I’ve stopped eating during training, and here’s why.
Burning fat is 17x more efficient than burning carbohydrates. Most people can only burn fat up to their zone 2, or endurance pace. Highly trained athletes can ride all the way up to zone 4 (there threshold/race pace) burning fat, allowing them to be much faster because their fuel burning process is 17x more efficient. This isn’t the only thing that determines how fast someone is, but it does have a fairly large impact.
One of my main focuses this year has been to build a huge aerobic base and to train my body to burn fat instead of carbs. I’m not sure this can be accomplished in a year, but I’m seeing some really great progress. It’s been pretty reasonable to ski for 3-5 hours without eating anything, and it’s actually felt really good. But it hasn’t transferred as well to biking, until today.
Today I put a granola bar and some fruit snacks in my jersey pockets, just in case. But I was really happy when 2.5 hours in I realized I wasn’t going to need them. I spent the majority of my ride in zone 2 with some required zone 3 on steep climbs, and after 3 hours of good mountain biking, I felt great. I didn’t have any need to eat. When I finished I was hungry, but I felt strong the entire time, with no food. It was really good to see the skiing work start to transfer to biking as well.
Not eating is forcing my body to burn fat after it goes through the carbohydrate stores. This is why you’ve probably heard of pros doing fasted training rides. They’ll ride for a few hours in the morning after skipping breakfast. They don’t do this to lose weight, they do it to train their body to burn fat instead of carbs.
This isn’t something that can be switched overnight. It takes seasons of disciplined training. I’m excited to see what it’ll do for me this season as I begin racing.