April 2020 WheelPeople


Message from the CRW President

Larry Kernan

COVID-19 Crisis “May you live in interesting times” is an apocryphal saying that is simultaneously both a blessing and a curse.  It’s hard to find the silver lining of our ongoing COVID-19 crisis.  In the short-term, we have no choice but to make the necessary sacrifices for the greater good of the community.  Nothing pained me more than to cancel the CRW group riding program, the cornerstone of this club for over 50 years.  Additionally, we have had to postpone the Climb to the Clouds century originally scheduled for May 30th.  We can’t reschedule CTTC at this time, but we’ll be communicating with the 500 people who have signed up already.  We’ll re-open registration when (if) we can run CTTC this year.

Ride Solo I hope that you are getting out and riding solo when the weather complies.  As I am writing this, it is snowing once again.  I am convinced that getting out, getting some fresh air, exercise and “me time” is one of the best things that you can do for yourself.  I am hoping that even under social distancing protocols, stay at home advisories and shelter in place orders, individuals will still be able to cycle.  Stay tuned as this could change as it has in Spain and Italy.  Whatever you do, please ride safely -- you don't want to end up in the Emergency Room at this time, taking critical space and requiring the use of PPEs.

On-line Webinars While we’re not participating in group rides and social events, CRW will set up a number of on-line webinars.  André Wolf is taking the lead on this effort.  If you want to host a webinar on any cycling related topics have an interesting subject that you’d like to see presented, please send us a message.  Because we were forced to postpone our Member Meeting indefinitely, I am planning to set one up online.  Board members will share their plans and thoughts and  will be available to answer your questions and listen to your suggestions.  You’ll receive a mailing as soon as we nail down the details.

Policies Charles River Wheelers is not an organization with a lot of “policies”.  In fact, up until this past weekend, there were only two:

·         - Helmets were mandated for CRW rides.

·         - CRW group rides (not centuries) are limited to CRW members and first-time guests

E-Bikes As you will read in another WheelPeople article, there is now a policy recognizing that e-bikes are not a passing fad and that they’re here to stay.  CRW will allow pedal-assist e-bikes on CRW group rides, but the e-bike owner is responsible for making sure that all laws and regulations are complied with. My thanks for Steve Carlson and his ad-hoc e-bike committee (Bernie Flynn, Bob Wolf, Gregory Trerotola and Erik Simon) for shepherding this effort.

Members Helping Members Finally, I am pleased that we’re inaugurating a new effort called “Members Helping Members” to create a more personal connection within the club. Read Lisa Najavits' article outlining this exciting new program.

Stay Safe and Stay Healthy!



Members Helping Members

Lisa Najavits


A New CRW benefit – Members Helping Members – Give it a try!

One of the great benefits of CRW is the opportunity to connect with other cyclists, both socially and also to gain greater knowledge about cycling.   But it can be challenging to know who to go to when.

Yes, you can fire off a question to the CRW Google Group and get a quick reply, but what if you want to talk with someone for more in-depth help? Or how about if you want to find a ride buddy for your next ride?

We are launching Members Helping Members (MHM) to create a more personal connection within the club, while drawing on the brain trust among the membership.

Take a look at the new Members Helping Members website page. You will find the initial list of kind members who have volunteered to help. The page lists their contact information, how to reach them (text / email / phone), and what specific help each is volunteering. You can reach out to as many on the list that you choose to, as often as you like. To keep it simple, there is no formal matching and no one is tracking the contacts.

If you want to become a helper to other members, fill our our 2-minute form. You don't have to be an expert, but just have knowledge and friendliness you want to share.

In short, you can get help from others, provide help to others or both.

What are the areas of help?

  • Ride Buddy (to meet up with someone who will be at the same CRW ride as you, so there's a friendly person there to connect with at the start of the ride, and possibly ride with if your pace is similar)
  • Century Ride Buddy (same as above, but for a CRW century)
  • Choosing bikes and bike gear
  • Bike maintenance
  • Nutrition
  • Ride with GPS and navigation
  • Doing a century
  • Figuring out your riding pace
  • Winter weather riding
  • Increasing your mileage
  • How to ride in a group
  • How to ride on roads
  • Bike touring / how to choose a bike trip
  • Becoming a ride leader
  • Preparation for a charity ride
  • Becoming a CRW volunteer
  • Improve your hill climbing
  • Learning paceline riding
  • Intro to riding
  • Understanding road bike specs

For safety's sake please keep in mind:

>> Helpers / helpees can refuse any interactions they don't feel comfortable with

>> CRW does not endorse any specific advice offered

Special thanks to Steve Carlson and Eli Post, who volunteered for this project's committee, and also to Jack Donohue for his help with the website page. 

