Try a Pre-Workout Fast

June 16th, 2010

Bike Nutrition

A recent study by researchers in Europe suggests that fasting before a workout might help get rid of more fat.   Here’s the reasoning:  If you don’t eat before exercising, you don’t have carbohydrates lying around to burn, so your body burns fat instead.

“When you exercise (after fasting), your adrenalin is high and your insulin is low,” said Peter Hespel, a professor of exercise physiology at the University of Leuven in Belgium, in an Associated Press story.

The AP reports that in a 2008 study, Hespel tested the effects of this concept on men who did their endurance training workouts after fasting compared to those who ate before their workout.  In the men who didn’t eat, researchers found an increase in the amount of proteins needed to process fat – the fasting got their bodies ready to burn more fat.

- Deb Acord

Note from UltraRob: Hammer Nutrition has long recommended not eating for 3 hours before long workouts or races, not for weight loss, but to increase endurance for the same reasons as this study found. It has worked well for me but I have to start eating right after starting or I get behind on calories.

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16 Tips to Break Your Sugar Addiction

June 3rd, 2010

Sugar Drinks

Sugar has been my biggest nutritional challenge over the years. When I was riding two to three hundred miles a week, I got by with it but it wasn’t good for me. Now that I don’t have the time to ride as much, it’s affecting me even more. Here are some good tips for cutting back on sugar.

Breaking the Sugar Addiction: 16 Tips

by Jamie Jefferson

It seems as though added sugar is in everything these days, from ketchup to salsa to soup. It is everywhere, I suppose, because we have come to expect it to be.

And it is not just the white stuff we need to worry about. “Refined carbohydrates,” such as white bread and white flour products, produce the same reaction in our bodies.

Researchers have linked sugar consumption to everything from cavities to wrinkly skin, as well as wide range of much more serious health problems.

Some research has been cited that says sugar has not been proven to be a direct cause to these health problems and may not even be directly linked to them, but when you consider that added sugar is basically non nutritional calories, the lack of nutrition and obesity can cause health problems in themselves.

Sugar, some researchers say, can lead to the damage of healthy cells, and can lessen the effectiveness of white blood cells, leading to a weakening of the immune system. Too much sugar means lots of empty calories, too, which can lead to obesity. As any parent knows, when you fill up on sugar, you simply are not hungry for nutritious meals. And sugar can make you hyperactive and irritable, too, as it knocks your body out of whack.

When you eat sugar, your blood sugar spikes. So your body secretes insulin, which sends your blood sugar crashing. The result? Irritability and fatigue. Plus, you are hungry again and probably craving another hit of sugar, and so the cycle repeats itself anew.

One of the nicest things you can do for your body (and your mood) is to reduce your intake of added sugars and refined carbohydrates.

What is the Daily Recommended Sugar Intake?

The World Health Organization recommends reducing your intake of added sugars to less than 10 percent of your total caloric intake. That means, if you eat 2,000 calories, you should eat less than 12 teaspoons of sugar each day. The US Department of Agriculture also recommends limiting your consumption of added sugar to between 6 and 12 teaspoons of sugar each day, depending on your daily average caloric intake. (Six teaspoons a day for people who eat 1,600 calories; 12 teaspoons if you eat 2,200 calories each day.) Keep in mind that a single 12 ounce soft drink contains 10 teaspoons of sugar.

To find out how much sugar is in some of the items in your cupboards, look for Sugars (measured in grams) on the Nutrition Label. Then divide the number of grams by 4 to get the number of teaspoons. So, 12 grams of sugar is 3 teaspoons of sugar. Sixteen grams of sugar is 4 teaspoons.

How to Break Your Sugar Addiction

So how do you start to reduce your sugar intake? Here are some tips.

1. Try decreasing your intake of added sugar gradually

It can be difficult to suddenly cut all added sugar and refined carbohydrates. Try taking a week by week approach. One week, add less sugar to your morning coffee. Next week, replace your afternoon soda with bottled water. The following week, replace white bread with a whole grain alternative. Before long, you will find that the foods (and drinks) you used to love now taste sickeningly sweet. And you will likely find it easier to keep your moods on an even keel, too.

2. Keep notes on your sugar intake in your journal or Daytimer

How does decreasing your sugar levels impact your energy levels? Your mood during the day? Your ability to fall asleep at night? When do sugar cravings hit? It might be helpful to start with a Sugar Fast for a day or two. See how one day without added sugars affects you.

