Cycling YouTuber: So Much Fasted Riding-Why?

Hey all,
Like most of you, I get about all YT cycling videos suggested in my feed everyday. One of those is Bike Racing WIthout Mercy.
I’m not sure if anyone is familiar with him, and I must admit I don’t watch all his videos, but I’ve watched several and come away with one single conclusion more than any other: almost every video he talks about doing the ride, part of the ride, or a past ride fasted…even the long and/or hard ones.
He’s a small bloke and does a bit of weight lifting (I think that was his background…?) so it’s not like he has plenty of lbs/kilos to drop. And from what I can tell, he doesn’t have any major ultra-endurance ride as his target.
I’m wondering why this might be useful or beneficial? I’ve listened to just about every podcast, so I understand pretty well the usual discussion for it (on recovery days/to prep for ultra/to drop weight) and I must say, I just can’t see why this would be more beneficial than fueling the crap out of each ride??
I don’t know if it’s just a YT thing where it seems like that’s all he’s doing based on the videos, or if there is something I’m missing, but does anyone have any input?
Here is his latest video talking about adding intensity after a 4 hour fasted ride

And he seems like a very nice bloke, so please know I’m not commenting on him as a person in any way, just the training methodology. Cheers!

I basically ignore almost all ‘fasted’ training advise I see on YT and it makes me question the overall quality of advise I see from those creators. It like worrying about 1% / marginal gains and looking past the low hanging fruit that will get you 80-90% of the results. And that is assuming their ‘fasted’ ride protocol actually aligns with the research, which I have rarely seen.

I kinda don’t understand it. I guess the complicated training approaches are trendy and its not very exciting to explain the basic types of workouts and progressions that get you 80-90% of the gains and tell people to eat a high quality and varied diet. Maybe I’m missing something too…

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Yeah, I’m with you. I’d say a 4 hour fasted ride goes against every protocol unless you’re specifically training to see how far you can ride without stopping and without food or drink (aka a death march).
From what I gather he’s only been riding seriously for a year or two. I’m no expert by any means, but it seems like you should be worrying more about building endurance and power that will come anyway as opposed to…constant fasted rides.
That sounds awful to a carboholic like me :joy:

I was listening i believe a fast talk podcast and the discussion was with a nutritionist for a pro cycling team. It was right as the idea of fasted riding was really taking off and all the cool kids were doing it. He talked about how each rider in the team he was invovled with was different some riders need a ton of carbs while others don’t need any. the Jest of it was that if riding fasted trained your body to use unlimited fat supplies everyone one in the peloton would be riding that way. This is just not the case and everyone is different. I think it can be beneficial to do rides fasted so your body learns to adapt to converting fat to fuel but if you are not that way to begin with it will have little effect on turning you into one

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Studies have shown that fax oxidation rates do not go up when fasted. Almost any coach with sense is not for fasted rides. Fasted rides are not as beneficial as everyone makes it seem.

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I’m trying to make sense of the whole riding fasted thing as well…
What I’ve learned so far is that you should fuel every workout with x gr carbs/hour. But now even in the TR Podcast there are some contradictory statements: In one of the older episodes someone (don’t remember who) said that he doesn’t consume any carbs during his trainer sessions, especially during base training. This makes sense to me because those sessions are generally shorter, with the goal to promote fat burning and without high intense stuff. But as it’s Stands, im quite confused as well…

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I interpreted this as a change of opinion because of better evidence. I used to train fasted in the morning, only drinking water with electrolyte tabs. Now I make sure to consume my 70+ g/hour of carbs.

What I noticed practically is that when I trained fasted, I needed a tremendous breakfast afterwards (duh!). And I was more hungry during the day. Since I am fueling on the bike, my meals are more like the meals I have when I am not training. I like that a lot better, because I don’t step of the bike, ready to devour an ox.

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Some quick googling for research on fat loss when training fasted gave me this interesting site:

TLDR: during training in fasted state you do burn more fat, but this is temporary, it does not change your body composition

I found this too. Used to ride before work and the rest of the family were up. Then it changed to different times on the day. Always made me hungry and struggle on some workouts.
Now I fuel before and during and hey presto I no longer empty the kitchen straight after and the workouts feel more manageable. :grin:.
YMMV but having tried fasted rides outside too they’ve never really done anything for me personally apart from wreck me but for some they may work.

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Used to do this.

IF there is an enhanced rate of fat burning during fasted rides, this will be at the expense of training adaptations (i.e., mitochondrial biogenesis) and, moreover, putting out the higher W( if fueled properly) will lead to an overall increase in energy expenditure (and therefore fat loss).

