Atkins Diet and Cycling endurance

Discussion in 'Health Nutrition and Supplements' started by Labarum, Apr 28, 2005.

  1. Labarum

    Labarum New Member

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    Has anyone experience of cycling on the Atkins diet? I am told "the bonk" is not an issues as those on Atkins are already in fat burning mode - carb load would only impait their performance.
     
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  2. zaskar

    zaskar New Member

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    I did Atkins 4 years ago when i didn't know better. i was mtn biking at the time and did a 17 mile loop 5 times a week. 2 days on Atkins and i could hardly complete the ride. i got a bonk like i never felt before.
     
  3. Labarum

    Labarum New Member

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    After two days your metabolism would not have switched from carb burning to fat burning, so I am not surprised you bonked.

    For those well established on Atkins it is claimed they have a higher endurance

    http://atkins-uk.com/Archive/2002/6/17-496610.html

    http://atkins-uk.com/Archive/2002/1/11-488629.html

    and see this thread on the independent Atkins Bulleting Board

    http://www.atkinsdietbulletinboard.com/viewtopic.php?t=71406&highlight=

    I just wondered if there were established Atkins Dieters on this forum
     
  4. Count Dz

    Count Dz New Member

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    Carbs are your friend for biking. Just read Chris Carmichael's book 'Food for Fitness', "The idea of a low-carb diet is to force the body to rely on fat for energy, thereby burning away stored adipose tissue. Athletes can't rely on fat for the majority of their energy because their activity level demands energy aster than it can be supplied by fat. Although fat is a contributor to all exercise intensitites, it only supplies the majority of your energy for low-intensity ( < 50 % of maxiimum intensity) exercise.....Full stores of glycogen are needed to support the intensity levels that recreational and moderately trained athletes regularly experience druing their workouts and athletic activities." Hence the "Bonk". I've noticed that just by eating a powerbar while riding has an immediate effect on my performance while riding. I wouldn't advise the atkins diet to anyone, let alone someone who is riding. This fad too shall pass. If you exercise then just keep track of calories in vs. calories burned. Your body NEEDS carbs to operate your nervous system and brain alone. So I suggest not falling for this Atkins fellow cause in was 'designed' to help obese people lose weight not people who already exercise on a daily basis. I of course am not an expert on this subject just passing along information I just read 2 days ago.

    Peace,
    Dz
     
  5. ric_stern/RST

    ric_stern/RST New Member

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    you have been told completely and utterly wrong. You'll ride like a sack of bricks on Atkins and similar diets

    ric
     
  6. rule62

    rule62 New Member

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    Man no kidding. The smartest thing that I ever did was to get Carmichael's book and learn how to eat. I couldn't believe how significantly my diet was holding me back until I started to eat right.
     
  7. zaskar

    zaskar New Member

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  8. zaskar

    zaskar New Member

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  9. JTE83

    JTE83 Member

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    You don't have to go on an Atkins diet to lose weight. I went from 205 lbs to 152 just by eating anything - even cookies, cakes, and high calorie pecan pie. Just try to eat what maintains your weight without weight gain, then exercise the weight off by riding.

    Do at least 100 miles per weight and don't increase your food intake. I've done weeks were I did 130 miles and lost 2.5 lbs, and a week where I did 166 miles and lost only .4 lbs because I ate more.
     
  10. Hypnospin

    Hypnospin New Member

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    you WILL bonk big time without carbs. excess is the problem in most cases. the need is felt to carb up for a ride that includes less than a couple hours exertion, or gulping sweet hydration additives in excess of what you are depleting.
    there is a whole industry based on this. just look at all the people stocking up on gatorade to mow the lawn and watch the game...

    consider some carbs the spark to burn the fat.

    that being said, if you ride for a half hour or so on an empty stomach, you will lose fat as well. just avoid overcompensating by eating big and fast upon return, and realize you are flirting with depletion.


