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    Can you ride too much?

    tl;dr - If I train for a event I don't seem to lose weight.

    In 1 week and 2 days I'll take off on my second AIDS/LifeCycle. As I look back at the last almost 6 months of training I'm wondering what the best approach is for me for weight loss.

    I had gotten down to 235 at one point, my lowest. About 18 months ago. I was about 250 a year ago on ALC. I'm about 265 right now. Those 15 pounds mostly came on *after* ALC when I stopped riding completely, threw myself into buying a house, and kinda let everything else slide. In January I bought a nifty Withings scale so that I could really track my weight and what I've seen this year is similar to what I saw last year: When training for an event I don't lose weight. I've not gained either. I've been VERY stable within a 5 lb range since January 1st.

    My time and energy are limited resources. ALC takes up just about every weekend from January to June. It starts off being just Saturdays and then becomes both days. I have been doing 2x spin classes a week as well. The problem is that when my physical activity is this high my appetite goes bonkers. ALC doesn't want you to diet, as a matter of fact. "Eat before you're hungry, drink before you're thirsty." The My Fitness Pal data says I should be losing weight. But I'm not. I know I've gained muscle - my calves and quads are huge. Even with all the fat in my thighs you can see the quads. My bibs have gotten tight in the legs.

    All of this is about what to do after my event - how to structure my exercise and diet for the second half of the year. I don't want to give up all my endurance, but I know I'll be giving up some. I'm going to hook up weight a trainer and amp up the weight training. I'm thinking about doing shorter rides with more hills. But I'm looking for suggestions. I know I'll want to take a brief break from riding after ALC, but I also want to keep going and try to drop the weight for next year - if for no other reason than to not lug it up hills. During the training phase for an event, though, I just don't seem to drop weight. And since I'm 50+ lbs from goal, I really want to get on that. I'm open to suggestions.

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    Senior Member Ursa Minor's Avatar
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    I agree; training and trying to increase performance has always messed up my desire to lose weight.
    In my experience you can't have both.

    Charlie
    Grimly determined to have fun.

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    Senior Member Black wallnut's Avatar
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    If MFP says you should be losing and you are not the most likely causes are under reporting of your calories consumed, over reporting of calories expended, poor data that you use for caloric and nutrient food content, and over stating your activity level for the baseline.

    Beyond that I do not know what "ALC" is or entails. yes you can ride too much or over train but I really think neither of those will lead to weight stagnation. Weigh or measure everything and use good data on MFP. Set your profile to accuratly reflect your activity level without exercise. Use a HRM to plug in your exercise numbers or if you don't have one only eat back half or less than MFP says you burned. Unless you are burned out on riding just take a day or two off after your event. then follow that with some easy rides.

    I don't know if my success will help you but what is working for me is to ride lots so that I can eat. The more I ride the more I can eat and I like to eat. most days I am close to my calorie goal +/- 100c it seems. This is with the built in 1000c / day deficit for 2 pounds a week loss. it is working. That said I think you know all this since you have lost far more than I have while using MFP.


    Mark

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    Super Newbie Shawn Gossman's Avatar
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    I know I am riding too much when I start to get dizzy and sickly feeling. I have been known to push myself over the limit too, its one of my problems. When I am old, I will probably regret it lol

    Best thing to do though is pace yourself... you will get better over time.

    I remember by first technical trail mountain bike ride. I rode up a steep hill, got to the top and then layed in the mud panting like a dog lol... I even pushed my bike back during the last 1 1/2 mile... lol of course I was 300 pounds back then and I smoked... but as I biked more, I lost quite a bit of weight and now I "vape" and I feel like I never even started smoking which is neat! Now I can ride that same trail without needing to stop

    You'll get better over time!
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    Quote Originally Posted by JakiChan View Post
    tl;dr - If I train for a event I don't seem to lose weight.

    high my appetite goes bonkers. ALC doesn't want you to diet, as a matter of fact. "Eat before you're hungry, drink before you're thirsty." The My Fitness Pal data says I should be losing weight. But I'm not.
    If you want to lose more weight (194 is tremendous, great progress so far!), you have to adjust your diet further, no getting around that (calorie level that had healthy deficit when you were much larger obviously is no longer deficit at current weight, plus having lost so much your metabolism is probably somewhat lower than people starting their loss at your current weight). Can't out-ride a bad diet. If you aren't losing weight although MFP says you should be, that simply means that MFP's estimates for the number of calories you are burning are way too high, this is typical. MFP might say you are burning 800 calories per hour, while reality may be only 450. Plus your measurements of calories ingested may be low, most people underestimate.

