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Old 12-29-2012, 06:41 PM   #1
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Low Carb and vigorous sustained excersise?

Hi all, joined this site as it's a wealth of information.

For the past several years I've been a carb concious eater meaning that I've pretty much avoided starches, sugar ect...at no point have I done any real diet, just kinda liked the way this worked for overall well being. I have not done it to the point where I've ruled out any food group, just layed off the carbs more than most.

I've decided to go ahead and do a strict Atkens diet and am smack in the middle of induction. My plan is to drop 35 pounds and maintain that weight. So far things are going well.

here's the thing I'm wondering: during long ours of sustained excersise is my body fat going to give me all the strength and stamina I need to perform. I'm an avid Backcountry/resort skier...I do this every day in the winter. The resort is no big deal but climbing a 2-3 vertical feet with skis is trmendous work. Also I mountain bike almost daily in the summer, sometimes for many hours on end, there is a lot of climbing involved here also. Sometimes it hurts, in the past I've bonked, not always but when I do it sucks.

In the past I've always carried energy with me to keep me going, dried fruit, trail mix, even shotblocks or that gu stuff. It has worked well.

I'm assuming that I need to give up these right? I'm ok with it but wondering if I'll be able to push as hard. I do this for 100 percent for pure fun and would be super discouraged if I couldn't keep up with my friends anymore. I don't want to bonk...

also, what about post recovery? In the past I would always allow myself a chocolate milk because it just worked after a long ride. Is there an alternative that I should eat after?

Thanks
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Old 12-29-2012, 07:09 PM   #2
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You will find much good information in the writings of Jeff Volek & Stephen Phinney. See their books "The Art & Science of Low Carb Living" and especially "The Art and Science of Low Carb Performance".

It may take awhile to adapt, but some ultramarathoners have found great increases in ability once ketoadapted. No more hitting the wall.

Also, you may be interested in the new Superstarch put out by Ucan. Look for info on that on Peter Attia's Eating Academy blog.
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Old 12-29-2012, 07:27 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cleome View Post
You will find much good information in the writings of Jeff Volek & Stephen Phinney. See their books "The Art & Science of Low Carb Living" and especially "The Art and Science of Low Carb Performance".

It may take awhile to adapt, but some ultramarathoners have found great increases in ability once ketoadapted. No more hitting the wall.

Also, you may be interested in the new Superstarch put out by Ucan. Look for info on that on Peter Attia's Eating Academy blog.
Thanks, reading the blog right now.
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Old 12-29-2012, 08:49 PM   #4
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hmmm, this ucan super starch might be the ticket for long days
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Old 12-30-2012, 04:14 AM   #5
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What is your reason for switching to low carb? It is my understanding that a lot of athletes remain high carb because in general it provides better athletic performance, provided that you are fueling properly.
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Old 12-30-2012, 06:51 AM   #6
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Everyone is different, but there is preliminary evidence that low-carb adapted athletes have access to much greater energy stores for long-term endurance activities.

From two interviews with Steve Phinney:

So you don’t need to have carbs to keep you going? You don’t hit a wall the way you did when you were eating carbs?

"That’s correct. My gas tank got a lot bigger when I gave up carbs. Because we can only store maybe 1500 calories as carbs. If I burn 600 – 700 calories per hour, and I depend only on glycogen, that’s about two hours of fuel. But if I have 30,000 to 40,000 calories of fuel in my fat, I can ride [a bicycle] for days."


Some high-carb runners had trouble with digestion? But not on low-carb/high fat?


"Yes, and that’s disastrous in a race where the sweat losses and the evaporative losses are so great that if you can’t keep fluids coming in, you’re out of the race. Many of the high-carbohydrate runners experienced frequent and severe gastrointestinal problems. In fact, what has induced many of them to do this bold thing and switch to get being low-carb is that they’ve heard from other people who do this race that when they went from high carb to a low-carb, high-fat diet those gastrointestinal problems went away."