     
  11. fiscem4

    fiscem4 New Member

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    Isn't it interesting that all of these "facts" are posted at the atkins website. I would be interested to hear of any independent study that reported the same findings
     
  12. weldingfellow

    weldingfellow New Member

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    while on atkins i did not get the bonk. most of my riding was between 1hr 30 and up to 3hrs. felt great after the first few days, first three days had a headache. then all good. 40 lbs later, i'm now doing 5 and 6 hour rides. try it.
     
  13. Labarum

    Labarum New Member

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    Greetings, Weldingfellow.

    This is what other Atkineers have told me, though they are runners rather than cyclists. Are you still doing Atkins? What is your daily carb intake? And do you increase it while on a long ride, or does it make no difference?

    Like you, on day two of Atkins I was absolutely awful, after that marvelous. Much more energy, but then I would have after losing 50+ lbs.

    There is so much misinformation about low carb because it tramples over orthodoxy. For the others:

    Dr Atkins did not say calories don't count: he said "Don't count calories", and even that has to be qualified "In the beginning, don't count calories."

    As you approach target you certainly must count both. I counted both from the start using www.fitday.com

    And Dr Atkins was also very clear about the need to excercise - it is not optional.

    But I digress. I will just enjoy the country lanes, try to improve my fitness and endurance, and not get fussed about the orthodox telling me to get some carbs down my neck.

    And if you can offer me any more advice, Weldingfellow, I would be grateful.
     
  14. ric_stern/RST

    ric_stern/RST New Member

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    In my professional capacity i would seriously advise anyone to NOT try Atkins, especially if they wanted to combine it with exercise. There is *no* physiological reason to expect you to perform well while on such a diet, and indeed many reasons to underperform while on such a diet.

    ric
     
  15. Labarum

    Labarum New Member

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    Thanks for your contribution, Ric.

    May I ask in what professional capacity you offer the advice?

    As a 55 year old senior officer in the British Army I was directed by a Senior Medical Officer of the Royal Army Medical Corps: "Do Atkins," he said, "it works." He has offered the same advice to others I know - where they have done Atkins "by the book" it has been very effective.

    One of the nursing staff expressed concern to me about long term high protein intake and stress on the kidneys. The SMO dismissed the nurses concerns.

    I am Male 6 ft 3in. 55 years Married 23 years.
    208 lb now, down from 260 lb since March 04
    Blood Pressure Mar 04 147/94 . Jun 04 121/74 . Dec 04 119/72
    All blood measurements now impressively healthy.
    Chlorestoral marginally down on a 65% fat diet
    - though it was not an issue at the start,
    - and many find it falls dramtically.

    The Atkins/low fat/carb controversy will continue. The medical and other professions are divided on the issue, but shouting louder (as many do) in defence of orthodoxy really does not contriute to a healthy debate.

    I am not suggesting that you have done that, Ric, and I would like to see an intelligent and gracious exchange of informed opinion.

    I am picking up that there may be an ultimate performance issue for those on a low carb diet. Some have said to me that while in ketosis you can plod along for hours at a moderate pace, but could run into difficulties when attempting to sprint too long or too often.

    That's fine by me - at 55 I have no ambitions to be a boy racer.

    On the other hand the Atkins handbook is very clear that ketosis can be maintained at much higher levels of carb input for those who are very active.
    Snacking on fruit, dried fruit, or topping up with modest quantities of liquid carb is (I believe) a practice adopted by some low carb sportsmen.

    I am truly trying to find a reasonable and practical way forward to enable me to lose that final 15 lbs, get fit and enjoy cycling the lovely lanes around where I live.

    Any contribution to the debate would be welcome.

    So, Ric, are you against the low carb philosophy in any circumstances, or are you simple saying those who live that way will be denied the best performance measured in both endurance and speed?

    Upon what evidence do you base your claims, and with what professional authority?
     
  16. ric_stern/RST

    ric_stern/RST New Member

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    very briefly as i'm just about to go coaching.

    I'm a Sports Scientist and level 4 coach from the ABCC.

    I would not say the medical community is divided (as this to me implies an approximate even split). However, there are a small percentage that advocate it (Atkins).