3. Make easy substitutions

Buy brown rice instead of white rice, for example. Brown rice has a nice, nutty flavor, and takes just a bit longer to cook. The next time you go to the store, experiment with all kinds of whole grain alternatives. You might find some new family favorites.

4. Keep healthy snacks readily available, and rely on a bit of protein in your snacks to keep your energy levels high

Keep a small bowl of nuts on the table, along with fresh fruits. When you are hungry for a mid afternoon snack, opt for lean protein and complex carbs.

5. Indulge in moderation

If you are a chocoholic, treat yourself to a square of fine chocolate at the end of a long day. When the chocolate is quality, you will not feel the need to have more and you will be more apt to take your time and savor it. When you do indulge in a sugary snack, keep it small, eat it slowly, and eat a bit of protein, too, to help moderate those blood sugar spikes and dips.

6. Dilute the fruit juice

If you or kids love fruit juice, try diluting it gradually to the point where you are just adding a splash to the top of water.

7. Become a sugar detective

You can start by knowing the alternate names for added sugars, often found in ingredients lists. These include any ingredient that ends in the suffix “ose,” including sucrose, dextrose, fructose, lactose, polydextrose, maltose, and galactose. Also, look for the following: corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, honey, maple syrup, molasses, carob syrup, turbinado sugar, fruit juice concentrate, brown sugar, cane juice, cane sugar, evaporated cane juice, beet sugar, and sorbitol.

8. Avoid replacing added sugar with artificial sweeteners

Your best bet is to gradually reduce your taste for sweet foods, not to replace them with chemical alternatives. On ingredients lists, look for sucralose, saccharin, aspartame, acesulfame K, and neotame.

9. Avoid the center of the supermarket as much as possible

That is where most of the processed foods are shelved. Instead, shop the perimeter for healthy, raw foods.

10. If you have young kids, go to the grocery store by yourself

You may be less apt to come home with sugary treats. Plus, you can take more time to examine the labels for hidden sugar. If your kids are grade school age or older, take them along and enlist their help as Sugar Detectives. Give them each a list of hidden sugars and artificial sweeteners and turn it into a game.

11.Carefully measure how much honey you put in your tea and how much sugar you put in your coffee

Aim to put in a bit less each day or each week until you are drinking it either unsweetened or with just a bit of sugar.

12. Buy items that are not sweetened, and add sugar only if you find that you need to

This will help you wean off the sugar gradually.

13. Steer clear of sugars for breakfast

When you start your day with a sugar blast and crash, you may find yourself in a vicious cycle for the remainder of the day. Start your day with healthy lean protein and complex carbs. Try natural whole grain breads and cereals for breakfast, along with a lowfat protein, such as skim milk, cottage cheese, or yogurt.

14. If you need to lose weight, consider a diet plan that focuses on reducing sugar intake

The Sugar Busters Diet Plan is probably the most well known. The idea of this diet is to reduce your intake of sugar and high starch carbohydrates, focusing instead on lean protein, low starch veggies, and whole grain carbs, in order to lose weight. Many of the low GI diets out there use this method, as well.

15. Be careful not to make sugar taboo in your household

With children, especially, when you swear off something completely, you run the risk of creating a mystique around the forbidden food. Instead of running a completely sugar free household, make sure your children understand the effects that sugar can have on their bodies and their moods, and then help them understand the beauty of moderation. Encourage them to eat low fat protein and help them develop a taste for healthy whole grain carbs.

16. Focus on well balanced, nutritious diet, instead of simply swearing off all sugar

Your cravings will slowly and naturally fade once you gain a better understanding of why they are cropping up in the first place.

(This article is for informational purposes only. Please discuss any dietary changes with your doctor.)

Jamie Jefferson is a frequent contributor to, where you can find diet reviews and special promotional coupons on the most popular weight loss programs.

Article Source: U Publish Articles

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Living in the Least Obese State

July 18th, 2008

Colorado has the lowest percentage of obese people according to the Center for Disease Control. Even so nearly 1 in 5 are obese. The CDC has an unbelievable animation of how obesity has increased in the last 22 years.

Obesity is defined as a BMI higher than 30. I currently weigh 201 pounds and am 5’8″. That gives me a BMI of 30.5. Yes, that makes me one of the obese people in Colorado. I gained 30 pounds in the 6 months after RAAM in 2006. It was tough to cut back enough on food when I went from training 20-30 hours a week to riding 2-3 hours.

