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Mar 11, 2011 11:30 AM

Athletes and Nutrition [split from Home Cooking]

Ok... stepped out for a bit and came home to find this... :)

I AM a competitive athlete and a trainer, and yes, I was giving information based on the thousands of pages of scientific studies I've read concerning athletes and nutrition. Believe me... I've done my homework. Honestly, I have to in order to perform. There's no two ways about. When you spend your day in the saddle you figure out what works and doesn't.

Couple of quick points:

1. What Michael Phelps does, or any one individual for that matter, is pointless. George Burns smoked cigars every day and lived to around 100... would you recommend that to the general population? Michael Phelps is a gifted freak.

2. Carbs are the #1 friend of the athlete, and frankly there has been too much emphasis given to protein intake. The endurance athlete needs about 1.3-1.6 grams Protein/kg. body weight. In addition, during peak training cycles athletes should get around 60%-70% of calories from complex carbohydrates. The key is to teaching your body how to store it's maximum potential of glycogen. That is why we fuel immediately after a workout: your body should be somewhat glycogen depleted post-workout, and then we fill it back up. Over time this slowly builds the amount we can store.

3. Why we aim for the 4:1 or 3:1 Carb:Protein ratio is because during endurance athletics our bodies also cannabalize some muscle tissue. We need to replace some of that in recovery.

I wasn't trying to be "snarky." I was rather put-off by some of the recommendations people were posting, and that the OP would actually consider them blew me away. Truthfully, this question would be better posed on forums dedicated to athletics and nutrition. However, since I also happen to be a foodie, I saw this and felt the urge to put forth some science-based information.

I have a child as well, and have trained young athletes, so I understand their needs. If you notice, I said my idea of recovery was geared towards immediate intake, and then after an hour or so you can proceed with a regular meal. My Ideal recovery doesn't have to be in shake form (although I have made these shakes and had them sit for hours in a cooler during long events with no problem). There are plenty of bars available, or better yet, you can make them yourself.

The keys are simple: 3-4:1 Carb:Protein taken within 30 minutes with 18-24oz H20.

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  1. I don't disagree with what you're saying and I am a personal trainer/group fitness instructor/endurance athlete and also have children who are competitive athletes, so have also done my research, as do many of the people who've responded in this thread. There are studies that have shown all glucose is effective for some people, with or without protein, especially for women. I agree that protein is over-recommended and question what the coach is saying about high protein for recovery. I stick with immediate fuel, post workout, glucose heavy, but am not convinced about the ratio of protein to carbs. For every study I've read for the 1:4(or 3) ratio, I've read contradictory ones. And, for the record, I also don't believe in the chocolate milk as the ideal recovery snack--the dairy council conveniently associated the 1:4 ratio to chocolate milk and has pushed that as the ideal recovery drink. However, that's my personal opinion and I'm not "put off" by the recommendation others have made here. We all make our own decisions. BTW, I'm not saying protein is unimportant but that it might not be as vital as people say, for immediate post recovery goes.

    I think the American College of Sports Medicine is a good standard to go by. They don't just go with a few studies, but seem to cover the major ones. It might mean they don't offer the definitive answer but maybe there isn't one yet, or even more, as I said, there isn't one definitive answer for every body and we need to find what works for us.


    41 Replies
    1. re: chowser

      I would love to read the study that says effective recovery can be done with 100% Carbohydrate. Seriously, if you have that link, I'd definitely read it. I don't believe it, but I've been wrong before... a lot of the time, actually.

      I perused the journal you linked, and unfortunately in about 2 minutes I found some poor tips... especially concerning hydration, i.e. amounts and sources. I would never steer anyone towards Gatorade! It has a publication date of 1993, with a 2007 update, and it seems some of their info is outdated. Science is changing every day.

      1. re: salvatoregianpaolo

        This is a synopsis of the study about women and protein:


        As I said, I'm not saying protein is unimportant, just that the ratios might not be set in stone as you say. As I read my post, I realize I put 100% glucose which isn't what I meant. If you're eating whole foods, you're not going to get, for the most part, all carbs or no fat or no fiber, etc. unless you're making the effort to only eat sugar. If I eat a sweet potato, I'm getting more nutrients than just carbs.

        Why do you not use Gatorade? It's a quick source of immediate glucose.

        1. re: chowser

          Because it contains simple sugar. I prefer to use only complex carbs. I can send you some reading info if you like, but I don't want to post all sorts of links here.

          Thanks for the article... I'll check it out.

          1. re: salvatoregianpaolo

            But, immediately post workout, or during a workout, you want simple sugars that will get to the muscles quickly. You've said above that you fuel w/ a banana and that's mostly simple carbs (or as we call it in our household, Betterthangatorade) or maple syrup, even. Simple carbs. I wouldn't eat quinoia post workout. As you said, you want to get the glucose to the muscles as quickly as possible and complex carbs would slow that down.

