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Paleo diet making me suffer - cyclist

Commented on November 25, 2013
Created November 12, 2013 at 11:53 PM

I'm an elite cyclist who cycles approx 400kms or 250 miles per week. I've been on the paleo diet for 5 weeks. Although I've noted several benfits of the paleo diet, I'm near giving up. During rides I'm unable to maintain a high tempo. My endurance ability has droped to about 80kms. I'm experience soreness like riding 160kms or 100 miles after only a couple of hours riding. I don't seem to have adequate energy. I'm currently consuming 120g of carbs per day on rest or recovery days and 170g on training days. I need advice - this isn't working.

F291857fa12a0291688ea994343156dc

(720)

on November 25, 2013
at 02:05 AM

>>if carb loading did not work, in a hyper competitive sport, it would have become obsolete by now. People have been doing carb loading since at least the 1970s.<<<<

Yes, people have been doing carb loading for a LONG time. It's been the conventional wisdom... but does it work? I'd like to see studies supporting or refuting it. CW causes a lot of long term lemming behavior, especially if there is no "replacement" strategy that is know / proven to work. Where does all the energy from carb loading go once the stores are full?

56c28e3654d4dd8a8abdb2c1f525202e

(1822)

on November 25, 2013
at 12:37 AM

I think it is a good idea. First, at least when I was racing (running, to be precise) carb loading was preceded by carb fasting (a week of steak and lettuce), for the purpose of making the body receptive to loading. Second, it is similar to what elite runners do, training at high altitude to improve oxygen metabolism. Plus paleo is very healthy.

083dd2fc59c9b296b0018e2016c45245

on November 24, 2013
at 11:49 PM

Recent studdies into superconcentration of glycogen have shown some interesting facts. Firstly even a single day of carb loading decreases the bodies ability to use fat and also creates minor losses in insulin sensitivity. A person who has carbo loaded becomes slightly less metabolically flexible but obtains benefit from the large overall increase in glycogen stores. On a long term basis carbo loading isn't healthy. It's benefitial for a single performance.

56c28e3654d4dd8a8abdb2c1f525202e

(1822)

on November 24, 2013
at 04:29 PM

I don't disagree with your doubts, Bob. The body only has 1400-2000 Kcal worth of glycogen, and that is that. But if carb loading did not work, in a hyper competitive sport, it would have become obsolete by now. People have been doing carb loading since at least the 1970s.

083dd2fc59c9b296b0018e2016c45245

on November 24, 2013
at 10:50 AM

I'm not planning on racing on this diet (it;s the start of the off season). I'm planning on ending my bodies sole reliance on carbs, developing excellent metabolic flexibility, then increasing the carbs and becoming more balanced and ready to race. This is just a short term diet to obtain maximal fat burner capability. And no you can't do ketosis with more carbs.

F291857fa12a0291688ea994343156dc

(720)

on November 24, 2013
at 05:16 AM

@glib "for high level competition find high density sources of carbohydrates" ..... that's the CW. Check out fueling endurance work with a high % fat and SuperStarch.

Explain how "carb loading" is supposed to work when the body has very limited carb storage capacity?

F291857fa12a0291688ea994343156dc

(720)

on November 24, 2013
at 04:38 AM

That is not the solution to Aussie Dave's situation. Excessive consumption of carbs, especialy the wrong ones, will wind up making a person the fat. :(

F291857fa12a0291688ea994343156dc

(720)

on November 24, 2013
at 04:36 AM

@AussieDave I am glad to see that things are working well for you. I've tried to get other athletes to try paleo but they typically give up it as "not working" because they don't boost fat levels to compensate for reduced carb intake. Fat can fuel endurance work but you probably some carbs to replenish glycogen stores. SuperStarch is a whole different level of workout fuel.

56c28e3654d4dd8a8abdb2c1f525202e

(1822)

on November 24, 2013
at 03:56 AM

Yes, the worst grain at energy boosting. It is less inflammatory (so one of the best overall) but competitive aerobic racing and paleo (or semi-paleo) don't mix all that well. usual N=1 disclaimers apply.

