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Training & Nutrition Learn how to develop a training schedule that's good for you. What should you eat and drink on your ride? Learn everything you need to know about training and nutrition here.

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Old 04-18-05, 09:46 AM   #1
Grasschopper
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Looking to loose weight...are there really empty miles?

Ok so I am in need of weight loss and I have been working on it for some time now. In Jan of 04 I was up around 250 lbs and now I am down to 225 (5'10" and my goal is 170-180 lbs). I was as low as 219 but the cold winter put a few pounds on me as I didn't exercise as much as I needed to. So anyway I commute to work every day which is only 7.2 miles round trip..I assume there isn't much benefit there but also figure that 30 min a day is better than driving for me and for the environment and for my wallet. I also do longer rides but I was reading in another thread about "empty miles". Well there wasn't any real reading just a comment someone made so I want to know if I am doing it wrong or if I should just keep riding.

So lets look at my Sat ride: 40.13 miles which took me 2 hrs 35 min with an avg heart rate of 143. I took one short rest stop where the HRM was still logging so that brought the avg HR down a bit. During this ride I ate one Powerbar and drank 2 large bottles of water and one large bottle of Accelerade. My Polar HRM said I burned ~2400 Kcal (how is that different from cal?).

In my mind this ride is great for me and will help me to loose weight but this comment about "empty miles" makes me worry that I am not doing it right.

What is the real story here? Was that ride a big waste of time in regards to weight loss or was it great for getting me to my weight goal?

Thanks for any input.
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Old 04-18-05, 11:28 AM   #2
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Weight loss is all about calories in vs. calories out. If you burn a few more calories each day than you consume, you will lose weight. A deficit of 500 calories per day will result in weight loss of 1 lb per week, and is considered a healthy rate of loss. Even smaller deficits can be useful for weight loss if maintained over longer time frames (and, they're easier to achieve).

For weight loss, there are no "empty miles". Any time you get on the bike, you'll be burning more calories than you would doing most anything else, thus helping you to achieve your goal.

But, for weight loss, diet control is much more important than an exercise program. It's far too easy to subvert a good exercise program with a few poor food choices, or by "rewarding" yourself for a 20 mile ride with a big slice of cake (or, pizza and beer).

Kcal is kilocalories, but most food nutrition labels use "calories" when they really mean Kcal. They're used interchangeably, even though they shouldn't be.

Best of luck, and congrats on your progress to date.
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Old 04-18-05, 11:57 AM   #3
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Kcal is kilocalories, but most food nutrition labels use "calories" when they really mean Kcal. They're used interchangeably, even though they shouldn't be.
More accurately, a food Calorie (capital 'C') is defined as 1000 calories (little 'c') of energy -- aka 1 kcal.
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Old 04-18-05, 12:11 PM   #4
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Keep at it. I used the bike to drop 35 pounds last summer. I found that one thing that helped me the most seemed to be paying attention to my cadence. I tried to keep it above 70-75 for the entire ride. It definately helped with the wieght loss. I didn't have a HRM at the time and just ordered one this morning. I have been reading about them and cant remember the zone. However, everything I have read recommends that you stay in a particular range for loosing wieght. I believe it is 50-60% for wieght lose but double check. If you go higher you are working on the wrong thing from what my research tells me. Hopefully someone with more knowledge will straighten me out if I am off.

Good luck
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Old 04-18-05, 12:27 PM   #5
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every little bit helps

even though your commute is short it probably helps to boost your metabolism.

Doing little things like taking stairs instead of the elevator, walking or riding out to a healthy lunch, etc.

You can always increase your ride time on the way home by taking a detour and adding in a few miles.
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Old 04-18-05, 12:53 PM   #6
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Sounds like a great ride.
I don't understand the reference to empty miles. What does that mean? I guess if you only went downhill and didn't pedal much you wouldn't burn many calories. I see a lot people at the gym sit on the exercise bike and read the paper and probably burn 100 calories per hour. I guess those are empty miles.