            Sorry, I've been editing my posts so they might have changed since you're read them.

            1. re: chowser

              You are correct... I believe post-exercise in the only time where simple sugars have a use. This would also be a place for Gatorade, if that is what you like. But, prior to exercise and during exercise, complex carbs are more efficient. They can be absorbed at about 3 times the rate of simple sugars, allowing you to get closer to the 200-300 cal/hr limit without suffering from stomach distress. But yes, you are right, immediately post-workout simple works.

              BTW... interesting article! Take notice, however, Dr. Rowlands does not recommend for women to skip protein post-exercise... yet! Great subject, isn't it? Changing all the time. Hilarious when you read about the advice athletes were given in the past.

              1. re: salvatoregianpaolo

                Definitely interesting. As a woman, I'm keeping an eye on more research and hoping there will be much more to come. Mostly, over the decades, I've learned it's most important to listen to your body and do your own personal research. Even if 90% of the population or whatever the percents, if we don't fall into that, we need to know. BTW, I do think you've provided good information on this--debunking the high protein myth.

        2. re: salvatoregianpaolo

          Why wouldn't you steer anyone towards Gatorade? For specific purposes? Meaning, are there any purposes for which Gatorade is useful in your opinion?

          1. re: foreverhungry

            Truthfully, IMHO, I wouldn't ever recommend Gatorade. I feel there are much, much better products out there.

            Again, just my opinion.

            1. re: salvatoregianpaolo

              I was always against them drinking gatorade and always pushed milk and water. But it's very difficult when they're with the teams, this is what they drink.

              1. re: salvatoregianpaolo

                Powdered Gatorade is the only thing I've found that doesn't give me GI issues during long runs on hot days. I don't know if it's because I dilute it just enough to give me the fuel I need or because it is formulated differently from the premixed liquids. So, it's my go-to fuel for long runs.

                1. re: chowser

                  I've never seen (maybe went unnoticed) the powdered; excellent idea! I do think the premixed versions are worse than they are better so I like the idea of diluting.

                    1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                      Thank you m'dear! Well, this is a first, I feel like working out after reading a thread on chowhound instead of eating something ;)

                      1. re: lilgi

                        ha! i'm headed to the gym in a few minutes myself...must be contagious :)

                        1. re: goodhealthgourmet


                          You are spot on about finding what works for you. I've tried just about everything out there at one time or another, and unfortunately figured out what works for me by suffering through what DOESN'T work! That usually translates to GI problems... not a fun proposition when you're miles and hours from home.

                  1. re: chowser

                    I'm also in the camp that can tolerate Gatorade when I can't tolerate much else- no complex carbs for about an hour before, during or after a hard/long workout or I have gut issues.

                    Another product I've had good luck with that tends to get universally slammed is Vitamin Water- I tend toward migraines on any runs longer than about four miles in the summer here (Florida panhandle- total August humisery) and there's something about the electrolyte mix for a couple of their products that seems to significantly reduce the frequency/intensity/duration of what used to be usual post-run headaches.

                    Milk is a never after a workout for me- always seems to leave my throat all mucousy and gross-feeling and the protein doesn't sit well in my stomach.

                    1. re: beachmouse

                      We must be nutritional twins--Vitamin Water also sits fine with me but maybe it's because it has less sugar than other drinks. I can't imagine milk after a workout but do like going out for a soy latte after a run when it's cold out.

                      1. re: chowser

                        Vitamin Water also sits fine with me but maybe it's because it has less sugar than other drinks.
                        Vitamin Water contains about the same amount of sugar as Gatorade Original, and the high fructose concentration kills me - i get *brutal* stomach cramps if i drink it.

                        1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                          It tastes less sugary to me but I've never compared. I thought I was pulling at straws that powdered Gatorade doesn't have HFCS while the premixed one did and that HFCS might be causing the problems. I've only had vitamin water to refuel between cycling and running but the runs were short distances, 5kish. I've never tried it for longer runs.

                          I haven't used any in a couple of years and am gearing up to do another race but I've heard they've reformulated Gatorade powder. I'm going to have to check.

                          1. re: chowser

                            14 grams of sugar in 8.1 oz of Gatorade, 13 grams in 8.1 oz of Vitamin Water.

                            liquid Gatorade is a combo of HFCS & sucrose, while VW is straight fructose. powdered Gatorade is just sucrose.

                            i haven't had Gatorade since i was a kid, but VW made me *so* sick the two times i tried it when it first came out. that was actually one of the things that led to the discovery of my fructose sensitivity.

                            if you don't need powder for convenience, just make your own sports drink at home!

                            1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                              I like the convenience of the powder--I throw some in a zip lock bag and add it to water at the stops. I've really liked Zima coconut water--it was one of the post race drinks once. I need to start playing with all this again.