    You have to find a way so that you aren't overcompensating with eating more because of the training. Really there's no need to eat anything for rides around 2-2.5 hours, depending on intensity. Try doing some shorter rides in a fasted state, on water only. For longer rides go ahead and eat ~250 calories per hour so you don't bonk, but then don't both do this AND eat extra for that day before/afterwards, try to eat no more than what you would have had you not gone on the ride at all, the extra is just what you ate while riding.

    Are you trying the MFP "eat back your exercise calories" approach, of establishing a calorie baseline for loss with zero exercise, then eating extra food to balance the exercise? I don't like this approach because of the gross inaccuracy in ability to measure exercise calories, in the absence of expensive power meter. I prefer the "TDEE" approach, where you estimate daily expenditure based on average activity level over a week, and then base your weekly target based on that. If you aren't losing, then keep ratcheting down your target by 10% or so until you are losing at a reasonable rate, say 1-2 pounds per week.
    Last edited by stephtu; 05-23-14 at 01:46 PM.

  6. #6
    Senior Member lsberrios1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ursa Minor View Post
    I agree; training and trying to increase performance has always messed up my desire to lose weight.
    In my experience you can't have both.

    Charlie
    If you train enough to get really strong, the weight will come off by itself. You'll find it hard having to eat more even when you don't want to but you will need to.
    Cat 6 going on PRO....

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    Super Newbie Shawn Gossman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lsberrios1 View Post
    If you train enough to get really strong, the weight will come off by itself. You'll find it hard having to eat more even when you don't want to but you will need to.
    I agree with this! I wanted to diet when I first started riding and would not eat... needless to say, I was wearing out after just a mile... started researching and then decided to start pigging out more, carbs were my enemy, now they are my friend and I am fairly skinny again too
    Tour de Shawn - My Neglected Personal Cycling Blog

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    Quote Originally Posted by Black wallnut View Post
    Beyond that I do not know what "ALC" is or entails.
    AIDS/LifeCycle. 7 days, 545 miles. We train for it. It starts off slow but you work up to century-plus distances every weekend.

    Quote Originally Posted by Black wallnut View Post
    Use a HRM to plug in your exercise numbers or if you don't have one only eat back half or less than MFP says you burned.
    I always wear an HRM when I exercise. For road rides I've been using the numbers Garmin gives me (and it has my accurate data), for gym workouts I use DigiFit. And I only eat back a part of it.

    Also, the food data is very accurate. Mostly meal replacements or clean fruits and veggies.

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    Senior Member Black wallnut's Avatar
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    Bottom line is I don't think you are riding too much based on your Strava data. If anything you might not be riding enough. When was the last time you updated your profile data on MFP? Are you not eating enough and putting yourself in starvation mode? Maybe play around with your diet and eat differently, rather than meal replacements eat cooked from scratch meals with lots of fat and protein and few carbs? Something does not add up. Perhaps talk to a professional nutritionist or Dr.?


    Mark

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    Quote Originally Posted by lsberrios1 View Post
    If you train enough to get really strong, the weight will come off by itself. You'll find it hard having to eat more even when you don't want to but you will need to.
    This, for me that threshold is somewhere between 100-150 miles per week I lose weight without having to watch what I eat. That doesn't mean you can eat whatever you want. I just don't need to calorie count. Now at 190-200 miles per week I have to make sure I eat enough so I don't get hungry which leads to fatigue on the bike. Looking at Veloviewer it looks like you're in the 75-100mi per week range? IME that doesn't burn enough calories to cause weight loss unless you are careful about what you eat.

