Article Nutrition; Eating disorders and Disordered eating.

FarEast

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May 25, 2009
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#1
Over the years I've written a lot of articles for several magazines, websites and companies within the cycling industry and I thought I would start sharing some of the material I've written over the years as well as a few pieces I will write exclusive for the TCC.

I wrote this article mainly because I was becoming concerned with the increase in pseudoscience that were doing the rounds on social media sites as well as some legitimate concerns that my athletes were having regarding nutrition during on and off season.

I started this article about a year ago and consulted with other professional riders, coaches as well as athletes that have actually suffered from eating disordered who feel were a result of disordered eating or it played some part of the process.

I have also brought my own research and knowledge to this article as a professional coach, nutritionist and qualified chef as well as over 20 years of racing and coaching in all cycling disciplines. I hope that by reading this you can walk away with something new and hopefully makes some small changes in your way of thinking or nutrition.

Enjoy.

Eating disorders and Disordered eating.

Eating disorders have received a lot of press in recent years and we are well aware of anorexia, bulimia and binge eating, the deadly trio of nutritional mental disorders.

Many regard this as a problem that only women are afflicted with, however that is a common misconception held by most. Men are just as susceptible to the pressures that modern media and society put on our personal image and looks, and that combined with the increase in people taking up sport and being bombarded with advertisements regarding nutrition products means that more and more people and making unhealthy changes in their lifestyles that they believe, incorrectly, are healthy.

Harvard University undertook the first ever national study of eating disorders which revealed that in a population of nearly 3,000 adults, 25% of those with anorexia or bulimia and 40% of binge eaters were men. However many believe that the figures are higher still with many men reluctant to admit they have a problem, in main part due to the stigma attached to the issue.

This article is about the difference between eating disorders and disordered eating, which is an issue that is rapidly increasing within the circles of amateur athletes and even pro’s that do not have the support of a nutritionist or councilor that can address the issue.

What is the difference between eating disorders and disordered eating?

We all know what the 3 major eating disorders are but disordered eating is not well known and in comparison to the seriousness of anorexia and bulimia is swept under the carpet. However I personally believe that disordered eating is the first steppingstone to the more serious disorders.
So what exactly is disordered eating? Basically disordered eating describes irregular eating habits, such as self-starvation, bingeing, purging and exercising obsessively without constructive rest or nutrition to maintain the body’s natural equilibrium. Although there maybe some similarities between these and the clinically defined “Eating Disorders”, they are not diagnosed as such, and are instead considered atypical, or sub clinical.

A classic example of this is binge eating, followed by the mad dash to the gym during and after the festive season, or the crash diets 1 week before going on holiday, all examples of disordered eating habits that many of us are guilty of. Not life threatening per se but still these processes put your body under enormous pressure that can cause depression or stress and, possibly later or through repetition, may result in more serious disorders.

As a cyclist and cycling coach I hear all types of fad diets or disordered eating habits that individuals are involved in, from crash dieting for a certain hill climb race to completing cutting out carbohydrates from their diet or chicken and broccoli diets in the effort to lose unwanted body weight. Another form of disordered eating and one that I was guilty of until studying the subject of nutrition and mental health, is using food and beverages as a form of reward.

As endurance athletes, cyclists need to pay particular attention to the importance of refueling and maintaining a balanced and healthy diet, including hydration. Those of us that have cycle computers that can give you an estimated calorific expenditure will know it’s almost impossible to replace in a ride what we have burnt, and will often use this as an excuse to binge out the following day with the inner monologue chanting “You did burn 4000kcal yesterday!”

Unfortunately our bodies don’t work like that and this is another classic case of disordered eating.

The facts remain that to lose body fat, the best method for getting it off and keeping it off while maintaining healthy energy levels and a stable mental disposition is a steady effort that can last months, if not years depending on the target weight, by adapting to a balanced, healthy diet, combined with a structured and consistent exercise plan. (Notice I don’t use the word training)
 

FarEast

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May 25, 2009
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#2
The difference between training and exercise?

Some of you reading this may have been on the receiving end of what you might think was me trolling you: a classic example of this would be a Facebook post such as: “Great training ride today with the guys, 120km with 1500m of climbing, Epic ride!!!” with me asking “What are you training for?”

Yes, training sounds more “Pro” than exercising but there is a danger in this mentality, and we’ll get to this in a minute.

As a coach and nutritionist I sit my athletes down and explain to them the difference between training plans and exercise plans and what they actually need.