Last edited by cleome; 12-30-2012 at 06:53 AM..
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Old 12-30-2012, 07:08 AM   #7
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For endurance sports where you are performing at an endurance pace, yes, there would be an advantage, however sports requiring frequent short burst of muscular energy, there is a major decrease in performance. Your body needs glucose as fuel as well as fats. You can't just run on fats. I would think mountain biking would be one of those sports because you need to climb hills. Ultra marathon running is different because you are running at one steady pace for a very long time. You wouldn't do that above your endurance pace.

Hard interval training would be very difficult using only fat as fuel. Also strength training would be a struggle as well, which is why body builders eat carbs on training days. It depends whether we are talking about NK or just low carb. As long as you are feeding your body with carbs I think you would be fine. NK is more for people who need to lose a lot of weight or who have difficulty with insulin resistance. It isn't for athletes who are in training.
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Old 12-30-2012, 07:14 AM   #8
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The need for a carb source is where superstarch would come in...

Peter Attia: If you can completely control your tempo and stay outside of an anaerobic zone, you may be able to get by 100% of internal fat stores. The reason I don’t do this on the bike is that cycling has too many pick-ups in tempo where it’s necessary to go to 90-95% VO2 max, which always requires some glycogen.
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Old 12-30-2012, 07:36 AM   #9
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Yes, but I think he is attempting to stay in NK and get the glucose that he needs. He admits in his blog that he is sacrificing athletic performance to be able to stay in NK so that he can lose weight. Although in theory the superstarch would provide some glucose, it still is a slow release carb which would force your body to use fat as a fuel which is ardous and inefficient. Unless the OP needs to lose weight, being in NK would be a disadvantage.

NK is really only for people who are overweight or who have problems with insulin regulation or insulin related disorders such as diabetes. People who aren't in that category benefit from a body that can use glucose and fat as fuel sources. To do that you need to fuel with carbs. The superstarch would be ok, as long as you aren't in NK while you are using it. You are still going to struggle with athletic performance if you aren't providing your body with enough carbs.
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Old 12-30-2012, 07:59 AM   #10
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I'm assuming, please correct if there has been research on this, that even in NK a person would still start with ca. 1500 calories of glycogen stores to use, and would slide between using fat and glycogen as needed.

OP mentioned that weight loss was a goal:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Flake View Post
My plan is to drop 35 pounds and maintain that weight.
Below is excerpted from Peter Attia's "How a low carb diet affected my athletic performance (Part 4)"

"The goal of any endurance athlete is to derive as much energy as possible come from fat, rather than glycogen, for a given level of exertion."

Aerobic base– defined as the point at which you transition to more than 50% of your energy being derived from glycogen instead of fat. The higher this number (i.e., the higher the level of exertion) the better, because it means you can “spare” more glycogen for when you need it, and use as much fat as possible energy.


... Prior to ketosis – I hit this point at a heart rate of 104 and a VO2 of 1,630 mL/min (about 500 calories per hour of energy consumption).
Post ketosis – I hit this point at a heart rate of 162 and a VO2 of 3,690 mL/min (about 1,100 calories per hour of energy consumption).

Implication: My aerobic efficiency improved dramatically (in the words of the person who tested me, “Like nothing I’ve ever seen before.”)


*******************
Max VO2– this is where you fall off the bike or treadmill. It’s the last bit of what we refer to as “anaerobic cap” performance. You can only sustain it for fraction of time, but it’s a 100% glycogen-dependent state of maximum output.

Prior to ketosis – Hit this level at VO2 of 4,960 mL/min (or about 63 mL/min/kg, which is how folks typically describe max VO2.
Post ketosis – Hit this level at VO2 of 4,350 mL/min (or about 56 mL/min/kg)

Implication: The one drawback, it seems, to completely eliminating carbohydrates from my diet was a loss of all-out top end power. For someone like me, this doesn’t seem to hinder performance too much, but if I was trying to win an Olympic gold medal in the 400 meter run or the 100 meter freestyle, it seems I’d be better off with some carbohydrate in my diet.