We'd like to hear your feedback about this initiative. You can post a public comment to this Wheelpeople article or send an email (lisa.najavits [at] treatment-innovations.org).

Lisa Najavits is on the board of directors of CRW and Vice President of Volunteers. 


COVID-19 Pandemic

Larry Kernan

The following was an email message sent by the Club President to all CRW members on March 16, 2020. A subsequent change was made to the policy on March 23, 2010. Climb to the Clouds was postponed although a new date has not been set.

To all CRW members and stakeholders,

I am very sorry to cancel the CRW group ride program until at least April 6th.  This includes Weekend Rides and all recurring rides.  This follows Governor Baker's prohibition of public gatherings with 25 people or more.  We will re-evaluate the coronavirus threat at that time and send periodic updates.  Our Climb to the Clouds century is still over 2 months away, so for the moment it is still on the schedule but under review.

In the meantime, I encourage all of you to continue cycling -- it's a great physical activity particularly with many gyms closing.  It's also wonderful to get out of the house from time to time.  Please check out Bicycling Magazines, "How to Ride Safely Amid Coronavirus Concerns".

I ask CRW Ride Leaders to continue to post rides to be used as suggestions by our members.  Ride start times should be set for 6 AM to 6 PM.  Ride Leaders are not expected to show up.  Please point out possible bio-break locations or places to refill water bottles.  Members are welcome to ride these suggested routes either on your own or with a friend at whatever time suits you.  Riders should bring sufficient food and water as many service locations may be closed.

You can find other ride suggestions at the CRW Ride Library or by browsing through the routes in the Charles River Wheelers Route Library on Ride with GPS.  Picking one of these routes gives members premium navigation features for free.  Check out this page to access the CRW Ride with GPS Account.

CRW will be back and running rides as soon as it is feasible.  Send us your comments and suggestions.  Share your rides and thoughts on Facebook and the club's Google Group. (See CRW Social Media)

Stay healthy!

Larry Kernan
CRW President



Member Survey Results

Rami Haddad


​​Thank you to all members who responded to the survey. There was an impressive number of responses with very useful information.


​​Members highly value the club. We received an overall net promoter score of 64 on a range from -100 to 100. We closely compare with service leaders such as Apple at 72. This is the one number we will look to improve year over year.


​​Calendar was the clear winner no matter how we split the data. This should not come as a surprise, since most members want to join others on rides and events. Expect that we will invest more into making the calendar easy to view, accessible, current & fast.​​

​​Email, WheelPeople, & web site were preferred by most members, while the younger ladies preferred Facebook Groups & younger gentlemen preferred Strava. Note that we plan to change our Facebook Page in favor of a Group soon, while Strava discussions & events are already active.


​​Of course our centuries were most popular by a wide margin. The majority of members prefer supported events. While it may be difficult for us to host many more, we will look to organize groups within our members to participate in third-party supported events & charity rides.​​

​​Preference is still strong for the typical self-paced rides scheduled by the club, Participants self-organize based on speed & route options, and navigate on their own.​​

​​Two new categories of rides came next for us to consider further:

  • ​​Led, no-drop groups at specific speeds
  • ​​Tours for full or multiple days to visit landmarks, scenic routes, & bakeries. We offered a Tour de Force of Maine in September 2019, Adventure Travel talk in March 2020, & tour across the British Isles in June 2020.


​​Typical time of starting rides in mid morning between 9:00–11:00 was still most preferred among all members.​​

​​However, when looking at data specific to those younger than 50, there was as strong preference for rides in:

  • ​​Early morning before 8:00, especially on weekends
  • ​​Evening after 18:00, especially on weekdays​​

​​More Information

More Information on the survey results are HERE



​​Thank you for the 80 volunteers who provided contact information to help across all categories: lead rides, events, communication, & administration.

​​Rami Haddad is Vice President of Communications. 


Facebook Group

Rami Haddad


Please join our new Facebook Group that is open to anyone to post, comment, & discuss topics with all others. We learned from the survey that members want to interact with us & with each other. Calendar, Wheel People & Email topped the list. Please continue to enjoy them.

