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Dieting, meds, different programs and power.

StillGoingStillGoing Posts: 5,207
Has anyone any similar experiences of a greatly differing FTP using different programs? I'm on a high protein, low carb diet at the moment and appreciate that low carbs isn't ideal for prolonged high end efforts, but didn't expect a drop of 14 watts! My previous FTPs have been with TTS4 and their CP20 and the Zwift CP20 test, both with similar results. The last test was about 6 weeks ago and have been pushing hard in between. A drop in power was not expected, especially when combined with the weight loss. I'm on statins for a left subclavian occlusion, so my heart rate rises rapidly and stays there, but my legs don't suffer as a consequence.
I ride a bike. Doesn't make me green or a tree hugger. I drive a car too.

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  • VamPVamP Posts: 674
    philthy3 wrote:
    Has anyone any similar experiences of a greatly differing FTP using different programs? I'm on a high protein, low carb diet at the moment and appreciate that low carbs isn't ideal for prolonged high end efforts, but didn't expect a drop of 14 watts! My previous FTPs have been with TTS4 and their CP20 and the Zwift CP20 test, both with similar results. The last test was about 6 weeks ago and have been pushing hard in between. A drop in power was not expected, especially when combined with the weight loss. I'm on statins for a left subclavian occlusion, so my heart rate rises rapidly and stays there, but my legs don't suffer as a consequence.


    FTP can vary quite a bit with fatigue, I can usually only achieve about 90% of fresh test numbers when at end of hard block, so make sure your other variables are as similar as possible.

    No experience with lo carb dieting, I think it's likely to have a negative impact based on the studies I have seen.
  • TonyJamsTonyJams Posts: 214
    i would absolutely expect a drop in performance on (s)low carb. Great for losing weight, probably one of the easiest diets to stick to but while you'll be great at riding all day on it you wont want to be riding at any sort of race pace.
  • StillGoingStillGoing Posts: 5,207
    Seems to be what I'm finding and as you say, great for shedding weight, but not good for sustained hard efforts in my experience so far.
    I ride a bike. Doesn't make me green or a tree hugger. I drive a car too.
  • Dave_P1Dave_P1 Posts: 565
    I'm hardly surprised, you need carbs for those hard efforts and if your body is running low on them then your not going to last very long when trying to put out those kinds of efforts.
  • reacherreacher Posts: 416
    I haven't got a power meter so i cant tell, is 10 to 14 watts a lot in terms of performance to drop if you are a well trained cyclist say ?
    I mean if you wanted to improve that much would it be a difficult thing to do ?
  • Dave_P1Dave_P1 Posts: 565
    reacher wrote:
    I haven't got a power meter so i cant tell, is 10 to 14 watts a lot in terms of performance to drop if you are a well trained cyclist say ?
    I mean if you wanted to improve that much would it be a difficult thing to do ?

    It's hard to say as it could be a factor of things that course the different figure, either way it could be fatigue related or perhaps the calibration of the PM wasn't spot on that day or in fact, the day of the higher test numbers.

    As you get fitter the gains are harder to come by that's for sure, if you're a newbie then a gain like that shouldn't be a problem but of course it does depend on current fitness levels and training time.
  • reacherreacher Posts: 416
    Well, if I had to measure it as time on a climb which is all I can do, it's looking pretty dificult to bring those times down, so I'm guessing that when riding on your limit 10 watts must be quite a lot ?
  • StillGoingStillGoing Posts: 5,207
    Dave_P1 wrote:
    reacher wrote:
    I haven't got a power meter so i cant tell, is 10 to 14 watts a lot in terms of performance to drop if you are a well trained cyclist say ?
    I mean if you wanted to improve that much would it be a difficult thing to do ?

    It's hard to say as it could be a factor of things that course the different figure, either way it could be fatigue related or perhaps the calibration of the PM wasn't spot on that day or in fact, the day of the higher test numbers.

    As you get fitter the gains are harder to come by that's for sure, if you're a newbie then a gain like that shouldn't be a problem but of course it does depend on current fitness levels and training time.