So what did I learn? Keto-adaptation made me far more metabolically flexible and efficient in the aerobic environment. This seems particularly important for folks who compete in events longer than a few minutes (e.g., 10K, marathon, triathlon), but less so for folks doing short-burst activity.
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Old 12-30-2012, 08:44 AM   #11
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Thanks for this thread. I usually run out of steam when mountain biking. I found a lowish carb (2 carbs per shot) power shot. I usually take one about 1/3 of the way thru. Is good, but now I need to look into this more.
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Old 12-30-2012, 09:16 AM   #12
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In protein power (by Dr. Eades) he points out that durring the 2 week induction period (going into ketosis), studies have shown an decrease in energy and athletic performance. However, after the 2 week adapataion period, there was no signigificant difference in athletic performance.

Also, some study in the book quoted that the heart (and other organs) actually run more efficiently on ketones than glucose (I think by about 20% ish).
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Old 12-30-2012, 09:40 AM   #13
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I've been in ketosis for longer than two weeks and have noticed a significant decline in athletic performance involving training that involves short bursts of muscular strength. Ie. interval training and strength training. However I have noticed improved athletic performance in my endurance workouts. Ie. things that require a sustained effort over a longer period of time. I am not faster, they just seem to require less effort (ie. less heavy breathing). I can see for people who are trying to lose weight that this would be a big advantage. For example going to the gym and riding the exercise bike or running on the treadmill for an hour 3x a week. But those people would have a different goal. Me, I plan on staying in NK for about three months, but I doubt I will be racing next season in NK. At least not the way I feel now, surely within 3 months if there is full adaptation it will have happened by then.

Having said that though, I am not a marathon runner. People running marathons could probably stay in NK or use the superstarch that Peter mentions on his blog.
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Old 12-30-2012, 09:51 AM   #14
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Yeah my point of going low(er) carb is to drop that 35 and keep it off. I'm assuming once im at goal I can add in some carbs, the right ones, especially during heavy excersise. I'm thinking maybe the UCAN might get it done. If not then just a little bag of nuts and maybe some raisins or something mixed in to eat like above poster said 1/3 or 1/2 into the ride, so long as I'm staying in fat burning mode. I guess it will take lots of trial and error for me to dial it in.

I'm not looking to compete or anything. I do this purely for fun, it is my life. Any health benefits I've had are just a good side effect and besides a couple runs (when its not fraekin 5 degrees in the morning!) I generally can't stomach the idea of excersising. I get plenty from my fun. I just don't want to hit the wall after 3 hours of hard riding. I'm tinking LC will be good for me in the end although I skinned up for a couple hours yesterday and it was NOT EASY, then again I'm in that first couple week. I'm hoping I adapt over time...


BTW, tat blog is great! A little over my head but I will continue to read and learn. Thanks for the help folks...

Last edited by Flake; 12-30-2012 at 09:53 AM..
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Old 12-30-2012, 09:57 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sya_unit View Post
Thanks for this thread. I usually run out of steam when mountain biking. I found a lowish carb (2 carbs per shot) power shot. I usually take one about 1/3 of the way thru. Is good, but now I need to look into this more.
Just curious, whats thhe brand of said powershot?
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Old 12-30-2012, 10:27 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Flake View Post
Yeah my point of going low(er) carb is to drop that 35 and keep it off. I'm assuming once im at goal I can add in some carbs, the right ones, especially during heavy excersise. .
Yes, that is different. If you need to lose weight then the NK makes sense. You might find a bit of a struggle with some of the sports you do, and end up craving even in NK. The superstarch maybe the answer for that. However, you could probably also get the glucose you need by just going low carb, without NK. You still burn fat, it is just that your body conserves the glucose for the times you really need it. I managed to lose 40lbs on a moderate carb diet. Although I have problems with insulin, and have to really watch my carb levels.

