1

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Hack my cycling training.

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created November 04, 2011 at 9:59 PM

I am just starting to up my training on the bike and I need some help with nutrition. I am planning on doing some bigger event rides next year, one 60k and one 100k. I am fine with the training part of it, but the more I read about how to eat the more confused I get.

So, I have read The Cyclist's Training Bible by Joe Friel. He is pretty paleo, and the food and diet sections are written by Cordain, I believe. Friel explains that 90-95% of training for riding should be done at a low exertion level, ie <75% of lactic threshold. This is in the fat burning zone. The other 5-10% should be really hard training, such as hills and sprints.

So my questions are based around the paleo nutrition for the two different training methods.

Low effort - I plan to 4 rides a week for about 2-2.5 hours each at a low pace. As this is in the fat burning zone, should I eat carbs beforehand (riding after work, eat rice with my lunch) or can I do this on fat alone (coconut oil before ride)? Or should I do both? That Paleo Guy has written that you can ride at a fairly low impact without eating carbs, he has a coconut cream and berry smoothie. Is this optimal? What about fasted to increase fat burning ability?

High effort - I have some pretty amazing hills on my door step, so 1 ride per week in the hills for 2.5 hours, consisting of flat, and medium to high level hills, up to 12%. If I plan to do this on Sunday, I am definitely going to have carbs, but how much? Should I have starch for the night before, and something for breakfast? I like to ride really early in the morning and normally fast until lunch time. I understand that this is probably not going to work, so do I need to eat before the ride or would eating starch for dinner the night before be enough? I should have a huge carb feed when I get back, right?

Sorry that this is a pretty long and complex question, so I appreciate any answers.

Note, I appreciate that someone will say "you need to experiment and find what works for you, N=1". Thats fine, but I want to know what works for people, so I have a headstart.

6b8d12fc3e43179f9ae1765a4d1a9dc2

(5914)

on November 08, 2011
at 01:40 AM

Thanks Jim. I had a quick look at your blog, it looks great, Cheers

6b8d12fc3e43179f9ae1765a4d1a9dc2

(5914)

on November 08, 2011
at 01:37 AM

Thanks Trav, weight less isn't really a huge goal.

64433a05384cd9717c1aa6bf7e98b661

(15236)

on November 05, 2011
at 02:56 PM

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/sites/entrez?Db=pubmed&Cmd=ShowDetailView&TermToSearch=7895958&ordinalpos=2&itool=EntrezSystem2.PEntrez.Pubmed.Pubmed_ResultsPanel.Pubmed_RVDocSum

64433a05384cd9717c1aa6bf7e98b661

(15236)

on November 05, 2011
at 02:21 PM

Yeah, it's physiological not pathological but IR nonetheless. Here's a good explanation.... http://high-fat-nutrition.blogspot.com/2007/10/physiological-insulin-resistance.html

64433a05384cd9717c1aa6bf7e98b661

(15236)

on November 05, 2011
at 02:20 PM

Yeah, here's a nice explanation.... http://high-fat-nutrition.blogspot.com/2007/10/physiological-insulin-resistance.html

6b8d12fc3e43179f9ae1765a4d1a9dc2

(5914)

on November 05, 2011
at 09:01 AM

Cyclical Ketogenic Diet looks way too complicated. Will just stick with eating food.

6b8d12fc3e43179f9ae1765a4d1a9dc2

(5914)

on November 05, 2011
at 06:35 AM

Cheers Jeff, I will take everything you have mentioned on board.

3bad4b0b105bf44d7650e7fdfbe15cbd

(860)

on November 05, 2011
at 05:34 AM

Ketosis makes your cells insulin resistant? I've only heard the opposite, but I'd be interested to read anything that contradicts that. What led you to that conclusion?

64433a05384cd9717c1aa6bf7e98b661

(15236)

on November 05, 2011
at 05:30 AM

Also, I think a cyclic low-ish carb diet would be better than a cyclic ketogenic diet. Ketosis basically makes your cells insulin resistant, low-ish carb would avoid that while still getting the benefits of efficient fat metabolism.

