Atkins and Cycling



Aztec

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Jul 8, 2003
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Originally posted by trekchic
This is just my $.02 worth:

I lost about 40# in 4 months doing the low carb diet and working out with resistance machines last Spring and Summer. By July, I was working out less, but increased my aerobic work (walking 5+ times a week for about 45 mins to an hour). I got hooked on cycling, and found out I couldn't stay on the bike very long with my current diet; someone suggested carbo-loading before a ride and adding them back to my regular diet. I kept that up thru Christmas, watching the carbs and keeping up on the walking. However, when I quit watching the carbs...especially sweets... and the only workout I was getting was an hour or so on the trainer 3-4 x's a week, some of the weight came back and I feel horrible. I am sure it's because I put the bad carbs back into my diet. I let bleached flour and sugar back into my life! I am so mad at myself and even though I am riding as much as possible and walking 4+ times a week, I couldn't get the weight loss to kick in again until I eliminated the sugar and flour from my diet cold turkey! It's only been 2 full days, but I already feel better.

So, when I get off the first 2 weeks and need to increase the carbs to stay on the bike, what do I add? Carrots, potatos, corn, bananas, melons, apples...........stay away from the breads and sweets? I am terrified that I am going to gain the weight back + 40#! I've only gained 10-15 #, but it makes me feel horrible!

Also, anyone ever heard that caffeine decreases metabolism? Someone on Atkins told me that........never heard that before.

Kim in TN

Kim, this much I can tell you. Either 1) Your weight gain didn't come from replacing some food with an equal amount of refined carbs, or 2) your weight gain is not all fat. Think about this... 10# = 35,000 calories. Have you cranked in that many MORE calories? If you have, I'm impressed! If not, then it is not, can not, be fat gain. Some of it has to be water. Note that it's quite possible that a good hunk of the 40# you lost was water in the first place.

On another note, I saw 'The Lance Chronicles' the other day on OLN TV, and Charmichael mentioned how low carb diets and cycling don't mix. Now, I'm sure he was referring to pro-level cycling, but the point is still really the same. Fuel w/ carbs.
 

dmkaye

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Jul 8, 2004
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Originally posted by davidbod
If you want some advice from somone who cycles and actually follows the Atkins Lifestyle then I can tell you what my experience has been over the last 10 months. Besides losing 35 lbs in 4 months, keeping it off for the last 6 months and dropping my .......

David

It is so good to hear someone who is successfull both lowering carbs and riding bikes.

I lost 40 lb's in 8 months, and have kept it off for 4 months using low carb/Atkins. I recently got back on my bike, and am trying to lose an additional 15 to 20 lb's.

I have been worried about bonking as I add miles. I will give the shakes a try (have you used the Advantage shakes?). What about an apple or bannana before, during, or after a ride?

Also, do you have a lead on the article you mentioned in your reply? It was a May article, and I don't have access.

Thanks,
Dmkaye
 

ric_stern/RST

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Nov 11, 2002
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Hurstpierpoint
www.cyclecoach.com
Originally posted by Aztec
On another note, I saw 'The Lance Chronicles' the other day on OLN TV, and Charmichael mentioned how low carb diets and cycling don't mix. Now, I'm sure he was referring to pro-level cycling, but the point is still really the same. Fuel w/ carbs.

not just pro level, anyone that trains requires carbs, as the majority of the energy is dervided from CHO oxidation. without carbs, although you can still exercise, your performance level will plummet.

ric
 

Trekker2017

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Apr 23, 2004
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As a former Atkins patient let me toss my 2-cents in... Remember that Dr. Atkins' goal was for you to establish your critical carbohydrate level which differs for each individual and is measured by the amount of ketones in your urine. Exercise raises your body's need for carbohydrates. So the more exercise the more carbs. Too many people including other Dr.s and nutritionists talk about Atkins without really knowing what they're talking about. They hear about phase one and go ballasitc. Yes, Atkins is a low carb eating program, but it is based on each individual's need for carbs. Your need will be different from mine which will be different from some tri-atheletes. You have to determine just how many carbs your body needs and then add to or subtract from there. The more exercise the more carbs; the less exercise the less carbs. Just remember to test your urine. The overall point of Atkins was to return your body to a proper balance.
 

darrenf

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Jul 16, 2004
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Hi, my first post on here.

I have used the atkins diet and also cycle, mainly for keep fit and recreational- road cycling in the main, but used to do a fair bit of MTB.

Got back on the bike a couple of years ago after a few years break due to v young kids.