I am curious to see how it works for you. You sound really athletic.
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Old 12-30-2012, 11:01 AM   #17
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A cheese stick really goes a long way with me before doing a workout. But I'm just doing an hour of Bar Method, so I don't know how many hours you are talking about.
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Old 12-30-2012, 11:18 AM   #18
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A cheese stick really goes a long way with me before doing a workout. But I'm just doing an hour of Bar Method, so I don't know how many hours you are talking about.
often 4-6 hours with a couple 20 minute or so breaks. Resort skiing is usually 8 hours but that hardly counts as vigorous excersise as the lift does all the real work. I'm in a dilemna now as my pass is blacked out till new years day and I don't feel I currently have te energy for a four hour skin up as I'm still in induction. It was damn near impossible yesterday climbing. I think it will get easier as my body adjust and I'm adding a few carbs back in. I need to drop this 35 first.
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Old 12-30-2012, 11:26 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Flake View Post
often 4-6 hours with a couple 20 minute or so breaks. Resort skiing is usually 8 hours but that hardly counts as vigorous excersise as the lift does all the real work. I'm in a dilemna now as my pass is blacked out till new years day and I don't feel I currently have te energy for a four hour skin up as I'm still in induction. It was damn near impossible yesterday climbing. I think it will get easier as my body adjust and I'm adding a few carbs back in. I need to drop this 35 first.
Oh, during induction all I could do was sleep and walk around my house. Induction is rough. I can't imagine trying to do serious 4-6 hour exercise during beginning of induction.

Maybe go a little higher carb (with GOOD carbs that are allowed on induction) since you are trying to ski all day during induction? But also keep that protein up.

What can you bring with you? Boiled eggs, cheese, jerky?

Good luck!

Last edited by Beezer Louisiana; 12-30-2012 at 11:27 AM..
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Old 12-30-2012, 11:34 AM   #20
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Oh, during induction all I could do was sleep and walk around my house. Induction is rough. I can't imagine trying to do serious 4-6 hour exercise during beginning of induction.

Maybe go a little higher carb (with GOOD carbs that are allowed on induction) since you are trying to ski all day during induction? But also keep that protein up.

What can you bring with you? Boiled eggs, cheese, jerky?

Good luck!

on resort days its just cheese on the lifts and maybe some nuts. Those days are simple really, no bonking. I'm just gonna hold off on the backcountry thing for a couple weeks i think, that's easy enough.
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Old 12-30-2012, 01:36 PM   #21
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How about some anecdotal evidence. Last spring and summer I was down to my goal weight of 205. I am a 31 year old male, 6'2". I am into MMA, Crossfit, weight training, rock climbing, hill running, weighted vests, sled pulling, plyometrics, basketball, etc. I NEVER noticed ANY decrease in athletic performance. When I am high carb and do those activities, sometimes I get weak and shaky and I just want to eat sugar with a spoon. On low carb I have NEVER had this feeling. I always feel FANTASTIC. I would like to point out that I have never been a marathoner or runner at all. I mostly use short bursts of energy rather than prolonged runs or biking. But I can keep it up for HOURS, such as a whole afternoon of MMA or hiking on the weekend for instance. For me, I always feel great when I am low carbing. I don't see a low carb diet as a way to lose weight yet a barrier to athletic performance. For me, the two things help eachother; the diet helps me feel great and exercise longer and the exercise helps me lose more weight. They are not at cross-purposes in my experience.
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Old 12-30-2012, 05:32 PM   #22
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The first couple of weeks of induction your body is adjusting. Once it adjusts, you will find that your energy returns even when staying at low carb levels.

Then it will be a trial and error process for you. I would assume snacks of meat (pepperoni, salami, beef jerkey), pickles, cheese, and eggs will help maintain your energy and keep you on plan. Use that fats and proteins the way you have been using carbs. The key is going to be consuming them at the right intervals so your energy doesn't drop.

Keep us posted and let us know what is working for you.
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Old 12-30-2012, 08:38 PM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cleome View Post
You will find much good information in the writings of Jeff Volek & Stephen Phinney. See their books "The Art & Science of Low Carb Living" and especially "The Art and Science of Low Carb Performance".

It may take awhile to adapt, but some ultramarathoners have found great increases in ability once ketoadapted. No more hitting the wall.

