Artificial Sweeteners, DIY Race Tips, Nutrient Timing and More – Ask a Cycling Coach 294

Join us tomorrow, January 21, 2021 for a livestream of Episode 294 of the Ask a Cycling Coach Podcast!

We’re going to be going in-depth into artificial sweeteners and how they affect our energy levels during training, tips and guidance for DIY Events as scheduling uncertainty still affects so many athletes, a discussion on nutrient timing and much more. It’s going to be a great time with Amber, Ivy, Coach Chad, and myself.

Tune in live on YouTube at 8:00am Pacific, or catch the archive on your favorite podcast app!

YouTube Video:

Topics Covered in This Episode

  • DIY Race Tips
  • Tactics for Match Races and small breakaways
  • Equipment choices that make you faster
  • How to give and receive criticism as an athlete
  • How to breathe more effectively
  • Does burping lower your heart rate?
  • Is it better to train on climbs or flats?
  • How to train if you have no races on your calendar
  • The hosts favorite workouts and strength training exercises
  • Ramp tests without a smart trainer
  • Training while pregnant
  • Should athletes use artificial sweeteners?
  • Nutrient timing for athletes

Resources and Studies Mentioned in This Episode

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I’d really love to hear the background of this question haha.


It happens to me! Sometimes mid-ride I do a weird burp and my HR drops about 10-15 beats if I’m up at temp or so. I’m glad they’re finally addressing the important questions!

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I think it’s heart rate monitor dependent! It happens with my chest strap, but I don’t see the drop using another method. Are you using a chest strap? If so, which one?

I’ve seen it on three different Wahoo HRMs. I usually track HR on an apple watch, too, but forget to check it. I spend a lot of time staring at my numbers on my head unit or TR app, so I def. see it there. I think I remember it happening with an old Suunto chest strap, too, but it’s been a few years since I’ve used that one.

Can’t wait for TDF 2021 where the whole peloton is just burping.

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…or the cycling press stories about how Sky/Ineos ‘invented’ burping…

Love the podcast especially at the beginning when @chad talked about extra mass. It bears repeating: a few extra pounds, especially lean mass, is desirable in most scenarios. Too many times, people get fixated on seeing a certain number on the scale and do not realize that a little extra muscle will go a long way towards long term overall health and short term athletic performance. I fell into this trap and I’m sure there are many on this forum that have and are in the midst of it. @ambermalika has been an incredible influence on the podcast for shedding that mindset in favor of fueling the work, staying consistent and letting one’s body find optimum weight.


On a par with noisy eaters…background keyboard smashing :scream:


I like very much the topic of breathing as this is my big limiter and I wanted to read more about this topic… when coach Chad spoke about those books about, he clearly didn’t want to directly critisise, but could we get here more insight please? Which technique is pointed towards CO2 tolerance (and hence to be avoided) and which book is poor from science point of view?
Would greatly appreciate @Jonathan

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Just listened to the podcast and the diaphragmatic breathing portion struck a chord. I find myself accelerating upper chest breathing during VO2max workouts which tends to carry me through but feels laborsome to maintain. I have Spencer +2 coming as first workout next week and I have never attempted it at my current FTP but I have successfully done the workout 3 times before at lower FTP. In all honesty, my brain is telling me I cannot hold 120% for 3 minutes 6 times and I am walking into this with some anxiety. I am hoping to introduce the new breathing element not only as way of improving performance directly but also as a psychological factor telling my brain that there is a new variable involved so expectation of failure is illogical.

So I have 2 days to learn this type of breathing. Does anyone have any guidance on how to do this? Of all Chad’s descriptions of how this is done, I’m not sure I am doing it right. I imagine trying to make myself have a fat belly in spandex but I suspect my diaphragm muscles need to develop some “muscle memory” before I feel I am doing this right. Would appreciate any suggestions or hints. Thanks in advance.

Curious which book cited in the podcast about breathing has been de-bunked. Chad threw some serious shade but wouldn’t name it. I am curious if it the Breath book by James Nestor. I am about a quarter of the way through it and my spider senses have been tingling. My sense is that there is some benefit here, but (as is often the case) the claims are wildy overstated.

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I use started this book. I will finish by next week!

I would also be interested in knowing which book(s) Chad wasn’t impressed with. It’s a topic I’m interested in, and have just bought the James Nestor book, however, if it’s mumbo jumbo I won’t even bother reading it. :+1:


I totally understand Chad being hesitant to slag off a book…but I’m far MORE interested in which book he would recommend the most?

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Yes, which book does Chad recommend as the “best” to learn effective breathing technique.

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Regarding breathing, I want to throw my two cents in as I have some familiarity with each of the sources mentioned by Chad:
Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art a book by James Nestor, The Oxygen Advantage book and program by Patrick McKeown, and the Wim Hof method.

A cautionary note; I’m not a doctor, respiratory therapist, athletic coach, or even a competitive cyclist (just an old guy that enjoys riding and is trying to stay in shape), your experiences and opinions may be quite different than mine.

First off, these are three very different sources aimed in very different directions; I don’t view them as contradicting each other, I feel that I’ve learned valuable information and skills from each.

  • Breath is a best selling history of how our diet and breathing habits combine to have either very positive or very negative effects on our health, throughout the book Nestor is experimenting on himself and reporting his observations. I found this book to be a very enjoyable read and recommend it as a starting point, it covers a huge range of historic and modern health research involving breathing and diet. Some of the observations (such as the role of a poor diet on facial structure) are startling, but the book is very well footnoted and those footnotes that I’ve tracked down seem sound. Breath includes exercises for a wide variety of breathing techniques, both McKeown’s and Hof’s work are discussed in the book and both recommend the book.

  • The Oxygen Advantage is a book and program aimed at athletes trying to improve performance. The goal of the program is to improve oxygen utilization (e.g., better efficiency and VO2 max) by improving levels of nitric oxide (a hormone which acts as a vasodilator) and improving CO2 tolerance. McKeown argues that many (not all) athletes (even those already operating on a very high level) can improve their performance by improved breathing techniques; I definitely found this to be true for me, after working through part of his program I’m now amazed at how (comparatively) little I need to breathe at sweet spot training levels. The Oxygen Advantage book is well footnoted and seems to have a solid foundation. Patrick McKeown has been elected a fellow of the Royal Society of Biology.
    I have a quibble with coach Chad’s characterization of CO2 tolerance exercises as being torturous. While some CO2 tolerance exercises look too daunting for me to try, I’ve made significant improvement doing exercises with which which take little time and cause very little discomfort or stress.

  • Wim Hof’s method is aimed at general health, emotional health, and (perhaps) immune system health. This method has the thinnest set of references, but what it has is very intriguing; it might give an accessible path to control of autonomic functions. The program consists of meditation/yoga (probably helpful for anyone) along with gradual exposure to cold and breathing exercises (please look at the warnings before trying either of the last two). The breathing exercises alternate between hyperventilating and breath holding, these put your body into a very stressed state, it is quite possible to reduce your blood O2 saturation to 50-60% (as I said, read the warnings before trying this). A result of this exercise is a feeling of great calm. Some people claim improvements in autoimmune diseases, I’ll be very curious to see if these can be verified. Wim Hof has many enthusiastic followers, many describing help with dealing with stress and improved general sense of health and well being.

I’m curious to hear about the experiences of others who have tried these programs.

This episode is Pure gold for the race tips, I listen to this one 2x and need to remember it once racing starts back up…thank you coaches!

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