The current Facebook Page restricts communication through moderators & administrators only. Instead, the Group allows members to interact directly.

Expect no further updates, notices, events, or responses on the Page after Friday 27 March 2020. Use the Group instead.






Meetings Cancelled

Mary Kernan

The ride leader training and kickoff meetings have been cancelled. We’ll revisit the running of these programs once we’re able to restart group rides.






Preparing for your Genealogical Destiny

Eli Post

Preparing for your Genealogical Destiny

By Eli Post

I’ve looked younger than my years my entire adult life and even more so when I started biking 150 - 200 miles a week. Ironically no one has ever asked me how I accomplished this as looking younger than your age is no easy feat. Perhaps people thought I went to great lengths and did not want to hear my story. 

Eli on a horse, Age 4

But it’s years later and I feel it’s time to share my scheme and possibly help many deal with a nagging issue. No one wants to look old. I’m surprised, it isn’t more obvious, but the trick is to pick your own parents. Appearance runs in families and choosing the right parents is the only sure way to guarantee that you will have a fighting chance to look young your entire life. I had to do this before the Internet and other technology was available, utilizing old fashioned detective work that took many hours. My task was made difficult because my selected parents were from different countries, and solid information was scarce. In fact, the genetic data was virtually non-existent, which made matching up complex.

It is widely known that parental appearance strongly influences that in children. Medical studies showed that parents transmit to their children multiple genes that influence appearance. 

If you start now however, the task is much more manageable. A Web search provides infinite world-wide data, and there is even a free “Pick a Parent” app available for the iPhone with the Android version in the works. Trust me, it will be worth your time to download the app and get going. You will learn about DNA matches, genetic resources, and health and wellness benefits. Behind the app is a group of volunteers working together and having fun providing free online genealogy help and information. The app provides gateways to genetic data across the US and the sure approach to finding parents. You should start seeing results in days, and if you think my logic is farfetched, remember you are celebrating April Fool’s Day, and my mission has been accomplished.




Charles River Wheelers Welcomes E-Bikes!

Whatever your personal feelings are with regard to the latest bike to hit the streets, e-bikes are here to stay and they will become the fastest growing part of our biking community! 

Several months ago, Larry commissioned the Committee of Steve Carlson, Bob Wolf, Bernie Flynn, Greg Trerotola and Eric Simon to explore best practices with regional clubs on e-bikes policies to develop Charles River Wheeler's position.

Many, if not most clubs, have not adopted policies at this point, and this is likely due to regulatory delays at the State and Federal level. 

However, the Committee and the Board quickly and unanimously agreed that we welcome e-bike riders into all of our group rides and century events. The biggest benefit of e-bikes is they are allowing riders to extend their riding and socialization further into their lives, despite medical or physical challenges. What better positive is there for a rider!

After a clear embrace of the technology, it was important to understand if there were any key requirements or prohibitors of these riders on a CRW ride. Fortunately, there are very few as it boils down to what is appropriate safety or rider etiquette for an e-bike rider, is primarily the same as for our traditional bike riders.

The most significant understanding for our members is: CRW only allows bikes that require the rider to be pedaling to engage the electric motor as opposed to some e-bikes which are actuated by a throttle even without pedaling. 

Regarding, other aspects of the requirements, please read the entire policy below.

So, with spring soon in full bloom, go ahead and buy that e-bike if so inclined because we don’t want you to miss any of our upcoming rides!   Be safe and have an enjoyable summer!

Charles River Wheelers Electric Bicycle Policy

Members and qualified guests of the Charles River Wheelers may ride bicycles with electric assist motors (e-bikes) on all club group rides and events with the same benefits and responsibilities of any rider, provided:

  • The bicycle must be pedal assist (specifically, the bike does not move without pedaling). Throttled e-bikes are prohibited.
  • Riding other than on a public roadway is under the rules and the jurisdiction of the governing body. 
  • It is the rider’s responsibility to know and obey CRW’s policy and the law.
  • All riders are to conform with CRW guidelines and policies.
  • An e-bike rider should be certain they have sufficient battery reserve for the ride they have chosen. It is not CRW’s responsibility to ensure that the e-bike rider is returned to the ride start should they run out of battery.




Living Through the Virus Crisis

John Allen


 Living Through the Virus Crisis

We aren’t talking  solely about ride safety any more, there’s more.  Ride anyway? Let’s think about it.

