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

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

    Primal Fuel
    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

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    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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    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.

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

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    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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    Karma's Avatar
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    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 at 12:02 PM.

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    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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    Karma's Avatar
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    Quote 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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    Quote 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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    Karma's Avatar
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    PrimalCon New York
    Quote 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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