Too Much Liquid Diet, Not Enough Whole Food

At the end of April I set the goal of achieving my race weight of 168 pounds with a body fat percentage of about 8-9%. I hit this mark a few weeks before my first race at the end of May, but got a new job which took away from my training a little so that was the weight I competed at.

I rode lighter at the Summer Solstice – about 165 with a body fat percentage of around 8%. I felt strong and really enjoyed the increase acceleration that being lighter affords a rider, but it wasn’t the most comfortable race because I over did it with the liquid diet a little.

I eat a lot of oatmeal. I mix water, raw quick oats with whey protein powder and dextrose and drink it for breakfast, before working out or riding and a couple of other time throughout the day. My issue during the race was that I had eaten too much whey powder in the days leading up to the race and not enough whole food. At night I have a protein shake beside my bed that I’ll sip during the night to make sure there is a steady supply of protein during the night-time rebuilding phase.

My like consuming liquid meals because they do not tax the digestive system nearly as much and allow for gastric emptying to occur more quickly than it would with whole food; gastric emptying needs to occur before the bulk of the nutrients can be absorbed into the blood stream to refuel or repair the body. The problem was that I went for a cheaper quality whey powder because I was eating so much of it instead of buying my normal powder which is enriched with digestive enzymes. A decrease in the amount of available digestive enzymes when coupled with an increase in the amount of whey powder being consumed, lead to incomplete digestion of much of the protein. The consequence was a dramatic increase in gas. While this did not impact my riding to any degree, it was kind of uncomfortable and a little unpleasant for those around me.

The cure is simple, eat whole food and lay off the protein powder so I gorged on chicken, ribs and French fries the evening after the race and everything went back to normal. After taking a couple of days away from the protein powder my natural ability to digest and process whey protein has returned to normal so I’ve started eating it again, but less frequently. The issues are gone and the lesson has been learned. Having gas is not a natural state for the body and should be taken as an indication that something is going wrong.