    Barring injury/work/family obligations I don't think you can ride too much unless it stops being fun in which case you should dial it back.
    Last edited by Dunbar; 05-23-14 at 02:57 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Black wallnut View Post
    Bottom line is I don't think you are riding too much based on your Strava data. If anything you might not be riding enough. When was the last time you updated your profile data on MFP? Are you not eating enough and putting yourself in starvation mode? Maybe play around with your diet and eat differently, rather than meal replacements eat cooked from scratch meals with lots of fat and protein and few carbs? Something does not add up. Perhaps talk to a professional nutritionist or Dr.?
    I don't have time for more than one long ride a week. Over the last 4 week's I've averaged about 120 miles a week, or almost 9 hours on the bike a week. And that's not including the non-riding exercise like elliptical, physical therapy, and strength training that ads about another 5 hours a week. If an average of 2 hours of exercise a day isn't enough then I don't know what to do. All I know is that when I don't have long rides and when my exercise is less I lose weight. When I'm doing these long rides and building strength for an event I don't.

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    Cat 5 field stuffer bbeasley's Avatar
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    Guys,

    This one is a topic I struggle with constantly. I can tolerate a really low calorie diet, like 1100/day and lose weight quick as long as I do no exercise. Problem is I'm totally hooked on riding and running. I feel miserable not doing anything and get in a bad mental state within a few days. The exercise kicks in the appetite and presto no weight loss but I feel great.

    lsberrios1 has gone all the way, weight wise, but watch out what you ask for. When he writes "train enough" he means it. I'm in awe of his commitment both in effort and time.

    I read a study, I'll try to find the link, that looked at ~35,000 folks and how much exercise they did. Without looking at diet, they found the following:

    30 min/day and you miss diabetes, heart disease, stroke, etc. But you will gain weight over time.
    60 min/day and you miss the above and maintain your weight.
    90 min/day you miss the diseases and will eventually become lean.

    I'm working hard and am only up to 90min/day one week and 60min/day the next. So I'm on a 14 day cycle and struggling to get to the 90 min/day mark. 90 min/day = 10.5/week. The effort I'm putting in pales in comparison to the 20 Hrs/week lsberrios1 put in to create the radical change you see in his pictures.

    My point is..... oh I don't have one. I'm just very interested in this conversation and wanted to add some fuel.

    I'll look for the above study and update this if I've butchered the numbers.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bbeasley View Post
    Guys,

    This one is a topic I struggle with constantly. I can tolerate a really low calorie diet, like 1100/day and lose weight quick as long as I do no exercise.
    That's exactly how I lost the majority of my weight. A medically-supervised VLCD (800 - 1200kCal/day) with moderate exercise. Like just about 2.5 hours a week or so. (30 minutes 5 times a week.) Worked like magic. Then I decided I wanted to get a bike and while I love riding I really haven't figured out how to keep losing weight while eating (and exercising) more.

    Also, my diet was/is big on environmental control. If I'm out on an 80 mile training ride then I'm *not* having lunch at home. I have to eat out. And usually at a place I didn't choose.

    The good news - I've maintained this season. I started at 265, and now I'm at 265. So that's 6 months without regaining any of the weight I've already lost. I just want to start heading down again. And I wonder if I need to back off on the riding for a while to do it.

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    got the climbing bug jsigone's Avatar
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    can you ride too much?


    Not in my opinion if you have the the TIME and doesn't cause INJURY and doesn't cause BURNOUT

    Ride as much as you can, as often as you can. Try to fit a long ride in there once week. Something 2-3x longer then your normal weekday rides. You should see a difference once that happens.

    I used to goal for 8-10hrs per week pedaling time. And hit 11-12hr week at least once a month. A bulk of that would be a 5-6hr saturday ride

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    Senior Member Black wallnut's Avatar
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    JakiChan, you are asking for suggestions and that is what I am offering. I'm not sure what will work for you or why you are not losing with two hours daily. On my long weekend rides I don't eat a meal I snack as needed. I do eat a good breakfast and often a big dinner.