543a65b3004bf5a51974fbdd60d666bb

(4493)

on November 24, 2013
at 02:56 AM

hi @glib, when you say "Rice is the worst amongst grains" ...what did you mean in this context, worst for/at what? (i could not tell for sure...was it 'energy boosting')

083dd2fc59c9b296b0018e2016c45245

on November 24, 2013
at 12:03 AM

The issues I was having was that I was getting fat despite training 15 hours a week (simiklar to the Peter Attia story). Now that I've done some research I'm keen for certain adaptations from ketosis. Once I've obtained these adaptations, I'll dial the diet down a few notches..

083dd2fc59c9b296b0018e2016c45245

on November 24, 2013
at 12:01 AM

I'm on a ketosis diet specifically for obtaining adaptations to enhance endurance. Carbs are low as possible right now to encourage lipolysis and maximal adaptation. After I've successfully been in ketosis for at least 4 weeks, I change to a targetted ketosis diet. During this stage I'll add carbs before and after training.

I love fruit and vegetables, I'm just keen to obtain adaptation from ketosis.

083dd2fc59c9b296b0018e2016c45245

on November 15, 2013
at 12:18 AM

Thank you Bob, some great info. This has confirmed I'm on the right track, but due to carb dependency it might take a little time for my body to adapt. I've changed my diet and will continue with the pain.

543a65b3004bf5a51974fbdd60d666bb

(4493)

on November 13, 2013
at 05:00 AM

both of these guys are Antipodeans. given your handle Aussie Dave, i thought they may give you a bit of local flavour

543a65b3004bf5a51974fbdd60d666bb

(4493)

on November 13, 2013
at 04:54 AM

& if you like amusing reads, you can try the Anthony Colpo web site (an avid cyclist).

here's a post he did headed is a low carb diet bad for your thyroid

Medium avatar

(1097)

on November 13, 2013
at 03:44 AM

Or four or seven days, depending on how hard your body's been hit :) Either way, carbs are probably the issue, but don't forget nutrients.

083dd2fc59c9b296b0018e2016c45245

on November 13, 2013
at 03:30 AM

I think I maybe making some progress. Details provided are pointing towards innadequate carbohydrates to replenish of glycogen storage, which explains the bonking after only two hours. I'll increase carbohydrate intake before and after riding and monitor body weight. Hopefully after the next two days I'll be closer to calculating an ideal carb intake.

Medium avatar

(1097)

on November 13, 2013
at 01:51 AM

+1 for a more accurate suggested carb amount. Carbs aren't EEEVIL. They're just energy the body utilizes quickly- and you need it, @AussieDave !

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11 Answers

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0
F291857fa12a0291688ea994343156dc

(720)

on November 13, 2013
at 05:27 AM

@AussieDave

Hmmm... where to start.

You're already an "edge case" being an elite cyclist. Only five weeks on paleo isn't enough time to properly transition from your old way of eating, evaluate it's fit for you and make the necessary tweaks.

What is your current caloric intake for energy (fat & carbs)? What was it before you switched to paleo?

Bottom line, right now you're not getting enough fuel. Jumping into paleo and cutting carbs at your level of effort is not going to work! You need carb fuel now. It's going to take time to shift from being a carb burner to being a fat burner. My transition from SAD to paleo took ~ 6months and I don't cycle 250 miles a year let alone 250 miles a week.

Check this guy out... a 40-ish MD, mechanical engineering undergrad, now fully immersed in changing the way people view nutrition.

He's no couch potato... he's done multiple 20+ mile open ocean swims and spent over a year in ketosis. He has the results and he has the data. Fat burning can & does work so don't abandon before you can make it work.

Here's probably the part of his blog most applicable to your situation. If you're not willing to read the science just give up on paleo but know that you quit paelo... it didn't fail you.

http://eatingacademy.com/how-a-low-carb-diet-affected-my-athletic-performance

He's an accomplished amateur athlete, relentless researcher / learner.

He's not anti-carb by any means but he's interested in knowing "how" & "why".... and he does the self-experimentation to find out. He even explains how a special carb based fuel can supercharge your performance.

http://eatingacademy.com/sports-and-nutrition/introduction-to-superstarch-part-i

http://eatingacademy.com/sports-and-nutrition/introduction-to-superstarch-part-ii

http://eatingacademy.com/how-i-lost-weight

http://eatingacademy.com/my-personal-nutrition-journey

Let me know what you think. Cheers. Bob

083dd2fc59c9b296b0018e2016c45245

on November 15, 2013
at 12:18 AM

Thank you Bob, some great info. This has confirmed I'm on the right track, but due to carb dependency it might take a little time for my body to adapt. I've changed my diet and will continue with the pain.

