1

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Cycling (sport) Nutrition

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created February 23, 2011 at 11:52 PM

I am a keen cyclist and after adopting the Paleo diet changed my training routine dramatically. I now partake in a 45 minute ride aiming to keep HR between 60 - 75% MHR and a single sprint session. I also do a HIT session once a week as well.

My question is regarding nutrition, primarily in longer events. I have a 75 mile ride coming up soon (friendly competitive) and was interested to hear scientific reasoning behind the most efficient nutritional approach.

Carbs before? Carbs after? Any during the ride? All fats and proteins? What's your understanding folks?

I have greatly suffered with fading miserably towards the end of the race (prior to Paleo diet adoption) and am determined to nail this.

Thanks in advance.

349c3e99b017b6402b1f76e7065864e8

on February 11, 2012
at 06:56 AM

3 or 4 small boiled potatoes tossed around in a little olive oil! instant energy!!;o)

64433a05384cd9717c1aa6bf7e98b661

(15236)

on February 24, 2011
at 11:45 PM

* spelling correction from the comment aboove... low-ish carb

64433a05384cd9717c1aa6bf7e98b661

(15236)

on February 24, 2011
at 11:44 PM

I will only use gu's if I am riding above 165bpm heart rate for any significant duration.

64433a05384cd9717c1aa6bf7e98b661

(15236)

on February 24, 2011
at 11:40 PM

well as for improving fat burning efficiency, I would suggest a couple of things... -improve your gut health via a good diet. For me I noticed improvements gradually over 6-12 months in my food absorption. http://thehealthyskeptic.org/9-steps-to-perfect-health-5-heal-your-gut - when you are able to absorb your food it will last you longer without getting hungry. - doing endurance rides after eating low-sh carb for a while will also help. I will eat on rides but try and avoid too much gel/sugar, etc. if you are not riding at a high heart rate.

C42ca04212a396353131758237f209d7

(91)

on February 24, 2011
at 08:46 AM

Thanks for the PaNu link. Big fan of that blog.

C42ca04212a396353131758237f209d7

(91)

on February 24, 2011
at 08:40 AM

Thanks for your response Jeff. Any chance you could elaborate on your training methods?

64433a05384cd9717c1aa6bf7e98b661

(15236)

on February 24, 2011
at 05:12 AM

My vo2max is around 56, which is good but certainly not exceptional. I think its more on account of training my body to burn fat more efficiently

47a42b6be94caf700fce9509e38bb6a4

(9647)

on February 24, 2011
at 01:43 AM

Let's not forget this one. Early Kurt Harris: http://www.paleonu.com/panu-weblog/2009/5/18/there-are-no-essential-carbohydrates-even-for-athletes.html Train low, race high. Seems like Jeff's answer more or less agrees.

Medium avatar

(39821)

on February 24, 2011
at 01:24 AM

Wow, I wouldn't have expected the threshold to be that high at all; I stand corrected. You must have huge and numerous mitochondria beyond what I thought occurred.

Medium avatar

(39821)

on February 24, 2011
at 01:24 AM

Wow, I wouldn't have expected the threshold to be that high at all; I stand corrected. You must have a huge and numerous mitochondria beyond what I thought occurred.

Medium avatar

(39821)

on February 24, 2011
at 01:23 AM

Wow, I wouldn't have expected the threshold to be that high at all; I stand corrected. You must have a huge and numerous mitochondria beyond what I thought occurred.

64433a05384cd9717c1aa6bf7e98b661

(15236)

on February 24, 2011
at 01:15 AM

oh also I've found no problem with carbs right before (dates) or right after (sweet potatoes seem to work well). Personally rice doesn't seem to sit well with me when riding, I have tried the allen lim rice balls with only mediocre success.

Cab7e4ef73c5d7d7a77e1c3d7f5773a1

(7304)

on February 24, 2011
at 01:12 AM

Liver glycogen helps maintain blood sugar while you're riding though, which would be important. Also, if you have fructose going to the liver, glucose will be spared for the muscles. You definitely don't want straight fructose, but I think a mixture would be ideal.