The club has shut down its rides until at least April 6. Governor Baker has set that date for a re-think. Though the risk of infection in recreational riding is low, given some simple precautions,  I do think that it is reasonable to suspend the program as a sign of good faith to the communities where we ride. We could look resolute, but more importantly we also could look frivolous.

It is clear that the pandemic will not have reached its peak by April 6. The USA horribly blew it on containment measures, which have succeeded in South Korea, Japan and Singapore.  According to the latest research, the stark choice now is of two-months-on, one-month-off stay-at-home social distancing over the next 18 months, the expected time until a vaccine can be distributed, or else millions of deaths in the USA alone.

Should you still ride on your own? For fun and fitness? Just to get out of the house? For local transportation? Is it safe? Is it social or anti-social?

Personal transportation, including riding one’s own bicycle for local trips carries way, way less risk of infection than public transportation or ride sharing – Uber, Lyft or for that matter, bike share or scooter share. Accordingly, bicycle use has increased in New York City and probably elsewhere. I have an entertaining story from a friend in North Carolina about how he avoided the crowd when he went shopping for food:

I rode my bike to Trader's Joe’s at 8 am opening time for a grocery get and the lines waiting to get in were incredible. Employees were telling people not to panic.

I realized everyone was waiting for a cart so I zipped in with my bag and backpack, and quickly got what I needed. Two checkers were talking to each other waiting for the onslaught of cart crazies. I "screamed" to them in a low but panicky voice while shaking, "Where's the chocolate!!!!!!"

They thought I was freaking out, and I had to tell them I was just goofing.

You can also usually park your bicycle near the door, and not have to walk from a distant corner of the parking lot.

I am wondering though whether I want to go inside a store at all. As I write this on March 18, there are 6 confirmed cases of COVID-19  in Waltham, where I live, and the number of asymptomatic infected people is probably ten times that number. It could be much higher yet when this article appears in WheelPeople. Americans have a habit of pawing over a shelf of fruits and vegetables to identify and take the nicest ones.  How many people’s purchases have passed through the gloved hands of the cashier? How many fingers have touched the touchscreen in the self-checkout?

I suppose that you could address that issue by carrying a bottle of an antimicrobial spray, if you can still find one, or of hard liquor in a spray bottle if you can’t. In China now, food is delivered to the doorstep. 

Some stores and restaurants are making deliveries or have special early hours for elderly people, who are at highest risk. That is good, but I still think that it will be wise to disinfect packages and cook all unpackaged foods.

A cargo bicycle, ordered before the crisis came to a head, arrived at my home a couple of days ago. I felt for the UPS driver, who told me that he had no choice but to work. His is an essential service and he has himself and maybe a family to support.

There are things we too can contribute in our communities. Many people are making food purchases for others who can’t get out, or phoning up vulnerable members of their circle of friends or faith community. The cargo bike could see some good use.

You want to go on longer rides? The CRW route library is available. But, how do you rate the benefits against the risks and costs of a potential crash -- to yourself, companions who help, emergency medical services and hospitals?

Well, I’m still riding. It is a way to get out of the house for fresh air and exercise. And bicycling has always cleared my mind.  A couple of days ago, I rode out to Weston  and then out to Wayland and back on the new rail trail. A few people were standing at social distance and talking or walking along the trail. Parents with young children were out on their bicycles. Trees had not yet begun to bud out, but from one pond along the route, a chorus of spring peepers arose, and from several other ponds, what you might first think is impossibly many ducks quacking – wood frogs. Life goes on.

Now parents are working from home, and children are out of school. They weave and wander,  the trail is crowded and you may want to avoid it at peak hours. Traffic on the streets, on the other hand, is light.

You are probably going to get hungry during a long ride.  Forays into convenience stores are best avoided. Dried foods pack a lot of calories -- dried fruit, nuts, Fig Newtons. I pack a water bottle full of salted cashews for longer rides. 

But, if you crash when medical services are overwhelmed, there won’t be a prompt ambulance ride, a bed in the emergency room for you, or any certainty that you won’t catch the infection if you are admitted there.

Most who catch the disease recover.  It isn’t known yet whether recovery brings lasting immunity, but temporary immunity is probable, so people who have recovered might move about freely and assist others. I eagerly await an answer to this question, not that I eagerly await what I might have to go through to be one of those people.