                              1. re: chowser

                                120g (4 oz) sugar

                                1.5 grams (1/4 tsp) KCL (NuSalt, Morton Salt Substitute, or similar)

                                5 grams NaCl (3/4 tsp table salt or equivalent of fine sea salt)

                                homemade citrus powder or packets to taste. if you want to use store-bought, try one of these: http://www.truelemon.com/products.html

                                sift all ingredients together, and whir briefly in the blender to combine thoroughly and ensure even distribution. store in an airtight container or zipper bag. makes 24-25 servings.

                                dissolve 1/2 tsp in 8 oz water, and voila! instant sports drink.

                    2. re: chowser

                      The primary use for Gatorade is not the sugars but the electrolytes. It should not be your everyday method of hydration, but for example, if you're competing in a long event during very hot weather (mabye cyclists in a 100+ mile road race in Arizona) then electrolytes are critical. If you have a problem with Gatorade, there are other ways to get electrolyes, including special waters formulated for babies, and then there are the "state of the art" sports drinks as well..

                      For the rest of it, there is EXCELLENT and extensive information on Lance Armstrong's LIVE STRONG website you can access here:
                      There is a whole list of links on this page to other more specific articles within the site on sports nutrition.

                      Someone mentioned bananas. Around twenty or more years ago, they were a preferred choice for food during a race. Today there are very "high tech" sports bars and even gels that you just slide into your mouth and you're good to go. I don't know about many sports other than cycling (aka ten speed racing), but in this sport, many elite amateur teams and all pro teams have sponsors that supply them with their race nutritional needs, from sports drinks, energy bars, gels, the whole nine yards. But back to bananas for a moment. If you live or are competing in an area that has a mosquito problem, you DO NOT want to eat bananas. Their oils come out through your sweat glands very rapidly, and you will attract mosquitos that will eat you up. So be careful with bananas, but they can be an excellent during-the-race food.

                      An athlete's diet is important ALL OF THE TIME to his or her performance and night-before-the-event "carbo loading" is the norm. Complex carbs, not simple carbs. After the race, most athletes at this level focus on restoring their fluid levels and often their electrolyte levels as well. The quality of protien that is consumed is also very important because protein is critical to the body for repairing damage done by the competition or even accidents.

                      1. re: Caroline1

                        I use gatorade to refuel for 12+ mile long runs (or intense workouts that are over 2 hours), so it works for calories, electrolytes and hydration, and that's the only time I use it. I prefer real food most of the time but can't master eating a banana while running w/out choking. Plus, it's far easier to carry powder than a couple of bananas while running that far. As I've said, it's the only quick source of fuel I've found that doesn't cause GI issues and is easy to carry.

                        I know the diet is important all the time but this thread started as a recovery food thread. The carbo loading the night before an event is no longer really done, other than as a tradition--it wasn't just about carbs the night before but people have to deplete the glucose in their system the days before and then carb load the night before which, in theory, would increase the amount of glucose available. However, they found, years ago, that the depletion was detrimental to performance. As sal said, this field is quickly changing and what I learned when I was studying for my personal training cert has changed tremendously.

                        1. re: chowser

                          Yeah, chowser's right... carbo-loading has been shown to be a bunch of nonsense. For electrolyte purposes, I prefer taking electrolyte tablets. I do this because during long events I like to have hydration, fuel, and electrolytes all come from independent sources. This allows me to tailor them specifically to my needs.

                          1. re: chowser

                            I offer this cut and paste from the LiveStrong link I gave above:

                            "Carbohydrates are the primary source of energy for endurance athletes, and athletes that consume foods rich in complex carbohydrates, such as whole grains, potatoes, wheat pastas and cereals, need to eat these foods for a steady source of energy during long duration events. In the Colorado State University Extensions' paper, "Nutrition for the Athlete" by J. Anderson, L. Young and S. Prior, the authors recommend that athletes eat a high-carbohydrate diet for two to three days before an event that lasts for more than 90 minutes to ensure the body is storing enough glycogen. Endurance athletes can also benefit from consuming sports gels, a form of concentrated carbohydrates that are easily digestible and also contain electrolytes. These can provide instant energy before or during a run."

                            Sounds like carbo-loading to me! '-)

                            Read more: http://www.livestrong.com/article/211..."

                            1. re: Caroline1

                              First of all, what you are describing is not carbo-loading. Carbo loading, as it was understood back when it was accepted wisdom, is purposely depriving yourself of carbs early in the week leading up to an event, and then overloading your body with carbs the two days or so prior. What is mentioned above is Basic Nutrition for the Endurance Athlete 101... eat a high carb diet.

                              The way to build your capacity to store glycogen is by refueling properly post-workout. One of the main problems with actual carbo-loading is it doesn't increase your ability to store glycogen. One of the other major issues is by slamming your body full of carbs just before an event, you are likely to end up retaining A LOT of water. Not a good idea when you're a cyclist and worried about every pound, or a runner and bathroom breaks are not an option!