    It is nothing to do with ultimate performance, any exercise that is above ~ 50% VO2max (this is a low effort) requires a substantial contribution from from carbohydrates, and indeed the expression "fat burns in a carbohydrate flame" is true.

    The Atkins handbook suggests many things of which being able to exercise normally while on Atkins is one of them. Of course they are trying to sell you a product (Atkins).

    Sportspeople can't compete on a low carb diet in endurance exercise unless they want to underperform.

    Ric

     
  17. Labarum

    Labarum New Member

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    Now here is some chat on the same subject from another forum - I won't link because some board moderators get sniffy about that.

    From Badhabit

    Labarum, the plan I was first intorduced to is called " The Carbohydrate Addicts Diet", so I'm not overly familiar with the Atkins regime. Essentially with my WOE (Way of eating), I have 2 carb free meals per day, a carb free or low carb snack, and then for dinner I have a balanced meal of pretty much anything I want, as long as I eat it within an hour. This includes dessert of my choice.
    I also use Fitday to track my food, and I average about 1900-2100 calories per day. I'm 5'9" on a tall day, and weighed in around 260 when I started. I'm now about 192, which I've been at for almost 6 months now. It took me almost a year to get there, but I couldn't excercise much in the beginning. Before cycling, I ran 4 or 5 mornings a week, heavy weights in the gym 4 days per week, and rode my mtb bike to work. I take the kids swimming one or two days per week, and that takes some work, I tell ya!

    Recently I bought a road bike (and loving it) and found a few things on energy, for me anyway. If I'm in ketosis and go on a long ride, I can ride all day. However, if I'm not in ketosis on a day I decide to do a couple of hours riding, I find I burn nitrogen in addition to fat, which I can tell by the smell of ammonia in my sweat. Since I've worked hard to put on a fair bit of muscle over the last year, I'm not keen on losing it as an energy source. Since I can tell when I'm not in ketosis, if I mix 350 ml of gatorade with that much water and drink it during the ride, no ammonia smell. And since I'm not actively trying to lose much weight anymore, I'm just out of ketosis most of the time these days, and having the sugar water gives me a boost for long endurance rides.

    Now, if you're in ketosis, you should have no trouble riding a long time using fat as energy. Just remember, a good recovery drink when you're done is important. I use low carb protein shake with a heaping teaspoon of dextrose to help transport the protein into the muscle and restore a bit of muscle glycogen.

    Overall, this WOE has been great for me, and provides me with tons of energy. My co-workers are all getting groggy around 2 in the afternoon from their bread lunches, and I'm bouncing off the walls!

    In total I run about 25k per week, ride about 100k, lift weights 4 days per week, hike or mtb bike on the week-ends with the family, go swimming, and walk the dog 7 days per week. I have no shortage of fuel for doing all the things I want to do, and I don't have that bogged down feeling I used to have when I was heavy and full of carbs!

    Any questions, feel free to ask. I know this isn't a popualr topic here, but by the number of views, there does seem to be some interest in the subject, so let's keep it inthe public forum until the lynch mob is in sight

    From nbf

    I think the whole idea of whether you can ride without carbs gets confused by the issue of intensity. If you go on 50% of max HR you can go all day since your in fat burning mode, but go 80% for any continued length of time and yopu will need sugar feeding, and will propably run into problems if your not starting with filled deposits. So when we talk carbs and cycling we need to mention intensity in the same breath.

    From badhabit

    nbf, absolutely. Right now I can go out with the shop ride and ride aggressively for about 1.5 hours, which is the length of the ride we do. I keep up to everyone else within my range of experience (the guys that have been riding for years are much stronger). Unfortunately I have no before/after comparison, but I know it's my lungs restricting me, not my legs.
    I'm also not saying that world class pros could do this and perform the way they do (maybe they could, don't think they ever tried), but for the rider that is riding for fitness and to lose some weight, it is a viable option.
    People that are racing bikes probably aren't real over-weight to begin with, and the whole premise of low carb eating is to lose weight (and keep it off). The racer guys that keep trying to defend carbs don't need to worry about whether low carb is good or bad, because obviously they don't need to eat that way! :)

    Now, the chunky people that do need to eat that way, might find this the path to getting into good enough condition to start racing.