In my experience, what and how much you eat is more important than exercise to lose weight. I went on a 40 mile ride on Sunday as well and was very hungry all day so I ate more. When I have lost weight it is because I changed how I ate. If you really want to drop some pounds, I started a thread earlier today on this board called "Eat to Live." Its a book by Dr. Joel Fuhrman. I'd highly recommend it. If you really eat the way he suggests the weight will melt off and you won't go hungry doing it.
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Old 04-18-05, 01:00 PM   #7
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"Empty miles" would I guess refer to working below an aerobic level. Like with your HR below 50% of max. It's possible on a bike because you're just sitting there and you can spin your legs without much effect. That would have negligible effect on your general cardiovascular health and wouldn't use much extra energy either. But anything above that, like your weekend ride with avg HR of 143 including a stop, should be a fine calorie-burning range -- in fact, your body's primary source of fuel is fat if your HR is in the low-aerobic levels!

Thirty minutes per day of aerobic exercise is a good start, and is the minimum for heart health. Splitting your "workout" into two 15 minute chunks, though, might not be sufficient -- the recommendation is usually to get your 30 minutes at one go. Can you get out for an evening ride, or at least take a detour on the way to or from work on most weeknights?
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Old 04-18-05, 01:04 PM   #8
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I have no ideas what the empty miles thing means that is why I was asking. Sounds as though it is BS. Clearly it wasn't all down hill and it for sure wasn't flat.

Here is the ride I did. http://www.centrebike.org/rides/pennscave.html I live 2 miles into their loop so my ride is 4 miles shorter than the mapped ride.
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Old 04-18-05, 01:55 PM   #9
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the only empty mile would be 100% downhill, no pedaling. Even then you're actually expending energy to hold yourself upright, balance, etc.
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Old 04-18-05, 02:20 PM   #10
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When runners refer to "empty" or "junk" miles they mean miles without a purpose. Therefore "empty" miles would be miles that are run or ridden too hard to allow to allow for recovery but too easy for speed/hill progress. For weight loss, though, there are no "empty" miles.
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Old 04-19-05, 05:55 AM   #11
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Great thanls for all the responses guys.
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Old 04-19-05, 06:21 AM   #12
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Weight loss is about a calorie deficit, but exercise goes a long way to improve "fitness".

It's easier to lose weight if you have a degree of fitness to go along with it. An athlete with a higher V02 max is capable of burning more oxygen. Fat burning is an aerobic activity (carbohydrate is anaerobic) so a athlete with a higher Vo2 max is capable of burning more calories as fat (rather than carbohydrate)
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Old 04-19-05, 06:30 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sm266
When runners refer to "empty" or "junk" miles they mean miles without a purpose. Therefore "empty" miles would be miles that are run or ridden too hard to allow to allow for recovery but too easy for speed/hill progress. For weight loss, though, there are no "empty" miles.
yep.

for RACERS you can have empty miles - usually related to Overtraining: meaning miles that you ride that do not help much in achieving you training goals b/c they have little training effect but prohibit effective recovery or tire you out too much for more effective training. e.g. if a racer is already through his base aerobic phase and then in "race mode" and does a hard interval workout one day and then the following day rides 50 miles these are probably "empty miles" in that they have little or no positive training effect. (maybe even negative as more than a short spinning recovery ride after hard training can prevent effective recovery)

as was said above, for weight loss there are basically no empty miles as calorie burning is your goal.

P.S. for weight loss a DAILY commute of "only 7 miles" IS VERY SIGNIFICANT!! most importantly b/c you do it every day this becomes your BASE. don't discount the added effect of your commute!
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Old 04-19-05, 08:47 AM   #14
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Fat burning is an aerobic activity (carbohydrate is anaerobic)
Actually, carbohydrate (glycogen) can be broken down both aerobically and anaerobically. Glycogen is good for only about 2-3 minutes when used anaerobically, up to 90 minutes aerobically. Running out of glycogen is what causes the "bonk".
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Old 04-22-05, 09:36 PM   #15
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I share the same problem. After going from 242 to 206 I seem to have leveled out and could'nt drop below the 206. After buying a new computer for my bike (cateye astrale 8) that has a cadence feature, I can maintain a minimum cadence (90 or better) and push myself more. It also helps if you break your meals up during the day and eat smaller portions. This takes some getting use to but, is more of a discipline. Try 4-5 meals per day. This is my second week of 4 meals a day, it took me while to get used to feeling hungary but combined with riding it seems to be starting to work on my metabolisim.

Good Luck!

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