                              1. re: salvatoregianpaolo

                                Do you read well, Sal? Your first pareagraph above is absolutely false! Again, I quote the experts: " In the Colorado State University Extensions' paper, "Nutrition for the Athlete" by J. Anderson, L. Young and S. Prior, the authors recommend that athletes eat a high-carbohydrate diet for two to three days before an event that lasts for more than 90 minutes to ensure the body is storing enough glycogen." This is the standard definition of carbo loading and has been for the last twenty pllus years that I know of. It is *NOT* my definition! You are passing off false information.

                                I don't know what your sport its, but mine is cycling. I am not a cylcist. My son is, and a team owner now that he's older. Every elite, Olympic and professional cyclist I have known in the last twenty some years practices "carbo loading" (increased complex carb intake) for two to three days prior to a race and in stage races, every night. Yes, Sports gels and other "state of the art" dietary supplements are used IN ADDITION to the standard carbo loading. Some pro cycling teams even have their own chef to help with this regimen, most notably during the Tour de France..

                                One of the things you or anyone else has talked about much here is working pre-race season to elevate you anaerobic threshold (aka lactate threshold). This is an old technique developed by Conconi back in the early 80s. Doing intervals with a heart monitor and a stop watch and graphing your heart rate is integral to it. You cannot do it successfully once the season has started. Diet *IS* important, but diet is NOT the be all and end all for improving overall performance.

                                You need to get your facts straight before you start posturing as an expert.

                              2. re: Caroline1

                                Carbo-loading is a complicated topic. The problem with carbo loading is that for every gram of glycogen stored, an additional approximately 3 grams of water are stored. So if you carbo load an excess 500 grams of carbohydrates, you also store an additional 1.5 kilograms of water - almost 3 pounds. If your a runner, an excess 3 pounds body weight that's not effectively doing anything is a detriment. So blind carbo-loading can actually work against you, if you store more than you really need.

                                There's been some interesting work lately on carbo loading, where you can calculate how many grams of glycogen you need for specific events under certain circumstances. You then glycogen deplete several days before the event, then eat a careful diet to store what you need, and not much more.

                                That's getting pretty nit picky, but for competitive long distance runners and cyclists, weight matters a lot.

                                1. re: foreverhungry

                                  foreverhungry, I think we were posting similar info at the same time!

                                  Weight does matter... immensely. I think the key is to focus on a high carb diet, around 60-70%, and you won't have anything to worry about.

                                  1. re: foreverhungry

                                    Idon't know a lot about running but I do know a lot about cycling, specifically road racing and a little about track. Cyclists put in more time in an anaerobic state than runners do. I think the only sport that comes close is kayaking or rowing, but don't quote me. Cyclists NEED that extra water before a race because it pores out of them on the bike. Not a problem. '-)

                                    1. re: Caroline1

                                      I am a competitive cyclist, and a coach, and I have to respectfully disagree with you. What is false from my statement above? Do I need to post 100 links to articles describing carbo-loading as I describe it?

                                      You are citing one source, but not giving all of the information. Carbo-loading generally requires a state of glycogen depletion, followed by an overload in combination with little training. I find this to be outdated and quite silly. My opinion, of course, but one shared by many, many others.

                                      What you describe as "carbo-loading" is to me an average night during the racing season. I fuel up on complex carbs every night, regardless of when a race falls. I don't eat more before an event, because all that results in is excessive bowel movements and bloating. You state you are not a cyclist, so I have to believe you don't know what it feels like to get in the saddle weighed down with an extra 5lbs. of H20 in your body. It's not pleasant. Current wisdom is to fuel post-workout when the glycogen sythase enzyme is most active, and steadily build a glycogen store. Then, fueling continues once the race begins.

                                      We haven't been talking about intervals (which I can assure you we all are quite familiar with) because this thread, and this board, for that matter, is about food. I find it humorous that you say you are not a cyclist, but then you want to tell us about interval work. That's actually kind of funny.

                                      In the end, to each his own. We all can cite documents and sources and scientific papers that tout our beliefs as the "way to do it." The key, ultimately, is to find what works for you. I tried the old way of carbo-loading, many times, and it didn't work for me. That forced me to actually start reading and learning about my body and how it functions, and now I have a series of protocols that allow me to perform my best. I advise everyone to do the same.

                                      1. re: salvatoregianpaolo

                                        Well, I may not be a cyclist,, but i am no stranger to the sport. I am a former USCF race official, a race promoter, a former coach and trainer (but not at the elite or pro level), and all round fill in where I was needed kind dof person. My son is now in his 40s, but was an elite racer in the past. More recently he has been an elite development team owner until the economy went belly up and Colavita had to cut his funding. He now sponsors/owns a club.