Our Safety Committee from a few years back ended every Safety Corner message with a question: “Safety is about choices. What choices will you make?”

That is as true now as ever, and the choices are new and difficult. Walking is exercise too – my wife’s choice. I haven’t stopped riding – yet – but that may change.

Safety is about choices. What choices will you make?

John Allen is the CRW Safety Coordinator



Free GPS Navigation for CRW Members

Eli Post

There are many reasons to join a bike club, and they should all be obvious, except there is a recent one which you may not be aware of. GPS supports apps on your cell phone to provide navigation, and has dramatically impacted group riding. Virtually all CRW rides include interactive routes which can be used to navigate, and we have chosen to use “Ride With GPS (RWGPS)” a leader in this field. Members get premium features for free on RWGPS routes in the Club’s database, which includes turn-by-turn voice activated notifications.

We encourage all members to take advantage of GPS navigation. Full details on how to get started are on the Members section of www.CRW.org . Non-members can join the club so they too can enjoy seamless navigation on Club rides.

One of our members, Harriet Fell, has written an extensive article about various aspects of using Ride With GPS and her article can be viewed HERE.

This article was inspired by a weekend ride I led this past summer. Being old school, I printed cue sheets and was reasonably close in matching to the number of riders who joined the ride. However, I did not hand out any cue sheets, not a single cue sheet. It was evidence that the GPS revolution had arrived full force. Since CRW no longer arrows rides or centuries, you are encouraged to join the club and sign up for Ride With GPS, so you are freed from the tyranny of a cue sheet and can enjoy trouble free riding.


Eli Post is Editor of Wheelpeople.




April Film Festival

Alex Post

We introduced bike related videos last month, received a positive reaction, and will make this a regular feature. We welcome any suggestions for future video selections.

A Roof With A View
Why limit yourself to cycling on the ground when rooftops have better views? Ok, there are some very good reasons why not. But this is no problem for Danny MacAskill, who is thoroughly enjoying the beautiful Canary Islands. 5 Mins
20,000 Miles a Year
Lael Wilcox, an ultra endurance cyclist from Anchorage Alaska, has a number of impressive accomplishments including a victory in the 4,400 mile Trans America bike race. She once rode 2,100 miles through Canada just to get to a race start. She is in the process of riding every road in Alaska. All of which takes toughness, drive, and as you can see, a whole lot of joy. 5 Mins
Road Bike Party
All Martyn Ashton needs is his bike and the world is his playground. Many prefer their bike paths to be 12 feet wide. Martyn prefers something closer to two inches. 5 Mins
Memorable Moments in Racing
Professional racing requires not only supreme conditioning, but an adaptability to all manner of obstacles including unruly fans, nature calling, and of course an occasional cow crossing. 5 Mins



Alex Post is a CRW member who lives in Virginia, but regularly visits MA to bike with his dad. He has also led rides for CRW.



Photo of the Month

Eli Post

Between the virus and the weather, there hasn't been much riding, but you can still appreciate a dapper cyclist dressed for success.






Looking Back

Lisa Najavits

One of CRW's grand achievements 10 years ago was a CRW Saturday morning fitness ride that had run for over 650 consecutive Saturdays, including wintertime.  

From page 1 of April 2010 WheelPeople;



Help Us Fill in the Gaps: VeloNews and Bicycle Guide

Lorenz Finison


The Friends of the Bicycling History Collections at UMass-Boston Archives, including several CRW members, are filling in the gaps in some important collections. We recently sent a Wheelpeople note out about VeloNews.  We got a nice response: 80 issues were found, but we are still missing some issues. And, we need some issues of Bicycle Guide too.  If you have any of these issues let us know via email to: BicyclingHistoryFriends [at] gmail.com

Missing VeloNews, volume and issue Vol. 6, 1977: 1-2; Vol. 7, 1978: 2; Vol. 10, 1981:5,9;  Vol. 13, 1984: 7-9,13,15; Vol. 16, 1987:6,8-10,12-15,17-20;  Vol. 17, 1988:15-20;  Vols 18-21, 1989-1992:  all missing; Vol. 22, 1993: 7, 13-15; Vol. 23, 1994: 14-15; Vol. 24, 1995: 11, 15, 17; Vol. 27, 1998: 14, 19.