Training is when you have a specific objective or goal and a time frame you wish to achieve that goal in. It is incredibly structured with several different phases in training that slowly bring you to the point where the objective is achievable. There will often be primary and secondary goals, with performance markers on route to give a clear indication as to if and where gains are being made or lost.

Exercise and nutrition are constantly fine tuned to meet the needs and requirements of the athlete and a clear, concise and easy to understand explanations as to why performance is not improving, or, if it is, how and why. The athlete is fully aware of what is happening.

Exercise plans are exactly that, planning when you can fit exercise in to your daily routine that more commonly than not is sedentary: it’s about changing daily routines to fit it in.

Remember, walking to the train station, taking the stairs instead of the lift or escalator is exercise and these can be fitted into your exercise plans.

So what is the danger of treating exercise as training?

Most cyclists will plan their riding around a single day on the weekend, trying to squeeze out as much as possible in the short amount of hours they are able to dedicate, while also participating in some healthy rivalry within their peers.

Many will have done very little aerobic or anaerobic exercise during the week, and this puts an incredible strain on our bodies. Coupled with poor nutrition and hydration choices, this one or two-day training ‘binge’ can have a disastrous effect on our health, and unlike for instance at a gym, there are very few riding groups that can offer professional coaching, fitting and nutrition to their riders.
 
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FarEast

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May 25, 2009
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#3
This brings me back to nutrition. On many a group ride I see riders pulling a plethora or gels, bars and powders from their jersey pockets or emerging from the convenience store with sports drinks boasting of amino acids or electrolytes. These all have a time and a place but in reality your weekend ride is not really the place or the best option.

Some Facts;

Power Bar
Fat: 2g
Carbs: 45g
Protein: 10g
Calories from fat: 20
Total calories: 230kcal
Medium Banana (118g)

Fat: 0.4g
Carbs: 27g
Protein: 1.4g
Calories from fat: 0.4g
Total calories: 105kcal

Or how about the famous Pocari Sweat? Water, sugar, citric acid, sodium citrate, sodium chloride, potassium chloride, calcium lactate, magnesium carbonate and flavor. You really think this is good for you?

It’s a fact that during times of intense physical exertion our digestive system is slowed, with the body’s primary focus on hydration and then energy.

So if you are solely hydrating with sugary drinks over the course of a 5 hour ride, consuming gels and bars and with the body’s limit on how much it can digest per hour, what do you think is happening to this excessive sugar intake?

Well, our liver can only process a certain amount; once it’s full it then turns the glycogen into triglyceride which is commonly referred to as fat and most likely than not is then stored as visceral fat.

You get home from a great ride totally spent and craving something sweet, so after knocking back a beer to hydrate you raid the fridge or pick up the phone for takeout. Sound familiar?

Let’s reconsider the opening paragraphs of this article again;

“disordered eating describes irregular eating habits, such as self-starvation, bingeing, purging and exercising obsessively without constructive rest or nutrition to maintain the body’s natural equilibrium. Although there maybe some similarities between these and the clinically defined “Eating Disorders”, they are not diagnosed as such, and are instead considered atypical, or sub clinical.”

Now ask yourself: Do I have disordered eating habits?
 

FarEast

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May 25, 2009
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#4
So what’s the answer?

Well it all depends on what you are doing. Many of us whom should know better are falling victim to the marketing of bars, gels, powders and supplements. We believe the pseudoscience given by self proclaimed guru’s, that their methods and techniques will work when in actual fact with a small bit of research and common sense these can be easily debunked.

Now don’t get me wrong, legitimate sports supplements have a time and a place in a serious athlete’s nutritional inventory (notice I don’t use the word diet).

If you are training for a 100km road race then chances are you want to eat on the fly, trying to replicate exactly the conditions you will be racing to. So you would be eating a balanced nutrition plan to sustain this kind of effort and would have built up to this kind of ride.

In this case the answer is simple, you’ll want the convenience of pre packed gels and bars and a bottle of carb drink and 1 of pure water with maybe a pinch of salt to get you through it. But you’d also be carrying real food, bananas, rice balls and more likely than not you would have a meal prepared for your return normally high carb to be eaten within 20 minutes to actually take advantage of how the body works and thus carb loading intelligently and effectively.

(That’s right, stuffing a high carb meal the night before a ride is not carb loading and all you are doing is again saturating your liver glycogen)

But if you are out for the weekend ride with your friend’s then this has been touched on several times: you should be eating healthy real food. Here in Japan we are very spoilt with the proliferation of convenience store chains in even the remotest of places, not to mention the amazing amount of vending machines scattered along the road sides and hiking trails.

