Weight Loss Strategies for cyclists part 4

Close_Scale31-300x143The last article on weight loss strategies for cyclist! In the first article I wrote about weight loss secrets, the second article I wrote about body types and in the third article I covered ways to measure body content and track caloric intake and weight loss. Below in the 4th and final article you will find a compendium of weight loss tips that has worked for me over the years. Everything from food that help fight fat and nutrition timing.

Foods that support weight loss

Portion control along with an emphasis on Protein and Fiber are key to losing weight as a cyclist in training. Noticed I said in training? More on this in a bit.

Protein sources can range from animal, plant and supplements. While I think eating clean is better than just a noble idea it does get in the way of hectic lives so protein supplementation can be faster. When selecting a protein source remember these 2 things. The less the legs the better and the leaner the better. So while lean beef is good tuna or salmon would be best. When selecting a protein supplement make it easy on yourself and select a whey protein or a protein isolate. Those who are lactose intolerant may need to steer clear of most protein supplements. Protein bars are another good source for on the go athletes. Those athletes with peanut allergies may need to rely on other sources. Read labels carefully and consult with your family Dr before supplementing.

What does protein do for a cyclist in training? When consuming the proper quantity of protein for your training season you will first and foremost find it satisfying. It satisfies my cravings for additional unneeded calories. Protein is also necessary component for repairing damaged muscle tissue and building lean muscle mass. Lean muscle mass, what cyclists want, will burn more fat as fuel!

Fiber in the form of grains, fruits and vegetables and supplements is the knock out punch on weight loss when paired with quality protein sources. If you thought protein was filling try fruits, veggies and grains. I steer clear of fiber supplements because I think they are disgusting. Your mileage may vary. A couple of caveats on eating fruits. You can easily over due it on fruits and derail your weight loss goals. Also steer clear of dried fruits when trying to loose weight as they are packed with preservatives and TONS of calories. I love them but man are they deceptive. I also like oat meal flavored and unflavored. As a matter of fact I have had better luck carb loading with oat meal than with traditional pasta. While I gave fiber supplementation bad wrap a moment ago, think drinkable, I would be remiss if I didn’t tell you there are fiber bars and some are down right tasty. Be warned eating more than one could lead to bloating and other unpleasant bodily functions.

While protein and fiber are the things cyclist in the beginning of the off-season should focus on don’t forget you are an endurance athlete and this means that carbs still play a large roll in your nutrition and fueling strategies. So what carbs should an athlete consume to support fueling and loose weight? Introducing the glycemic index. “What is the Glycemic Index? Not all carbohydrate foods are created equal, in fact they behave quite differently in our bodies. The glycemic index or GI describes this difference by ranking carbohydrates according to their effect on our blood glucose levels. Choosing low GI carbs – the ones that produce only small fluctuations in our blood glucose and insulin levels – is the secret to long-term health reducing your risk of heart disease and diabetes and is the key to sustainable weight loss.

So from the definition above its plain to see that not all carbs are created equal. Spiking your insulin levels doesn’t just make you feel groggy at 2PM after a big lunch or drinking a sugar laden energy drink it interferes with all kinds of hormone processes responsible for recovery. Chiefly Human Growth Hormone also known as growth hormone or even the dreaded acronym HGH. “Growth hormone (GH) is a protein-based peptide hormone. It stimulates growth, cell reproduction and regeneration in humans and other animals.” In the podcast the Every Day Cyclist hosted by Graeme Street, Graeme used the analogy that GH is the janitor that comes in after the party to clean up. This struck me funny and a perfect explanation for what HGH does in the human body. Earlier I referred to HGH as the dreaded acronym. HGH has gotten a bad rep because some athletes have actually supplemented with HGH this is a violation of all organized sports groups including USA Cycling. HGH is naturally occurring in the human body and is responsible for how we recover. So eating the wrong carbs can lead to longer insulin responses and block the benefits of HGH in recovery.

Nutrition timing

If you are not familiar with concept of nutrition timing start your research now! Not only is what you eat important but so is when and how often you eat!

Keeping the engine stoked should now be your mantra. I eat something like 6-7 meals a day and am losing an avg of 1-2 lbs a week during my off season training. Its all about portion control. These are mostly small meals with the largest being breakfast. Breakfast is where I will consume the lion share of my carbs that way my body has more waking time to consume.

I also can’t stress enough that THIS IS THE ONLY TIME of the year that athletes should be restricting calories. When the heat is on and your are racing, riding centuries and grand fondos you must be consuming greater quantities of carbs! The time to restrict calories is the beginning 2-3 months of your off season and that is it. If you are a new to cycling and are trying to prepare for racing or just longer rides then this doesn’t apply to you. You may take an entire season to burn through 40-60 lbs of unwanted weight.

Another tip that has worked wonders for me from a performance perspective is to not eat 3 hours before a test, break through work out or race. Showing up a little hungry to complete one of the efforts mentioned above is a good thing. Your stomach has had time to completely empty and your precious blood supply can now be better used to bring oxygen to hard working muscles instead of competing with the stomach.

Its OK to be hungry ladies and gentlemen. I do not starve my self!

Another rule I tr to follow is to only consume foods loaded with sugars just before, during and after training or racing.

So what does a typical day look like for my fueling? Race weeks and race days would look completely different.

Time of day Type of food consumed
Breakfast Largest meal – Protein Shake, Fruit, Coffee, or Oat Meal or bagel
Mid Morning Snack Small meal – Protein bar, or fiber bar, or fruit
Lunch Medium size meal – One protein source and one carb source
Mid Afternoon Snack Small meal – Protein bar, or fiber bar, or nuts
Dinner Medium sized meal – One protein source, one carb source, one fiber source
Evening Snack Small meal – One protein source

Wrapping it all up

I remember the first time I started looking into nutrition for cyclist trying loose weight there was a post from one Cat 3 racer to a new Cat 5 racer on the very subject of weight loss. The Cat 3 racer told the Cat 5 racer “Stop eating”! That’s when I knew I needed to find a better class of research material. We as cyclists, racers and neighborhood riders like to eat for some of us we ride so we can eat more than most should but never the less food is fun and hopefully tastes good.

So in summary:

  • Seek out professionals to assist you in your weight loss goals
  • Eat Less Exercise More
  • Power to weight is a key indicator of success in a trained athlete
  • There are unique body types and each has there own weight loss strategies
  • Set SMART goals for weight loss
  • Communicate your goals to others
  • Measure your body content to establish a baseline
  • Track your daily caloric intake to support your weight loss goals
  • Eat foods that support weight loss
  • Utilize nutrition timing to gain the greatest advantage

I think that about covers what I have learned since I have started this journey. I know there is so much more to learn and of course there are books and even advanced degrees on the topic. However the typical cyclists doesn’t want to be a sports nutritionist. I do not provide coaching services for weight loss but if you have questions, concerns or need help finding someone who does, email me or leave a comment, I would love to hear from you. Mean while if you have weight loss goals this season feel free to answer the anonymous poll below.

So until the next article leave a little on the plate before you go on that next epic ride.

Coach Rob

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