Depriving yourself of sugar to raise efficiency?

A light bike doesn't replace good fitness.

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phourgenres
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by phourgenres

I've heard there were a couple studies done on this topic (which actually turned up favorable results), but I mainly made this thread to see if it was prevalent in the cycling world.

The idea is that by depriving your body of sugars during training rides, it forces your body to go into fatty acid oxidation quicker. I have even heard of people fasting for 8 hours (not eating breakfast) and going out ride to accomplish this even more efficiently. During high intensity exercise a very conditioned athlete taps into his fatty acid storage rather than totally depleting his glycogen storage. This then allows his glycogen storage to be more readily available throughout a longer period in the race.

When building a solid aerobic base, isn't raising our bodies metabolic efficency one of the main things we are trying to accomplish?

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Tapeworm
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by Tapeworm

IIRC correctly the latest studies show that this approach reduces the body's ability to process carbohydrates whilst exercising. Those placed on a high carbohydrate diet whilst on the bike were able to eat more carbs.

So on the face of it:- eat less carbs on the bike to maximise fat usage or eat more carbs and maximise their uptake and usage.

I know which I would choose.
"Physiology is all just propaganda and lies... all waiting to be disproven by the next study."
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by Weenie


bricky21
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by bricky21

Don't know about any of the studies your referring to, but I have eliminated processed sugar from my diet(wheat and dairy too) including on the bike since Jan.1, and feel much better for it. My energy levels are as high as they've ever been and I have yet to suffer from hypoglycemia :thumbup: (other than the first 3 days of hell when I stopped the intake of sugar). I'll wait till the summer heat hits before I become a true believer though. I do feel like my blood sugar stays relatively constant rather than constantly going up and down when I was living from one sugar high to the next.

phourgenres
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by phourgenres

Tapeworm:

In a 50+ mile race I could see a decreased utlilization of carbs as a advantage, because you are not immediately depleting your glycogen stores. In something short, like a crit I could definitely see this as a problem. What kind of decreased ability are we talking? Is it decreasing your bodies ability to store large glycogen stores, or decreasing your bodies ability to quickiy metabolize that storage?

When you have a metabolic test done, your shooting for the higher ratio of fat/glycogen utilization, correct? In order to have a higher FA utlization wouldn't you have to have a decreased ability to metabolize glycogen over a shorter period of time?

Bricky21:

So what kind of nutrients do you take in during your ride?

bricky21
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by bricky21

Tap water.

Also, I don't do much riding longer than 2hrs. any more. I manly do 60-90min crits, 1.5-2 hr group rides, and training crits during the week. Lastly I do consume a lot of nutrients and, carbohydrates in the form of fruits, vegetables, rice, nuts, fish, and lean meat, so I'm not exactly depriving myself of carbs(just processed sugars). I have wondered if the absence of simple sugars has helped my body better utilize stored glycogen and fat???Tapeworm???

If I start to bonk when the summer heat comes I will methodically start to reintroduce small amounts of energy drinks during my riding until I find just the right amount. I would really like to avoid that because I'm a bit nervous about falling back into old habits once I start consuming processed sugar again, so I'm hoping that if I use just enough that I won't be left craving more when I'm off the bike.

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Tapeworm
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by Tapeworm

@ bricky, yep not all sugars are created equal!


Here are some relevant studies.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/22301833/
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/10870867/
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/1618190/
http://m.ajcn.org/content/72/2/558S.full

@ phourgenres you're shooting for the one that provides the greatest amount of energy for the longest period of time. How you get that exactly well that is a subject of debate. Lots of training is agreed upon... that's about it. And that's about the extent of my knowledge on metabolic pathways.
"Physiology is all just propaganda and lies... all waiting to be disproven by the next study."
"I'm not a real doctor; But I am a real worm; I am an actual worm." - TMBG

artray
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by artray

I have tried a few energy bars/gels/pills for longer rides, but I can go ok on just water. I was doing a lot of 4 hour rides in jan/feb and sipping water and a coffee at the halfway point and that seemed to be just fine. I do take the odd banana sometimes. I do drink a lot of diet coke, so maybe the effects of energy bars etc are not so great. I have read a couple of things. Ivan Basso just takes water on his training rides. Wiggins does the same. Basso was saying that your body adapts to just water and works more efficiently.
Any of you WW out there just ride with water ?

Jherrera
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by Jherrera

I only ride with Water. And it's fine for me on even 3 and 4 hour rides.

