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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 05-18-04, 06:27 PM   #1
Cyclesarah
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How many calories should I eat...hunger, weight loss and fuel

Hi everyone!

This marks my first post on this forum. Everyone here seems like they have some great insight, so I was hoping you could help me out. I must admit I am a bit frustrated! I am a 5'4", 129 lb female (25 years old) I am currently able to ride about 5 days a week, (sometimes 6) with my shortest rides being 1.5 hrs, and my longer rides (at this point) being around 3 hrs. for a total of about 7-9 hours a week of riding, with about 1.5 hrs a week alotted for weights. My question is this...whenever I ramp up my cycling, I tend to gain weight. The problem is, I am always hungry!! I have done the online BMR thing, and it seems that I need about 1800 kcals/day to exist, so in order to lose some of my extra "squishy parts" I have been trying to stay around 1800-2000 kcals a day. But I always seem to eat more, and blow my efforts! I know this is an idividual thing, but what seems like an appropriate kcal level for someone like me? Should I eat less to lose those last 4-5 lbs, or should I be eating more based on my activity level? I am just unsure as I always seem to be hungry...and I try to stay within a certain calorie level but I end up really hungry and I end up eating too much, and before you know it I have an extra pound or two on me.
As a side note, I do not eat typical junk food (no candy, pop or cookies for me!) and I am a vegetarian.
I would really appreciate your input! (I am going to look into seeing a Nutritionist when my husband and I get overseas to our new base - he's in the Air Force) In the meantime...your comments sure are welcome!
Sarah
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Old 05-18-04, 08:20 PM   #2
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Glad to see you're going to a nutritionist! That was going to be my first suggestion. A nutritionist can look at your overall lifestyle and based on that, plus the amount of exercise you do, recommend the proper amount of calories you'll need to consume for your goals. I don't think we can make a recommendation here, since we don't really know you, we don't know your body type, how much muscle you carry, what your goals are, etc. That would be difficult.

I can say that as a vegetarian, you should try and get enough protein into your diet. I was vegetarian for about 5 years, and protein was always the most difficult to consume, and especially with the amount of exercise I was performing, I wasn't able to get enough protein. From the amount of tearing of your muscles from your physical activity, you should be consuming enough protein to be able to adequately repair your muscles. With repaired muscle comes muscle growth, and with muscle growth comes increased metabolism, and with increased metabolism comes weight loss. Capishe?

Good luck with it all. See a nutritionist ASAP!

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Old 05-18-04, 11:46 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by Cyclesarah
I must admit I am a bit frustrated! I am a 5'4", 129 lb female (25 years old) I am currently able to ride about 5 days a week, (sometimes 6) with my shortest rides being 1.5 hrs, and my longer rides (at this point) being around 3 hrs. for a total of about 7-9 hours a week of riding, with about 1.5 hrs a week alotted for weights. My question is this...whenever I ramp up my cycling, I tend to gain weight. The problem is, I am always hungry!!
Hey Sarah, nice to hear from you. Plateauing is a pretty common issue both in athletic training and dieting, so I'm sure your not alone. Still, I'm not sure I quite get your particular problem. While I'm not a medical expert of any kind, it sounds like you are really fit! (especially compared to most americans): 10 hrs of exercise a week, including both weights and biking, a bmi of (stop me if i calculated this wrong) 22.1 ("normal" according to the CDC).

I wonder if when you ramp up your cycling, you're gaining weight because you're gaining muscle (which is denser than fat). Maybe you're hungry cause you need it to build and run those muscles! Are those 5 pounds you want to lose really that important that you want to drive yourself nuts trying to break the plateau? Unless you're training for, say, a bantamweight boxing match, maybe the "train a lot, and enjoy eating more" is the plan for you. Cheers!
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Old 05-19-04, 11:25 AM   #4
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sarah,

one suggestion is to ride at your optimal fat burning heart rate for most of your mileage while you're trying to lose weight.

calculate the caloric output for your rides, and add that to your daily requirements for food. remember that your bmr is *not* what you need in a day, it's what you'd need in a day if you stayed in bed for the full 24 hours - so you'll need more than that to survive!

when i need to drop weight, i use a spreadsheet. i calculate my needs in one column and estimate my input in another. i just lost 12 pounds in march this way in order to get to a good hill climbing weight. my brother lost 60 pounds in 4-5 months and has kept it off for a year now (actually he lost even more weight with a normal diet). it sounds pretty anal, but it helps you in two ways: 1. gets you a semi-accurate idea of your calorie deficit for the day, and 2. helps motivate your diet, since every time you eat something you have to write it down

watch when you eat your calories. try to ride in the morning, for 30 minutes at least before you eat anything at all. eat small amounts of calories throughout the day with snacks - fruit, veggies, and protein ... being a vegetarian is gonna make this last one really hard for you, but it's very important. can you eat seafood? shrimp perhaps for a high-protein snack (i eat grilled chicken breast and turkey). yogurt and cottage cheese are good too. whatever you do, don't starve yourself the entire day, then eat 1800 calories all at once before bed, you'll lose muscle in the daytime and put on fat at night!