I’m much heavier than I should be now and I feel it. I’ll really feel it in 3 weeks at the Leadville 100 mountain bike race.

Even when I’m fit, lean and racing well, I’m still close to 170 pounds. According to the BMI, I shouldn’t be over 164.5 pounds. BMI works well as a general gauge but it only measures height and weight. Newer measurements that also include waist size are more accurate.

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How I’m Going to Lose 35 Pounds

January 9th, 2008

I’m currently 35 pounds over my competitive weight. I’ve been worried about being able to lose that much weight in time for races this summer. Now I found a video that explains how I can easily lose weight just by drinking enough beer! I’m a bit concerned about how well my speed and endurance will be though.

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Confessions of a Sugar Addict

November 26th, 2007

Free Beverages at My Old Job
It’s the time of the year for cyclists to admit that they aren’t always very good examples for healthy eating. During the summer when we’re riding hundreds of miles, it’s easy to justify some extra junk calories. When the days get short and it’s cold, it often catches up to us.

Before I make my own confessions, I’m going to point out I’m really not alone in this. Jill, who’s training for the 350 mile Iditarod Invitational in Alaska in the winter, admits she’s a recovering junkaholic. The Fat Cyclist got really lean this summer but is now back in fat. Local cyclist, Fonk, says it’s time for a change.

My problem used to be Mountain Dew. I’m not talking a little problem. It was pretty common for me to have a 6 pack in a day. In 2003 I had quit drinking it and had my best ever season of racing. Somehow though I started drinking it again. Last year I quit again while I was training for the Race Across America. After RAAM it had been long enough since I’d had Mountain Dew, I had a few sips but couldn’t stand the taste.

The problem is I started drinking Coke instead. The more stressed I am the more of it I drink. Part of the problem has been that at my old job, the company paid Coke and Pepsi to bring it in by the case. We just had to make sure what we wanted was put into the coolers. It was just too easy to go grab another can out of the cooler.

From what I’ve read, I’m not sure that drinking diet drinks are that much better for health in the long term. I’ve also heard that the carbonation can cause problems with calcium. Although not all the effects of diet drinks are clear that for best health and performance, it’s best to stay away from them.

I think that being addicted to sugary drinks combined with caffeine has physical, psychological and habit components. My experience when I’ve tried quiting in the past is that once I drink some I’ll crave it the rest of the day. I found that I can’t just cut back on it. The only thing that works for me is to totally stop. In the last few months, I’ve had too much stress to have the energy to fight my addiction.

I’ve found that the first week after I quit is the hardest for me. One time I quit after backpacking for 5 days in the Superstition Mountains. Before RAAM I quit after my Eiseman Hut ski trip.

Although I’m not forced to stop drinking Coke for a few days like I would be if I was in the backcountry, now seems like a good time to stop. I no longer have access to all the free Coke I can drink. My stress should be less and I’m out of my normal work routine. The Simple Dollar had a post last week about the cost of a pop addiction. It also had a few suggestions on how to defeat the addiction and several people left more suggestions.

I’ve made it through my first day without drinking any pop. Tonight I’m really tired and dragging. The kids didn’t sleep well last night and I worked pretty hard on my garage over the long weekend so I’m not sure if it’s from sugar and caffeine withdrawals. I may just be tired.

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Tour de Cure

June 9th, 2007

Tom Stormcrowe otherwise known as The Amazing Shrinking Man is doing the Tour de Cure Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 14. He has lost over 350 pounds! He is very close to his goal of raising a $1,000 for the American Diabetes Association. You can help him reach his goal or even exceed it by donating from his page for the ride.

He has diabetes although it’s currently in remission from diet and exercise. He took up cycling to get his weight down. He crewed for me for Race Across America last year. From the crazy hours and gas station food, his blood sugar got out of whack and he ended up needing to leave my crew while we were in Kansas.

Top 5 Reasons Cyclists Shave Their Legs

May 9th, 2007

As a male cyclist, I’ve been shaving my legs for nearly 20 years. In the winter, I don’t take the time to shave. Nearly every winter, I decide leg shaving is too much bother and that I’m not going to shave when spring rolls around. Every year though it hasn’t taken many warm days of riding before I can’t wait to shave the thick hair off my legs.

This year I haven’t shaved yet. I haven’t had a chance to ride much and we haven’t had many days warm enough for riding in shorts. The few warm days I’ve ridden have made me ready to shave my legs.

