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Diet Questions(9 posts)

Diet QuestionsJBurton
Mar 19, 2002 12:56 PM
Okay guys...I am stumped.

I just got a copy of "The Cyclist's Training Bible". I understand that this is the definitive source for training for aspiring racers. Now, I will be new to road racing this summer, but have been riding and doing adventure and running races for about three years.

I have never had a problem with my weight no matter what I choose to eat, and have remained roughly the same weight since I was eighteen (130-135lbs at 5'6"). But, since turning 30 last year, I have begun to worry a bit about the best diet for training and healthy life in general. Plus, amid horror stories from older friends, I also worry about my metabolism slowing down in the next few years. For these reasons, I have decided to really watch what I eat to maybe get a jump on heart disease and obesity. And, I hope to enhance my training and performance with a proper diet.

Now, back in the late eighties, when I first read "Eat to Win", by Dr. Robert Haas at the urging of my tennis coach, I learned that a high carbohydrate, low fat diet is best for active atheletes. I thought that this is how the majority of atheletes, and endurance atheletes in particular, fueled their performance. And, it makes sense physiologically, based on the little I know from Biology and Chemistry classes in College. But, in the Training Bible, the authority according to most cyclists, "The Zone Diet" is recommended. High Protein, Low Carb??? This is unhealthy, right? This promotes heart disease and cancer, right?

What gives, guys? What do you eat to train? What do you eat to lose that tiny bit of winter fat? What do you eat to stay healthy? Has nutrition science changed its stance so significantly in ten years? I am so confused.
re: Diet Questionsbrider
Mar 19, 2002 1:45 PM
High peotein does not equal high fat, if you do it right. The only reason a high pro diet would promote heart disease is because people go out and use it as an excuse to eat a lot of fatty meats. Don't stress so much about it. Think this way -- if it doesn't grow from the ground or walk or fly, then don't eat it. Trans fats = evil. Avoid processed foods. Carbs are necessary as FUEL for the muscles, and unless you're at world-class training levels, you probably don't need as much as you think you do. BTW, the Zone diet isn't "high protein." Its higher than what's been clasically recommended (60% carbs, 25% protein, 15% fat), but by no means at the extreme end of things (ketogenic diet). Yes, your metabolism tends to slow as you age. Keeping your muscle mass high and staying active will go A LONG ways to keeping the fat off.
re: Diet QuestionsJBurton
Mar 19, 2002 2:39 PM
I'm glad you could clarify for me the difference in "The Zone Diet" and ketogenic fad diets. Still, it seems strange to me to suggest that vegitarianism isn't just as, or more healthy than this Zone. Granted, I haven't read the Zone, but in the aformentioned book recommending the Zone, the author suggests that vegetarians will always be in a protein deficit. Furthermore, it says that animal protein is more complete than vegetable protein. This is the opposite of what I have always been told and read.

Obviously, simple carbohydrates are needed in much less supply than complex carbohydrates. And I agree that I, and most people, get more carbos than they really need to burn (I rarely, if ever in a single season bonk). So what is the ratio suggested by the Zone? 50-50 carb to protein?

One other thing that the author of the Bible does say, and that I agree with, is the need for "good" fats in the diet, such as Omega-3s. That is the main reason that I didn't go entirely vegetarian a few years ago when all of my friends did, since fish is a good source of such fatty acids. (Not to mention the fact that I lacked the will power to cut out meat altogether.)

Is there anyone out there who has a differing opinion?
How about some common sense?Kerry
Mar 19, 2002 6:02 PM
Adventure Cyclist, July 2001, Protein Supplements comments by Nancy Clark: "Yes, you can choose protein shakes for additional calories, but they are expensive - milk or peanut butter can do the job just fine." "1 gm of protein for each pound of body weight is a very generous allowance for athletes building muscle mass. (More likely 0.6 to 0.75 gm per lb. will do the job just fine.)" "Designer proteins are indeed expensive. You can easily spend $2.30 for a packet of MetRx. Milk powder (the best and least expensive protein supplement around)." "Eating balanced meals and then drinking protein shakes for "high quality protein" is an outrageous concept - and expensive." "The protein from natural foods works just fine. Any animal protein is "high quality" and contains all the essential amino acids." "No engineered food can match the complex balance of nutrients designed by Nature."

Regards "animal protein is more complete than vegetable protein. This is the opposite of what I have always been told and read." You have either been told wrong, read quack publications, or misunderstood what you were told/read. By definition, animal proteins are complete: they contain all of the required amino acids for metabolism. I think that all vegetable proteins are incomplete (no single vegetable contains all the amino acids). This is why all the talk about "complementary protein" - beans and rice together (yum!) make a complete protein. It is easy to get enough protein as a vegetarian: just eat lots of nuts and seeds, which typically contain "good" fats as well.

If an active person follows the protein guideline stated above and keeps the fat content below 25%, then carbs take care of themselves. If "most people, get more carbos than they really need to burn" that most likely means they are gaining weight (unless they are getting less fat and protein than they need). This ain't rocket science: people want to make it way to complex. The reason for this is that they are hoping for a miracle diet/food/supplement, but there's no such thing.
so true...ColnagoFE
Mar 20, 2002 8:11 AM
though i use protein shakes when i'm in a hurry to get to work and dont have time to make the real thing. they are like power bars and gels to me as they are expensive and not totally neccessary, but are convenient.
Mar 20, 2002 7:06 AM
The Zone ratios are 40% carbs, 30% protein, 30% fat (I may have the pro and carb switched -- it's been a long time since I read the book). Keto diets take carbs to an extreme low (around 5% or less). Many people who go on keto diets experience low energy levels and bitchiness. As to vegetarianism -- I haven't seen too many truly healthy vegetarians. Most of them look sickly to me. As posted elsewhere, most vegetable proteins are incomplete, thus need to be combined to get a complete pro. Soy is the only veg protein that IS complete, though not in a proper ratio to be completely used (and not to mention the estrogenic properties). For Omega-3 fatty acids -- go with ocean fish, especially salmon, or flax oil. A good source of info on the fatty acids is "Fats that heal, Fats that Kill". Also go to Udo Erasmus' site and cruise around.
re: Diet QuestionsBig C
Mar 19, 2002 3:17 PM
for the most part i agree with the posts.

basically you need to use your head. i've read friel, applegate, and others. the bottom line is to know what you are putting in your body and why. it helps to keep a log for awhile just to be honest. i always get food amnesia when the sweets are around to tempt me.

it also seems that everyone has an opinion on this subject. some claim 60/20/20 ratios, others 50/30/20, and there are more. the choice is yours-i want to find a nutritionist that is a cyclist too. i like and rely on creditals with some mojo to back it up...
In case you haven't seen it.McAndrus
Mar 20, 2002 5:56 AM
There was a very good thread recently on diet.

You may want to focus on the entries by LoneFrontRanger. She seems to have the most intelligent things to say on the subject.

As for my experience, two years ago when I started riding with the local testosterone crowd I started loading up the carbs. My energy levels shot up as did my cycling performance. But my weight wouldn't go down.

Somewhere last autumn a light went off in my head and I started trending to the low glycemic index foods. That, along with some other rules of thumb, and at 50 years old - when my metabolism is supposed to be glacial - I've lost over 9 lbs since Christmas without too much pain.

My key? Carbs are for when I'm active and only for when I'm active. If I can't burn them off soon, they simply turn to fat.
Thanks a bunch, McAndrusJBurton
Mar 20, 2002 11:03 AM
I am not new to the discussion group, but have been absent for about seven months due to personal problems. I appreciate your reference to the previous post. They have been more than informative and extremely relevant.