How to lose weight for cycling?

Lose Weight And Increase Your Competive Advantage

I get asked all the time (often by endurance athletes) “what is the best way to lose weight” and “how fast can I lose weight?”

For many athletes, being lean means being fast. For soccer players – that means out-sprinting an opponent for a free ball; for a cyclist – it means less weight to carry up a hill, and power-to-weight is the golden ratio for cycling.

 Here are  5 tips to help athletes increase their competitive advantage:

1. Lose weight slowly

For an athlete who is already reasonably lean there is a delicate balance between losing fat vs. losing muscle. If you cut calories too quickly, you’ll lose more muscle than fat. It’s also a recipe for illness (just ask some of my over-eager cycling friends). While the average person might eat about 2,000 calories per day, an athlete is more likely to eat 2,500-3,500 (although this depends greatly on their activity level). A good rule of thumb is to cut back on calories by 10-15% in preparation for a race. For an active person this means eating 250-375 fewer calories each day. I often hear people saying “there are 3,500 calories in a pound of food” (actually a pretty accurate statement).

So, what does 300 calories look like? Basically, it is A LOT of vegetables and a SMALL amount of junk food. I’m human too, and inevitably cave to a birthday cupcake at the office – so now, instead of two, I just eat one cupcake and that means I’ve eaten 300 fewer calories by the end of that day!

2. Add protein to each meal

I recommend endurance athletes including cyclists eat more protein. Too often, they are so carb-focused they end up hindering recovery by starving their bodies of amino acids that are used to reap the benefits of training. Plus, protein is the most satiating nutrient – this means you’ll feel full for far longer. Endurance athletes should aim to eat about 110-140 grams per day (for an average 160 lbs. male). You could try breaking this into about 30-35g at each meal, and then another 15-25g for each of your snacks.

To boost your competitive advantage, stick to the lean cuts of chicken, fish, pork, and mixed vegetable-protein sources like quinoa, soy, rice & beans.

Personally, I’m a big fan of milk proteins (whey and casein) and also plant based proteins, like soy. Both have great anabolic muscle building effects. I avoid eating too much red meat as my protein source – mostly because of the cholesterol and fat levels. Stick to the lean cuts of chicken, fish, pork, and mixed vegetable-protein sources like quinoa, rice & beans.

3. Listen to your body

Only eat when you’re feeling hungry (I know this sounds obvious but it can be difficult).

This one takes some work. Too many times we eat out of habit, or in a social setting. Try to listen to your body and give your tummy time to start grumbling once in a while. Once you can learn how your body responds, you can schedule your snack time just before the unpleasant grumbles begin. It turns out that restrained eating can be superior to “dieting” for successful weight loss.

4. Drink more water

This is simple – drink more water. Thirst is often mistaken for hunger so if you drink more water then you’re likely to eat less.

5. Limit sugars

Encourage your body to burn fat, not sugar during the day. Load up on carbs in the morning after a cardio session. Then, when your metabolism is elevated later during the day, allow it to burn fat. Spiking blood sugar essentially stops all fat metabolism, so keep the carbs to a minimum later in the day, especially at night. My typical dinner consists of meat (salmon, chicken, or lean pork), roasted vegetables (carrots, beets, cauliflower), and salad or sautéed greens like spinach, kale or chard.

John Heiss Ph.D

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Tips on How To Lose Weight 

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