supplement fiber - it fills you up without calories. be careful here tho

drink water, and lots of it. small amounts of dehydration can lead to large drops in your body's metabolism rate. also, increased protein and fiber both call for increased hydration for separate health reasons.

finally ... find someone objective who is willing to assess whether or not you really need to lose weight. it is often very hard to look in the mirror and have any idea of how you're doing on the diet, since you know exactly where every fat cell on your body resides! and of course, you will look directly at them when trying to assess yourself. one fairly objective measure is a bodyfat percentage - have it measured using dexa or the water method, then get a bodyfat scale with which you can track relative changes (the absolute values on those scales are typically way off, though they track changes fairly well). in the same vein, have a target weight/bodyfat and end your diet when you get there.
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Old 05-19-04, 11:48 AM   #5
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Hi everyone!

Thank you for your posts. I appreciate your input, and I value your pearls of wisdom and experience!
Koffee...was the transition to meat eating a difficult one for you? I have been considering adding meat (chicken and turkey) in small amounts back into my diet. This stems from some other health issues I am having, and my orthopedic surgeon is urging me to add some meat back into my diet. I would appreciate hearing how the transition went for you!

Chowderhead...Thanks for the words of encouragement. I know it is true that we can be our own worst enemies. I do agree with your point that maybe I am just too hung up on this issue. Perhaps not fixating on it so much would enable me to relax, eat when I am hungry, stop when I am comfortable, and work on my riding. I am very fortunate that I am in the position right now where I have all the time in the world to ride (as long as the motivation hangs around!) Besides..if we work so hard during our rides, we should enjoy (in moderation!0 what we eat, right?
Keith...thanks for all of the info! It seems like you have quite a system! I am currently logging what I eat and cals burned during exercise...my challenge has just been finding a balance between eating enough for fuel/recovery, but not eating too much as to waste all of my efforts. As soon as we get to our base in the UK, I am going to check out the local Health and Wellness center and see if I cannot get a body composition done...and that will give me more to go from. As stated above, I am also considering adding some meat in small doses back into my diet.
Thank you again! If you guys (or anyone else!) has anything to add, I would love to hear from you!
Sarah
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Old 05-19-04, 12:26 PM   #6
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I've heard a lot about the "optimal fat burning zone" and there's no doubt it exists. However, I've found that higher intensity works for me. It tends to raise my metabolism during the whole day. I'm also trying to get in a short workouts before breakfast, but it doesn't seem to be working well for me. My opinion, try increasing intensity-hills, intervals, sustained efforts. Also, listen to your body. Eat when you're hungry, stop when you're not. Drink when your thirsty. Usually, just listening to your body will help a lot, and eat whole foods.
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Old 05-19-04, 04:10 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Cyclesarah
Hi everyone!

Thank you for your posts. I appreciate your input, and I value your pearls of wisdom and experience!
Koffee...was the transition to meat eating a difficult one for you? I have been considering adding meat (chicken and turkey) in small amounts back into my diet. This stems from some other health issues I am having, and my orthopedic surgeon is urging me to add some meat back into my diet. I would appreciate hearing how the transition went for you!


Sarah
Nah, it wasn't difficult at all. The truth was, I was tired of eating all the time to fulfill my nutritional needs, since I was doing quite a bit of heavy lifting (I lift as much as some of the guys do) and I was teaching about 15- 20 aerobics classes a week and still riding on my own time. I was full all the time, which made exercise even more difficult to do, but I knew in order to do everything I was doing, I needed to eat a lot more to keep myself from fading away. I started off with chicken, then added in ground beef, steak, etc. later. I did start slowly, but it didn't take me long to get back into eating meat at all. And once I did, I felt a lot better.

I'm sure you can be vegetarian and still get everything in- you'd probably need to see a dietitan or nutritionist to figure out how. I was just broke and tired, so I just decided it was better for me to start eating meat, that's all.

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Old 05-19-04, 07:38 PM   #8
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cyclesarah>> if you are moving to england, you'll lose weight after seeing what they consider food over there.

add protein by eating: yogurt, pistaccio's and other nuts.

also, hunger and thirst triggers feel the same to you, so make sure you are keeping up on yuor fluid intake.

don't thank us, thank you and your husband for the sacrifices you are making for our freedom.
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Old 05-19-04, 11:26 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cyclesarah
Hi everyone!

