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Best way to fuel for endurance activities?

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pak
 Posted 1/23/2014 5:34:51 PM
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(Hope this is the best place to post this.)
Seems I've been reading a lot lately -- both in L. E. magazine and elsewhere -- about the evils of sugar/carbs.  I'm a 46 yr old male who bicycles 150 - 200 miles a week, in addition to walking 7 - 8 miles a day (delivering mail) up and down God-only-knows how many hills and steps.  Now, I'm no nutritionist, but I'm pretty sure a plate of lettuce, veggies, and fish is not going to supply me with sufficient calories to fuel my activities!  Thing I'm confused on, is if I'm supposed to avoid things like pasta, rice, sports drinks and other higher carb foods, what exactly should I be eating & drinking  -- both on and off the bike -- to meet my caloric requirements?  For sports drinks, the debate is using only complex carbs  -- i.e., maltodextrin -- vs a mix of simple and complex carbs.  Any thoughts on that?  Most say you need nearly all carbs for fuel on the bike.  Would it be better to get some fat and protein mixed in? (BTW, I'm nearly 6'2" and about 160 lbs., so I don't need to lose weight.)
Post #11672
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 Posted 1/24/2014 8:40:20 AM
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Typically, during consistent 'heavy' exercise as you're describing, you'll burn about 500 calories an hour.  Your digestive system, most notably your intestines,  however can only process about half that, about 250 calories hour. 

If you're carb loading or eating heavy per meal to meet your caloric needs, you'll potentially overload, causing gastric disturbance, poor nutritional absorption, and poor performance--Keep in mind that digesting food takes the most energy out of all the body processes, and you need this energy for your endurance activity.  Additionally,  when you eat heavy before endurance exercise, blood flow is partially redirected/enhanced to the gut and away from muscles where nutrients, and oxygen, and removal of waste is really needed the most.

Stored liver glycogen and body fat provide fuel to make up calorie intake deficits,  in this example 250 calories, or otherwise you and eveyone else would just run out of energy and be kaput when calorie intake was used up. There is typically about 1,500 glycogen calories stored in the liver, or about 3 hours of endurance exercise worth. We've all experienced at one time skipping a meal and hours later we feel tired, weak, and brain is foggy--We've essentially used up our fuel.

Pasta, rice, potatoes, and other complex carbohydrates are not bad for you per se, it just depends upon your choices. Some have a high insulin response and may not be suitable for diabetics, but healthy individuals they're fine. Just stay away from processed carbs like white rice, french fries, and white potatoes. Whole grain pasta, and yams especially are great carbohydrate sources. Roman soldiers, known for their strength and endurance, were called 'barley men', for their high intake of whole grain barley.  This should tell you something.

Typically you should eat carbs, fats, protiens as a balanced meal. This is a good way to keep blood sugar stable. What you may want to try is have carbohydrate focused meals for dinner, to get your stores up. Also if you can get up early enough before you begin your endurance day have a high protien and carb breakfast and allow it time to digest and assimilate before starting your day. 

If possible, try to bring with you small, 250 calorie snacks to eat throughout the day to keep energy constant. You want to stay fueled before you feel your energy start to wane.  Complex carbs and protien, are good for slow release of energy. Several half-sandwitches as small meals are an idea. Real food! Stay away from 'enegy' bars as most are just candy bars in disguise. These small, real snacks/meals will keep you fueled up but not over tax your system with heavy digestion. Sports drinks have their place, but not recommeded in place of food. 

hope this helps

-Tom

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Post #11680
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 Posted 1/24/2014 10:48:34 AM
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Very informative, Tom.  Good advice.

And now I finally understand why the brand of multi-grain bread I grew up on as a kid was called "Roman Meal".  My childhood friends who already were dismayed at my family's abstaining from processed, white, and sugar-laden cereals and breads questioned me on that name, and I finally have an answer for them, some 30 years late. Pinch
http://www.romanmeal.com/



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Post #11682
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 Posted 1/25/2014 12:40:12 AM
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For long bicycle rides, I like fat-free Fig Newtons....
Post #11686
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 Posted 1/25/2014 3:17:55 AM
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I would argue that your level of carb restriction should be proportional to your level of Insulin resistance. In other words, as long as you don't cause chronic excessive glucose and/or insulin responses you aren't jeopardizing your health via energy from carbohydrate intake.

I personally consume as many complex carbs as I can (mostly beans and rice) and still get my blood sugar below 100 mg/dl at 2 hours postprandial. My IR as scored via NMR has been in the 40's. I have to adjust my intake based on exercise.

With your level of exercise, I would be surprised to find you have any level of insulin resistance to worry about and can probably eat a tremendous amount of carbohydrate foods without any trouble at all. Have you ever tested your blood sugar 1 or 2 hours after a meal? Do you know your fasting insulin levels? Are you familiar with Peter Attia's work ? (he is an avid bicycler and has become quite the metabolic expert)



 Tom, Thanks for your posts -very informative.
Post #11688
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pak
 Posted 1/25/2014 4:19:13 AM
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Thanks for the response!  I like that "Roman meal" thing . . . but I suspect the Romans didn't get any where's near the amount of gas that I get from Barley, or they wouldn't have been eating it . . . or perhaps THAT was one of their secret weapons?!  (haha!)
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 Posted 1/29/2014 7:28:29 PM
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The mathmatical formula for detemining caloric needs are as follows..

Weight (lbs) X 11 = Basic calories needs. 
(this is the basic calories body needs to function, sans eating or exercising)

Basic caloric needs X % (from caloric expenditure percentage multiplier below) = your metobolic rate.

under 30 years old 
sedentary = 30%
active = 40%
very activy = 50%

30-40 years old
sedentary = 25%
active = 35%
very active = 45% 

over 40 years old
sedentary = 20%
active = 30%
very active = 40%

basic caloric needs + your metobolic rate = maintainence total
(this is what you need to just maintain your life. Not gain or loose weight)

maintenence total + 500 = caloiries to gain weight - fat and/or muscle tissue

maintenance total - 500 = calories to lose weight - fat and/or muscle tissue

Give it a try with your own specs.

-Tom

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Seize every opportunity to put your best foot forward.

Anything worth doing is worth doing well.
If you don't stand for something, you will fall for anything
If everything seems under control you're just not going fast enough. - Mario Andretti
You can't expect to do business today, with yesterday's tools, and be in business tomorrow. - Author Unknown
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Post #11740
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pak
 Posted 1/30/2014 3:44:01 PM
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I assume you're supposed ADD what was multiplied to the basic?  (I.E., needs + (needs X %).)  If so, I get 2,464 calories.  I don't know . . . I'm sure I eat at least 1,000 calories more than that, but I'm still skin & bones!
Post #11752
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 Posted 1/31/2014 5:34:43 PM
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Your total is correct.  

Your guess of what you consume daily may not be.

Count your daily caloires each day for 5 days. Total all 5 days and divide that by 5. This will give you a more accutate daily average.

If you're loosing weight with your maintenance total, add 500 calories per day.  If you're still loosing weight after a couple weeks, add another 500 calories per day.. and so on until your weight stabilizes. 

-Tom

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Seize every opportunity to put your best foot forward.

Anything worth doing is worth doing well.
If you don't stand for something, you will fall for anything
If everything seems under control you're just not going fast enough. - Mario Andretti
You can't expect to do business today, with yesterday's tools, and be in business tomorrow. - Author Unknown
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The case against dietary fats >>  CLICK HERE
Post #11763
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