    Mark

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    Quote Originally Posted by Black wallnut View Post
    JakiChan, you are asking for suggestions and that is what I am offering. I'm not sure what will work for you or why you are not losing with two hours daily. On my long weekend rides I don't eat a meal I snack as needed. I do eat a good breakfast and often a big dinner.
    The big dinner doesn't help. I tried not eating on a ride, bonked, had to be SAGed and I wasn't dehydrated.

    I'm saying that when you exercise more it causes your metabolism to speed up and makes you hungrier. I'm suggesting that for some people there may be a limit, as far as weight loss goes, where too much exercise makes it harder to lose weight.

    This story kinda shows what I'm talking about.

    The food diaries showed that the 60-minute exercisers ate larger meals and snacks than the 30-minute exercisers. They also spent more time sitting during the hours they weren't working out.

    Those findings suggested that the extra exercise left the men tired and hungry, and researchers say the extra rest and eating may be linked to the smaller-than-expected weight loss.

    In contrast, exercise seemed to give members of the 30-minute group more energy in the hours they weren't working out - something researchers called a "bonus effect."

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    Quote Originally Posted by JakiChan View Post
    Also, my diet was/is big on environmental control. If I'm out on an 80 mile training ride then I'm *not* having lunch at home. I have to eat out. And usually at a place I didn't choose.
    If you've got jersey pockets, your lunch is always under your control. On an 80-mile training ride, I'd stuff a bunch of Clif bars in my pockets and eat one/hour. Heck, put a sandwich and a banana in your pocket if that's what you want. If I'm riding hard a big calorie-laden lunch is usually the last thing I want.

    Quote Originally Posted by JakiChan View Post
    I'm saying that when you exercise more it causes your metabolism to speed up and makes you hungrier.
    If this is the case, you probably need to focus on your diet. In my experience, when I eat a carb-heavy diet (especially one with lots of simple carbs) I'm always hungry. When I eat more fats and proteins, and drink plenty of liquids, I'm almost never hungry. For me, the 40/30/30 ratio of Carbs/Fat/Protein seems to work pretty well.

    Also, remember that your body adapts very quickly to any routine. I find it helpful to occasionally take a break from both diet and exercise, though not necessarily at the same time. Keep doing the same things over and over and eventually you'll stop seeing benefits. Eating a bit more or exercising a bit less for a week often helps me to push past a plateau. Changing my training routines also helps. Spin like a madman one week then mash a bigger gear the next week, or focus on sprints/speed for a while then slow down a bit and focus on endurance. Anything you can do to change things up should help.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JakiChan View Post
    That's exactly how I lost the majority of my weight. A medically-supervised VLCD (800 - 1200kCal/day) with moderate exercise. Like just about 2.5 hours a week or so. (30 minutes 5 times a week.) Worked like magic. Then I decided I wanted to get a bike and while I love riding I really haven't figured out how to keep losing weight while eating (and exercising) more.

    Also, my diet was/is big on environmental control. If I'm out on an 80 mile training ride then I'm *not* having lunch at home. I have to eat out. And usually at a place I didn't choose.

    The good news - I've maintained this season. I started at 265, and now I'm at 265. So that's 6 months without regaining any of the weight I've already lost. I just want to start heading down again. And I wonder if I need to back off on the riding for a while to do it.
    A question based on the emboldened words.... have you increased your intensity in your exercise? I know you have increased your volume but unless you have increased your intensity, you are likely just cruising along and still burning the same number of calories as you did before.

    As the body loses weight, I think the number of calories burned goes down at the same exercise intensity. You actually have to work harder the more weight you lose if you are eating the same amount of food.

    sstorkel also is correct. You do have control over what you eat on every single ride you do... even the long ones. You just have to take what you intend to eat with you whether it includes energy bars, drink mixes, or plain old sandwiches or Oreos. You at least then can count the calories and not be at the mercy of takeaway joints or gas station stuff.
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    Quote Originally Posted by sstorkel View Post
    If you've got jersey pockets, your lunch is always under your control. On an 80-mile training ride, I'd stuff a bunch of Clif bars in my pockets and eat one/hour. Heck, put a sandwich and a banana in your pocket if that's what you want. If I'm riding hard a big calorie-laden lunch is usually the last thing I want.
    Tried that. Bonked. Ended up in SAGed, etc. And I guess that's why they push eating, since when you have to take a car home it becomes a big hassle for everyone. Also, here's an average training ride:

    Bike Ride Profile | Happy Fun Ride Time With James! near Sunnyvale | Times and Records | Strava

    Are you actually suggesting 5 or 6 Cliff bars on a ride?