D10ca8d11301c2f4993ac2279ce4b930

(5242)

on February 24, 2011
at 01:09 AM

Someone just did a huge series on this. I'll dig around and try to find it.

Medium avatar

(39821)

on February 24, 2011
at 12:54 AM

Yeah, I've heard that you can accelerate glycogen shuttling with fructose, but it would be a replenishing of your liver glycogen, and this fellow is going to want to get ATP to the myosin in his legs as soon as possible. I will say that I've seen a lot of cyclists drink a can of coca-cola at the end of a race however.

Medium avatar

(39821)

on February 24, 2011
at 12:08 AM

I'd use a fructose-free source of energy. I'm not sure how hard you'll be pushing, but if it were possible to take blocks of rice with you (like sushi without the meat) that would probably be an ideal starch. I suppose you could also use the refillable gel packs and use rice syrup since it is pure glucose.

C42ca04212a396353131758237f209d7

(91)

on February 24, 2011
at 12:07 AM

Any recommendations on sources? Is coconut water, with it's high sugar count, a good choice as it will be used directly for energy?

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5 Answers

3
64433a05384cd9717c1aa6bf7e98b661

(15236)

on February 24, 2011
at 01:14 AM

how long have you been eating paleo? I am also a cyclist who has eaten this way for about 2 years. After having metabolic testing done I found out that I am able to burn all fat up until a heart rate of around 165, and then still use mostly (more than 50%) fat even into the 180s. This is something that develops over time, and I still consume carbs on long rides, but my reason for writing is to let you know that the traditional endurance athlete carb suggestions do not apply the same way on a low(ish) carb diet.

I have found coconut water works great, and for high intensity racing I'll use a Gu without any detrimental effects. Also, dates work amazingly well for a quick sugar fix and are super tasty.

Medium avatar

(39821)

on February 24, 2011
at 01:24 AM

Wow, I wouldn't have expected the threshold to be that high at all; I stand corrected. You must have huge and numerous mitochondria beyond what I thought occurred.

64433a05384cd9717c1aa6bf7e98b661

(15236)

on February 24, 2011
at 11:45 PM

* spelling correction from the comment aboove... low-ish carb

Medium avatar

(39821)

on February 24, 2011
at 01:24 AM

Wow, I wouldn't have expected the threshold to be that high at all; I stand corrected. You must have a huge and numerous mitochondria beyond what I thought occurred.

64433a05384cd9717c1aa6bf7e98b661

(15236)

on February 24, 2011
at 01:15 AM

oh also I've found no problem with carbs right before (dates) or right after (sweet potatoes seem to work well). Personally rice doesn't seem to sit well with me when riding, I have tried the allen lim rice balls with only mediocre success.

64433a05384cd9717c1aa6bf7e98b661

(15236)

on February 24, 2011
at 05:12 AM

My vo2max is around 56, which is good but certainly not exceptional. I think its more on account of training my body to burn fat more efficiently

Medium avatar

(39821)

on February 24, 2011
at 01:23 AM

Wow, I wouldn't have expected the threshold to be that high at all; I stand corrected. You must have a huge and numerous mitochondria beyond what I thought occurred.

C42ca04212a396353131758237f209d7

(91)

on February 24, 2011
at 08:40 AM

Thanks for your response Jeff. Any chance you could elaborate on your training methods?

64433a05384cd9717c1aa6bf7e98b661

(15236)

on February 24, 2011
at 11:40 PM

well as for improving fat burning efficiency, I would suggest a couple of things... -improve your gut health via a good diet. For me I noticed improvements gradually over 6-12 months in my food absorption. http://thehealthyskeptic.org/9-steps-to-perfect-health-5-heal-your-gut - when you are able to absorb your food it will last you longer without getting hungry. - doing endurance rides after eating low-sh carb for a while will also help. I will eat on rides but try and avoid too much gel/sugar, etc. if you are not riding at a high heart rate.

64433a05384cd9717c1aa6bf7e98b661

(15236)

on February 24, 2011
at 11:44 PM

I will only use gu's if I am riding above 165bpm heart rate for any significant duration.

