How To Lose Weight For Improved Cycling Performance?
We’ll be discussing manipulating carbs fat and protein to lose weight specifically will cutting carbs from your diet help with weight loss or not. At the end we’ll discuss an example of an optimal day of eating to facilitate weight loss and optimal performance on the bike.
For majority of riders, losing weight can be one of the most effective ways to improve your cycling performance especially when climbing. If you’re not familiar with power to weight ratio basically it’s a way of measuring how strong a climber you are, and it’s expressed in watts per kilogram. To display just how powerful losing excess body weight can be.
Let’s take a look at an example let’s say we have a 70-kilogram rider who can do 300 watts for 20 minutes so that’s four point two eight watts per kilogram now let’s say we have a 65-kilogram rider riding right next to the first rider the lighter rider would only have to produce 279 watts to keep up on a climb. Those who ride with a power meter know that an extra 21 watts on your 20-minute power could take months of training to achieve. Now losing five kilograms of body weight is no easy task either especially if you’re already relatively lean.
Oftentimes losing weight comes with a loss of power but it’s usually not enough to negatively affect power-to-weight ratio. In fact most of the time not to surprisingly losing weight will increase your power to weight ratio unless you’re starting to get really lean. If you’re even a recreational cyclist, you probably already understand this less body weight means that you can go faster uphill.
Why doesn’t diet work?
Most diets work in the short-term by somehow getting you to restrict calories which is necessary for weight loss. The problem is the counting calories and reducing how much you’re eating without addressing what you’re eating will lead to hunger and living in a state of constant hunger is simply unsustainable. A select few will be able to lose weight this way but there are the outliers and they have to constantly monitor portion size.
This is why the vast majority of people who go on diets fail and regain the weight back. Hunger is something that we need to overcome if we want to lose weight but how exactly do we go about doing that. Some have suggested that manipulating macronutrient ratios by following a high fat low carb diet or a high carb low fat diet or any combination in between is the solution.
Guide To the Best Diet for Cyclist
Comparing diets with different compositions of fat protein and carbohydrates took 811 overweight adults and put them onto four different diets with a range of different macronutrient ratios. So basically it didn’t matter whether carbs protein or fat was restricted at least when it came to weight loss. However the study didn’t come to the same conclusion finding that fat restriction led to more body fat loss than carbon striction even when calories were equal.
So what’s the difference with this study why are they showing more fat loss with fat restriction when the other study showed no difference it’s because this study actually looked at changes in body fat while the other study only looked at changes in body weight. If you’re just looking at the scale the low-carb diet did result in more weight loss but not more fat loss.
The reason low-carb diets result in greater lean mass loss mainly through the loss of water weight glycogen is your body’s stored carbohydrates and glycogen contains water when you deplete your glycogen stores by following a low carb diet that water goes with it. The difference between having full and depleted glycogen stores could be four pounds or more. So when low-carb errs step on the scale and see this it’s hard not to get excited. But this isn’t the kind of weight that you want to be losing in fact low carb diets may have a negative impact on body composition even when done with regular exercise.
This study on the effect of the ketogenic diet on body composition during resistance training had subjects complete an eight-week resistance training program on a ketogenic and non-ketogenic diet. Not surprisingly the non keto group gained almost a kilo of muscle but the ketogenic group actually lost the small amount of muscle mass and they concluded that the ketogenic diet might not be useful to increase muscle mass.
This is somewhat ironic considering that the ketogenic and other low carb diets are pretty popular right now amongst bodybuilders and gym rats. Hyper gain beast mode mass gain or audition in the cupcake flavor has zero grams of carbohydrates. So you don’t have to worry about getting knocked out of ketosis when making those gains. At the end of the day gravity doesn’t care whether you’re lighter because you have less fat or less water.
So in that sense low carb still wins, our ultimate goal is to actually ride faster and following a low carb diet certainly won’t help with that. This review on carbohydrate dependence in endurance athletes concluded that despite renewed popular interest in high fat low carb diets for endurance sports fat rich diets do not spare carbohydrates or improve training capacity and performance but instead directly impair rates of muscle glycogen alysus and energy Flux.