Anyway, I had gained a few pounds (20 or so) and decided to give atkins a try. It worked in that I lost about a stone and I kept the carbs low. I then got back on the bike and yes, found that I bonked after only about 15 miles. I wasn't very fit at the time anyway, but switched to eating more carbs again and found that that solved the problem and a could go out and ride and concentrate on increasing fitness and losing a few more pounds.

I think Trekker2017 has hit the nail on the head though. Atkins advocates intoducing carbs to the level you need them. If you are doing long hard rides on a regular basis, then clearly you will need carbs and the atkins "diet" or lifestyle as the good Dr Atkins preferred to call it, becomes a balanced diet anyway.

What I would say is, in the initial 2 week stage of atkins, do not do any hard or long rides (more than 15 miles). In the weight loss stage, you can start to introduce longer rides with more effort as you reintroduce carbs. On the weight maintenence stage, adjust the level of carbs according to the level of effort you are putting in to cycling. ie reduce carbs when not active, increase when riding regularly.

I suppose basically what I am saying is atkins can be compatible with cycling if you view it as more than a low carb diet and introduce more carbs to provide fuel for cycling whilst losing and maintaining the desired weight level.
 

closesupport

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Jul 18, 2004
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Randybaker99 said:
Duckwah has a very good point, which is that there is nothing wrong with mixing extended riding with a low carb diet, but keep in mind that your endurance will be less because of the lack of readily accessible fuel (carbs).

If you are planning to do some serious riding (80+ miles per week) with weight loss in mind and are also closely following the Atkins plan, you might be working at cross purposes. I am not an expert by any means, but there are situations where you can trigger a starvation response in your body and metabolism drops and it tries to store fat - not the desired effect!

If you are very serious about both biking and a low carb diet, consider getting an expert opinion from a nutritionist. The problem is they may steer you away from Atkins as it seems to be falling out of favor with many.

Consider looking at the South Beach Diet - call it an Atkins variant for people who want to eat a more balanced healthy diet. It still reduces carbs, but has more flexibility so is probably more realistic in the long run.

Regardless, I wish you the best in meeting all your goals!
Starvation what! fats poor energy provider. fats contain twice as much
Kcal -Kj of energy than carbs, i follow a hi fat balanced diet. i maintain my weight.

The bodies metabolism drops when it isn't getting enough calories to maintain its required needs. since basal metabolic rate is measured from age weight and height with its priorities of making sure that the organs have enough energy to function. this is when the metabolism starts storing (CARBS converted to triglycerides and stored as fat) when it may experience a period of time with low calorie intake.

i eat fast foods, chips burger, full english breakfasts i ain't no health food freak, low fat high carbs diet, just whats gonna provide me with enough Kcal for my BMR + extra for my activities.

i don't carry body fat my body manages it quite well,
 

JayKrause

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Jul 22, 2004
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This came from a road riding e-mail newsletter...Very interesting

6. Ask Coach Fred Matheny

Low-Carb Diet Danger

Last week I answered the question, "Can I ride well on
the South Beach Diet?"

Mack, the roadie who asked, said he was successfully
losing weight on the popular low-carb regimen, but he
lacked energy on longer rides and his snap on hills was
abysmal.

In my reply, I told Mack that on a low-carb diet "it's
almost impossible to ride well, especially for long
distances or at high speeds. After all, carbs are the
source of glycogen, the muscles' primary fuel."

My bottom line was this: "Losing weight is only one
part of the equation. You also need to maintain power.
Excessive weight loss (and carbohydrate depletion) will
eventually turn you into a weak rider."

How weak? I never heard a scarier account of what can
happen to a cyclist on a low-carb diet than I got from
a roadie named Jon. I'm sharing it here to underscore
how risky it can be to combine carbohydrate
restriction with cycling.

This was signed, Suffering in Seattle.

"I came down with overtraining syndrome while following
the South Beach Diet. Much of overtraining is due to
not recovering adequately after riding. Recovery
depends on getting sufficient glycogen back into the
muscles.

"With lack of glycogen, the body goes catabolic. That
is, it starts turning protein to carbs for the body to
continue functioning. The biggest source of protein is
muscle, so the body starts eating muscle.

"I didn't fuel myself adequately for two four-hour
rides a week apart. The night after a third such ride,
I didn't sleep. I could sleep only 2-4 hours per night
for the next five months, even with the aid of
prescribed medicine.

"A hormone called cortisol controls the body's
consumption of carbs, protein and fats. It also
controls the adrenal glands. After two or so hours of
sleep, I would wake up with my heart pounding and in

a panic. Then, my mind was so active I couldn't resume
sleep.