    Again, this is just one of many choices people can make in their lives, some will be for it, others against it and some won't care either way.
     
  18. fiscem4

    fiscem4 New Member

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    Hi,

    As a fellow fitness professional I thought I would weigh in on this friendly banter.

    First of all, I do not think that this is, as some of you have suggested, a debate between orthadoxy and progressivism. It ought to simply be a discussion about what works best for our sport, or, rather, what is healthy for our sport.

    Simply, if you go for a ride having taken in no carbohydrates it is possible that you will experience similar effects as someone who may ride before eating breakfast. In short, yes, your body will burn some fat as fuel, but it will also burn muscle and use it for fuel. As any well researched book on cycling nutrition will tell you, and as ric pointed out earlier, during endurance exercise the body functions mainly with the support of carbohydrates. Many studies have also shown that the addage "fat burns in a carbohydrate flame", is, as ric also pointed out, very true.

    Cycling nutrition, in essence, is about developing a single eating pattern that will support many nutritional and developmental goals.

    My basic philosophy on nutrition for fitness is that NO diet is good which alienates a complete section of a person's diet. So, for the purpose of a recreational cyclist who is looking to incorporate the sport into their fitness regimine, it is absolutely not advisable to disclude the primary source of energy for endurance sports. I am not saying that it is necisarry for a recreational cyclist to adapt the same eating strategies as a professional cyclist, as this would not be beneficial given the recreational cyclists goals, but there are many things that can be learned by using the ideas which guide cycling nutrition.

    Also, on a general note, people who subscribe to the atkins diet need to realize that they are in the same danger as vegetarians and vegans in that they need to be extra diligent about making sure that their nutrient intake is sufficient. Also, people who follow the atkins plan need to monitor their fat intake. I could go into the detriments of a high-fat diet, but i'm sure you are all aware of its effects.

    Also, I hear many atkinites throwing around the word "ketosis". I also know that atkins himself described the state of ketosis as a "metabolic advantage". It is important to note that the state of ketosis is the result of dangerously low blood-sugar, similar to that experienced by diabetics. Perhaps you should be careful in the future about throwing this word around, as it has many implications which are not discussed in the atkins books.

    I suppose that is all for now. happy riding.
     
  19. Labarum

    Labarum New Member

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    Ah, well I am not a professional - but I know informed folk who would challenge you:

    From the Atkins FAQ

    "There is nothing harmful, abnormal or dangerous about ketosis. Some of the confusion comes from the word ketoacidosis, which is completely different from ketosis. Ketoacidosis is a potentially dangerous condition seen in Type I diabetics . . . " or more fully:

    Isn't ketosis a dangerous state for your body to be in?

    The body uses two fuels for energy: fat and glucose (blood sugar). Carbohydrates break down in the body as glucose. So when you cut back on carbs, you effectively take away most of one of the body's fuels and the body turns to fat-burning, the metabolic process called lipolysis and the secondary process of ketosis. So long as you have extra body fat, ketosis is safe and natural – and it's the secret weapon of weight loss. A person in ketosis is getting energy from burning ketones, which are carbon fragments that are created by the burning of the body's fat stores.

    There is nothing harmful, abnormal or dangerous about ketosis. Some of the confusion comes from the word ketoacidosis, which is completely different from ketosis. Ketoacidosis is a potentially dangerous condition seen in Type I diabetics – people who cannot produce insulin, when their blood sugar levels are out of control – alcoholics and people in a severe state of starvation. Research shows that ketosis does not cause adverse effects to the heart, kidneys, liver or blood cell functions. Nor is bone health compromised.

    And see:

    http://atkins-uk.com/helpatkins/newfaq/categories/LipolysisKetosis.html
     
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