Missing Bicycle Guide, dates March 1985; May 1985; July-October 1985; September 1986; November 1986; January 1987; September 1987; November 1987; September 1988; November 1988; January 1989; September 1989; November 1989; January 1990; November-December 1991; January 1992; July-September 1992; April 1993; August 1994; December 1994-February 1995 +









The Athlete’s Kitchen:Sports: Nutrition: Fads, Facts and Fallacies

Nancy Clark

The Athlete’s Kitchen: Nancy Clark MS RD CSSD Copyright: March 2020

  Sports Nutrition: Fads, Facts and Fallacies 


The average American spends 24 hours a week online. That includes many athletes who spend a lot of time surfing the Web, looking for answers to their nutrition questions. They generally find way too much conflicting information and end up more confused than ever. Hence, the goal of this article is to offer science-based answers to a few popular sports nutrition questions and share some food for thought.


 We have all heard trendy comments about carbs: They’re a waste of calories, sugar is evil. Fact? No.

Are carbs a waste of calories, with little nutritional value?

The answer depends on your definition of “carbs.” Many athletes define carbs as sugar-filled baked goods and foods made with refined white flour, such as pasta, bagels, bread. In reality, carbohydrates include all types of sugars and starches. Carbs are in fruit, vegetables, beans (pinto, lima, garbanzo, etc.), grains (wheat, rice, barley, corn), and milk. These “quality carbs” add important nutrients to a sports diet.

Should athletes cut out sugar?

Sure, if that means cutting out EXCESS sugar. But if your plan is to cut out all sugar, technically speaking, you would need to stop eating any form of carbohydrate (fruit, veggies, grains), given those foods end up as sugar (glucose) in your body. That sugar fuels your muscles and brain. You’ll also need to cut out performance-enhancing sport drinks and gels.

Please judge a food based on all the nutrients that accompany the sugar, more so than just the sugar content. Some sugary foods are nutrient-rich. The natural and added sugar in chocolate milk, in combination with the milk’s protein, make chocolate milk an excellent recovery food. (The sugar refuels the muscles; the protein builds and repairs the muscles.)

If your goal is to cut out added sugar, you might want to think moderation, rather than all or nothing. US Dietary Guidelines say 10% of calories can come from added sugar. Eating a small sweet a day will not ruin your health forever.

 Athletes who report a desire to cut out sugar commonly have a love-hate relationship with (too much) sugar. While they may believe sugar is addictive, a standard reason for overdosing on sugar relates to hunger. The body of a hungry athlete screams for quick energy: sugar. One way to curb sugar-cravings is to eat a satisfying protein-rich breakfast and lunch. By curbing hunger, you’ll enhance your chances of being able to choose quality carbs later in the day. Yes, eating enough breakfast can (and does) impact and improve your evening food choices. Give it a try?

PROTEIN:  Many of today’s athletes believe protein should dominate a sports diet. True? Not quite.

What percent of my calories should come from protein?

Dietary guidelines recommend 10% to 15% of daily calories should come from protein. In truth, athletes should base their protein needs on body weight, not percent of calories. The target for most athletes is about 0.5 to 0.75 grams of protein per pound of body weight (1.0-1.5 g pro/kg) per day. Athletes who restrict calories or are new to lifting weights might need a bit more protein—but most hungry athletes consume that much—plus more—within the context of daily food choices.


Can I get enough protein without protein shakes, bars and powders? Yes!

I rarely meet athletes who consume too little protein. Those who might benefit from a supplement include athletes with anorexia (who consume too little of most nutrients), dieting vegetarian athletes who fail to consume adequate plant protein within their restricted calorie budget. That is, for 125 calories, you can consume 25 grams of protein from a can of tuna but less than 4 g protein from the dollop (0.25 cup) of hummus on a salad.

Can vegan athletes perform as well as meat-eaters?

For certain, as long as they consume adequate protein, iron, calcium and B-12, among other nutrients. Not hard to do if the vegan is eating responsibly (i.e., not living on “vegan” Coke & potato chips). They might even perform better when they shift from a meat-based to plant-based diet. Plant proteins (such as beans, lentils, and hummus) offer both protein (to build and repair muscles) and carbohydrate (to fuel muscles).

To optimally fuel muscles, athletes who train about an hour a day need about 2.25 to 3.5 g carb/pound of body weight, depending on the intensity of the workout. For a 150-pound athlete, this comes to about 340 to 525 grams of carb a day (1,360 to 2,100 calories from carb). To hit that goal, starchy beans and grains should be the foundation of each meal and snack. Vegan athletes can easily hit that target, while many meat-focused or carb-avoidant athletes end up needlessly fatigued when meat/fish/chicken and salads displace starches and grains. No wonder many athletes report performing better when they switch to a vegan diet!