Over the years, I’ve been asked many times why male cyclist shave their legs. A lot of people think it’s because of aerodynamics. Although shaving helps swimmers, I’ve read it makes very little difference if any in speed for cyclists.

Here are what I think are the top 5 reasons to shave.


If you crash, it’s easier to clean up the road rash and doesn’t hurt as much taking off bandages. I say at least for mountain biking, if you never crash you aren’t riding fast enough or riding technical enough trails. Even if you just ride on the road, if you ride enough you’re bound to go down.


Road cyclists have been shaving their legs for decades. If you you show up for a serious group ride with unshaven legs, other riders will shun you. Nobody will want to be riding close to you. They will think you aren’t experienced riding in a pack. This means you’ll likely cause a crash. Even mountain bikers should be using group road rides for training. Pro mountain bikers spend about 70% of their time training on the road.

Psychological Advantage

I generally end up shaving my legs about the time I start getting fast on the bike. Having my legs shaved makes me feel even faster. Other riders I know have said the same thing. Thinking you’re faster can make the difference between being dropped or dropping someone else.

It Feels Better

I’ve found that when it’s warm and I haven’t shaved my legs, I get more bugs hanging out and biting me. I also don’t like the feel of the wind on my hairy legs when descending at 50 mph. After a mountain bike race with mud bogs and and stream crossings, it’s no fun standing in the parking lot with only a little water and trying to clean mud off hairy legs.


I don’t get massages very often but they certainly help with recovery. I’ve been told massage therapists can give smooth legs a better massage. I do know getting a massage with shaved legs feels better.

Are there any other reasons for cyclists to shave their legs that should have made the top 5? Or are there reasons for cyclists not to shave? Ready to show you’re a cyclist but have questions about shaving, go here.

I’ve thought about writing about leg shaving a couple times over the last year but I finally took the time to do it because of a group writing project at ProBlogger. I’m don’t expect to make my living blogging any time soon. I know what my writing abilities are or rather my lack of writing abilities. There’s a reason I develop software instead. I like ProBlogger for technical information such as how search engines work and how web traffic is driven by some of the new social websites.

Here are some other posts from the group writing project that are fitness and health related. Actually most of them have to do with weight loss. I’ve totally fallen off the wagon with losing weight for the B7 Challenge with all the stress at work. I haven’t even done my 3 mile time trial that should have been done last week.

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April B7 Challenge Update

April 11th, 2007

April B7 Time Trial Heart Rate

Another month has rolled around and that means time to weigh in for the B7 Challenge and also to do the 3 mile time trial again. Actually we were supposed to do the time trial last week but with my crazy week, I didn’t get it done.

Now a good question would be “So what about your March update?” I was busy and had other more interesting things to write when I had a chance. Of course my update would have been more interesting if I hadn’t been slower than in February. That’s right. My time trial time in February was 16 minutes and 47 seconds. In March I was 4 seconds slower. My excuse was that I was still recovering from my Eiseman Hut ski trip. My weight had dropped to 198 pounds. I was at 200 the beginning of January but peaked out at 204 pounds.

On April 1st I weighed in at 194 pounds so my weight was headed in the right direction. Unfortunately I’ve gained a little back in the last week. I haven’t been tracking my food with Diet Power and I haven’t gotten much exercise. I don’t even really think about it but when I’m keeping track of my food I tend to make better food choices.

After the cold, snowy weekend, we had great weather on Monday. The temperature made it all the way into the lower 60s. It was a perfect day to go see if my speed had improved any. I hadn’t been on my bike in almost a week so I was well rested. I felt good and got in a good warm up before starting the time trial. I felt much better during the time trial than I did during the first two. My time was 14 minutes 39 seconds which was encouraging.

I was able to keep my heart rate higher this time. In March my average heart rate was only 171. This time it was 180 with a maximum of 190 at the end. When I’m fit I can actually hold a slightly higher average heart rate. I still just barely feel like I have some base fitness and am still a long ways from having race fitness.

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Banjo Brothers’ Big Bad Bulky Biker Bodyfat Challenge

February 9th, 2007

Since the Race Across America last summer, I’ve gained over 25 pounds. I’ve always had trouble with my weight and this winter it’s been worse than normal. For one thing I got used to eating a lot when I was training 20-30 hours a week. After RAAM I realized just how much I had put off while training and so I was hardly riding. At the same time, my doctor decided my medication was too high for my thyroid so he reduced it. It turned out that I really need to be in between the dosage I was on and the next lower strength pill. Being on too little thyroid medication makes me gain weight faster. Then to top it off I got injured just after Christmas. I wasn’t getting much exercise before that but at least I was get a longer more than none.