Imaking20
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by Imaking20

Would I be correct to assume this thread is a result of the recent article in Bicycling mag? :)



I was a little surprised to read this article being suggested as somewhat of a new science/practice in cycling as such information has long been available in bodybuilding circles. However, my knowledge of this is for a completely different application. I'm not at all interested in exercising for any decent duration in a carb depleted state personally and don't think it's necessarily the best practice for your average enthusiast... unless they have a lot of excess fat they'd like to trim.
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phourgenres
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by phourgenres

I just have a friend who does it in his off-season, and I've been probing him about why he does it.

PoorCyclist
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by PoorCyclist

Don't forget your brain also need something (sugar)? to think, at least my brain does.

Riding up mountains and descenting, repeatedly in a long ride, without any kind of sugar would kind of affect your judgement. It had happened to me before I was so groggy during the descent it feel like slow motion and wanted to take a nap on the stem. It was just beyond bonking and became dangerous.

Imaking20
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by Imaking20

PoorCyclist wrote:Don't forget your brain also need something (sugar)? to think, at least my brain does.

Riding up mountains and descenting, repeatedly in a long ride, without any kind of sugar would kind of affect your judgement. It had happened to me before I was so groggy during the descent it feel like slow motion and wanted to take a nap on the stem. It was just beyond bonking and became dangerous.


You are absolutely correct - and there are long term effects as well.

http://www.livestrong.com/article/52873 ... -function/
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kulivontot
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by kulivontot

These studies are damn near worthless. Not even close to replicating race conditions. Not to mention that your body is obviously going to be different. Give it a try see how you feel and go from there.

rustychain
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by rustychain

I read lots of nutrition studies as a certified health and nutrition consoler, professional fencing coach, and avid cyclist. I also go to monthly seminars on nutrition to keep me up to date. Rather then cherry picking some study to "prove" my point (you can find studies to "prove" anything) I will just pass this on.
In nutrition we thrive on a varied diet. Both for health and performance. Your system will adapt to any eating strategy. If we eat simple carbs while training we adapt. If we eat complex carbs we adapt. If we train with depleted glycogen stores we adapt. As in exercising muscles groups it is my opinion that there is merit in mixing things up. You see you can only ingest so much nutrition while doing heavy exercise. It is my opinion that all these energy systems need to be tapped to performs best. It is also important to consider the effects of a diet high in simple carbs (sugar). If your doing 5 or 6 hour rides living off of gels your eating a large portion of your calories with food that is nutritionally empty. In fact multiple studies over many years have found that a diet high in sugar leads to systemic inflammation, may I suggest you look up that term if your unfamiliar as it is the precursor for all sorts of diseases. My advise is that you seek a trained professional if your really serious about optimizing your performance and health with diet. I have seen far to much misinformation on this forum (training) and other online sources. It is almost impossible for the casual observer to tell what is sound advise and what is not without expert help. Also vital is to remember that we are all different and nutritional strategies are different for individuals and should be forever evolving.
I am often asked for specific "tips" on nutrition. To give sound advise one needs a full health history, a detailed record of diet and exercise and an understanding of the subjects history regarding eating issues. So don't ask me for tips in the elevator :beerchug:
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JMT
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by JMT

Bricky21. I don't think you have to worry about processed sugars as such, there is no chemical difference between a sucrose, glucose of fructose molecule that was previously in a "pure" crystal (refined sugar) before being dissolved in your stomach and similar molecule that was present in another matrix. The reason a lot of people feel better off without refined sugar products is because when they eat say candy or cookies they get a high amount of sugar that also dissolves quickly (with sport drinks it is even quicker as the sugar is already dissolved). This raises blood sugar levels which is then regulated down giving a sort of unpleasant and perhaps not in the long run healthy effect. You can however achieve similar effects by eating unprocessed sugar from foods such as dried fruit, it is just a question of amount (and to some extent type) of sugar and how quickly it dissolves and is absorbed by the body.
When training, our glycogen has been and is being depleted rather fast. Under such circumstances it can be a good idea to provide yourself with some extra sugar. A candy bar that in the office would have provided more sugar than the body needed at the moment may be just what the body needs to perform well when exercising.
That said I tend to use normal tap water when biking as well but I do tend to bring a Snickers bar or two as backup in case I can't find a good place to eat when going longer distances (I wouldn't bring it for a two hour ride). The good thing about that is that it allows me to regulate water intake and energy intake separately (and I like to rinse salt of my face with the water as well, don't need sports drinks in my eyes). I think this is especially useful in hot weather where you need more water (and perhaps salts) but your energy needs stay the same. I guess training with gels etc even for shorter distances is beneficial if you want to do the maximum amount of work while training.

About the raised efficiency: While I can see a plus in having more glycogen available for longer, and having a better fat metabolism I would hate to train in a way where I deprive myself of carbohydrates on purpose. For some races and individuals it may be useful I suppose, for me it would greatly reduce my motivation.

by Weenie


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