The choices on offer are also incredible, however unless you have a fat ratio of under 10% these products designed to replace the lost electrolytes or give you that boost to perform better than before just aren’t needed, and your own stored body fat will pretty much do exactly the same.

Now as I pointed out, the amount of calories we burn on a ride can be enormous and we are never truly going to be able to consume 3000+ kcal over the course of a ride, not unless you have a support car or prepared to stop every 45 minutes and eat something. What we can do is aid the body in breaking down fat into energy, and plain old water is excellent for this.

If You feel the need for something sugary then a mix of 20/80 (100%) pineapple, apple or grape juice and water is everything your body needs and will help you recover from any hunger knock or bonk better than any other product on the market.
 

FarEast

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May 25, 2009
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#5
You want a long burn fuel?

Bananas are the ultimate food for endurance athletes and have been used for decades. Another is the simple Japanese Onigiri (Japanese white rice with filling, wrapped in seaweed) which have been the go-to energy food since the 17th century, when warring Samurai would eat them on the battlefield. The portion size is perfect and gives you pretty much everything you need. A Tuna-Mayo Onigiri will give you 232 kcal, while the Salmon a healthier 192kcal. Buy two, one for now and one for an hour and a half later.

You’ll be surprised how much energy they give you when you are waging your own personal battle on some remote mountain pass.

Where do I go from here?

Many of us look forward to our weekend rides, we plan the routes, organise the meeting place and more likely than not plan where you will put in the killer attack that will blow away your peers on a certain Strava segment, but for most the planning and preparation stops there.

This is actually the time when you should be preparing your nutrition and hydration for the ride: again stuffing your face with pasta is not going to help here. But increasing the amount of food with low glycemic indices such as fruit and vegetables or, if you can get it, whole grain pasta or bread which have a minimal effect on serum glucose levels is highly recommended to people with sedentary life styles during the week.

Watching your hydration practices midweek is also beneficial as not only will it help with your digestion but will slowly increase your retained water, ready for the weekend ride. Again throwing back a liter of water in one go every hour on the hour will in actual fact have a negative impact on performance as it stretches the stomach and can lead to over eating.

Probably the most essential meal before a ride is your breakfast. They say eating a balanced meal 3 hours before a ride offers the optimal performance, however if you have a 6am start I doubt anyone has an appetite at 3am, and in this case rest is probably more important than getting up to eat.

Easy to digest foods such as fruits, yogurt and oatmeal (notice that again these are low glycemic indices) are excellent for pre-ride fueling. Coffee is also a welcome addition as the caffeine helps the oxidation of fat over a period of 4 hours. (8mg of caffeine is recommended, which is equal to about 2 mugs of coffee).

And finally something to eat like a banana while you go through the obligatory 30 minutes of “Faffing” at the meeting place.

At the end of the day it’s all common sense, the majority of people really don’t need the processed, prepacked energy fuels which in actual fact in most cases offer very little benefit compared to readily available food at your local convenience store. Stop and think too before you hit the fridge when you get home – optimal time to eat is within 20 minutes of getting off the bike, and protein and carbs are what you should be hitting.
 

GSAstuto

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Oct 11, 2009
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www.roadfixie.com
#6
Wow, James - thanks for this - really it's a great write up and I concur totally. You've hit on so many of the topics that are my own 'pet peeves' , marketing hyperbole and urban myth driving so called 'training' routines. Well done.
 
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FarEast

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May 25, 2009
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#7
Foreword added ----

Thanks Tim. As a coach and having two kids that are actively involved in competitive sport I am become more and more alarmed at the nonsense they are being taught and excepting as fact. As a coach and nutritionist and mentor I feel that its our responsibility to educate.

As I mention I have nothing against the use of sports 'Nutrition' products but I think we need to move away from the attitude that they are healthy for us and that we need them all the time - let's take RedBull and Monster energy drinks for instance.
 

zenbiker

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Mar 4, 2008
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Chofu
#9
I can't believe the nutrition debate is still going on!
Scientists and nutritionists the world over have long ago established that the best food for sports, daily life and empire building is British food!
Steak and kidney pie, sausages, curry and anything on toast....with chips of course! The salt and vinegar on the chips will supply your sodium needs and vinegar, well, tastes nice! Tomato sauce (ketchup to North Americans) can be added if you must have vegetables.
Team Sky have a British only rule....When Froome bonked he was given a bacon sandwich with a healthy blob of HP sauce!
Back to back Tour de France, 2 world wars, a world cup, Ist up Everest, all the important Olympic gold medals and numerous Eurovision song contest wins all on British food!
 