    Power meter is calibrated (Elite Kura internal and matched against P2M Type S).
    I ride a bike. Doesn't make me green or a tree hugger. I drive a car too.
  • reacherreacher Posts: 416
    for those of us that don't have a power meter, purely out of interest, this 14 watts we are talking about, are you suddenly going up climbs at a third less speed than before, a little bit harder, in relation to what it means on the road what does this translate to ?
  • fat daddyfat daddy Posts: 2,605
    yup, I go low carb for loosing weight it works well for me .... don't notice any performance drop in real life, but do experience the same drop in power FTP tests.

    its easily rectified though .... eat carbs for a couple of days prior to your FTP test, your muscles swell back up you put on a couple of lbs in water/glycogen weight .... you do your test and get decent results, then you go back to your normal diet and in a couple of days look drier and weigh a couple of lbs less.

    Its manageable .... OR you can do what I now do and just reset your FTP expectations .. if you ride constantly in a low carb state then your FTP IS 14 less than it would normally be and that is the true measure of your power considering your nutrition ... its just a number if you want to use it to impress people then eat carbs ... if you want to use it as a training metric then use the number that represents what is actually is ... and it is actually 14 less than you want as you are restricting nutrients
  • reacher wrote:
    for those of us that don't have a power meter, purely out of interest, this 14 watts we are talking about, are you suddenly going up climbs at a third less speed than before, a little bit harder, in relation to what it means on the road what does this translate to ?

    for me it would be a lot. not perhaps in terms of speed at threshold, but in terms of sustainability. when doing an ftp test its hard to put out even 2 or 3 watts extra on average over the course of the test. if i rode at threshold (for an hour) and then on another day tried to ride 14 watts higher, i'd last about 20 - 25 mins at best, maybe.
  • joey54321joey54321 Posts: 1,297
    Low carb diet is not a catch-all diet, thinking about fueling for the work you are doing rather than sticking to a low carb diet.

    On a day where you are doing less intensity or a recovery day you aren't burning carbs = low carb day.
    On a day where you want to stretch your fat burning energy = low carb day
    On a day where you want to optimise high-intensity training (inc FTP test day) = high carb day, eat some carbs ~2 hours before and within 30 mins after.
  • reacherreacher Posts: 416
    reacher wrote:
    for those of us that don't have a power meter, purely out of interest, this 14 watts we are talking about, are you suddenly going up climbs at a third less speed than before, a little bit harder, in relation to what it means on the road what does this translate to ?

    for me it would be a lot. not perhaps in terms of speed at threshold, but in terms of sustainability. when doing an ftp test its hard to put out even 2 or 3 watts extra on average over the course of the test. if i rode at threshold (for an hour) and then on another day tried to ride 14 watts higher, i'd last about 20 - 25 mins at best, maybe.

    Ok thanks that's easier to understand, mine would be all over the place then, some days are just plain hard going then other days I ride like a differant person.
  • StillGoingStillGoing Posts: 5,207
    Previous FTP tests had been done on normal diet. I'd just started a TR program which required a FTP test to determine my settings. I'd been on the low carb high protein and fats diet for about two weeks beforehand. As posted, my speed was unaffected and actually improved, it is just sustainability over prolonged periods that is affected. I'm not far off my target weight and the reassurance that my FTP can be affected by a lack of carbs is welcome news. Once I resume a normal balance, I can work on boosting the FTP.
    I ride a bike. Doesn't make me green or a tree hugger. I drive a car too.
  • reacherreacher Posts: 416
    I'm trying to understand this, these tests are done where and on what ? What I'm struggling to understand is why you would diet for a test then resume your normal diet afterwords, does that not make it sort of a pointless number as you are going to alter the condition of your body after the tests
  • StillGoingStillGoing Posts: 5,207
    reacher wrote:
    I'm trying to understand this, these tests are done where and on what ? What I'm struggling to understand is why you would diet for a test then resume your normal diet afterwords, does that not make it sort of a pointless number as you are going to alter the condition of your body after the tests

    I'm not dieting for the FTP test. Tests are always done on the turbo for simplicity, i.e. Level, no traffic, junctions or variable weather conditions. It also means I automatically get my numbers at the end using a program. This last time I did try a different format using he 2x8 min test instead of the usual 20 min one.