                                        Now, the reason I am concerned with the things you're passing on is that that kind of "nutrition management" is appropriate to elite and pro teams where they have nutritionists, trainers and team doctors to make sure riders aren't endangering themselves. When you don't have a monitoring system in place, I feel some of the practices you are endorsing can be a dangerous thing to do on your own unsupervised. I think your information is more appropriate to a sports nutrition board than these boards where young athletes and their familes who aren't familar with the complexities might do things they shouldn't. But then I always prefer to err on the side of conservatism than get out into deep water with no oars.

                                        As for your definition of "old time" carbo loading, "deprived" is a very strong word. In my day, my circle of cycling frinds included many professional and Olympic cyclists, and I never knew one who "deprived" himself of complex carbs in their daily non-pre-race diet. I suspect you are in your twenties and don't have much first hand experience with the past.

                                        I am curious about what team you race for, and does your team have a full time chef/nutritionist and a sports doctor? Are you based in the U .S., or maybe Italy, since you have such a lyrical Italian name. Just curious.

                                        1. re: Caroline1

                                          I'm not sure what I said that may be construed as dangerous or risky. This thread started because someone asked about post-workout nutrition. If you read my first reply, I give some basic info that is available anywhere. I also state in several places I believe in eating wholesome, non-processed foods. Nowhere do I advocate anything that is even remotely dangeous. Please take the time to read through the posts, although I admit a lot is confusing because this thread has been split several times.

                                          As far as me not having experience in the past, your age estimate is off by a few decades. A quick internet search will give plenty of descriptions of carbo loading involving a necessary glycogen depletion phase. In fact, if anything, that is the original method. As I said, I tried it when it was "in fashion," and I had no success. I prefer to maintain a steady diet high in carbs during active periods. I believe that has been proven to be more effective, and why I say traditional carbo loading is outdated.

                                          My team is so small we do not have the aid of chef/nutritionist/doctor... my "real" competitive days are far behind me. Now I have to settle for age group trophies... or a lack thereof! Maybe your son is looking for an over-the-hill domestique?!?

                                          Again, nothing I have said is in contradiction to modern sports nutrition philosophy.

                                          1. re: salvatoregianpaolo

                                            Let me apologize and back up here. I have been to your profile page and read what you have written in all of the disjointed threads on sports nutrition. How did THAT happen? Sometimes the mod's compulsion to keep things organized ends up in gross disorganizaton. So, having read what you say overall, I don't see a lot of harm in it, EXCEPT I have never in my life heard of the method of deprived carbs then gorging on them before now, let alone considered that "carbo loading."

                                            Just to see if I'm nuts and off the deep end, I called my son and read him your definition of carbo loading in the past. His response was, "Mom, I guess someone could describe it that way, but I wouldn't use the word 'deprived' in any way. But maybe we didn't eat a lot of carbs the rest of the time." At which I pointed out to him that in all of his race career, he NEVER had a meal at home without carbs. He allowed that that was true.

                                            He did say that racers today eat more potatoes than I fed him. Undoubtedly because I think potatoes are a lot closer to being a simple carb than a complex one. And more people are allergic to potatoes than you might imagine. They are a member of the nightshade family. For complex carbs, I served bulgur (lots of it), whole grain pasta, kasha, and similar complex carbs.

                                            My son said "don't go there" when it comes to a discussion of sports nutrition today. He says it is highly complex, too many schools, and what works for one person may or may not work for another. Which, he was quick to point out, is why all of the UCI pro teams have full time chef/nutritionists, doctors and trainers who are on the road with them all the time and tailor each rider's diet to that rider. Nice work if you can get it. Both for the riders and the staff!

                                            He had several sports food/gel sponsors over the years, and he used to just make the stuff fully abailable to his riders and then keep them under his watchful eye and the team doctor, who was also a rider. If you'd like to check his team out, you can google "Ten Speed Drive," and it will take you there, but the elite Cat 1 development team is a thing of the past. They lost thier name sponsor and he managed to place most of his Cat 1s with other teams, sometimes in Europe. Cycling is a tough enough sport without all of this economic crisis impacting everything. I hope your team is faring well. And stop calling that deprivation/gorge nonsense "carbo loading." It's not! It's just simple insanity! '-)

                                            Again, sorry about the wrong foot and all that jazz.

                                      2. re: Caroline1

                                        Caroline - I disagree about the water and weight issue. Depends immensely on the type of riding and conditions. In a time trial, every ounce matters, because every second matters. On a 20-30 TT, replenishing water isn't an issue, because a TT is akin to a 5 or 10k - no competitive runner needs water for a 5 or 10k - waste of time. So an extra kg in body weight for a TT matters a lot. If we're talking TdF type events, extra weight in a flat stage likely doesn't matter. But the Alps and Pyrenees stages, weight does - dragging an extra kg of mass up a mountain isn't advantageous, not when you can re-water any time you want from your support crew, and doing so won't cost you time.