Sibreen

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Jul 23, 2010
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Hanno, Saitama
#10
FarEast, thanks for posting this. Very interesting.

I have a couple of questions:
1. for those of us who do have less than 10% body fat, these 'health/energy/sports drinks' are beneficial?
2. do you eat onigiri and other 'real' food when you're racing? I've seen these food packs that riders get in road races, but never known what was inside them..
 

TimeTraveler

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Feb 6, 2012
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Koto-ku, Tokyo
#11
FarEast, thank you for this post! As I read your article I could identify with a lot that you have mentioned about binge eating, fueling and hydration. The information in your article has helped me to identify some possible causes of weight gain.

Since turning to cycling from running 2 years ago, due to a severe foot injury, I have gained nearly 4kgs. I often try to convince myself that the weight gain is attributed to more leg muscle mass, but we all know that this is not the case.

Furthermore, I thought that if I'd ride farther, longer and faster this would help me to burn off the unwanted kilos. Needless to say, this has not been effective. Your article has shown me how my eating and nutritional habits have changed as a cyclist and how these choices impact my weight. From this point forward, I will focus one eating foods that are low on the GI table and good for fueling, get rid of sport drinks and gels when riding and no more binge eating or ice cream rewards after a long ride.
 

FarEast

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May 25, 2009
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#12
FarEast, thanks for posting this. Very interesting.

I have a couple of questions:

1. for those of us who do have less than 10% body fat, these 'health/energy/sports drinks' are beneficial?..
No not really, like I mentioned before they are really only offer convenience - carbs or protein in an easy shot. But like I tell the athletes I coach, if you are stopping for liquids then you might as well stop for some food. If you really want to cut the “stop time” then do what I do, carry a musette in your jersey pocket and put the food in that and ride while eating, when finished fold the musette up and put it back in the jersey pocket……. In my opinion that’s more pro than anything, not only that it will appeal to all you new converts to Rapha.
2. do you eat onigiri and other 'real' food when you're racing? I've seen these food packs that riders get in road races, but never known what was inside them..
Ok I can tell you that Europcar and SKY in the musette carry mixtures of the following:

2 x rice balls (according to Yukiya’s other half one is actually Japanese rice with Nutella)
2 x fun size bounty bars (Salute Bars) for those not initiated it’s a coconuts in condensed milk wrapped in chocolate, if those aren’t available then Marathons/Snickers.
2 x cakes – assorted
2 x Energy Gel to be consumed later on IF needed.
1 x bottle of water
1 x bottle of Energy drink or Fruit Juice mixed with water.

Interesting fact;

Although Gatorade sponsors SKY, they don’t actually provide SKY with the actual drink only the bottles. CNP provide sports nutrition products to SKY.
You will see after a UCI Pro race riders being handed mini cans of coke, these are the optimal size required for recovery, drinking anything more is just going to saturate the liver as I mentioned before. Also they do not contain gas – its flat coke.
 
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FarEast

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May 25, 2009
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#13
ice cream rewards after a long ride.
Really glad this has helped.

But how do you know your leg mass has not increased? Did you measure and record, again this brings us back to the training versus exsercise, and unless you have all the variables you don't actually know and can't really make assumptions based on it and unless you are doing this to pay the mortgage then there is little reason to live like a monk, healthy balance in everything otherwise you are going to burn out, both physically and mentally, I see it all the time.

There is nothing wrong with eating ice cream and the likes (I love the stuff), but plan when you eat it rather than just digging in. I normally eat them in the ride and have re-adjusted the mind set that a certain fruits that I love are to be eaten after rides - nothing like a bowl of blackberries or raspberries straight from the garden after a ride to balance the sugar and carb levels!

But one of the key elements I want to really push home is how we view eating and certain foods both labled heathy and unhealthy and when pushed I would honestly say that unless you are racing or training for a race where gels are the only viable source or nutrition midrace then they really have no place in a healthy nutritional diet.

Do I use them for emergencies? No, not any more - I carry a 1,000 yen note in my puncture repair kit and if I bonk hard then I find the nearest place that sells food and user it to feed myself, normally a bunch of bananas, some bread and a mini can of coke.
 

bawbag

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Mar 20, 2013
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Tokyo
#14
Excellent stuff. Gives me something to focus on when I get back in the saddle. Many thanks for your imparted wisdom.