0
56c28e3654d4dd8a8abdb2c1f525202e

(1822)

on November 23, 2013
at 10:05 PM

Not sure how elite you are, but I remember Greg Lemond, after he became GREG LEMOND, hired his own private chef to make sure he could swallow his 5 lbs of dried pasta every night, while riding in the Tour de France. I also remember my coach chewing me up when I got fish, and the rest of the team got pasta, the night before a big race. Indeed I dropped out the day after. More dedicated people would even do one week of carbo loading before a big race. Paleo is about health and general fitness, for high level competition find high density sources of carbohydrates. IMHO, oats are a good compromise, relatively low toxicity, the same 3400 Kcal/kg as every other grain, and really energy boosting. Rice is the worst amongst grains. You could also try coconut oil.

F291857fa12a0291688ea994343156dc

(720)

on November 24, 2013
at 05:16 AM

@glib "for high level competition find high density sources of carbohydrates" ..... that's the CW. Check out fueling endurance work with a high % fat and SuperStarch.

Explain how "carb loading" is supposed to work when the body has very limited carb storage capacity?

083dd2fc59c9b296b0018e2016c45245

on November 24, 2013
at 10:50 AM

I'm not planning on racing on this diet (it;s the start of the off season). I'm planning on ending my bodies sole reliance on carbs, developing excellent metabolic flexibility, then increasing the carbs and becoming more balanced and ready to race. This is just a short term diet to obtain maximal fat burner capability. And no you can't do ketosis with more carbs.

543a65b3004bf5a51974fbdd60d666bb

(4493)

on November 24, 2013
at 02:56 AM

hi @glib, when you say "Rice is the worst amongst grains" ...what did you mean in this context, worst for/at what? (i could not tell for sure...was it 'energy boosting')

0
Af679502f1e31c0c59c79bd08f324b35

on November 23, 2013
at 09:48 PM

Eat CARBS!!! Lots and lots of CARBS!!!

F291857fa12a0291688ea994343156dc

(720)

on November 24, 2013
at 04:38 AM

That is not the solution to Aussie Dave's situation. Excessive consumption of carbs, especialy the wrong ones, will wind up making a person the fat. :(

0
9a5e2da94ad63ea3186dfa494e16a8d1

on November 23, 2013
at 07:22 PM

For serious endurance workouts you probably need a lot more carbs. The typical Paleo diet is relatively low in carb and is also geared towards people ranging from sedentary to working out occasionally. However you can still be paleo and have a lot of carbs, just avoid the breads, pastas, etc. and stick to vegetables and fruits.

You might give some background as to why you decided to go paleo, what issues you were having that you wished to correct, etc.

083dd2fc59c9b296b0018e2016c45245

on November 24, 2013
at 12:03 AM

The issues I was having was that I was getting fat despite training 15 hours a week (simiklar to the Peter Attia story). Now that I've done some research I'm keen for certain adaptations from ketosis. Once I've obtained these adaptations, I'll dial the diet down a few notches..

0
2a6025992746ff6cd4ffb6ccf0aa03fc

on November 23, 2013
at 04:42 PM

Just so you know, paleo doesn't have to be low carb. A lot of people DO eat a low carb paleo diet, especially for weight loss, but it really doesn't have to be. It doesn't become non-paleo just because you eat carbs - there are loads of delicious heavy starchy vegetables you can eat that are absolutely healthy and still paleo. IMO, paleo eating is mostly avoiding vegetable oil, sugar and grains and focusing the diet on numerous animal protein sources and fresh veg and fruit, as well as sources of fat (could be animal or some plant stuff like coconut oil and moderate quantities of nuts). Macronutrient ratios can actually be rather varied.

083dd2fc59c9b296b0018e2016c45245

on November 24, 2013
at 12:01 AM

I'm on a ketosis diet specifically for obtaining adaptations to enhance endurance. Carbs are low as possible right now to encourage lipolysis and maximal adaptation. After I've successfully been in ketosis for at least 4 weeks, I change to a targetted ketosis diet. During this stage I'll add carbs before and after training.

I love fruit and vegetables, I'm just keen to obtain adaptation from ketosis.