2
Medium avatar

on February 24, 2011
at 12:01 AM

Assuming your glycogen is topped off, you probably have roughly 200g of muscle glycogen in your legs that you could use for this, which is about 800 calories. Seems like you would easily deplete those stores in a 75 mile ride, so you'd want to be refueling with some glucose on the way.

Supposedly the glycogen loading technique to use beforehand is to deplete glycogen, then consume a high fat diet, which we do, followed by a high carb intake. It loads your glycogen stores far above what you would normally be able to top them off at. For carbs I'd eat white potatoes and/or rice. Alternately, you could just eat a fair amount of rice or potato in the morning of the ride to top off at your normal levels.

Edit: I've been thinking more about this, and unless you're out of the wind and parasitizing the paceline the whole time, you're going to be burning through your glycogen pretty rapidly. On a comfortable jaunt on the bike you could conceivably burn pretty much only lipids, but with something like this you're going to probably have pretty substantial stretches of carbohydrate use, even as a pretty well-trained individual. As such, I would take way more glucose in whatever form you decide on than you think you'll need.

Edit 2: I defer to Jeff and his experience.

C42ca04212a396353131758237f209d7

(91)

on February 24, 2011
at 12:07 AM

Any recommendations on sources? Is coconut water, with it's high sugar count, a good choice as it will be used directly for energy?

Medium avatar

(39821)

on February 24, 2011
at 12:08 AM

I'd use a fructose-free source of energy. I'm not sure how hard you'll be pushing, but if it were possible to take blocks of rice with you (like sushi without the meat) that would probably be an ideal starch. I suppose you could also use the refillable gel packs and use rice syrup since it is pure glucose.

349c3e99b017b6402b1f76e7065864e8

on February 11, 2012
at 06:56 AM

3 or 4 small boiled potatoes tossed around in a little olive oil! instant energy!!;o)

1
94577e0344bb1671288ccee96083baf2

on February 24, 2011
at 01:21 AM

Whats that? You mean you're not trying to increase your dead lift or squat? Endurance? How dare you! Just kidding. I would def read the Paleo Diet For Athletes. first 4 or 5 chapters. Lots of good science and co-authored by one of the best endurance coaches in the world. I would then also practice your eating on longer training rides and time trials. In terms of eating, i would do lots of sweet potatoes, bananas, and even white rice (in addition to lots of good quality fat and protein). I don't know how long a 75m race will take you. I do nordic ski racing, my longest race this year will be a 30k. It should take me between 1.5-1.75 hours. So I plan on having 1 gel within 5 minutes before start, then take in Heed about 6oz 30m in and then 6oz at the 1 hour mark. But I've practiced this before and its worked. On races under 45 minutes, i don't take in anything. Good luck. Oh and on my long training days or hikes over 3 hours I use banana chips, beef jerky and water!

0
Cab7e4ef73c5d7d7a77e1c3d7f5773a1

(7304)

on February 24, 2011
at 12:48 AM

I would definitely eat carbs while you're racing if you care about your performance. While in general it's good to avoid fructose, I would go for something that has a bit of fructose because there is some evidence that it can replenish your glycogen stores faster than glucose alone.

I don't know what exactly cyclists eat while riding, so I'm not sure whether my snack ideas are good suggestions or not, but you could try dried fruit, honey, sweet potato, or rice (which is pure glucose).

Medium avatar

(39821)

on February 24, 2011
at 12:54 AM

Yeah, I've heard that you can accelerate glycogen shuttling with fructose, but it would be a replenishing of your liver glycogen, and this fellow is going to want to get ATP to the myosin in his legs as soon as possible. I will say that I've seen a lot of cyclists drink a can of coca-cola at the end of a race however.

Cab7e4ef73c5d7d7a77e1c3d7f5773a1

(7304)

on February 24, 2011
at 01:12 AM

Liver glycogen helps maintain blood sugar while you're riding though, which would be important. Also, if you have fructose going to the liver, glucose will be spared for the muscles. You definitely don't want straight fructose, but I think a mixture would be ideal.

-1
2a5cab3a58dcbac6120e2a55ec869720

on February 24, 2011
at 07:23 AM

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