64433a05384cd9717c1aa6bf7e98b661

(15236)

on November 05, 2011
at 05:28 AM

TDF riders used a cyclic ketogenic diet? I find that hard to believe but I would love to know who. Two teams appeared to be gluten free, Garmin, who arguably had the best overall tour, and Radioshack, who had one of the best years overall.

96bf58d8c6bd492dc5b8ae46203fe247

(37227)

on November 05, 2011
at 05:14 AM

Eric, I think some of the Tour de France riders used that this year; I remember some commentary about its benefits.

64433a05384cd9717c1aa6bf7e98b661

(15236)

on November 05, 2011
at 03:04 AM

One other thing to remember is that the liver can make glucose out of lactic acid (cori cycle), another reason carb intake doesn't need to be sky high.

64433a05384cd9717c1aa6bf7e98b661

(15236)

on November 05, 2011
at 03:02 AM

I also wouldn't suggest 2 rides per week at race pace. I think one day of short (<30 sec) intervals, one day of 4-8min high tempo intervals, one long slow ride, and one day of climbing does really good things. With that protocol, eating around 200g carbs on the hard days and around 100 on the others will be a good way to go.

64433a05384cd9717c1aa6bf7e98b661

(15236)

on November 05, 2011
at 01:35 AM

All true, but you're not gonna be recovering properly when you're riding that much. There's definitely a compromised between riding twice a week and 6 times a week when it comes to recovery.

6b8d12fc3e43179f9ae1765a4d1a9dc2

(5914)

on November 05, 2011
at 01:12 AM

Where as training at low effort, with serious short hard training such as sprints and hills, at maximum effort will provide the greatest benefit. Plus I like riding, and I can count this towards my low level exercise, as I don't do much walking.

6b8d12fc3e43179f9ae1765a4d1a9dc2

(5914)

on November 05, 2011
at 01:08 AM

I know what you are saying about the wasted effort, but I have also read a lot about the low effort training is where you get the greatest improvements come racing time. That Paleo Guy discusses this in detail, plus the books that I have read talk about professional riders doing the majority of their training at low levels. I'm not saying that I am a professional, by any stretch of the imagination, but if it works for them. They say that the people who do 2 rides a week at their race pace can go for 10 years without making significant improvements. Cont

6b8d12fc3e43179f9ae1765a4d1a9dc2

(5914)

on November 05, 2011
at 01:08 AM

I know what you are saying about the wasted effort, but I have also read a lot about the low effort training is where you get the greatest improvements come racing time. That Paleo Guy discusses this in detail, plus the books that I have read talk about professional riders doing the majority of their training at low levels. I'm not saying that I am a professional, by any stretch of the imagination, but if it works for them. They say that the people who do 2 rides a week at their race pace can go there 10 years without making significant improvements. Cont -

96bf58d8c6bd492dc5b8ae46203fe247

(37227)

on November 05, 2011
at 12:27 AM

Speaking only for myself, I did the "wasted" rides because I loved what I was doing and couldn't wait to get on the bike after work for the stress relief.

96bf58d8c6bd492dc5b8ae46203fe247

(37227)

on November 04, 2011
at 11:50 PM

I used to ride 76 miles every Saturday with 2-4 25 milers after work during the week. Back then, I just ate whatever I was hungry for before and after without over-thinking. In general, though, it was primal with some refined sugar/grain "supplements." :-))

6b8d12fc3e43179f9ae1765a4d1a9dc2

(5914)

on November 04, 2011
at 10:44 PM

I do already ride, and 60k isn't a huge ride for me. I am pretty competitive though, and my time is fairly limited. So I am after maximising my results. Cheers

93ae9f2d376e5426e891a9b58d8302fa

(2936)

on November 04, 2011
at 10:29 PM

Just get out and ride. I did 60k yesterday just running errands close to home. Throw away the car keys and go have fun.

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4 Answers

4
64433a05384cd9717c1aa6bf7e98b661

(15236)

on November 04, 2011
at 10:50 PM

I don't think you need 4x/week of slow efforts. You're wasting a lot of time doing that. Check out the way they structure training at crossfit endurance. It's a little tricky to translate if you're new to the site but I'm happy to help you out with any confusion.