I need something to get me to be careful what I eat and get my weight back down. That’s where the Banjo Brothers’ Big Bad Bulky Biker Bodyfat Challenge (B7 Challenge) comes in. It’s a challenge that The Fat Cyclist is putting on that ends on August 1st. The final score consists of two things. The first one is the percentage of your weight loss goal that you achieve. The second one is how much faster you get for a 3 mile cycling time trial. If I end up with a better score than The Fat Cyclist, I get a free jersey from him. If I lose I have to give him what I wagered.

Last year I did basically the same challenge except that it only went until June 1st and was called the B5 Challenge because it didn’t have a sponsor. I tracked my food intake and my weight very closely with Diet Power and made my weight goal. It was while I was training for RAAM so I was burning plenty of calories. I wrote a post last April about what was working for me that has a screen shot of my weight loss.

Hopefully I will be able to get back on track and lose my goal of 25 pounds. The problem is I’ve actually gained a little weight since the start of the B7 Challenge. although I’ve actually gained a little bit. Since I was injured, I didn’t do my time trial the beginning of January so I did my initial one this last Tuesday. It was the first time in a long time that I’ve actually gone all out. There’s good pain and there’s bad pain and for the time trial I was deep into the bad pain zone. My guts so big it felt like it was keeping my lungs from expanding as far as they should. My HR wasn’t quite as high as I can hold when I’m fit. I still felt like I was going to blow a couple times and I didn’t have anything left at the end. I did it in the Air Force Academy. This is a different course than what I used last year during the B5 Challenge so I can’t compare my time to last year. I certainly felt like I was slow. The Air Force Academy was closed after 9/11 and was only reopened last fall.

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Observations of Gym Rats

December 8th, 2006

Last night I went to the gym for the first time since last February or March. I went because it was cold out and more importantly I had a stiff neck and could barely turn my head to the left. I don’t feel safe riding my bike when I can’t keep track of what’s going on around me.

I spent 50 minutes on the stair machine. I’m not talking about the stair steppers that you can easily pretend to be working out but not really doing much. I use the machine that is basically a few steps of a down escalator. If you can’t keep up, you get farther from the controls and you could dropped on the floor. I would much rather do the old Manitou Incline. At least then I can see that I’ve gone somewhere and the surroundings are pretty.

The stair machines are along the wall so you can see most of the gym. I made some observations about the people there broken down by gender.

I’ll start with the 3 types of women I noticed.

  1. Very Fit and Generally Good Looking. It appeared staying fit was very important to them. Maybe they were also doing it for looks.
  2. Skinny but Didn’t Look Fit. I couldn’t decide if they were at the gym to do a minimal workout to keep from wasting away or if they were trying to burn calories so they would waste away.
  3. Overweight and Not Fit. I figured they were there in an attempt to lose weight but they’ll probably lose motivation soon.

I also came up with a list of 3 types for men. For this list I spent a tiny fraction of the time I spent making observations for the types of women.

  1. Generally Fit. They looked like they were fit from other activities or sports and were just trying to get some exercise on a cold day.
  2. Serious Iron Pumpers. These guys don’t seem to care about anything but adding more muscle. They don’t mind a little fat either as long as it makes them bigger.
  3. Fat and Out of Shape. I’m not sure why they were there other than to lose some weight or maybe not get injured with the start of ski season.

Unfortunately if someone else was making these observations, they’d probably put me in the 3rd group of men. I’ve gained back all the weight I lost training for RAAM and I really need to quit drinking so much sugar. My BMI is exactly 30 which is the boundary between being merely overweight and obese. Of course I don’t think it accounts for having much muscle.

Genetically I’d be good for the 2nd group. Even in high school when I was skinny compared to now, the guys at the local bike shop would always tell me I should be a body builder instead of a cyclist. I hate lifting weights and want to be outside so I never considered making the switch.

Right now my focus is to build my base fitness and reverse the slope of my weight. Normally December is when I get motivated for the following season and I’ve found myself thinking a lot more about cycling and working out the last couple weeks. I have a list of races in my head of races I’m interested in doing next year. I won’t be able to do them all but I have plenty of time to figure out which ones to do. Most of them are mountain bike races. Right now I just need to focus on getting in some consistent training.

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