                                        Same goes for runners. At the competitive stage, elite marathoners finish - and win - races significantly dehydrated, because the level of dehydration doesn't impact their performance to the point that they need to re-water. It's a cost/benefit - there's a greater benefit in being dehydrated than in slowing down to re-water. And dragging an extra kg in a marathon can easily be difference of a few minutes, given that that mass could be about 2% of their body weight, which is significant for competitive athletes.

                                        1. re: foreverhungry

                                          mmmmm... I;m probably going to bow out of this discussion, but before I go... '-)

                                          What's the weight of the average adult male cyclist? That obvioulsy varies greatly. I have known a multiple world record time trialists who is 6'4 and an Olympic medalist time trialer who is a foot shorter. I will say it was interesting watching them in a team time trial together, but my point is that given the body weight of an adult male cyclist, I don't think a kilo of water in body weight means much. What DOES mean a lot is whether he has fast or slow twitch muscles, his conditioning, and his equipment will have a bit to do with it too. You ain't gonna win a TT on a Pee Wee Herman special! And really good TT bikes are EXPENSIVE! But experience has taught me that there is a tendency among athletes to grab onto something to focus on with the firm belief that if they had that in balance, or that piece of equipment, or.... whatever, then they could beat Lance Armstrong to the finish line in a heart beat. But the spirit to dream is not a bad thing.

                                          As far as hydration goes, if you have to have six bottle cages on your bike to keep hydrated, in my book you're better off dropping a couploe of them and starting out with a couple of those bottles inside your system ready to draw on. But hey, whatever works for you! '-)

                                          1. re: Caroline1

                                            I'm an interesting combination - physiologist by training and profession, and athlete and cook by hobby. I base what I try on science, and what I keep by experience. I don't TT, but then again, even for a 100 ride in my category, I don't want extra weight that's not going to help me - namely, if it's not muscle, I don't want it. Water I can get on the way.

                                            On another note, I love watching cyclists. I've been lucky enough to see a few TdFs in the Alps, and it was impressive. One year, a cousin and his friend and I biked up to a point, and it took us forever and a lot of effort to get there. A couple hours later, the TdF riders blast by, on the uphill we worked on for a couple hours, and they were hauling. It was impressive, and I was hooked.

                                            1. re: foreverhungry

                                              Cycling is an addictive sport! My GREAT regret is that the U.S. puts NO funding toward ANY Olympic sport. There is development funding for track and field sports through universities, but that's as close as this country comes, so when you see an American athlete on ANY Olympic podium, know beyond a doubt his or her parents have made serious sacrifices to get them there. Before the fall of the Soviet Union, when my son competed in UCI ProAm races and had to go up against their riders, it used to grind on me that ALL of their equipment and training and travel and the whole nine yards was paid for them by their goverment. The U.S. is the ONLY major country with no Olympic funding from the government, which isn't terribly bad when financial times are good, but right now it's disastrous. So many deserving athlets going by the wayside.

                                              The first time I drove support for my son in a long road race he was a 16 year old Cat 2 (in the days when only National Team members carried a Cat 1) and the course was about 80 miloes for elite juniors, as I recall. That course had climbs in it not dissimilar to TdF Alp courses when it comes to angle of climb, but not quite as long. It was his only year as a junior. We had gone ahead and his sister did hand ups for him in the feed zone, then we followed him DOWN the mountain with personal tech support should he need it. I was failry green about the sport and he was far ahead of the field. When I was pushing to keep up I looked down at my speedometer.... SIXTY FIVE MILES AN HOUR on the descent and there was a sheer drop off if he went off the road on the right. I just gritted my teeth and consoled myself that if he had a mechanical at that speed, he would be the first cyclist launched into space. It was scary.

                                              I hate the blood doping that has tainted the sport. Way back in the day, around the '84 Olympics, unless I was incredibly naive (not impossible) it was a relatively clean sport. I miss that.

                                              You do know, don't you, that you can get a road bike that is sooooo light it just barely weighs in as road legal in a UCI race? Get a bike like that and hydrate your body....!!!! GOOD SHOW! '-)

                                              1. re: Caroline1

                                                The original blood doping scandal was in the 84 Olympics. It was called blood-boosting. It wasn't against the rules of the IOC, because they had no way to test for it, but seven cyclists admitted to doing it at the LA games.

                                              2. re: foreverhungry

                                                foreverhungry, just for the record, my son just called and in the course of the conversation I told him your viewpoint about water and being able to get water "on the way." He says the body cannot absorb and utilize water that well in strenuous race conditions, and that it's bad practice across the board. Are you aware that the elite UCI pros (the guys who do the Tour de France, Giro d'Italia, Paris-Rubait and all that good stuff) are given one to two units of fluid interveinously after each stage by the team physician simply because drinking as much water as possible that night will not hydrate their bodies well enough for the next day's stage. You've only got two kidneys. Try to make 'em last your whole life!

