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Opinions about riding w/ No food, No fluids (kind of long)(25 posts)

Opinions about riding w/ No food, No fluids (kind of long)Matt
Dec 29, 2001 9:17 PM
We all know how much food and fluid you're 'supposed' to consume during a ride right? something like 1 quart of fluid per hour, and you supposedly can't ride more than 2 hours without taking in calories.

Being the mildly stupid person that I am, lately I've tried riding without taking in anything at all on the bike. I do however eat/drink well beforehand and *immediately* after. I admit I have no good reason, really just experimenting for the heck of it.

Monday I rode 75 miles (~4.5 hrs) with no food no water and today I did the same. Didn't feel any dramatic effects other than feeling a tad faint on the last big climb today. As would be expected, energy doesn't hold out too well past the first 3 hours or so (hence the long time) but it's not so bad that I have to really push myself to keep going.

What implications does this sort of thing really have? Am I causing my ride to have more negative effects than benefits (i.e. chronic fatigue, burning up muscle tissue ... brain deprivation :-)? Is this teaching me to metabolize body fat better? Could my body adapt to be 'tougher' and more efficient, such that come race season I'll get some sort of boost when I actually take in calories.

Like I said, I'm just playing around with the concept - probably will go back to regular consumption before long.
re: Opinions about riding w/ No food, No fluids (kind of long)Woof the dog
Dec 29, 2001 11:11 PM
My father doesn't drink water during an exercise believing that it is not exactly a natural thing to do. Humans didn't have plastic bottles with them while hunting four thousand years ago. He did drink lots the night before his long hiking trips with a heavy bacpack that contained clothes, tent, cookware, 3 weeks worth of food, etc...

The point is that if you want to be efficient and tip top during an exercise, u need to drink to replace what is lost through evaporation. Its more of a pain in the butt to me to drink huge jugs of water and not sleep well because of frequent trips to a bathroom throughout the night than it is to drink well during a race, for instance. If the boost was real, all the professional athletes would do it in some form or another. It doesn't make sense, however, as your muscles'd reap more benefits from an exercise at a full capacity without having to worry about things like dehydration. I have heard of a guy that wouldn't drink on like hot centuries or whatever (heard it on this site i think), he thought the same thing you did (maybe you are one and the same guy, hehe). He ended up with some serious dehydration on one of such long distances. What a dumbass!

Don't be stupid, its not efficient to do what you do, and in the long run the negatives will far outweigh the possible gains you may have. Where did you come up with a silly stuff like this anyway? The concept is not new, but I don't see anyone doing it really.

Sincerely barking

Woof the dawg.
re: Opinions about riding w/ No food, No fluids (kind of long)rollo tommassi
Dec 29, 2001 11:14 PM
You are not alone in experimenting with this sort of training activity, and there is nothing inherently incorrect in any of your thoughts. It is said that in the early season, Bernard Hinault used to ride 6 hours first thing in the morning, with no breakfast whatsoever. The logic is to deplete the body of glycogen entirely so that it must burn fat. I've tried this, and it's really hard, but there were some benefits.

At the turn of the century, it was thought that drinking water while excercising was dangerous - the stomach, 'full' of water, would cause the body to divert needed energy away from the muscles; cramps and delirium would surely follow! Early Tour riders would more often drink wine, beer, or mineral water only, but very sparingly. Even post-ride hydration was negligible.

I would caution you about not drinking any water; although in colder weather the tendency is to drink less, any exercise performed over 40deg. F calls for some sort of appreciable fluid intake. A bottle an hour, is my guide. You don't mention your climate, but it would be dangerous to perform aerobic tasks in high heat or humidity.

However, what you are doing is a valid weight control method, and may/may not, depending on who you read, 'train' the body to metabolise fat as a primary energy source. This seems to be a very individual thing, and weight loss, for you, may or may not be appropriate.

On the other hand, your *immediate* intake of food/water post exercise may completely negate what you are doing, as metabolism increases and continues to burn calories after stopping exercise. Yes, your metab. is 'on' during exercise, and once primary sugars are depleted fats are burned, but as soon as you cease taxing the system our metab. will burn the primary sugars you ingest when sedentary. Sugars are easier/more accesible to burn, so the body 'prefers' them. As the sugars are burned, everything else is stored!