    My current weight is on the heavy side for a sprinter, but I'm more comfortable with hills, so need to lose some unwanted lard. Low carb high protein and fats together with exercise are a quick solution I find.
    I ride a bike. Doesn't make me green or a tree hugger. I drive a car too.
  • reacherreacher Posts: 416
    Ok, i was just looking to understand what this was all about, cheers
  • Alex99Alex99 Posts: 1,407
    philthy3 wrote:
    Previous FTP tests had been done on normal diet. I'd just started a TR program which required a FTP test to determine my settings. I'd been on the low carb high protein and fats diet for about two weeks beforehand. As posted, my speed was unaffected and actually improved, it is just sustainability over prolonged periods that is affected. I'm not far off my target weight and the reassurance that my FTP can be affected by a lack of carbs is welcome news. Once I resume a normal balance, I can work on boosting the FTP.

    As I see it, there are main two reasons for finding your FTP, is to 1) test to see if you've got more or less powerful, 2) set your zones.

    It sounds like you are quite likely introducing a big variable in the form of your diet, so you can't tell if the 'engine' is better or not, only that the fuel is different. But, this is your FTP at the moment. While you are on the diet you should probably use this to set your zones. Otherwise, you won't be able to complete your workouts.

    I wonder if you'll see your FTP rise back to previous "carbed" levels?
  • meanredspidermeanredspider Posts: 12,550
    Personally, I think it's crazy to be trying to build power on a low-carb diet. As others have already said, carbs are the main fuel. Not only that but it takes enough time to replenish glycogen levels in liver and muscles as it is. Starving the system of the ready source will mean that you're constantly glycogen-depleted which will limit your ability to train which, in turn, will make it ineffective. I too think you need to decide what your priority is and focus on that.
    ROAD < Scott Foil HMX Di2, Volagi Liscio Di2, Jamis Renegade Elite Di2, Cube Reaction Race > ROUGH
  • Alex99Alex99 Posts: 1,407
    Personally, I think it's crazy to be trying to build power on a low-carb diet. As others have already said, carbs are the main fuel. Not only that but it takes enough time to replenish glycogen levels in liver and muscles as it is. Starving the system of the ready source will mean that you're constantly glycogen-depleted which will limit your ability to train which, in turn, will make it ineffective. I too think you need to decide what your priority is and focus on that.

    I have to agree. It seems like such a bizarre compromise.
  • StillGoingStillGoing Posts: 5,207
    As I posted earlier, this was a FTP test to establish zones whilst training during a diet program. Once I'm at the target weight, I will be resuming a more balanced diet and after a week or so, conduct another FTP test.

    The post question was merely to inquire whether a low carb high protein and fats diet could have such a drastic effect on high energy output. I find from the responses that it does/can. In the meantime, the program and diet are working for me. It wasn't about boosting my FTP whilst dieting.
    I ride a bike. Doesn't make me green or a tree hugger. I drive a car too.
  • Books cover this with much debate. Us mortals don't have the time to force our bodies to truly maximize a low carb diet for any real benefit in cycling. Pros, maybe.

    Otherwise the hard efforts hit and you have no glycogen stores ready to utilize for your ftp test OR really hard efforts.

    Last night I rode 53 miles at tempo pace non-stop with just water and a banana after no-real effort to eat much different than a non-riding day. I was down about 10-15w most everywhere after I used up what little stores I had for the day.

    You don't need to eat MORE to cover some training. Some training you do. You have to just plan accordingly.

    For a 60 to 75 min session of EM or tempo, nothing. For 3 hrs of EM/tempo and some threshold efforts........yeah, you need carbs.

    I'm not surprised.
  • bobmcstuffbobmcstuff Posts: 9,124
    philthy3 wrote:
    reacher wrote:
    I'm trying to understand this, these tests are done where and on what ? What I'm struggling to understand is why you would diet for a test then resume your normal diet afterwords, does that not make it sort of a pointless number as you are going to alter the condition of your body after the tests

    I'm not dieting for the FTP test. Tests are always done on the turbo for simplicity, i.e. Level, no traffic, junctions or variable weather conditions. It also means I automatically get my numbers at the end using a program. This last time I did try a different format using he 2x8 min test instead of the usual 20 min one.

    My current weight is on the heavy side for a sprinter, but I'm more comfortable with hills, so need to lose some unwanted lard. Low carb high protein and fats together with exercise are a quick solution I find.

    It could just be because you changed from the 20 minute to 2x8. In fact quite likely.

    You get used to the demands of the test (mentally as much as anything). FTP is generally calculated as 0.9 x 8 minute power and 0.95 x 20 minute power. I would suspect you went about as hard for the 8 minute as the 20 minute...
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