I also agree with the high fat/moderate carb for cyclists. My fat burning zone is better than most people would even admit as being possible as a result of a few years of paleo eating.

To specifically answer your questions, as a cyclist I've found the carbs work well both before, during, and after your hard rides. On the easy rides, I eat low-moderate carbs with a lot of fat and don't need to eat anything during the ride if it's under 3 hrs. I like smoothies (avocado, berries, 3-4 raw eggs, coconut butter, regular butter, shredded coconut) before rides or meat/eggs/veggies types of meals with a good amount of fat.

You should also check some of the older threads here regarding cycling and nutrition.

6b8d12fc3e43179f9ae1765a4d1a9dc2

(5914)

on November 05, 2011
at 01:08 AM

I know what you are saying about the wasted effort, but I have also read a lot about the low effort training is where you get the greatest improvements come racing time. That Paleo Guy discusses this in detail, plus the books that I have read talk about professional riders doing the majority of their training at low levels. I'm not saying that I am a professional, by any stretch of the imagination, but if it works for them. They say that the people who do 2 rides a week at their race pace can go for 10 years without making significant improvements. Cont

6b8d12fc3e43179f9ae1765a4d1a9dc2

(5914)

on November 05, 2011
at 01:12 AM

Where as training at low effort, with serious short hard training such as sprints and hills, at maximum effort will provide the greatest benefit. Plus I like riding, and I can count this towards my low level exercise, as I don't do much walking.

96bf58d8c6bd492dc5b8ae46203fe247

(37227)

on November 05, 2011
at 12:27 AM

Speaking only for myself, I did the "wasted" rides because I loved what I was doing and couldn't wait to get on the bike after work for the stress relief.

64433a05384cd9717c1aa6bf7e98b661

(15236)

on November 05, 2011
at 01:35 AM

All true, but you're not gonna be recovering properly when you're riding that much. There's definitely a compromised between riding twice a week and 6 times a week when it comes to recovery.

6b8d12fc3e43179f9ae1765a4d1a9dc2

(5914)

on November 05, 2011
at 01:08 AM

I know what you are saying about the wasted effort, but I have also read a lot about the low effort training is where you get the greatest improvements come racing time. That Paleo Guy discusses this in detail, plus the books that I have read talk about professional riders doing the majority of their training at low levels. I'm not saying that I am a professional, by any stretch of the imagination, but if it works for them. They say that the people who do 2 rides a week at their race pace can go there 10 years without making significant improvements. Cont -

6b8d12fc3e43179f9ae1765a4d1a9dc2

(5914)

on November 05, 2011
at 06:35 AM

Cheers Jeff, I will take everything you have mentioned on board.

64433a05384cd9717c1aa6bf7e98b661

(15236)

on November 05, 2011
at 03:04 AM

One other thing to remember is that the liver can make glucose out of lactic acid (cori cycle), another reason carb intake doesn't need to be sky high.

64433a05384cd9717c1aa6bf7e98b661

(15236)

on November 05, 2011
at 03:02 AM

I also wouldn't suggest 2 rides per week at race pace. I think one day of short (<30 sec) intervals, one day of 4-8min high tempo intervals, one long slow ride, and one day of climbing does really good things. With that protocol, eating around 200g carbs on the hard days and around 100 on the others will be a good way to go.

2
3bad4b0b105bf44d7650e7fdfbe15cbd

on November 05, 2011
at 05:11 AM

I cycle to work 8 miles each way and recently did a 50 mile ride (ate ~700 calories during the ride I'd guess, about 50/50 carbs/fat). I eat <100g carbs a day in general and have never had issues. I also ran the Tough Mudder recently (10 miles all over a ski mountain) and had no hunger or fatigue issues. So that's what works for me. I've been following strict paleo for about 2 months.

The fact of the matter is that you can't burn fat anaerobically, so once you exhaust your phosphate, ATP, and creatine phosphate systems (takes about 30 seconds) your muscles will be performing glycolysis to generate energy anaerobically. You're likely the best judge of when you're hitting that point.