                      2. Not a specific critique of anything you say, but I'd like to point out that the subject says "athletes", but you are singling out "endurance athletes" multiple times. A square is a rectangle, but a rectangle is not necessarily a square.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: jgg13

                          I think it got lost when it was brought over because the OP on homecooking was asking about competitive swimming and intense workouts--if it goes to 2 hours or so for a very intense workout, I think that makes it "endurance".

                          1. re: chowser

                            Ah right, I should have noticed it was a split thread, in which case the mods are to blame for not doing a good job titling the thread.

                            Yeah, fully agreed. My (admittedly now dated by about 10 years) recollection was that while it varied by person, the threshold was about 45 minutes of strenuous effort before you're fully in the endurance category

                        2. Do what works for you.

                          Don't read about what works for others.

                          Do it long enough and you'll figure exactly how your body works and functions during times of intense stress and glycogen shortages.

                          I would never (and I mean "never") recommend my refueling methods for anyone else.

                          But I know what works for me, esp. after years and years of fine tuning my routine ... I now know that a small vanilla milkshake and a Filet-O-Fish from McDonald's just isn't enough, it's gotta be a large milkshake!

                          Work hard. Play hard. Eat hard.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: ipsedixit

                            Not only the words of a wise man but if I may say so, someone who expresses a better than average amount of mental discipline ;)

                          2. I'd like to apologize in advance for what is likely to be a bombardment of questions and misconceptions (probably.) I don't know if you could classify me as an athlete. I've been working out for over 16 years, off and on, and "dieting" for about just as long. When I quit smoking last year I threw myself into studying fitness and nutrition as a distraction from smoke-breaks and an attempt to keep my figure.... and it's only been confusion for me ever since.

                            I keep reading that you need a lot of protein (several sources claimed I needed 2-3 times the protein I was getting. And at that time, I was counting grams and consuming 60-80g of protein a day. I've since thrown that myth into the garbage after I realized that too much protein made me gain weight, and it wasn't muscle. In fact, I do much better with a little less than what's considered average. So, that one I learned through trial and error and no amount of scientific data is going to change the actual affect it had on my body.

                            Now I'm confused about carbs. I've been eating whole grains as opposed to white bread and pasta for over a decade. But recent studies are saying do not eat grains. Many of those studies in fact say not to eat any grain OR any fruits, or basically any sugary foods whatsoever. I'm having a hard time finding any facts about why the no grain rule. And especially the no fruit rule (they're loaded with essential nutrients! I eat at least one tomato a day, and a few people I know don't eat them because of the carbs. I can't even fathom it.)

                            Now, I run 3 miles 3-5 times a week for hobby. Not sure if you could quite classify me as an athlete, and surely not an endurance athlete, but I need to sharpen my fitness and nutrition knowledge. I haven't quit eating grains in spite of all that bad things I'm reading about them. I only eat an average of a serving a day. So I'm just curious what you guys know of them and what you think their place and quantity would be in a runner like me? Or do you know a reliable source for finding basic nutrition information? Even Livestrong recommends no grains.

                            7 Replies
                            1. re: MichelleRenee

                              What recent studies are you talking about that say no grain or fruits? I looked on the Livestrong site and found this recommendation on whole grains:


                              Whole grains are far more nutritious than white processed grains and I haven't seen legitimate studies that refute the benefits of whole grains.

                              1. re: chowser

                                Exactly! When I read the "Even Livestrong recommends no grains." I just figured I wasn't going to respond. Then I felt guilty. What if this person really IS dislexic? Glad you responded, chowser. Thanks! '-)

                                1. re: Caroline1

                                  Yeah, I was puzzled over that. Unless you're diabetic, grains and fruit provide a lot of good nutrients and are a good source of energy.

                              2. re: MichelleRenee


                                Why not just eat what works for you, and more importantly what tastes good to you?

                                If too much protein packs on the pounds, then ease up on the egg whites, beef, etc.

                                As a runner myself, I can tell you that you do need carbs -- both simple and complex -- as well as protein. Now, how much of each that you want to eat in relation to each other, I think that's a personal choice.

                                Don't read too much into "studies". As some would say, the only thing studies prove are that the subjects in the studies exhibit the results that are reported. Extrapolation is estimation at best, and speculation at worst. Now, that might be extreme, but I'm sure you get the idea.

                                Good luck.

                                1. re: ipsedixit

                                  That's what I've been trying to do. I got fed up with all the contradicting opinions out there and began noticing how things affect my body more. It's just difficult sometimes to find out specifically WHAT in your diet is affecting your body. I noticed that if I don't pay attention to how much protein I'm taking in, I take in much less and my body does much better with it, contradictory to what a lot of people are saying about protein these days. Actually, I find that anything they tell you to count (sugars, carbs, proteins, etc.) ends up with me packing on weight. If I choose my food items naturally, just eating lots of fresh produce, some whole grains, a few healthy fats and only lean meats (when I eat em, not daily) I do much better. When I begin to concentrate too much on what I eat I usually over or under-do it. I guess listen to your body really is the best advice.

