Special Guest: Amber Pierce – Ask a Cycling Coach 193

Whey + sports drink is just going to be more efficient from a calorie and macros point of view. Adding in the fiber and fats that your going to get in a whole food solution will make it less efficient.

Thanks Jonathan - much appreciated.
Really value the index on this post too. Do you / can you do this for all future Podcasts as it would really help me access the bits I prioritise in time stretched weeks. Not that I don’t want to listen to all of them of course!!

The science on “fat adaptation” is really limited and sketchy. The study most often cited used a rat model, and the human evidence for this was narrowly focused on ultra-endurance athletes. Performance wise, most cyclists will need to utilize the full range of aerobic (e.g. up to VO2 max) and anaerobic systems during races; thus you will need to burn carbohydrate to perform and make key selections. Most of what I’ve seen about “fasted rides” is linked to this concept of fat adaptation, which really doesn’t apply if you’re a racer and hope to compete well. It’s also been shown that even for ultra-endurance, carbohydrates are as or more effective than “fat adaptation.” Occasional fasted rides can produce some (i.e. limited) beneficial adaptations, but these are far outweighed by fueling properly to get the most out of every training session. I know Keto is a big thing right now and the internet feeds are full of carbohydrate fear-mongering, but when you eat enough carbohydrate, you will not believe how much better you feel, how much better you perform, and how much happier and more confident you’ll feel overall. Given you can only take in so much CHO on a ride, it’s almost impossible to keep up calorically with food on the bike. You should try, but you need to pre-fuel with your pre-workout meal. You’ll be amazed at what a difference this makes!


Great anecdote - thanks for sharing! Cognitive load is REAL.


What a great episode, definitely added to my list of favorites! So many great topics and tips! Thanks TR and Amber for today’s podcast :slight_smile:


I agree with @ErickVH here - both fats and fibers slow digestion, which would simply slow absorption of the CHO and PRO in the recovery shake. The two main keys that make a recovery shake so effective are: 1) CHO intake within 30min post exercise is the ONLY way to replenish muscle glycogen for the next day’s session, and 2) the 4:1 CHO:PRO ratio triggers a signaling cascade that initiates the recovery/repair process. Plus, if you’re consistent with timing this immediately after a workout (especially maybe while listening to a favorite chill song and doing some gentle stretching), you can create a Pavlovian response in your body to shift from the sympathetic arousal state (fight or flight from training) to parasympathetic (rest and digest), using the recovery shake + music as the trigger. Important to shift back to parasympathetic, especially after a hard workout.


My understanding (which is limited - so take this with a grain of salt) is that the jury is still out on whether protein is useful during exercise. At higher intensities, it definitely is not. Protein, fats, and fibers digest more slowly than simple carbohydrates. There is some evidence that intake of certain BCAAs can help stave off mental fatigue, but the research on whether protein intake during exercise can, say, reduce muscle breakdown, is still inconclusive. The only thing that really matters, though, is whether it’s working for you! If you feel better and don’t have any GI distress relative to taking in simple carbs, I’d say stick with it!


Thanks everyone for tuning into the podcast today! I’ll respond to questions here on the forum over the next few days, so we can cover whatever we may have missed in the live episode. I love all these great questions and so appreciate all of your feedback on the show. Thank you!


I fly every week. Any info/link on what causes high dB’s in flight? I thought it was more from skin drag at high air speeds but, IIRC “jet” noise was talked about. I seriously can’t find much worth reading but, super interested as it’s my job!

Anywho, for anyone reading, get earplugs or noise cx earphones/headsets. And fly a 787 as they have a better pressurization system keeping cabin pressure lower and the air system adds humidity. If able to get club seating do it. Lying down while flying is a beautiful beautiful thing! :grinning:


You talked about repeating a mantra, have you heard of anyone doing the same with a specific song?

I will just echo others here that this was a great podcast.


Great episode. Had no idea who Amber was, but she is fantastic. Great insights from a professional who clearly knows a bit about something - seems like a very smart person. She also has a great presence/voice/personality - would love to hear more from her.


Just started listening to this podcast and it’s great so far. However, and I know this might come across as a nitpick, but for those of us who use metric any chance you could give us weights in kg as well as lb. It is w/kg after all… :slight_smile:


Great podcast. Love the podcast every week but really helpful and inspiring for me to get a women’s perspective on things.

Well done for having the conversation about hormones and performance, it was great. Might be worth mentioning Stacy Simms book Roar on next podcast for women who are not aware of it?

@Nate_Pearson My own experience was (I am on pill now) that my cycle was very regular at 28 days. Women can use apps to track there cycle and help predict when they are due, although some will still be less regular and find it hard to predict. I used to have a big drop in performance for about 3 -5 days prior and then be at my best for two weeks once I started (depending on how painful it was). Would really effect both training and racing. I found the best way to work this within trainerroad was to schedule my recovery week during this time, if possible. Prior to working it out I had many frustrating sessions where I could not hold target power at all and would get very frustrated. If you want to know more about this maybe a survey would be good. There is so little data on women’s performance which is really frustrating and this could be a good step forward :+1:.

Questions @ambermalika : are there any books you would recommend about any of the topics you discussed? Maybe the mindset stuff in particular. I have really struggled with being competitive in the past and found your advice really helpful, thanks.

Which strength movements have you found useful?


Brilliant Podcast. It was an absolute pleasure to listen to Amber. Think I’ll be coming back to this episode again and again.


Absolutely outstanding podcast and a massive thanks to the TR crew + @ambermalika for presenting this type of content. It is this type of podcast which places TrainerRoad in a category of its own.

Professionals like Amber and Emma Pooley (on GCN) are fantastic ambassadors of cycling. They demonstrate in spades that high level competition, elbow-to-elbow racing, and laser-guided focus on athletic achievement doesn’t have to be synonymous an ugly and brutish persona. Simply compare the styles of these two world-class athletes to the dialog in a currently popular YouTube documentary about criterium racing in America. (You know the one I’m referring to). The contrast could not be more marked.

I want to be a part of your competitive cycling world, not the other one. Educated, thoughtful, coherent, competitive, compassionate.

@ambermalika - I’m certain I speak for a large portion of the TrainerRoad subscribers in saying “thank you”.


I get it and don’t want to argue. But, since you expressed your opinion here’s mine.

If you race a lot at a high level, both worlds are present. One not better than the other. One not a validation of methodology. Just a different way to express passion. I for one found Amber and the podcast like you did. I also appreciate equally American Crit and Steve’s passion. I thought the message was much deeper and was able to get past the swear words easily. But that’s just me.

It’s both worlds for me: The educated, thoughtful, coherent side. And the subjective, emotional, artistic expression side.

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It’s all good. I’m not offended by the language or passion… I get it.

For me, athletes like Emma and Amber have a presentation style and methodology which is more in sync with mine.


@Jonathan, @Nate_Pearson, @chad
A+++++ and thank you very much for booking Amber Pierce as a guest! What a great person, woman, athlete and valuable insight. I have listened to every podcast and Amber has been my favorite guest on the show so far. I really enjoyed this podcast and keep up the good work!


I can only echo what others have already said. This was an excellent podcast and @ambermalika came across superbly. Thanks @Nate_Pearson, @chad and @Jonathan.