Eating a bunch of carbs right before you do high effort training is likely counter productive because it will increase insulin secretion, thus decreasing both blood glucose and FFA concentrations in your blood and further starving your muscle tissue of nutrients. If your glycogen stores are low and you regularly eat low-carb, starches the night before should be sufficient in filling your glycogen stores. You'll have to try it out and see.

You may also be interested in trying a Cyclical Ketogenic Diet (google it). Ideally, you want your muscles to be glycogen-sparing, but have the glycogen when they need it, which that diet supposedly provides. I haven't been able to find any real studies supporting it's actual efficacy in practice, but the components of it have some scientific backing.

6b8d12fc3e43179f9ae1765a4d1a9dc2

(5914)

on November 05, 2011
at 09:01 AM

Cyclical Ketogenic Diet looks way too complicated. Will just stick with eating food.

64433a05384cd9717c1aa6bf7e98b661

(15236)

on November 05, 2011
at 05:30 AM

Also, I think a cyclic low-ish carb diet would be better than a cyclic ketogenic diet. Ketosis basically makes your cells insulin resistant, low-ish carb would avoid that while still getting the benefits of efficient fat metabolism.

96bf58d8c6bd492dc5b8ae46203fe247

(37227)

on November 05, 2011
at 05:14 AM

Eric, I think some of the Tour de France riders used that this year; I remember some commentary about its benefits.

3bad4b0b105bf44d7650e7fdfbe15cbd

(860)

on November 05, 2011
at 05:34 AM

Ketosis makes your cells insulin resistant? I've only heard the opposite, but I'd be interested to read anything that contradicts that. What led you to that conclusion?

64433a05384cd9717c1aa6bf7e98b661

(15236)

on November 05, 2011
at 02:21 PM

Yeah, it's physiological not pathological but IR nonetheless. Here's a good explanation.... http://high-fat-nutrition.blogspot.com/2007/10/physiological-insulin-resistance.html

64433a05384cd9717c1aa6bf7e98b661

(15236)

on November 05, 2011
at 02:20 PM

Yeah, here's a nice explanation.... http://high-fat-nutrition.blogspot.com/2007/10/physiological-insulin-resistance.html

64433a05384cd9717c1aa6bf7e98b661

(15236)

on November 05, 2011
at 05:28 AM

TDF riders used a cyclic ketogenic diet? I find that hard to believe but I would love to know who. Two teams appeared to be gluten free, Garmin, who arguably had the best overall tour, and Radioshack, who had one of the best years overall.

64433a05384cd9717c1aa6bf7e98b661

(15236)

on November 05, 2011
at 02:56 PM

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/sites/entrez?Db=pubmed&Cmd=ShowDetailView&TermToSearch=7895958&ordinalpos=2&itool=EntrezSystem2.PEntrez.Pubmed.Pubmed_ResultsPanel.Pubmed_RVDocSum

1
451114d9ae1e0f9e1a028cce5538e790

(226)

on November 07, 2011
at 04:45 PM

Just to add my two cents. I eat pretty strict high-fat Paleo and don't use any extra carbs for rides shorter than two hours anymore. Even the hard rides are OK as I can rely on glycogen for at least 90 minutes usually.

On long, fast rides (rare), I'll bring along maltodextrin to mix with water as needed. A long, low-intensity ride can be completely fat-powered, just avoid anaerobic excursions. Spin up the hills.

I would not ride 5 x 2 hours a week, though. Too much might put your heart at risk, among other problems. Better to get in one or two HIIT sessions and a heavy weight lifting session or two.

6b8d12fc3e43179f9ae1765a4d1a9dc2

(5914)

on November 08, 2011
at 01:40 AM

Thanks Jim. I had a quick look at your blog, it looks great, Cheers

0
Medium avatar

on November 07, 2011
at 04:54 PM

If you want to lose fat, you should definitely not eat any carbohydrates before the low intensity rides. If it becomes a problem, then the intensity wasn't low enough. You'd want your glycogen stores topped off before the intervals though.

6b8d12fc3e43179f9ae1765a4d1a9dc2

(5914)

on November 08, 2011
at 01:37 AM

Thanks Trav, weight less isn't really a huge goal.

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