Go Back  Bike Forums > Bike Forums > Road Cycling
Reload this Page >

Calorie Surplus Required for Improvement (other than weight loss)?

Notices
Road Cycling ďIt is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.Ē -- Ernest Hemingway

Calorie Surplus Required for Improvement (other than weight loss)?

Old 11-14-12, 06:30 PM
  #1  
Parson
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Jul 2012
Location: Hamilton ON
Posts: 67
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Calorie Surplus Required for Improvement (other than weight loss)?

When reading about weight training and building muscle, the consensus seems to be that the only way to build muscle is to be in a caloric surplus. As a result of this thinking, a lot of guys into weight lifting go through a "bulking phase" where they eat lots and gain weight, followed by "cutting phase" where they eat less and try to loose fat and as little muscle as possible.

There doesn't seem to be the same thinking in the cycling community. It seems that lots of people are trying to consistently loose weight while also getting stronger on their bike and having positive physiological adaptations happening.

I'm wondering, is it then possible to get stronger muscles and build more blood vessels and mitochondria while being in a caloric deficit?

What are people's thoughts on these seemingly opposed two ways of thinking?
Parson is offline  
Old 11-14-12, 06:46 PM
  #2  
st3venb
internettubes engineer
 
st3venb's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2012
Location: Mesa, Az.
Posts: 305

Bikes: 2012 Felt Z85

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Originally Posted by Parson
When reading about weight training and building muscle, the consensus seems to be that the only way to build muscle is to be in a caloric surplus. As a result of this thinking, a lot of guys into weight lifting go through a "bulking phase" where they eat lots and gain weight, followed by "cutting phase" where they eat less and try to loose fat and as little muscle as possible.

There doesn't seem to be the same thinking in the cycling community. It seems that lots of people are trying to consistently loose weight while also getting stronger on their bike and having positive physiological adaptations happening.

I'm wondering, is it then possible to get stronger muscles and build more blood vessels and mitochondria while being in a caloric deficit?

What are people's thoughts on these seemingly opposed two ways of thinking?

As a person trying to do this very thing... Let me start with... IT'S ****ING AMAZINGLY DIFFICULT AND FRUSTRATING.

You either lose weight, or you gain weight / muscle.

It can be done, but it's a very long and slow frustrating road.
st3venb is offline  
Old 11-14-12, 07:03 PM
  #3  
Bacciagalupe
Professional Fuss-Budget
 
Bacciagalupe's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2005
Posts: 6,493
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 31 Post(s)
Liked 24 Times in 14 Posts
Cyclists (and endurance athletes in general) don't need or want lots of bulk and big muscles.

It's mostly the amateurs who are looking to lose weight. The absolute last thing you want in that scenario is a calorie surplus.

The advanced amateurs and pros focus on increasing their power-to-weight ratio. Do more with less. Hence, you don't want a "bulking phase."

And regardless of your status or goals, the primary focus of an endurance athlete is not raw strength, it's maximizing the efficiency of the aerobic system.

By the way, the pros who are doing stage races -- and a handful of riders who are doing truly insane events like RAAM -- can burn through anywhere from 5,000 to 10,000 calories a day. Just replenishing that is tough enough, especially for the ultra riders who spend all day and all night on the bike.
Bacciagalupe is offline  
Old 11-14-12, 07:29 PM
  #4  
gregf83 
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: Vancouver, BC
Posts: 9,201
Mentioned: 11 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1186 Post(s)
Liked 289 Times in 177 Posts
Originally Posted by Parson
There doesn't seem to be the same thinking in the cycling community. It seems that lots of people are trying to consistently loose weight while also getting stronger on their bike and having positive physiological adaptations happening.

I'm wondering, is it then possible to get stronger muscles and build more blood vessels and mitochondria while being in a caloric deficit?
It's not uncommon to maintain or lose weight and increase power which is different than getting 'stronger'. Cycling is primarily an aerobic sport and you don't need to increase strength to increase power.

So it's possible to increase your steady state power and decrease weight at the same time. However, if you are trying to increase your sprint power/weight you have to do one or the other. It doesn't appear possible to do both.
gregf83 is offline  
Old 11-14-12, 07:50 PM
  #5  
ADSW
Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2012
Location: Massachusetts
Posts: 45

Bikes: Felt

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
so heres the dealio. There has been research done showing that when you are given a constant amount of exercise and change variables like youre diet there are 3 scenarios that can occur.

1) If an individual wanted to lose weight and not muscle using only dieting, the percentage of weight loss would be composed of approximately 72% fat weight and 28% fat-free weight (fat free weight can include lean tissue, water, glycogen, etc.)

2) If an individual wanted to lose weight and not muscle using dieting and exercise the percentage of weight loss would be composed of about 80 % fat weight and 20% fat-free weight.

3) If an individual wanted to lose weight and not muscle using only exercise the percentage of weight loss would be about 95% fat weight and 5% fat-free weight.

So how do we interpret these findings? It's better to not restrict your caloric intake and simply eat what you would normally eat (but be serious about what you're eating, obviously pizza, donuts, cheeseburgers etc. will be a detriment on your riding abilities).

Findings are from research by Donnelly, J., Jakic, J., & Gunderson, S. (1991) Effect of very low calorie diets and exercise. Sports Medicine. 12. No. 4. p. 237-249

If I knew how to upload a document and show you the graph it might help to explain the findings. But I don't.