FAT: While fat has been shunned for years, it is now popular. Here’s what athletes want to know about dietary fat…

To lose undesired body fat, should I train my body to burn more fat?

Don’t bother!  Burning fat differs from losing body fat. You might burn 800 calories doing two hours of fat-burning exercise, and then can easily replace it all by devouring a big meal. No fat loss there!

A wiser plan is to lose fat when you are sleeping (not when exercising), by eating less at dinner to create a calorie deficit for the day. That way, you can surround your workouts with fuel, and optimize your ability to train well. Weight is more of a calorie-game than a fat-burning game.

What about the high-fat keto diet for losing weight?

Keto advocates often rave they can lose weight without feeling hunger. True, a high fat diet is very satiating. But what happens after the diet? I’ve heard stories of keto dieters succumbing to carb-binges and rapid weight regain. My recommendation: Embark only on a food plan you want to maintain for the rest of your life. Meeting with a sports registered dietitian can help you learn effective weight management skills.

What about a keto diet for endurance athletes?

Some ultra-runners and ultra-athletes embrace a keto diet.  By burning fat for fuel, they can eat less during long events and experience less intestinal distress. More research is needed on keto-athletes who have fat-adapted for several months (many studies are for less than one month): Can they perform better than carb-eaters? Current research suggests keto athletes might perform as well as carb eaters—but not better than. That’s a lot of dietary restriction for questionable performance benefits. That said, each athlete is an experiment of one and no one diet suits everyone.

Sports Nutritionist Nancy Clark, MS, RD counsels both casual and competitive athletes at her private practice in the Boston-area (Newton; 617-795-1875). Her best-selling Sports Nutrition Guidebook answers most nutrition questions and can help you eat to win. Visit www.NancyClarkRD.com for more information.





Dr. Mirkin: Guide to Vegetable Oils

Seventy percent of North American adults will become diabetic or pre-diabetic because they eat too much fat, carbohydrates and protein. Of course, eating too much sugar and other refined carbohydrates increases diabetes risk, but so does eating too much meat (Am J of Epidem, Oct, 2017;186(7):824-833) or too much fat from any source (Diabetes, Nov 18, 2019). North Americans eat far more fat than they need, primarily from the vegetable oils that are added to just about every packaged food or fast food meal you can buy, and from our tendency to cook most of our foods in fat. It is harmful to take in a lot of fats from vegetable oils because excessive fat intake can cause high insulin levels and insulin resistance, which can cause diabetes.

Vegetable oils are largely healthful in plants such as avocados, corn, coconut, and various nuts and seeds, but the process of extracting oils from plants usually uses heat that converts the healthful oils to harmful oxidized fats that can cause inflammation.  Inflammation increases risk for heart attacks, certain cancers, and other diseases. The processed oils are further oxidized when they are exposed to air, light or heat. Oxidized fats have free radicals that damage DNA to increase risk for cancers and other diseases. Also, when foods are cooked in vegetable oils at high temperatures, they form advanced glycation endproducts (AGEs) that increase risk for heart attacks and certain cancers. Vegetable oils that are high in polyunsaturated omega-6s can form harmful trans fats when you cook them (Circulation, 2017;136:e1-e23).

Classification of Fats
Today there is controversy among scientists about health benefits or harms from fats. Fats are usually classified as:
• monounsaturated fats – healthful
• polyunsaturated omega-3s – healthful
• polyunsaturated omega-6s – possibly healthful but more likely neutral
• saturated fats – probably harmful
• trans fats – harmful

Based on Ancel Keys‘s original studies in the early 1950s, many scientists thought all polyunsaturated fats were healthful and would prevent heart attacks if they were substituted for saturated fats in the diet. However, scientists have now gone over Dr. Keys’s original data and have shown that the supposed prevention of heart attacks offered by polyunsaturated fats was really only offered by omega-3 polyunsaturated fats and not by the omega-6 polyunsaturated fats (BMJ, Feb 4, 2013;346:e8707 and BMJ, 2016;352:i1246). They also found that if the saturated fats were replaced with refined carbohydrates, there was no heart-attack-reducing benefit whatever. People tend to replace saturated fats with sugars and other refined carbohydrates that may be more harmful than the saturated fats. Fatty triglycerides that you make in your own body from excess sugar and other refined carbohydrates are more dangerous than the fats you eat in your food (Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology, August 6, 2014).