"It's six months later and I'm still recovering, even
after switching back to a diet that has a high
percentage of complex carbohydrate, eating a caloric
surplus and refraining from any exercise. My sleep has
slowly begun improving.

"I was told by several cycling coaches that there is
a proliferation of overtraining since the popularity of
low-carb diets. They are dangerous for endurance
athletes!"



closesupport said:
Starvation what! fats poor energy provider. fats contain twice as much
Kcal -Kj of energy than carbs, i follow a hi fat balanced diet. i maintain my weight.

The bodies metabolism drops when it isn't getting enough calories to maintain its required needs. since basal metabolic rate is measured from age weight and height with its priorities of making sure that the organs have enough energy to function. this is when the metabolism starts storing (CARBS converted to triglycerides and stored as fat) when it may experience a period of time with low calorie intake.

i eat fast foods, chips burger, full english breakfasts i ain't no health food freak, low fat high carbs diet, just whats gonna provide me with enough Kcal for my BMR + extra for my activities.

i don't carry body fat my body manages it quite well,
 

ninesky

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Jul 16, 2003
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I'm not sure exactly how limited your carbohydrate intake is on Atkins. I know it's more than the <30 grams per day for a CKD. Regardless, you can't count on carbohydrates for cycling. From what I've read, while in ketosis having your heart rate at 60% of your maximum will have you using almost only fat and ketones for energy. So if you want to cycle while on a restricted carbohydrate diet, stay at around 60% of your maximum heart rate for the most part and your limited amount of carbs can take care of the occasional upward fluctuations. Otherwise you'll be dipping into protein and muscle tissue for glycogen.
 

cojosurfer

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Dec 6, 2003
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ninesky,

I heard anywhere from 65%-75% of MHR is the fat burning range and this is where a low carb (atkins) diet assists in weightloss (shrinking from limbs to abs). Not necessarily an endurance ride, but a more emphasis in weightloss. Once a rider has reached his/her own ideal fighting weight the Atkins diet needs to go. The next phase of nutrition should be adjusted for a rider to make progress in performance and endurance on the bike: 4 hour endurance rides, intervals on hills and long climbs, etc...Carb intake will need to be adjusted, but at this point fighting weightloss should not be a concern. After the ideal weight is reached I can see a carb:protein ratio of 4:1 come into play for fuel and a carb:protein ratio of 1:4 be used for recovery. Matter of fact I believe a 1:4 ratio of carb and protein should be used for even somebody on a low carb diet (as far as recovery goes). Anyone?
 

dmkaye

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Jul 8, 2004
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ninesky said:
I'm not sure exactly how limited your carbohydrate intake is on Atkins. I know it's more than the <30 grams per day for a CKD. Regardless, you can't count on carbohydrates for cycling. From what I've read, while in ketosis having your heart rate at 60% of your maximum will have you using almost only fat and ketones for energy. So if you want to cycle while on a restricted carbohydrate diet, stay at around 60% of your maximum heart rate for the most part and your limited amount of carbs can take care of the occasional upward fluctuations. Otherwise you'll be dipping into protein and muscle tissue for glycogen.

Would the result of "dipping into protein and muscle tissue for glycogen" be leg cramps/fatigue? I have been on a low carb regime for over a year. Whenever I go for long rides (40 mi. or so), my quads pay the price :eek: !
 

closesupport

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Jul 18, 2004
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dmkaye said:
Would the result of "dipping into protein and muscle tissue for glycogen" be leg cramps/fatigue? I have been on a low carb regime for over a year. Whenever I go for long rides (40 mi. or so), my quads pay the price :eek: !
now the leg cramp issue is something that my sister used to suffer from, and it was due to calcium defficency, she was told to take extra Vit E and calcium plus plenty of fluids to prevent these cramps, and it did work.

i go for long rides, i take along with me 1 bottle with Creatine monohydrate mixed with L Glutamine and one bottle with Carb Drink, i also at night take
L Arganine, L Ornathine, L Lysine and Wheys Branch chain amino Acids, then extra Vitamins first thing in the mornings.

Vit C, Zinc, Vit B Complex, Vit B6.

but when i do come in from long rides within the first hour i try to eat as much carbs and protein as i can, but i do load for the week leading up to longer rides. Ohhh! and No the rattling stops after an hour or so :D .

its surprizing how much difference a simple carb drink makes. personnally if i want to loose weight id be more tempted to reduce calorie intake than carbs specifically.

http://mountzion.ucsfmedicalcenter.org/endocrinology/adrenal/failure.html

in case the calcium defficiency is wrong, do you suffer from any of the attached symptoms