Also, you may be interested in the new Superstarch put out by Ucan. Look for info on that on Peter Attia's Eating Academy blog.
Just some additional information:

Western States 100 – Low Carber Wins Ultramarathon – Steve Phinney and Jeff Volek Study | Me and My Diabetes
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Old 12-31-2012, 05:44 AM   #24
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Punkin,

Could you please cite some sources for your assertions? Because they fly in the face of most of the extant research that I've seen presented on athletic performance in the keto-adapted athlete vs the HC athlete.

Also, specifically claiming that high-carb is required for short bursts of exertion would imply that weight-lifters and body-builders need lots of carbs -- when you'll find the opposite is actually true. (In fact, the one person giving me "nutritional advice" before I went back on LC who didn't insist I eat huge amounts of grain? Was a body-builder. He backed me on lots of PROTEIN in the morning -- eggs, bacon -- rather than "a nice bowl of hot cereal".)

You have been in ketosis less than a month. It takes about 3 months for your body to truly become keto-adapted.

Additionally, no one is recommending he remove all nutrients but fat from his diet -- as your posts imply. Glucose is produced as a product of protein metabolism, and your body can and does utilize that glucose when necessary. It does NOT need suplementation with starches.

The logic behind carb-loading for athletes is to give them sustained energy. However, repeated studies have shown that keto-adaptation and a low-carb diet actually has better results... once keto-adaptation has actually occurred. This does NOT mean after you've started kicking ketones in your urine and dropping pounds -- it means after your body had adapted to ketones as their primary fuel-source. (I can get the studies for you in a day or two, as I need to go buy a copy of the book I'm referencing. We moved recently, and most of my books got purged.)




Back to the OP:

When I'm super-depleted, I'll grab a spoonful of peanut butter. Seems to balance me & rescue me from the edge of "bonk" better than anything else. Post-workout, I'll have tuna-salad ready -- some good, solid protein with a bit of fat to combat the fatigue. I also carry some jerky in the glove-box (found some locally that doesn't have much sugar -- I've also seen sugar-free chicken-jerky). Again -- pure protein.

Cresis and Trillex also have a lot of information -- Cresis (hope I'm spelling her name right) bicycles competitively, and Trillex is just a font of technical knowledge, PARTICULARLY as it applies to extreme athletics + ketosis.
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Old 12-31-2012, 06:05 AM   #25
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Thanks Lori, that is the story I was thinking of (I never know which links are allowed here :-/ )
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Old 12-31-2012, 11:34 AM   #26
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This may interest you:
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Old 12-31-2012, 03:08 PM   #27
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I thought when you were in ketosis you had NO glycogen stores. It was my assumption that ketosis only starts when the glycogen stores were used up and then the body starts to produce ketones.

Am I all wrong on this?
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Old 01-02-2013, 07:32 PM   #28
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Update-oh man the energy. My resort days are crazy, 8-430 of hard skiing. I've never been able to go without break like this. I carry a camelback and eat hard boiled eggs and cheese on the lift and I push. It's truly awesome!

Rough estimate is I'm burning 500 calories per hour doing this. I'll round it down and say I'm overall burning 4000 per day. Again I'm pushing, some hiking, no stopping. I couldn't eat 4000 calories a day on low carb if I tried. I feel like I've just discovered something about my body, something I sort of knew but this is different.

Gonna try some backcountry the day after tomorrow. That's considerably more rigerous, so we will see how that goes...
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Old 01-03-2013, 03:21 PM   #29
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Start Date: December 18th, 2012
This is a fantastic thread! I do a lot of hiking, backpacking, snowshoeing and was curious how to eat low carb on the days I'm hiking for 6 or 8+ hours. I'm in the Cascades, so the elevation gain can be intense. Sounds like it's very possible once I'm totally adjusted, although going into the backcountry for multiple days sounds kind of scary without carbs!
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Old 01-03-2013, 06:37 PM   #30
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Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: CT
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Start Date: 10/15/2012
I am far from athletic, but this is my 4th month in and I was able to do 18 holes of disc golf with my dad and my kids in the snow without breaking a sweat. Typically before LC I'd be spent about half way through and that was not trudging through the snow! This is a great thread with some good info, thanks!
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