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First Primal ride, and I flat out BONKED

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  • First Primal ride, and I flat out BONKED

    I've been going Primal for about 2.5 weeks now, only "cheating" for one meal or so each weekend. Sunday was my first road ride since starting (65 miles, ~ 16/mph avg speed). I'm 28, male, 6'0" tall, 180 lbs. Earlier this summer I was riding 60-95 miles without too many issues, but I've been off the bike for much of the past month.

    My breakfast Sunday was a Primal smoothie (10% milkfat Greek yogurt, berries, 1 tbsp of honey), a few slices of bacon, and 2 eggs with cheese. A few hrs later I had about 2 tsbp of almond butter before hopping on the bike.

    I felt a bit slow and thirsty 20 miles in so I had a 32 oz Gatorade, which seemed to give me some energy. Around mile 40 I had a 2 more tbsp of almond butter, and noticed I was a bit tired. I stayed hydrated with plenty of water.

    I started feeling really tired around mile 55, and nauseous around mile 62. At mile 64 or so, I realized I couldn't make it up the small 100-ft hill and 3 extra miles back home without vomiting or collapsing, and stopped in a parking lot and called my girlfriend to pick me up. It was an outright BONK like nothing I've experienced before in a years of riding, hiking, and running. I was having problems thinking clearly, had no appetite, and almost no energy. I didn't really feel 100% again until today, almost 48 hours later.

    How do you cyclists deal with this? Should I just "cheat" and eat a few carbs (I used to eat granola bars every 25 miles or so, and lots of Gatorade) on the bike? Will my body eventually adapt to riding Primal? I also noticed I had a lot less energy climbing hills than I used to. Previously, I'd eat a big dinner the night before, than a bagel with lots of Nutella for breakfast right before a big ride. I like the weight loss Primal is giving me (I was overweight before due to carbs, despite going on 60-95 mile rides often), but would also like my cycling energy back. I have a charity ride in a week and a half with 100 mile rides Saturday and Sunday that I'd like to finish without bonking. "Cheating" will probably work for that ride, but my goal is to be able to ride Primal without cheating or bonking....

  • #2
    How much salt have you been consuming? If you're going in and out of ketosis frequently you tend to flush electrolytes along with the water. Try a bag of sea salt.

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    • #3
      I've been strictly primal for only a week (done long stints in the past), and I really felt it this week. No long aerobic work, but a tough 40 minute kettlebell session (where I am the instructor) saw me struggling in places. The whole week felt hard, reduced strength, struggling with exercises that are usually pretty comfortable. I think it takes some time to adapt to really burning fat as your main energy source. When you get there, endurance activities are much more doable, without the bonk!

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      • #4
        Have a look at this thread

        http://www.marksdailyapple.com/forum/thread64861.html

        Sounds like you havent adapted to burn fat just yet, sugar drinks arnt going to help. Try banannas, dates, cheese salami. i have used these on all day hunting trips in steep NZ bush (mountains)

        cheers
        "Times fun when you are having Flies" Kermit the frog

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        • #5
          I'd suggest you use more primal carbs - (NOT gatorade and energy bars) - so a large sweet potato the evening before, maybe even a banana or something (shock horror gasp) on the ride. You may be trying to eat too few carbs too fast for your effort level - as I understand it Mark's plan recognises the need for extra carbs for endurance athletes. I found at first I had endurance, slow speed capabilities on the bike or running - but no "sprint/push". So long, flat, plodding was absolutely fine - but a hill became a mountain. Plus, you need your wits about you on a road ride - it's dangerous out there for us 2 wheeled, leg powered folk!!

          IMO you need to enjoy the ride, not just survive it, and 48 hours to recover any sense of wellness is miserable too. Don't let some idealogical sense of "perfection" mean you suffer unnecessarily? Eventually you will adapt and be fine riding your usual distances on less carbs - maybe. But if this is a change for life, there's no rush is there? Just use "clean" carbs and ... enjoy the ride, literally

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          • #6
            Originally posted by denise View Post
            I'd suggest you use more primal carbs
            yup
            Currently dabbling in: IF, leangains, Starting Strength, 5/3/1

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            • #7
              Yup - that's a full on bonk --- at least you didn't land in a ditch somewhere for a good long snooze --- we've all been there!
              You may want to work up to these longer rides, in a fat adapted state, in a slower manner -- build your speed/mileage slower over several weeks. I ran 100 miles on fats and proteins and no sugars -- so you can do it. My 'go to' snacks are sweet potatoes, jerk, salt pills, high fat yogourt, bananas, protein/fat drinks (I use this concoction successfully for running and cycling).

              Cheers/louisa
              ----------------------------------------
              F, 48, 5'10"
              Start Date: 25-06-12 @ 161lbs
              Goal Reached: 30-09-12 @ 143lb. Now bouncing between 145lb - 149lb. I'd like less bounce and more consistency :-)

              Started Cross Fit 20.12.12 ---- Can't wait to submit my success story on the 1st anniversary of starting primal.

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              • #8
                I probably would have collapsed if I had tried going up the minor hill to my apartment. Definitely would not have been safe .

                I'll try some more "good" carbs on my ride this weekend. I have a hilly (~4,000 ft climbing/descending) 67 miler planned out. However, this ride is in a rural area so it may be difficult to find fruit at gas stations. I may drop a banana in my jersey.

