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Once you've gone primal- Endurance athletes please tell me your story.

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  • Once you've gone primal- Endurance athletes please tell me your story.

    I'm wondering if anyone who trains for marathons or long distance cycling, etc. has switched to a fat based primal diet and cut their carbs and had improved or at least same results as being a sugar burner. What did you do? How long did it take you to acclimate to your new diet and burn fat more efficiently? Did you carb load before race day and did you feel super charged since you became a fat burner? These are just random questions. really I would love to know as much as possible. I would really love to hear anyone's story as it will help motivate and educate. BTW shame on you for being primal AND running marathons

  • #2
    I would love to hear this also. So far all I have found in my search for this type of info are stories in which the person "goes primal", "runs" a marathon in 6 hours or so w/o training at all, and posts this as a great success. (I'm not talking about this board in particular, just internet searching in general.) It would be great to hear from people who are actually looking for some performance in endurance sports, not just to complete the event. Again, not ripping on newbies or those who just want to finish, just saying that this is not the type of info I would be interested in getting.

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    • #3
      I switched to a primal lifestyle two years ago. I have been a competitive road cyclist ,and mountain biker for the past 10 years. The last two years, I switched to doing more multisport events, (tired of getting into crashes). From my experience the primal diet is the perfect fueling program for endurance events. Before switching, I consumed way more carbs and sugars, and had the resulting blood sugar swings that would affect my performance, and recovery. You know the I have to have a coke right now, or a I will bonk situation. With the body using fat as the primary source, your energy levels do not drop as quickly, and recovery is the much improved.

      The other major change I made was moving to more High Intesity Interval Training. I eliminated most of the "junk" miles, and replaced them with intervals or recovery. This will reduce the amount of training needed for the same result. I went from cycling 5 days a week to three days aweek, had had the same fitness levels. More bang for your buck. Also, adding weight training to your programming is huge. Many endurance athletes are resistant to weight training, but it goes a long way toward injury prevention.

      As for race fueling, if it is long race 2+ hours, I will consume more the carbs the day before. I like to use potatos, and fruit. For long training rides, I carry Larabars, and love them.
      Merry Spinmas!!!
      http://stcva.blogspot.com/

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      • #4
        Thanks, Simplyryde! That's exactly the sort of thing I wanted to hear about.

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        • #5
          You might consider reading The Paleo Diet for Athletes by Joe Friel and Loren Cordain. Friel is a long time cycling coach. He switched to a paleo diet years ago. The book has very detailed fuleing guidelines.

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          • #6
            X 2 on the Joe Friel / Cordain book mentioned already.

            It's pretty easy to do. Just know that as an athlete you are going to need more carbs than most other paleo/primal living folks. Carb cycling will be a strategy you will want to consider (eating higher carb every few days, especially before and after long workouts).

            I coach a lot of folks who eat close to or full paleo. Many of them are training and racing at the Ironman Triathlon distance and some are running 50-100 miles.

            Most are able to use real foods for most of their training, however all of them are comfortable knowing that gels and maltodextrin is not going to kill them if they use it durung an event or long training day.

            We eat a lot of Lara Bars, bananas, par-cooked yams, Nuts (particulary chestnuts), dried fruit (particularly figs & dates) during endurance training. Your body will get used to the higher fiber diet, but to ensure you are comfortable during your actual event you will want to back off the fiber a bit for the 24 hours before your event. Lower fiber (compared to the list above), high carb foods are fruit and melons. Many of my athletes, myself included, have re-introduced white rice to our diets without any negative impact on performance. I consider white rice a "safe starch" that helps deliver a great dose of glucose you are going to burn anyway if you have a high activity level. I know the paleo/primal purists will say that is blasphomy, but I can live with that.

            Good Luck,

            Dave
            Last edited by Karma; 10-26-2011, 12:02 PM.

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            • #7
              unless i'm misunderstanding, from what i am hearing you can never really train your body to do endurance training without still up'ing the carbs. meaning no one says up your fat to get our calories. it's always, "up your carbs but eat good ones." i guess it has something to do with us not really being built for that type of sustained intensity.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by macroniche View Post
                unless i'm misunderstanding, from what i am hearing you can never really train your body to do endurance training without still up'ing the carbs. meaning no one says up your fat to get our calories. it's always, "up your carbs but eat good ones." i guess it has something to do with us not really being built for that type of sustained intensity.
                You can train your body to burn a higher percentage of ketone bodies (fats) but in the end that process is still too slow to supply all the energy you would need for a long training day or event. We are not built for sustained high intensity, but we can adapt to sustained moderate intensity. Nobody does and Ultra-marathon at an all out sprint.

                You have to up your carbs to replenish muscle glycogen quickly. The process of creating glucose the gluconeogenesis is not a fast or very efficient process. That is why we say "hit the carbs" when you are going long.