Ketogenic Diet For Weight Loss
The ketogenic diet has gained considerable attention recently. However, it is important to realise, that, to date, not a single study has demonstrated the performance benefits of a ketogenic diet. A 2011 meta-analysis that looked at 88 randomised crossover studies on carbohydrate consumption and endurance performance came to the conclusion that carbohydrates show a large benefit to performance.
Basically, Low carb is not the method that you should choose to lose weight or increase your cycling performance. Some have suggested adopting a low-carb diet in the offseason and then reintroducing carbs once the season starts.
But remember that most of the weight that you lose on a low-carb diet is water weight, and once you reintroduce carbs again, you’ll gain that water back. When it comes to weight loss, it may be beneficial to forget about macronutrients entirely and even forget about calorie counting. If you’re counting calories, that means that you’re going to be hungry, and as we’ve already established, that isn’t sustainable. Instead, focus on what you’re eating, and in particular, make sure that it’s low in calorie density. For a given weight of food, it has relatively few calories.
A study on the energy density of foods effects on energy intake took 18 subjects and provided them with meals for two days during three separate testing sessions. In these three sessions, subjects consumed either low, medium, or high energy density or calorie density meals, and the results showed that significantly more calories were consumed for the higher energy density conditions.
Diet to Lose Weight for Cycling
Even though the amount of food by weight was relatively similar, the calories consumed were around 1,800 for the high energy density group and below 1,400 for the low energy density group. The study concluded that energy density influenced energy intake independently of macronutrient composition and that subjects reported no difference in feelings of hunger or fullness.
Carbs, protein, and fat weren’t as important as the overall calorie density of the diet. These results have been shown over the long term as well. A study on energy densities effects on weight change over 6 years took 186 subjects and measured the energy density of their diet. Six years later, they found that the energy density of the diet did not change for the individuals, and then a higher energy density was associated with weight gain and a higher BMI.
The study concluded that Low Energy says he eats moderately to moderate weight gain, and then a lower energy density can be achieved by consuming more fruits and vegetables. The review on dietary energy density and body weight, looking at many studies, confirms this, concluding that their findings highlight the growing body of scientific evidence suggesting a relationship between energy density and body weight and that consuming diets low in energy density may be an effective strategy for managing body weight.
So, this whole low calorie density thing sounds pretty good in theory, but what does it actually look like? What will you actually be eating? As we can see from this calorie density chart, foods with the lowest calorie density are vegetables, averaging just three calories per gramme, and fruits, averaging just seven calories per gramme. These are the foods that should take up the bulk of your diet unprocessed in their whole form, and the unprocessed bit is critically important.
As you can see, for example, there’s a huge jump in calorie density when going from unprocessed carbs to processed carbs, and unprocessed plant-based protein sources like beans, chickpeas, and lentils are generally lower in calorie density than more traditional animal-based sources.
In fact, the more you center your diet around whole plant foods, the lower the calorie density and the easier it becomes to lose weight without restricting food. In this study on a whole food plant-based diet for the treatment of obesity, heart disease, and diabetes, they took obese and overweight subjects and put them on a whole food plant-based diet.
Cyclists’ Daily Diet Plan
Let’s conclude by taking a look at the eating menu of a professional cyclist. For breakfast, they usually have two bowls of oatmeal with a scoop of peanut butter or other nut butter, strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, and a banana. For high intensity and long ride days, they make sure that they are well fed with carbohydrates by either adding more oatmeal or an extra banana or two in the morning.
Lunch might be beans and rice cooked with a ton of vegetables like broccoli, carrots, tomatoes, corn, spinach, kale, etc. Again, the portion size is just enough to leave one satisfied. Depending on their schedule, they snack on fruit throughout the day, and then for dinner, they may have black bean burgers with quinoa potatoes and a big salad of lettuce, onions, tomatoes, peppers, avocado, etc.
When you look at your meal, make sure that vegetables are taking up the majority of your plate. The exception to this would be right before a race or a very hard workout. Because digestion may become an issue with such a fibrous meal in your stomach, your go-to on these days should be simpler, easier-to digest carbohydrates.
- 7 Best Ways to Reduce Stomach Acidity Naturally