                If good carbs don't work yet, I'll have to cheat for my charity ride the weekend after just to finish, and then work on fully adapting later.

                Has anyone tried bringing honey along on the ride? I'm thinking of putting some in a tube for a nice simple (and healthier...) carbohydrate boost. I've been adding about a tablespoon to my smoothies in the morning. Eating the fatty almond butter definitely didn't seem to do much because I still bonked (and nearly gagged when thinking about eating more almond butter), so I don't think I'm yet ready to fully transition to Primal fatty foods on the bike. Ideally I could bring small things (granola-bar sized or so) to eat that would easily fit in my jersey pouches.

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                • #9
                  Too soon. Took my body about six weeks to become efficient at using fat.

                  My breakfast Sunday was a Primal smoothie (10% milkfat Greek yogurt, berries, 1 tbsp of honey), a few slices of bacon, and 2 eggs with cheese. A few hrs later I had about 2 tsbp of almond butter before hopping on the bike.
                  And you didn't eat anything. You're not three feet tall, you're 6 feet tall. Eat accordingly!
                  Crohn's, doing SCD

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                  • #10
                    I agree with a number of points here. First, your "breakfast" seems really puny for a person of your height/weight and especially activity level. You barely had any carbs before your ride - no wonder why you BONKed! Make a hash out of bacon (or other meat) + sweet potato + veggies (peppers, spinach, whatever) + spices and serve 'er up with at least 2 eggs. If you want, have some berries or a small serving of fruit, too.

                    I know when I go on long runs, I do better when I have a good primal-friendly carb-loaded breakfast like the one above (but downgraded in size for a 5'6" female!).
                    >> Current Stats: 90% Primal / 143 lbs / ~25% BF
                    >> Goal (by 1 Jan 2014): 90% Primal / 135-ish pounds / 20-22% BF

                    >> Upcoming Fitness Feats: Tough Mudder, June 2013
                    >> Check out my super-exciting journal by clicking these words.

                    Weight does NOT equal health -- ditch the scale, don't be a slave to it!

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                    • #11
                      Eh, now we're getting into keto versus non-keto exercise. They are different. According to some things I've read, a person in deep keto doesn't really need a huge breakfast if they have enough body fat to burn and can burn it. But I like the idea of eating a lot of high-fat food to add extra fuel to the fire, more immediately available calories for the journey's beginning. That makes more sense to me. Then you've got added carbs - bad idea if you are truly in good keto. Good idea of you ride the fence and know you'll switch easily from the carbs to burning fat instead of bonking. But you'd better be VERY confident in your body's ability to shift gears and get a lot of energy from fat. Then there's the carb-addict, who has to keep eating and eating carbs because their body cannot use fat for fuel. Nobody wants to be that guy.
                      Crohn's, doing SCD

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                      • #12
                        I've got to agree with others in saying that you probably are completely adapted to burn fat yet. Once you get to that point you will have no problems with your bike ride.

                        I went on a 17 mile bike ride last saturday morning and I'll I had to eat was a couple primal biscuits with some cheese, I didn't have bacon or eggs to add, and a cup of coffee. Had 2 bottles of water with me as well, but only drank 1 and maybe half of the other.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Knifegill View Post
                          Eh, now we're getting into keto versus non-keto exercise. They are different. According to some things I've read, a person in deep keto doesn't really need a huge breakfast if they have enough body fat to burn and can burn it. But I like the idea of eating a lot of high-fat food to add extra fuel to the fire, more immediately available calories for the journey's beginning. That makes more sense to me. Then you've got added carbs - bad idea if you are truly in good keto. Good idea of you ride the fence and know you'll switch easily from the carbs to burning fat instead of bonking. But you'd better be VERY confident in your body's ability to shift gears and get a lot of energy from fat. Then there's the carb-addict, who has to keep eating and eating carbs because their body cannot use fat for fuel. Nobody wants to be that guy.
                          I've been reading up on ketosis and it frankly sounds like a lot of work to get there. I'm a recreational cyclist and hiker, not competitive, so I don't think it would be worth the struggle. But I definitely don't want to go back to the carb-addict runner I was 4-5 years ago when I ate about 65% of my calories from carbs (and was subsequently hungry nearly all of the time and put on weight the instant I stopped running from an injury).

                          In the past I'd be good for 60-70 miles after with nothing but a Nutella-laden bagel for breakfast and a Gatorade and granola bar on the road. I'd hit muscle fatigure/cramping before bonking, rather than this weekend where I bonked even though my muscles felt fine. I'll try the "good" carbs this weekend before my ride. I've also heard that some Paelo/Primal people like white rice before a big ride/run, so perhaps I'll try that.

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                          • #14
                            A better approach might be something like a weekly carb cycle, so your body is accustomed to switching from one fuel to the other. I did a season with weekly four-ish very low carb days, then two or three nice, safe-starch heavy days, with fat dialed back if you want. This worked very well for me, and I only quit doing it because my life schedule got stirred up all messy-like. I don't go for marathon rides or jog, though. I sprint and lift heavy, with body weight ad-lib.
                            Crohn's, doing SCD

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                            • #15
                              ....have you tried seriously upping your salt intake?

                              Before you start convincing yourself it's a carb/ metabolism issue, try a teaspoon or two of sea salt dissolved in a cup of water.

                              Field tested. I've been paleo/low carb for years, can run a sub-40 10k, and mountain bike 4-5 times a week.

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