I have definitely heard the same from some TR guests and other high level athletes about not eating on their base trainer rides, but usually with the disclaimer that they are properly fueled going into the workout. For a standard TR base 90 minute workout you wouldn’t really need or get any benefit from in ride food if you are in a good spot coming into it.

A 90 minute crit or CX race would be a different story since the level of energy expenditure is higher.

And that’s what’s so confusing, as many of his fasted rides were intervals/threshold…or the four hour thing.
I basically get the idea behind fasted training (though I don’t do it), but I don’t see how any of that correlates to his sessions. And like I said before, if he was a chunky fella sure, maybe. But he is fit and healthy.

The main issue I see is over the definition of ‘fasted’. The research I have seen where ‘fasted == training on an empty stomach but not glycogen depleted’ is pretty similar to that TLDR. This is what I think most people consider fasted training. There is research indicating short endurance rides while in a glycogen depleted state might improve fat metabolism. A problem I see with advocates of ‘fasted’ training is they are mostly ‘training on an empty stomach fasted’ but using the glycogen depleted fasted research to justify it. Which doesn’t make sense as the protocols are totally different.

That said, I think glycogen depleted training is a high risk / low reward practice that doesn’t make sense for most people when there is plenty of other things to go after with a better risk / reward. One thing that improves fat metabolism is long endurance rides! So really just riding a lot over years and years will do it and is fun. :slight_smile:

Edited to correct my understanding of low-glycogen research.

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just saying, low glycogen research does not show that fat metabolism improves more than with full glycogen. It only shows that potential signals for future adaptions are created more strongly. There is no strong evidence that these signals get translated into more adaptions. A signal is always just one side, the body produces signals all the time without actually responding to it.

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That’s the route I went down too. Since I’m doing most of my trainer sessions in the morning I do them fastet anyways and just have breakfast afterwards. It works just fine for me, I never had any problems putting down the required power. But also I’m taking in most of my calories (and carbs) for the day in the evening, so this might play into that do. On outside rides I fuel up without exception after the principle better safe than sorry, however those tend to be my longer rides anyway.

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In your case that does make sense (and it would for me too since I’m up and riding between 6 and 7 each morning but I like my porridge too much :grin:). But again, the part of the equation I don’t understand is doing it for a full four hour ride or on high intensity days. Seems like a recipe (pun intended) for inevitable disaster.

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The principle is that it teaches your body to better utilise fat as a fuel. So over time the intensity increases at which you predominately still burn fat, and the amount you can burn maximally also increases. If you are always pumping yourself full of carbohydrate during sessions then your body will preferentially use that and not improve its fat burning ability. In other words the principle is that it accelerates your aerobic engine. It’s ability to produce energy from fat and oxygen.

But it’s not about going in to massive glycogen deficit. You should still be eating enough carbs over 24 hours, a week, a month, a year etc. to support a healthy body and help it grow and adapt.

If you aren’t doing the fasted rides in Seiler Z1, instead putting some tempo or higher intensity efforts in, then forget it, make sure to fuel those kind of sessions.

By fasted it means having not eaten for at least 12 hours before the session.

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It is, isn’t? I follow the approach to fuel my workouts (if deemed necessary) and to create the deficit off the bike (if necessary). I think that there’s no use in taking the fun out the sport because you’re starving on the trainer. In my opinion every workout done is more important than a calorie not eaten :sweat_smile:

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There are considerable amounts of data supporting fasting (in an intermittent nature) for a multitude of health benefits (https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/nejmra1905136)…whether it helps (or doesnt help) my workouts isn’t much of a concern. Personally, I just cant be bothered to wait 90-120 minutes to let breakfast digest before going on a run or ride. I will always make sure I have some calories to consume (usually in liquid form) if its longer or more intense effort, but ive found eating too close to an event or session leaves me worse off…to the extent where I actually havent had any breakfast before a marathon or century ride (granted these have been aerobic efforts and not full on races). Im sure there are other people that feel the same way (maybe a disproportionate amount of youtubers for some reason). With all that being said as soon as I finish a session I am making sure to get tons of carbs/protein in ASAP.

This - all day every day

This type of approach is something I’ve seen arise in a wide range of sports and athletic endeavours over the years.

E.g. As far back as the late 1980s / early 1990s weight lifting / bodybuilding magazines hyped various ‘pro’ supplements or unique training approaches which led to lots of people chucking £££ at chromium picolinate tablets and doing supersets on every exercise :joy:

I think it’s possibly a human nature thing to seek an ‘edge’ or magic bullet but in doing so overlook consistent application of the basics

E.g. I could spend ages analysing my power curve / dropping marginal weight from my bike / tweaking fasted rides into my plan or…
I could eat less crap, drop a free kilos and see much quicker more material gains as a result :grin:

:+1:t2:

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