You may burn calories more efficiently if you eat some fruit (no carbos!) during your long ride, and then not eat anything for 2-3 hours post ride. But do take water when you ride, as it always helps your body maintain optimum core temperature/electrolyte balance whatever the temperature.

Also, I am hoping that your 4.5 hour rides are done at a slow pace? HR at 30% of max, low gear, spin spin spin? Yes? Otherwise, you'll really put yourself in debt come spring.

If you want more specific detail/opinions, please post age/weight/height and what sort of riding goals you have.
re: Opinions about riding w/ No food, No fluids (kind of long)mackgoo
Dec 30, 2001 9:33 AM
I origonally thought this a bad practice but after I did have these thoughts, although still believing this could be dangerous. If you could ride at a HR or exertion level that was heavilly tipped toward burning fat then this may not be such a bad thing to do it with out food as you don't really need the fuels most of us have enough fat stores to get us through, and you would get rid of some fat or reduce it's size. I read some were that you don't really lose fat cells we have what we have and keep it, it"s just the size that changes. But no fluid is dangerous as we exercise we lose fluid if it's not replaced our blood chemistry changes, everything changes, and not for the good.
re: Opinions about riding w/ No food, No fluids (kind of long)mackgoo
Dec 30, 2001 9:36 AM
One last thing I meant to add. For me it is very hard to ride at an exertion level that's primary source of fuel is fat. I can do it ok on a trainer but out on the road I find it very hard to almost impossible to keep my heart rate low enough to be in the fat burnnig part of the cycle.
hmmm.... very curiousCT1
Dec 30, 2001 7:43 PM
Can you explain how you compute the fat burning heart rate.

I would think that there isn't a "switch" point in but rather a gradual change from glycogen to fat as the heart rate goes down.

this post you've made, already proves you're mentally retardedBernie
Dec 30, 2001 3:38 AM
You better consume something. I'm afraid of what you might post next.
whyfried beans
Dec 30, 2001 3:39 AM
I just don't understand why one would experiment doing this. Even cavemen would stop at a stream and gulp a little water. I can't see how this improves ones fitness. I can understand the challenge but does it outweigh the negatives?
re: Opinions about riding w/ No food, No fluids (kind of long)Sharky
Dec 30, 2001 4:46 AM
I'm trying something like that also. Last year I got caught up in the energy bar/drink hype. I never ate much of a breakfast before a ride, but after all the encouragement I started a "400 calorie high in carbo. ." , I gained about 7 lbs. Then it was 350 cal/hr in energy bars plus one water bottle every 30 minutes filled with the latest carbs. All natural of course. I was never one to eat before a long run or bike. Now I drink water when I am thirsty. I eat a little on rides of 3 hrs or more, and it doesnt have to be any hyped up gel,just about anything works. Now my rides feel better and lighter
re: Opinions about riding w/ No food, No fluids (kind of long)mackgoo
Dec 30, 2001 5:36 AM
Bad move.
bad ideagrandemamou
Dec 30, 2001 7:03 AM
I did the Hotter than Hell this year. My third time. About half way through I started having an upset stomach anytime I ate or used a sport drink. I decided to just drink water. Turned out to be a really bad idea.

I ended up in the ER with an electrolyte imbalance. I felt fine until about an hour after the ride then I started shaking uncontrallably and having severe stomach cramps. I don't remember much other than my buddies loading me in the car. They swear I promised to sell my bike for golf clubs but I still deny such heresy.

Be careful I felt fine during and after that was until my body shut down.
The reason...Geof
Dec 30, 2001 10:35 AM
This happened is too much sugary content in your "sports drink". You were dehydrated. Simple.

There is a bit of merit to training to condition the body to deal with lower water intakes, lack of food etc. HOWEVER, unless your training for something that requires this of your body it's generally not a great idea. I think something like a 5% dehydration level results in a 15-20% drop in performance. Most people won't notice this because their body is already most likely screwed up. IE: overtrained...

