a lot of oxygen, which is why as you elevate your heart rate, it can't provide the energy you need (practically zero at the anerobic level):

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Glycogen has to provide the rest, and if it were to run out, Jules wouldn't have the energy to climb Mt Buffalo and a DNF and ride in the sag wagon could follow!
Last edited by clackers on Fri Nov 25, 2011 1:47 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: balancing food intake

Postby clackers » Fri Nov 25, 2011 1:35 pm

Dizz wrote: Fasted Training is the remedy; it’s not easy but it works!


Dizz, I've already referred in a previous post to "Bonk Training", this sort of exercise after deliberate glycogen deprivation, a state Steve Moneghetti once described as 'death warmed up'.

A very clear and simple (but of course biased) explanation from an energy bar manufacturer is here:

http://www.powerbar.com/articles/405/train-low-compete-high.aspx

More objectively, the Australian Instititute of Sport's recommendation is that on long rides, each hour you aim at consuming perhaps 50g of carb, such as:

"800-1000 ml sports drink
2 carbohydrate gels
3 medium pieces fruit
2 cereal bars
800 ml cordial
500 ml juice
50 g jellybeans or jelly lollies
1 jam sandwich"

http://www.ausport.gov.au/ais/nutrition/factsheets/sports/road_cycling
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Re: balancing food intake

Postby jules21 » Fri Nov 25, 2011 2:08 pm

thanks for all the replies/suggestions.

on the specific matter of training low/competing high - that's an easy choice for me and it doesn't relate to its effectiveness. i ride for enjoyment and pushing into the zone where my body starts to consume itself would for me be self-defeating. interesting discussion though and appreciate the suggestions.
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Re: balancing food intake

Postby foo on patrol » Fri Nov 25, 2011 2:46 pm

Wait till you stop racing, especially if have raced a high level and then stop with no time to maintain a good level of riding. :shock:
The hardest part is cutting back on the amount of food taken in. :wink:

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Re: balancing food intake

Postby jules21 » Fri Nov 25, 2011 3:06 pm

foo on patrol wrote:Wait till you stop racing, especially if have raced a high level and then stop with no time to maintain a good level of riding. :shock:
The hardest part is cutting back on the amount of food taken in. :wink:

when i was 20, i stopped racing. i was 190 cm and about 73kg or so - you could blow me over. i gradually blew out to mid-80s as i filled out and packed on the pounds. then in my early 30s the man-boobs became all a bit too much and i progressively got back into cycling. i'm back down to 80 now for the first time in years. so i know how it feels!
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Re: balancing food intake

Postby clackers » Fri Nov 25, 2011 3:16 pm

jules21 wrote:i ride for enjoyment and pushing into the zone where my body starts to consume itself would for me be self-defeating.


And of course energy deprived to the point of malnutrition, the body can be forced to start metabolizing its own protein to get what it needs, receiving four calories for each gram of tissue it uses up ... goodbye muscles! :shock:
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Re: balancing food intake

Postby Dizz » Fri Nov 25, 2011 4:27 pm

clackers, I’m not going debate each of your points because in practice and fundamental everything you believe is largely true for the average athlete.

There are only two aspects to Jules question that I sought to answer

jules21 wrote:my problem is that despite eating big meals, i feel weak and keep hunger flatting on rides.


jules21 wrote:so what do you 'real' big km riders do for energy?


In relation to both questions I have given him genuine advice. In doing so I knew there would be some people that would find the advice implausible and I have no references that I can call upon to strength that position; all I can tell you is that it works.

My routine is quite complex and both diet and training moves through various phases the following is an extract from day 3 of the “Three Day Fasting Phase” of training. This Phase reoccurs once a month and although it exceptionally difficult if you want to Adapt so that virtually all your aerobic activity is fuelled by fat; then this kind of training cannot be avoided.


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Is it not the function of training to build strength through Adaption?

There’s a saying that goes “If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail” In our society whenever anyone feels low on energy they think the answer is to eat; it makes you wonder how the human race survived in days before the refrigerator. :shock:

Just food for thought :D
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Re: balancing food intake

Postby foo on patrol » Fri Nov 25, 2011 5:45 pm

Not knowing your ability Dizz, at what level of performance are you? eg; Elite, A-grade, B-grade you get the idea.
I ask this because what you suggest is extreme and this type of nutrition supply for sport is frought with danger! :shock:
And why have you deleted the weight score column? :?

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Re: balancing food intake

Postby ColinOldnCranky » Fri Nov 25, 2011 7:54 pm

Of course, a simple blood test to establish red-cell count could be worth your while. The answer may be something as simple as a slight change in diet.
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Re: balancing food intake

Postby vander » Fri Nov 25, 2011 10:53 pm

Bonk training or training without eating will train the bodies ability to glycogen spare, however so will normal long duration training although it will do it slower it will still do it. It has the added benefit of being a lot safer and usually you can train harder when you do this training. Your body will take time to adapt but it will adapt what you are feeling is part of that process.
Dizz you need a highly monitored training program to do the things you are prescribing I wouldnt say for the average joe to do it. Its more about the TITS, just as with everything if you train it do it more. Want to get better at big long kms do big long kms. If you hit a bad spot say 3 hours in go 3 hours and 20 for a few weeks then as it feels better up it again. Also you have to realise you have ups and downs on long rides its a complex thing but it happens. Things like high sugar drinks (you will see TDF riders have coke etc) and high caffeine things can give you an instant pick me up and help you get more kms. I have just started to hit some long kms again and my ride a few days ago I didnt know how I would get home at 3hours had a mother and killed it from 3.5-5 hours then hit a wall again for the last hour (6 was just too long for me too soon my everything hurt).
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Re: balancing food intake

Postby clackers » Sat Nov 26, 2011 9:18 am

Dizz wrote:so that virtually all your aerobic activity is fuelled by fat;


Ah, I think you've just outed yourself as a believer in Fat Adaptation ... some variant of low carb, high fat or ketogenic diets.

This has been specifically dismissed by the associaton of Australian sports dieticians, amongst others:

http://www.sportsdietitians.com.au/reso ... rmance.pdf
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Re: balancing food intake

Postby koen » Sun Nov 27, 2011 9:57 am

Jean wrote:200km weeks to 350km weeks is a pretty big straight up jump. It could be dietary, at least in part, but I suspect you've just knackered yourself, particulary if you haven't paid attention to base training. Gradual increases in effort are, as I understand it, the way to go, and maybe you should take a few days rest to let your body recover from the sudden increase in work effort.

I would agree. At least just make sure you allow for recovery and adaptation to the new stress level. I have also found that dehydration and lack of appropriate food intake on the ride takes much longer to recover from than normal, even if I eat and drink heaps off the bike. I would not expect to eat much more than usual overall for a 350klm week. Try and listen to your body but I always find it hard to judge when I am increasing work levels beyond my normal range because to get better you will have to stress your current capacity.
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Re: balancing food intake

Postby Addictr3 » Sun Nov 27, 2011 7:00 pm

OP I would say it sounds like over-reaching.

Some questions;

At night are you more thirsty?
Bed times change? later nights?
Quality of sleep? do you wake up and say "is it morning already?

Also food intake, Try to up healthy fats say, add in some almonds, or tuna with salads etc.

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