                On average, most people have about 20K Kcals of stored energy in fat stores, but it is a slow process to tap into and you will run out of glycogen and bonk if you try to rely on just fat all the time.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Karma View Post
                  You can train your body to burn a higher percentage of ketone bodies (fats) but in the end that process is still too slow to supply all the energy you would need for a long training day or event. We are not built for sustained high intensity, but we can adapt to sustained moderate intensity. Nobody does and Ultra-marathon at an all out sprint.

                  You have to up your carbs to replenish muscle glycogen quickly. The process of creating glucose the gluconeogenesis is not a fast or very efficient process. That is why we say "hit the carbs" when you are going long.

                  On average, most people have about 20K Kcals of stored energy in fat stores, but it is a slow process to tap into and you will run out of glycogen and bonk if you try to rely on just fat all the time.
                  Your post agrees pretty much w/what I have read in various books on sports nutrition, altho they were not especially primal/paleo oriented. I guess that part of it doesn't change! Thanks for confirming. I appreciate it.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by honeypig View Post
                    Your post agrees pretty much w/what I have read in various books on sports nutrition, altho they were not especially primal/paleo oriented. I guess that part of it doesn't change! Thanks for confirming. I appreciate it.
                    My wife is a holistic nutritionist and I have been racing and coaching endurance athletes for 8 years so we have seen it all. The hardest endurance athlete to coach is by far the Vegan.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Karma View Post
                      You can train your body to burn a higher percentage of ketone bodies (fats) but in the end that process is still too slow to supply all the energy you would need for a long training day or event. We are not built for sustained high intensity, but we can adapt to sustained moderate intensity. Nobody does and Ultra-marathon at an all out sprint.

                      You have to up your carbs to replenish muscle glycogen quickly. The process of creating glucose the gluconeogenesis is not a fast or very efficient process. That is why we say "hit the carbs" when you are going long.

                      On average, most people have about 20K Kcals of stored energy in fat stores, but it is a slow process to tap into and you will run out of glycogen and bonk if you try to rely on just fat all the time.
                      you say that yes you can train your body to burn a higher percentage for ketones, but what about , over time, also the ability to burn them faster. so what about if your body adapts over a few month or year period- wouldn't that in fact help the body get more efficient at releasing fat for energy? In other words you say " in the end that process is still too slow to supply all the energy you would need for a long training" but has this been shown to be true if you deprive your body of enough carbs so that you have to rely on fat for say a year?

                      for example people train at altitude to get the same sort of effiect i.e. making body use oxygen more efficiently. But again it takes time. Again, I realize that Primal and endurance training are counter philosophies but it seems like a good place to ask these questions.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by macroniche View Post
                        you say that yes you can train your body to burn a higher percentage for ketones, but what about , over time, also the ability to burn them faster. so what about if your body adapts over a few month or year period- wouldn't that in fact help the body get more efficient at releasing fat for energy? In other words you say " in the end that process is still too slow to supply all the energy you would need for a long training" but has this been shown to be true if you deprive your body of enough carbs so that you have to rely on fat for say a year?

                        for example people train at altitude to get the same sort of effiect i.e. making body use oxygen more efficiently. But again it takes time. Again, I realize that Primal and endurance training are counter philosophies but it seems like a good place to ask these questions.
                        Here's how I have been led to understand the process. I think the problem with extrapolating out the theory is that at some point the simple fact is that there are a number of steps and chemical reactions that must happen to convert fat to a useable form of energy that it's not something the body can simply just "get better at". Yes, your system can get the conversion to happen more frequently (upping efficiency), but not any faster.

                        I'll ask around to some biochemists I know and if they contradict what I understand to be the process I will try to get back to this thread and correct my error.

                        Cheers,

                        Dave

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                        • #13
                          thanks karma! also MCT's seems to be able to be by pass these steps no?

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                          • #14
                            I like to use potatos, and fruit. For long training rides, I carry Larabars, and love them.


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                            • #15
                              Ditto what Simplyryde wrote. My story is similar. As a competitive cyclist I had my best seasons to date since assuming a Paleo/primal way of eating.It was part losing weight(for cyclists this is important) while maintaining or increasing wattage(power). I also adopted intermittant fasting and fasted training to help become fat adapted(metabolically flexible).Google "train low, race high". I also began doing run sprints(Tabata and track style intervals) while cycling less distance. In the past it was all about distance. Now it is all about quality of time in the saddle supplemented by off the bike sprinting.

                              It`s been a bit of a journey finding out what works for me and what did not. I cut back on fruits but added some dietary starch mostly in the form of sweet potato and bananas. After fasted training rides I would eat moderate amounts of carbs to replenish glycogen so moved from a low carb approach to more of a moderate carb diet.

                              The 2011 race season started out well with my best results to date. Unfortunately I volunteered to work the Provincial ITT as holder so missed out on a result in the "race of truth". Time trials are excellent ways to determine fitness - relatively short distances raced at max efforts. The following stage race was cancelled(grrrrr) which was my main focus of the season. What started out as a promising season of PB's ended in a whimper.

                              It really comes down to experimenting with regimen, diet and determining what works for you. Good luck.
                              http://rolfdevinci.blogspot.com/

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