0
083dd2fc59c9b296b0018e2016c45245

on November 23, 2013
at 01:13 PM

Time has past since this question was posted. My diet has new progressed to a standard ketogenic diet. My carbs are down to 30g per day, plus super starch. Cycling has inproved dramatically. Today I rode for 3 1/2 hours with no signs of muscular fatigue. I stopped riding as my prosterior was getting sore. Hitting the high fat / low carb diet almost cold turkey and continueing to progress has tressed my body into adapting quickly. Endurnace gains over the last week have been impressive. I believe I'll be riding 160kms confortably with 2 weeks.

F291857fa12a0291688ea994343156dc

(720)

on November 24, 2013
at 04:36 AM

@AussieDave I am glad to see that things are working well for you. I've tried to get other athletes to try paleo but they typically give up it as "not working" because they don't boost fat levels to compensate for reduced carb intake. Fat can fuel endurance work but you probably some carbs to replenish glycogen stores. SuperStarch is a whole different level of workout fuel.

0
2b41f74174e70a25720a55d876ee12fb

on November 15, 2013
at 01:27 AM

If you insist on over doing cardio out of enjoyment greatly increase your carbs from things like sweet potatoes

0
F291857fa12a0291688ea994343156dc

(720)

on November 15, 2013
at 12:36 AM

@AussieDave

No transition is doable "overnight".... it takes time.

I'm 60, 190 & 6'. Not all that active now, except for yard work, walking & mostly self weight exercising. My aim now is to preserve muscle and maybe add a bit but mostly avoid injury (BTDT).

Properly molded to your needs paleo will work. I've bombarded you with a ton of material. You can also checkout Mark Sisson's Blog / Website. All of these guys inhabit overlapping regions of "nutritional space".

btw....there should not / need not be a lot of pain. Make adjustments and slow down the transition. Better to get there in a few months than give up and not get there at all. :(

I know you're not trying to lose weight (fat) but here are Peter Attia's "go slow" SAD / High Carb to Lower Carb / High Fat transition scheme

http://eatingacademy.com/how-can-i-lose-weight

0
543a65b3004bf5a51974fbdd60d666bb

(4493)

on November 13, 2013
at 04:40 AM

'That Paleo Guy' did a 3 part series on cycling a while back, here's the links,

part1 part2 part3

they may be of interest, if you have the time to read

543a65b3004bf5a51974fbdd60d666bb

(4493)

on November 13, 2013
at 05:00 AM

both of these guys are Antipodeans. given your handle Aussie Dave, i thought they may give you a bit of local flavour

543a65b3004bf5a51974fbdd60d666bb

(4493)

on November 13, 2013
at 04:54 AM

& if you like amusing reads, you can try the Anthony Colpo web site (an avid cyclist).

here's a post he did headed is a low carb diet bad for your thyroid

0
Be803dcde63e3cf5e21cc121097b8158

on November 13, 2013
at 01:42 AM

Paul Jaminet, in a recent podcast, recommends 30% carbs for sedentary individuals -- everyone's minimum unless they have a specific medical condition that warrants less.

Your upper limit of 170g of carbs is just 680 kcals.

For an elite athlete, you might want to double that.

Medium avatar

(1097)

on November 13, 2013
at 01:51 AM

+1 for a more accurate suggested carb amount. Carbs aren't EEEVIL. They're just energy the body utilizes quickly- and you need it, @AussieDave !

083dd2fc59c9b296b0018e2016c45245

on November 13, 2013
at 03:30 AM

I think I maybe making some progress. Details provided are pointing towards innadequate carbohydrates to replenish of glycogen storage, which explains the bonking after only two hours. I'll increase carbohydrate intake before and after riding and monitor body weight. Hopefully after the next two days I'll be closer to calculating an ideal carb intake.

0
Medium avatar

on November 13, 2013
at 12:00 AM

Why so few carbs at that activity level? Is this current carb intake a major drop from before paleo? Take care of yourself. Either way up your fat intake or give yourself 100 g carbs or more. And make sure you're getting the widest range of food possible to guarantee you're not missing nutrients, especially b-vitamins.

Paleo is about eliminating foods that tear apart your insides and abuse your endrocrine system. But you're already administering a hefty amount of abuse via your exercise amount, which means you should be pampering yourself via your food intake even more than the next person. This isn't about abuse, this is about feeling amazing and doing amazing.

Also, as an aside, is your magnesium intake appropriate? A bi or tri-weekly epsom salt bath might help with fatigue.

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