Water is definately more crucial on these types of rides. You can get away with no food on an easy ride, but your eating muscle if your going hard. It's that simple. In terms of bodyfat loss, proper hydration is necessary to mobilize the fat, otherwise your body will turn to the easiest fuel it can get (glycogen, then muscle). Unfortuntely, the systems have to be pretty much right on the money to get fat mobilized for energy.
I tried this earlier in the year, too.nigel
Dec 30, 2001 10:44 AM
I was focused on losing weight with LSD (long, slow--or steady--distance) rides at slow to moderate paces. I did a couple of solo centuries-plus with very little besides a couple of gel packets and proper hydration (water and/or Gatorade). I completed the rides but didn't feel at all strong for the last quarter. I hadn't been pushing myself much at all during the rides, thinking that I'd be able to complete them with adequate strength, but I was fairly knackered by the 70- or 80-mile marks.

Now, when I do longish rides, I make sure I have my HammerGel flask mostly filled, and I consume something solid during the ride. The result: I'm able to do 60- to 80-mile rides at much higher intensities and still feel good (though tired, as I should after such effort) at the end.

The bottom line is that, by consuming gel during long rides, I'm able to work harder and longer. This allows me to burn MORE calories than if I was putting along, so I get leaner faster and still get stronger with more intense efforts and shocks to my system.

Interesting post, though. Probably something we've all thought about here and there. Do the right thing: eat and drink. :)

More Info for the discussion (kind of long and Retarded :-)Matt
Dec 30, 2001 1:29 PM
Thanks for the comments and advice - it's all helpful. I agree on the fluid issue, and foods ... more experimenting.

To those wondering about my mental and physical well being: a) I don't necessarily believe this is a good approach, just investigating different possibilities; b) this is being done here in frigid mountain weather not swealtering heat; and c) right now, these rides are just rides, not a situation where i'm looking for maximum speed/distance - to wit, 70-80 miles is a pretty comfortable distance to me, not some endurance struggle, and it's not like I'm racing someone or trying to achieve some PR. Obviously, competitive performance demands food/fluids, BUT you can't always get as much stuff during a race or very long ride as you might like to have.

My info? I'm 5'10", 135lb. A true spinner and I thrive on the climbs.

Goals? races in the spring consisting of some ~1hr crits, an important 12 mi hillclimb (have to defend last year's victory!) and 60-80 mile hilly road races. For the latter, I want to be in a position where that kind of distance feels quite natural and where I can sustain strength and 'competitivity' right to the end.
Dec 30, 2001 3:29 PM
5'10" and 135? Is there any muscle on that body??? I'm not suprised you live for the climbs... Ride hard. And keep in mind, at that weight, the LAST thing you need to worry about is your weight, and your body won't have the reserves that someone with a tad more muscle and bodyfat may have. Especially at your height...

In all seriousness, Are you, or have you experienced any type of anemia or other symptoms? That's a bit light for your height. Just a thought... How old are you???
Dec 30, 2001 6:28 PM
No health problems and I'm 19. I have friekishly little muscle and skin in my arms and chest. My upper arm at the thickest point is smaller than many people's wrists and my ribs and vertebrae are plainly visible.
Dec 30, 2001 7:11 PM
Ahemmmm..... given your body type the VERY LAST thing you should be doing is witholding food and drink!

NO DISRESPECT intended but if I were you I'd seriously consider getting a good physical and a consult from a sports oriented nutritionist. You will be MUCH faster and healthier with a little more bulk and reserves.

If you are in college you can probably tap into the student health services for this kind of issue. If not, it's still worth it even if you have to foot the bill yourself.

good luck and good rides to ya.
Time to do yourself a favor....Geof
Dec 30, 2001 8:43 PM
You riding on pure luck and God's good graces right now. Your setting yourself up for potentially SERIOUS health problems, even tho' everything seems to seem OK right now. A physical is definately a recommendation with complete blood work, just to be sure. You need to get some real food in your body and put on about 15-20 pounds, you'll be faster and a real monster on the bike then....
Agree with above advicerollo tommassi
Dec 30, 2001 9:51 PM
Given your body stats, I see no benefit to your experiment.
Not to mention that there is no reason to do this to your body in Dec/Jan.

You sound like a rider with potential, and it's ok to 'experiment'; however, maybe now is the time to seek out a local coach. You have some worthy goals, and especially if you are winning races, you owe it to yourself to develop a relationship with someone (in the flesh, not online) who can help you.