As an aside, this site is great. I've spent a long time trawling through the heaps of advice - healthcare, insurance, great bike stores, training, rehabilitation... It's a real treasure trove. I doff my cap to you all.
Right, back onto my read through all the threads on tubulars. The more I read, the less terrifying they seem.
 

TimeTraveler

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Feb 6, 2012
397
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73
Koto-ku, Tokyo
#15
Really glad this has helped.

But how do you know your leg mass has not increased? Did you measure and record
Fareast, I have not used a measuring tape to check leg muscle mass, but I monitor my muscle mass on electronic scale which has shown very little change in gains and loses of muscle. However, I will measure my legs periodically and track the data.
 

FarEast

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May 25, 2009
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#16
Fareast, I have not used a measuring tape to check leg muscle mass, but I monitor my muscle mass on electronic scale which has shown very little change in gains and loses of muscle. However, I will measure my legs periodically and track the data.
TimeTraveler, I'm not sure you got what I was saying so I will be a little more direct:

Why is your leg mass size important to you? As a Pro/Elite CX rider and Cat1 roadie I don't think I have ever measured my leg size, ok maybe once when I was comparing them to the size of my Keirin buddy who races S-class and has legs leg Oak trees.
 
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TimeTraveler

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Feb 6, 2012
397
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73
Koto-ku, Tokyo
#17
TimeTraveler, I'm not sure you got what I was saying so I will be a little more direct:

Why is your leg mass size important to you? As a Pro/Elite CX rider and Cat1 roadie I don't think I have ever measured my leg size, ok maybe once when I was comparing them to the size of my Keirin buddy who races S-class and has legs leg Oak trees.
FarEast, that is plan enough for me. Thanks for the clarification.

However, leg mass size was never important to me; just a scapegoat for my weight gain. I thought leg mass was one the variables your were referring to so I took it to heart. Going back to my statement in my earlier post, I will focus on eating habits, fueling and hydration and monitor my progress made towards weight loss.

Again, thanks for posting the article!
 

snoogly

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Oct 14, 2007
695
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48
Machida, Tokyo
#18
Bang on the mark!

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/art...ing-100-mile-cycling-race-capital-Surrey.html

I can't believe the nutrition debate is still going on!
Scientists and nutritionists the world over have long ago established that the best food for sports, daily life and empire building is British food!
Steak and kidney pie, sausages, curry and anything on toast....with chips of course! The salt and vinegar on the chips will supply your sodium needs and vinegar, well, tastes nice! Tomato sauce (ketchup to North Americans) can be added if you must have vegetables.
Team Sky have a British only rule....When Froome bonked he was given a bacon sandwich with a healthy blob of HP sauce!
Back to back Tour de France, 2 world wars, a world cup, Ist up Everest, all the important Olympic gold medals and numerous Eurovision song contest wins all on British food!
 

basilleroux

Maximum Pace
Jun 26, 2011
126
29
48
Tokyo
#19
One observation and a couple of questions:
- Its very hard for carbs to be converted into fat, especially when your are carb depleted (i.e during a long ride). FOr more info: http://cyclingtips.com.au/2012/08/five-sports-nutrition-myths/
- which fruits are low GI and what about digestive upset from too much roughage?
- on a 5 hour normal ride one would use 4000-500 calories (based on my power meter), of which 75-80% would be carbs. As we know the body has about 2 hours of carb stores and it cannot replenish them quicker than it uses (i.e. you end the ride depleted). Research shows that the body can absorb 60-90g of carbs per hour (270-400 calories) and the simpler the carb the better (i.e. high GI sugary stuff) rather than pasta / bread / rice which takes too long to digest as blood supply is diverted from the gut to your muscles (yes the pro's have rice cakes etc but that's mainly because extended use of simpler carb sources causes digestive upsets). Thus based on 1l of pineapple juice per hour at 20% concentrate (15 calories from carbs ) you would need 2-3 bananas per hour (23g carbs per banana) which means carrying 10-15 in total - is that right?
 

joewein

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Oct 25, 2011
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Setagaya, Tokyo
joewein.net
#20
^ McCubbin talks about carbo-loading by eating pasta the night before a ride. I thought by now that was largely considered a myth, with no real benefit.

Isn't real carbo-loading to first deplete muscle glycogen and then recharging it within 30 minutes of the end of exercise, not just eating a pile of spaghetti the night before the race?

which fruits are low GI and what about digestive upset from too much roughage?
AFAIK, grapefruits and apples are relatively low GI.