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    got the climbing bug jsigone's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JakiChan View Post

    Are you actually suggesting 5 or 6 Cliff bars on a ride?
    I'd prefer 4-6 payday candy bars

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    Quote Originally Posted by jsigone View Post
    I'd prefer 4-6 payday candy bars
    Nah. In fact one thing I hate about riding is that I end up eating food that I try to avoid the rest of the time, including things like Clif Bars. I do Shot Blox because when around the house they don't tempt me at all....

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    (And yeah, I know, I'm supposed to be grateful that I'm maintaining a 190+ pound weight loss. But clearly I have issues with being satisfied...)

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    Quote Originally Posted by JakiChan View Post
    Tried that. Bonked. Ended up in SAGed, etc. And I guess that's why they push eating, since when you have to take a car home it becomes a big hassle for everyone. Also, here's an average training ride:

    Bike Ride Profile | Happy Fun Ride Time With James! near Sunnyvale | Times and Records | Strava

    Are you actually suggesting 5 or 6 Cliff bars on a ride?
    For me, bonking seems to be more about what I eat before a ride rather than what I eat during the ride.

    Conventional wisdom says that you can only process 250-300 calories/hr when you're exercising heavily. The ride you've linked appears to have taken 5 hours of pedaling, covered 60 miles, and burned 2000 calories (I'd use kJ = kCal; Strava's calorie estimates are always a bit high). If you ate six 240-calorie Clif bars that would be 1440 total calories, which is only a 560-calorie deficit for the ride. I regularly do 2-hour rides where I burn 900-1100 calories and eat nothing, so that sort of nutrition would be unlikely to make me bonk.

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    Senior Member Black wallnut's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JakiChan View Post
    The big dinner doesn't help. I tried not eating on a ride, bonked, had to be SAGed and I wasn't dehydrated.

    I'm saying that when you exercise more it causes your metabolism to speed up and makes you hungrier. I'm suggesting that for some people there may be a limit, as far as weight loss goes, where too much exercise makes it harder to lose weight.

    This story kinda shows what I'm talking about.
    Quote Originally Posted by your link
    The study has its limitations - it was relatively small and short-term, and the men involved were mostly in their 20s and early 30s, so their metabolism rates may not be reflective of the entire population. The Copenhagen scientists have called for more research.
    Jaki the sample size of that study was too small to be anywhere close to meaningful. It does not explain why you are not losing weight and yet I am. I fit the study third category, exercise lots and otherwise don't move much, very sedentary and yet I am losing weight at a steady pace of 2 pounds a week. If you have to cut back exercise to lose weight then by all means do so after your big event. Change one thing at a time and see what works. There have been others on this forum that have scaled back their riding to lose weight. Weight loss is mostly a function of diet. improved health is a result of exercise. Weightloss will make you a faster cyclist but only if you continue to keep your cycling fitness through the weightloss. If cycling is what you really love dump the other exercise for a while and see if that helps you lose weight. you can always add it back after you shed some pounds. There is just too much I don't know about you to explain why you would be bonking on rides when you try to eat less.


    Mark

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    Quote Originally Posted by sstorkel View Post
    I regularly do 2-hour rides where I burn 900-1100 calories and eat nothing, so that sort of nutrition would be unlikely to make me bonk.
    A two hour ride is usually not long enough to deplete your glycogen stores. At least not for me - I do such rides twice a week or so and I don't eat during a short ride like that either. (Nor do I eat during a spin class or any other short workout, which I usually have 4 of in a week.)

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