In the very long run, depleting your body at such a young age will not have positive dividends when you are, say, the ripe old age of 24, 28, 32, etc!
Time to do yourself a favor....Woof the dog
Dec 30, 2001 9:57 PM
dude man, I am 5 9 and I am always between 130-135 pounds. I've been at this weight for like at least two years, don't expect it to change ever, unless I do some heavy lifting for 3 months straight and no riding. When I ride, what I gain in winter in the gym (not much) just simply goes away during the riding season, which is really all year round now. It is just my body type I assume, I've also met people who are just as light as me and are 50 years old, still turning their pedals. Don't scare me with serious health problems, I may just die from worrying too much if you guys keep this up! I can eat all the fat I want, I just won't gain any weight: I shed weight off my upper body with riding, I like riding hills, and I try to eat healthy. being 5 9 and 150-160 pounds is not exactly lean. TEll me more.


Woof the dog.
the thing is...g-money
Dec 31, 2001 10:23 AM
His body description. It sounds as if he is emaciated. A small framed individual may be able to pull this off, but if you have no appreciable muscle mass and very visible ribs and vert (as he states) this sounds like he's in an emaciated state. I don't care what some may say, but there are significant health issues related to being emaciated, most of which is enemia, most long distance runners deal with this on a constant basis.

I'm not saying YOUR unhealthy, what I am saying is, this kid is probably running himself into the ground thus setting himself up for a HUGE crash later. The body is simply more frail with this lack of muscle and fat. I'm WAY overweight from an elite cyclist standard @ 195-200 with 11% BF, but this body lets me get away with a whole lot more than yours would or his, this is not a slam to you, I'm just saying people with more appreciable mass can deal with things like crashes, depletion etc. better, simply due to the strength of the body. Not to mention the bone density situation. He has MUCH more potential to break a bone on a crash than someone say 20 pounds heavier might. That's just simple fact. (assuming the weight is muscle, not fat)

So, nothing personal to the skinny class out there, just giving the kid some advice that just may someday prove to make him a REALLY good cyclist (cause it sounds as if he's pretty good already)

Two words: kidney stonestarwheel
Dec 31, 2001 4:57 AM
Doing prolonged exercise with little or no water is the perfect formula for developing kidneys stones. Believe me, I've been through it and it's not something you want to experience. Some of the stuff I've read says the pain from kidneys stones is worse than just about any other condition -- including gun shot wounds, childbirth, etc.

I've never tried serious biking without water, but I used to run long distance without drinking much. After developing a kidney stone last summer, the doctors told me the number one cause is not drinking enough. Doing a lot of excercise puts you even more at risk, if you're not drinking enough. Now I carry 2 water bottles all the time and try to drink at least one an hour. I have to pee more often, but that's a small price to pay.
5'10"/135 is 19.4 BMI. . .js5280
Dec 31, 2001 2:39 PM
While that's a low BMI, Pantani is only a 18.9. Also since you're only 19 years old, you'll probably start putting on more muscle in the next few years. Sounds like a great build to be a competitive cyclist and it's starting to show already. I'd be careful w/ extreme diets though cause you don't have much to fall back on. I have to admit though, most cyclists look like perpetual teenagers. Case in point. . .
Think of it this way:look271
Dec 31, 2001 8:01 PM
Your body is an engine. It needs fuel to run. If you don't take fuel (food,water) in, your body finds it. It takes it from fat 1st, then muscle and anything else it can, so after a while, you are "canabilizing" yourself. Stop it, or we'll find you on the road, dead.
Oh geez.....Blue 'Goose
Jan 2, 2002 6:37 AM
Years ago when I was young and stupid some friends and I
decided to do a 100 mile bicycle ride, a century and we
ended up on borrowed broken bikes with no food, no water
and little common sense.

It's a funny story but I'll save it for another time.

I did the 100 miles but I bonked so badly that I did
something really ridiculous when I got back to

My friends and I went out to dinner after it was over
and I did something really ridiculous like eating an
entire chicken, potatoes, vegetables, just a gargantuan
amount of food and tons of milk. Complete insanity.

I probably ate enough for at least two people and could
barely walk the next day since I hadn't ridden all season.

In retrospect, I find it much easier to ride while hydrated.
On longer rides, I find that superettes have things like
bags of peanuts which make for quick fuel if you can't find
anything else.

I was doing 30 milers this past summer and would stop around 20
miles out at a superette, grab some gatorade and some peanuts
and head out to a beach another ten miles out, refill my camelbak
at the public spring at the beach, eye the local ladies and then
head back to home base.

Sometimes it pays to have stretegic stops when riding longer rides.