Cooking with Vegetable Oils
I believe that everyone should limit deep-fried foods (foods cooked by submerging in vegetable oil at high temperatures). For deep-frying, choose an oil with the highest smoke point, such as avocado, sunflower seed or peanut oil. The smoke point of an oil is the temperature at which it stops shimmering and starts smoking. The smoke point of oils runs from a low 325F to very high 520F. This is the temperature at which the fat breaks down to form harmful oxidized oils and harmful sugar-protein complexes (AGEs), indicated by browning of the food. Low-smoke-point oils such as olive oil can be used for brief sauteing of moist foods such as onions, green peppers, garlic and celery, or stir-frying combinations of food that include plenty of vegetables. The low-smoke-point oils can also be used uncooked for salad dressings, dips and sauces, or in recipes with a high water content such as soups.

Olive Oil
Olive oil is high in monounsaturated fat, and several studies have shown that people who replace saturated fats with monounsaturated fats have lower rates of heart attacks and deaths from heart attacks (N Engl J Med, April 4, 2013;368:1279-1290). Choose an olive oil in a dark bottle to block light, and store it sealed in a cool, dark place to delay oxidation. It should have a fresh taste; a rancid or stale taste means that it is already oxidized and harmful. The smoke points for olive oils are low, ranging from 325F (extra-virgin olive oil) to 465F (refined olive oil), so it should not be used for deep frying.

Canola Oil
Canola oil contains more than twice as much healthful monounsaturated fat than polyunsaturated fat, and is very low in saturated fat. It has a low smoke point of 428-446°F, similar to olive oil, so it should not be used for high-temperature frying. In one study, people who followed diets using canola oil had lower total and bad LDL cholesterol levels than those who ate a typical Western diet high in saturated fat (Nutr Rev, Jun 2013;71(6):370-385). Canola oil has received some bad press because of its plant source (GMO rapeseed) and use of solvents in processing, but nutritionists usually rank it as one of the most healthful vegetable oils.

Coconut Oil
Reasonable amounts of coconut oils appear to be neither harmful nor healthful. Coconut, palm and palm kernel oils contain mostly saturated fats that raise LDL cholesterol, which is associated with increased risk for heart attacks, but nobody has shown that people who eat coconut oil are at increased risk for heart attacks. Some studies show that people who eat large amounts of coconut oils are at reduced risk for heart attacks, but these studies were done in populations that report low rates of heart attacks overall, such as India, the Philippines, and Polynesia. As of today, studies show that coconut oils raise the harmful LDL cholesterol (Nutr Rev, Apr 2016;74(4):267-280), but also raise blood levels of the healthful HDL cholesterol (BMJ Open, 2018;8(3):e020167). Coconut oil has a low smoke point of 350°F, so it should not be used for deep frying.

Other Vegetable Oils
Avocado oil is primarily a monounsaturated fat with a very high smoke point (520F). Sunflower oil is high in monounsaturated fat and has a smoke point of 450F. Grapeseed oil is high in omega-6 polyunsaturated fats and has a smoke point of 420F. Peanut oil, with a smoke point of 450F, contains significant amounts of monounsaturated fat but also has polyunsaturated omega-6s. Wikipedia has a chart of smoke points of various cooking oils and fats

My Recommendations
Vegetable oils are safe when eaten in plants. When oils are removed from plants, they can form harmful oxidized fats that increase risks for cancers and heart attacks when they are stored for a long time, exposed to air or light, or heated during processing or cooking. Oxidized fats and trans fats are formed in increasing amounts when the oil is cooked at any temperature higher than 212F. Oils that have become rancid (oxidized) in storage or from cooking will usually have a bad taste or smell and should be discarded.

Most scientists feel that vegetable oils with omega-3 polyunsaturated fats and monounsaturated fats are healthful, that saturated fats are probably harmful, and that omega-6 polyunsaturated fats are neutral. Quantities of all types of fats should be limited. The small amounts of oil used in most home recipes are likely to be perfectly healthful, but do not believe promoters who suggest that you should add oils such as coconut oil to your food or coffee for supposed health benefits. Excess fat from any source is unhealthful.