Fasted Riding

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Fasted Riding

Postby greensum » Fri Jan 27, 2017 3:32 pm

I have been noticing a lot lately on our Club facebook page the increase in numbers of some riders doing a morning fasted ride, or given it's correct name Intermittent Fasting (IF).
If you google/bing or whatever search engine is your preference on fasted training to look for understanding, guidance and information or to put it plainly, “does this work”, you will find an endless list of websites, over 24,000,000ish results on the last time I did.
When I was young, fit and some said foolish, lets just say I did a “líťťlé biçyçlíńģ” and at the time I was made aware of this form of training by a DS and some other rider's, and where circumstances and occasions that I considered to be acceptable I would ride/train on an empty stomach.
Just under four years ago after a very long break from cycling, “another story” I got back on the saddle “it's been more off than on than I would have liked” I still use this approach and practice in my training.
Putting it plainly, all parts of the body (muscles, brain, heart, and liver) need energy to work. This energy comes from the food we eat. When the stomach digests food, the carbohydrate (sugars and starches) in the food breaks down into another type of sugar, called glucose.
The glucose is then released it into the bloodstream to be used immediately for energy or stored in your liver and muscles called glycogen to be used later.
Insulin is needed in order to use or store glucose for energy and it helps our bodies store extra glucose for use later. Insulin converts glucose into energy, For example, if you eat a large meal and your body doesn't need that much glucose right away, insulin will help your body store it to convert to energy later. Insulin also helps our bodies store fat and protein.
Sugar is the prime fuel for a cyclist. While your body can burn fat directly for energy, it tends to prefer glycogen, as it is easier to burn.

This is my personal experience, thoughts and performance while doing IF, please note that this is after many years of this training, albeit many years ago but which I still continue to do when I ride{ where circumstances and occasions that I consider it to be acceptable} and which I still retain the benefits from.

The biggest up hill struggle to get over is you.
Implementing IF is pretty simple, you just don’t eat when you wake up. Then you eat and lunch and go about your day, simples.
But there is that mental barrier to get over, you procrastinate and think up reasons for not trying, “if I don’t eat will I not be able to think, I will feel faint, I will feel sick, what will it be like?” These are all thoughts that went through my mind before I started.
What I found ended up happening was none of these. Life went on just fine.

There are simpler ways to lose weight.
IF can be a valid but not superior option than the traditional weight-loss method of eating a little less each and every day for weight loss.
Eating 2,000 calories is eating 2,000 calories whenever it comes during the day.
­What I did was to cycle calories by eating a lot of carbohydrates on the days that I was to train hard and less on the days that I didn’t or rested. This meant I had the calories on the days I trained and a calorie deficit on the days that I didn’t or rested. The idea behind this is that you will need these calories/energy to build muscle and to train to your optimum on the days you train hard and burn fat on the days you rest. Be prepared to drink lots of water.
­The best diet for you is the one that works for you. Eating a bad diet will not make it a good one by IF.

You will not get stronger muscles and so perform better.
Now I know that this might come as a shock to some, but let me explain. I found it impossible to gain muscle and lose fat at the same time.
To lose weight, you need to burn more calories than you take in. You need to have a net calorie deficit.
To build muscle, you need to eat more calories than you burn.
You need to have a net calorie surplus.
­As an example, let’s say that you workout 3 or 4 days per week. Organize your eating routine to have a calorie surplus on the days you train (i.e. gain muscle) and then a calorie deficit on the days you rest (i.e. lose fat). That way, by the end of the week, it’s possible for you to have spent days gaining muscle and days losing fat.
Too long a ride with IF can lead to degradation of body tissue, including muscle, and a decrease in overall health.

To conclude {as I could go on and on..............}, for myself I know you have to do the work/put the effort and time in and do it correctly to get the rewards, no easy or short way options. IF has gained me an increased fat metabolism, that is to say the process that fat gets broken down {by enzymes}.
My fat utilization increased throughout a range of intensities.
I know that I can maintain a given pace with less reliance on glycogen which I put down to my IF training.
When I returned to cycling I was able to achieve long rides with very little to eat and my past IF training I believe has enabled me to last longer without hitting the wall, the Bonk.

I do believe it increased my fat burning ability more and also increased my stores of muscular glycogen.
On my last ride with the Club, I had been off the bike for a long while due to illness and was waiting on surgery {all done now & will see you all soon} I was able to complete the ride but due to lack of any exercise I had lost a lot of muscle, so as I have mentioned, building muscle and strength requires an increase in controlled intake of calories.
But I think it has no difference in the weight lost between those who IF train and those who do not, as I mentioned though, I do believe it does increase fat burning ability.
Improvements in those that IF and those that do not from training can be the same.
Also my ability to ride with less reliance on glycogen did not mean my aerobic endurance improved (i.e. my oxygen consumption). Although I know of others who said it increased their VO2 max and the concentration of glycogen found in muscles when at rest.
As I stated before about where circumstances and occasions that I considered to be acceptable when I would ride/train on an empty stomach, but also there is a very practical reason to practice consuming carbs before and during a long ride you have to be able to do it when you race! It definitely takes training to get used to a sports drink sloshing around in your stomach after 40+ miles of riding, and you definitely want to make sure you can tolerate your pre-race meal. So don’t try a new supplement or gel for the first time on the day of an event or long ride, I’ve been in that embarrassing position for all to see, not a pleasant scene!

So we ask, can I force my body to burn a higher percentage of fat than carbs? Yes, you can. But I think that the more important question is will I see a benefit as an athlete? So far, the answer is no. For most people that small change won’t translate into body fat changes and performance benefits over the long-term.
If you’re truly interested in improving athletic performance or losing fat, make sure you’re asking the right question — not are you eating before workouts, but what are you eating throughout the day? 
Keep a check on your diet and reduce your calories. Make some dietary changes overall. Feeding the whole system will help increase the intensity level during a workout, thus recruiting more muscle activation and boosting metabolism for the whole day.
Importantly if you’re curious about riding on empty for the first time be sure not to go it alone. I advise that IF shouldn’t be used unless you are being looked after by a nutritionist or a medical professional or have experience in IF.
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