This marks my first post on this forum. Everyone here seems like they have some great insight, so I was hoping you could help me out. I must admit I am a bit frustrated! I am a 5'4", 129 lb female (25 years old) I am currently able to ride about 5 days a week, (sometimes 6) with my shortest rides being 1.5 hrs, and my longer rides (at this point) being around 3 hrs. for a total of about 7-9 hours a week of riding, with about 1.5 hrs a week alotted for weights. My question is this...whenever I ramp up my cycling, I tend to gain weight. The problem is, I am always hungry!! I have done the online BMR thing, and it seems that I need about 1800 kcals/day to exist, so in order to lose some of my extra "squishy parts" I have been trying to stay around 1800-2000 kcals a day. But I always seem to eat more, and blow my efforts! I know this is an idividual thing, but what seems like an appropriate kcal level for someone like me? Should I eat less to lose those last 4-5 lbs, or should I be eating more based on my activity level? I am just unsure as I always seem to be hungry...and I try to stay within a certain calorie level but I end up really hungry and I end up eating too much, and before you know it I have an extra pound or two on me.
As a side note, I do not eat typical junk food (no candy, pop or cookies for me!) and I am a vegetarian.
I would really appreciate your input! (I am going to look into seeing a Nutritionist when my husband and I get overseas to our new base - he's in the Air Force) In the meantime...your comments sure are welcome!
Sarah
According to the calculator in my WeightWare program (http://www.WeightWare.com), your current Body Mass Index is 22.1, which is pretty good. For your age, height, and gender, you are at the 35th percentile for your weight (in other words, 65% of 5' 4" 25 year old US women weigh more than you do).

Losing those last few pounds, especially when you're training, can be difficult. You need calories to train effectively, but you still need a calorie deficit to lose the weight.

If you're often hungry, perhaps you're not getting quite enough protein or fat. I've experienced this when attempting a very low-fat diet, and suspect it's one of the reasons for the success of Atkins-style diets - by eating less calories, but more protein and fat, you feel more "satisified" with less calories.

The good news is that even a small change in calorie consumption can trigger weight loss. Try cutting back a bit on what you eat, but eating a bit more protein and fats (e.g., nuts). And, monitor your weight and your energy levels to see what happens.

The good news is...you're already at a very healthy weight, compared to most women your age. And, you're clearly very physically fit too. So, even if you don't lose those last few pounds, don't worry about it too much because you're doing very well already!
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Old 05-21-04, 07:51 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by RiPHRaPH
cyclesarah>> if you are moving to england, you'll lose weight after seeing what they consider food over there.

add protein by eating: yogurt, pistaccio's and other nuts.

also, hunger and thirst triggers feel the same to you, so make sure you are keeping up on yuor fluid intake.

don't thank us, thank you and your husband for the sacrifices you are making for our freedom.

Hey...Thanks for the encouraging words and the great support for my hubby! It really means a lot, esp. with everything that is going on in the world today.
As far as your advice...I am now faithfully carrying my water bottle with me throughout the day, that way I am well hydrated and I cannot confuse thirst and hunger!

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Old 05-21-04, 07:57 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by SSP
According to the calculator in my WeightWare program (http://www.WeightWare.com), your current Body Mass Index is 22.1, which is pretty good. For your age, height, and gender, you are at the 35th percentile for your weight (in other words, 65% of 5' 4" 25 year old US women weigh more than you do).

Losing those last few pounds, especially when you're training, can be difficult. You need calories to train effectively, but you still need a calorie deficit to lose the weight.

If you're often hungry, perhaps you're not getting quite enough protein or fat. I've experienced this when attempting a very low-fat diet, and suspect it's one of the reasons for the success of Atkins-style diets - by eating less calories, but more protein and fat, you feel more "satisified" with less calories.

The good news is that even a small change in calorie consumption can trigger weight loss. Try cutting back a bit on what you eat, but eating a bit more protein and fats (e.g., nuts). And, monitor your weight and your energy levels to see what happens.


The good news is...you're already at a very healthy weight, compared to most women your age. And, you're clearly very physically fit too. So, even if you don't lose those last few pounds, don't worry about it too much because you're doing very well already!

SSP...you are awesome! I believe you have given me some great advice over on the Bicycling forums, and I appreciate your time and opinions. I am going to make sure that I really take into account every "bite, lick and taste" (that may account for some un-accounted for cals) and also strive to keep a good amount of protein and healthy fat into my diet. I am also considering adding small amounts of chicken and turkey back into my diet and see how that goes...and keep up my activity levels!


Sarah
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Old 05-21-04, 07:59 AM   #12
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Koffee...glad to hear that it wasn't a rough transition for you. I am a little nervous, having shunned meat for so long, but it may be a good move for my health at this point. Thanks for your help!
Sarah
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Old 05-21-04, 09:47 AM   #13
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I'm glad I could be of help. I don't know how long you've been vegetarian, but I think the longer you've been vegetarian, the longer you should take to ease back into eating meat. Do make sure you continue exercising as normal and try to go for the organically grown meat, though. The chemicals they put in these animals may cause a weight gain, and if you're not conscientious about exercising, you'll experience a weight gain that won't make you too happy!

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Old 05-21-04, 09:54 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by Cyclesarah
SSP...you are awesome! I believe you have given me some great advice over on the Bicycling forums, and I appreciate your time and opinions. I am going to make sure that I really take into account every "bite, lick and taste" (that may account for some un-accounted for cals) and also strive to keep a good amount of protein and healthy fat into my diet. I am also considering adding small amounts of chicken and turkey back into my diet and see how that goes...and keep up my activity levels!


Sarah
Ahhh...now I'm blushing :-)

Best of luck with your move, and as others have said about you and your husband, thanks for serving.
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