                                  And my apologies, I can't find the link to the livestrong article, so it's very possible I read it elsewhere. I spend a lot of time reading different articles about nutrition and fitness, so I must've gotten the sources confused. I could've sworn it was livestrong, because that's what surprised me was the source. I'll continue looking. But the sources I was speaking of was not saying that refined grains are better than whole grains. They were saying not to eat any grain in any quantity, and some recommended avoiding fruit, too (because of the sugars and carbs.) Their argument being that humans have only been eating grains since the invention of agriculture and they don't digest properly. They make it all sound very scientific. I have a degree in graphic design, not physiology, so I'm pretty clueless as to how the body processes all these different things. But even then, it just didn't sound right to me, especially the no-fruit rule. So many wonderful nutrients in so many different fruits.

                                  1. re: MichelleRenee

                                    Michelle, I'm late in responding because i'm having computer problems, but late or not, I do want to respond. First off, just use common sense. If you're not an elite endurance athlete, you probably are doing just fine with what you are doing. Listen to your body.

                                    Then, as for the "experts" you've been reading, first off, I have never read any false information regarding sports nutrition on Live Strong, let alone any advice against eating grains. And your reference to "experts" saying that grains are the problem BECAUSE man has only been eating grains since the invention of agriculture.... Well, that's a specious argument at best. First off, agriculture was never "invented," it was DEVELOPED. By women. Men were the hunters and women were the gatherers in those cultures. And farming was not an overnight development. Man has probably been eating grains since man and grain inhabited the same ecosystem. Grains are a hell of a lot more substantial as a meal than berries! And why would anyone in their right mind say, "Oh, look at that strange plant over there! Let's figure out how to grow a whole bunch of it, then we'll see if its good to eat." Trust me, man was eating grain loooooooong before the development of crop growing.

                                    Which is not to say that some people do have to avoid grains because their system is grain intollerant. There are websites that offer advice to such people, but the advice should not be directed to everyone.

                                    So, just read EVERYTHING you find with a good dose of skepticism on the side. Think it through. If it still sounds reasonable, then give it a try and see if it works FOR YOU! Good luck.

                                2. re: MichelleRenee

                                  Recent this and that. Ton of idiots out there cite research, forgetting this little (huge) thing called repeatability. One, two, three researches mean nothing. Many of them need to be done and most of them need to reach the same conclusion for anything to be drawn.

                                  Livestrong has a lot of articles, but the overall structuring is poor. Many articles have different authors that more or less say the same thing, while some contain contradictory statements - All according to the "newest research."

                                  With (all) nutrition, there are 3 things that will always hold true. Balancing what you eat with what you use, eating a variety of foods and doing what works for you. Stick with those 3 and you'll be fine. Stray, and, well... Okay, here's an example:

                                  You know how so many people like to sound smart and say, "We don't need any sugar in our diet." Well, the fact is, we don't need any vegetables or fruits in our diet. In fact, a "perfect" diet based on known facts doesn't have many foods. It basically has liver, oily fish, seeds and legumes. Those few food groups provide all of the known nutrients in good amounts and they dominate when it comes to nutrient density.

                                  The above is true. I eat vegetables and fruit, because I like them; I don't give a #%@# that I don't need them. This goes to one of the 3 basics - Doing what works for you. Examples:

                                  A marathoner recently went on a McDonald's diet for 30 days while training and ran a marathon. Well, it wasn't all McDonald's, since he did take ibuprofen, energy gel and water obtained outside of the fast food joint. But, you get the point.

                                  There's a body builder who also went on a 30 day McDonald's diet and actually had better blood work in the end (minor).

                                  NBA player Steve Nash eats a very natural diet with little/no sugar. NBA player Lamar Odom eats a freakish amount of sugar. NBA player J.J. Redick is something of a foodie and enjoys eating out (and you can bet he gets plenty of butter/oils from restaurants). There was a recent article on Tim Lincenum of the SF Giants who enjoys a ridiculous meal from In&Out; he eats something like 3 double doubles, 2 fries and a shake for a meal (ONE MEAL!).

                                  So, like I said with the original comment about Michael Phelps and chocolate chip pancakes, he eats them, not because he needs them, but because he likes them. It works for him.

                                  Balance, variety and personalize. If you like fruit, eat fruit. Just remember to balance the calories in them and remember variety (of fruit and other food types). If you like grains, eat grains. Just remember to balance the calories and eat other stuff too. It's simple - Don't let others turn it into some complex monster, because it's not.