Last edited by ADSW; 11-14-12 at 07:56 PM.
ADSW is offline  
Old 11-15-12, 12:13 PM
  #6  
Looigi
Senior Member
 
Looigi's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2010
Posts: 8,951
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 14 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 11 Times in 10 Posts
Originally Posted by ADSW
... It's better to not restrict your caloric intake and simply eat what you would normally eat (but be serious about what you're eating, obviously pizza, donuts, cheeseburgers etc. will be a detriment on your riding abilities)...
Do any significant amount of aerobic exercise and you'll be much hungrier due to the extra calories expended. Two hrs of vigorous riding is ~1500 calories. This will drive you to eat more than what you would "normally eat" without doing that exercise. If you manage to continue to eat only what you normally ate without exercise, you are on a calorie restricted diet.
Looigi is offline  
Old 11-15-12, 12:27 PM
  #7  
teflondog
I <3 1911s
 
teflondog's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2011
Location: San Jose, California
Posts: 33

Bikes: 2010 Cervelo S2, 2012 Cannondale CAAD8, 2012 BMC SL01, 2012 BMC SLR01

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Originally Posted by Parson
When reading about weight training and building muscle, the consensus seems to be that the only way to build muscle is to be in a caloric surplus. As a result of this thinking, a lot of guys into weight lifting go through a "bulking phase" where they eat lots and gain weight, followed by "cutting phase" where they eat less and try to loose fat and as little muscle as possible.

There doesn't seem to be the same thinking in the cycling community. It seems that lots of people are trying to consistently loose weight while also getting stronger on their bike and having positive physiological adaptations happening.

I'm wondering, is it then possible to get stronger muscles and build more blood vessels and mitochondria while being in a caloric deficit?

What are people's thoughts on these seemingly opposed two ways of thinking?
It's technically possible to get stronger while being in a caloric deficit. One factor attributed to a person's physical strength is neuromuscular efficiency. When your CNS gets stronger, your body will be able to handle a bigger load even if you do not gain any muscle.

As a weight lifter, I prefer to go through bulking, cutting, and recovery phases since the gains are much faster. It's a "2 steps forward; 1 step back" approach. It's not much different than a base and build phase in cycling. You can't always build or you'll burn yourself out eventually.

Last edited by teflondog; 11-15-12 at 12:32 PM.
teflondog is offline  
Old 11-15-12, 12:42 PM
  #8  
ls01
he said member
 
ls01's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: is everything
Posts: 12,731

Bikes: yes please

Mentioned: 4 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 2293 Post(s)
Liked 1,579 Times in 950 Posts
I ve been in a bulking phase for 49 years.
ls01 is offline  
Old 11-15-12, 12:59 PM
  #9  
Carbonfiberboy 
just another gosling
 
Carbonfiberboy's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: Everett, WA
Posts: 19,202

Bikes: CoMo Speedster 2003, Trek 5200, CAAD 9, Fred 2004

Mentioned: 113 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 3734 Post(s)
Liked 1,737 Times in 1,267 Posts
Originally Posted by Parson
When reading about weight training and building muscle, the consensus seems to be that the only way to build muscle is to be in a caloric surplus. As a result of this thinking, a lot of guys into weight lifting go through a "bulking phase" where they eat lots and gain weight, followed by "cutting phase" where they eat less and try to loose fat and as little muscle as possible.

There doesn't seem to be the same thinking in the cycling community. It seems that lots of people are trying to consistently loose weight while also getting stronger on their bike and having positive physiological adaptations happening.

I'm wondering, is it then possible to get stronger muscles and build more blood vessels and mitochondria while being in a caloric deficit?

What are people's thoughts on these seemingly opposed two ways of thinking?
I work on this every fall. I think a good approach is to go back to our college dorm days and define our terms. What's "strength" or "stronger muscles?" As racing commenters always say, "the strongest cyclist will win." Undoubtedly true as long as nothing goes wrong. However, "strength" can have many meanings.

Therefore, I'm not sure what the OP is asking about getting stronger. Is it possible to increase 1RM on the leg sled? Is it possible to increase the weight at 50 reps? Is it possible to sprint faster? To climb faster?

Any of us who've been in the weight room much realize that initial gains in the weight room come mostly from muscle fiber recruitment, not muscle size increase. So that has nothing to do with diet. Building "more blood vessels and mitochondria" also requires protein, same as increasing the size of muscle cells.

So basically, if you want to increase stuff, you have to eat the stuff you want to increase, in a quantity that is greater than what just gets burned off, or it doesn't stay around. A more interesting question might be, "Can you trade fat for protein?" IOW, can you stay the same weight, gaining muscle and losing fat? I have one of those fancy scales that tells you all your percentages. I know they aren't accurate, but I think they do accurately show personal changes over time. My scale says, "Yes, you can."

As to the question about bodybuilders, no, that doesn't apply to cyclists. None of it. Not the way they eat, not the way they exercise, not the way they periodize.

As to why cyclists do what they do, as previous commenters have noted, unless you're a pure sprinter, it's about power to weight at LT. Not much to do with how much you can sled. Completely different question. Race winners often become so because they lost a lot of protein.
Carbonfiberboy is offline  
Old 11-15-12, 01:30 PM
  #10  
ADSW
Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2012
Location: Massachusetts
Posts: 45

Bikes: Felt

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Originally Posted by Looigi
Do any significant amount of aerobic exercise and you'll be much hungrier due to the extra calories expended. Two hrs of vigorous riding is ~1500 calories. This will drive you to eat more than what you would "normally eat" without doing that exercise. If you manage to continue to eat only what you normally ate without exercise, you are on a calorie restricted diet.
Very intuitive and I understand what you are saying. However, What the OP is saying is if it is possible to gain muscle / mitochondria without going into caloric deficit. If we want to base our nutrition on the 2,000 calorie per day theory (IMO, low for a cyclist), and we expend +- 1500 calories on a 2 hour ride...we are still not in a caloric deficit. Yes, you will be hungry, but no, you will not be in a caloric deficit.
ADSW is offline  
Old 11-15-12, 02:42 PM
  #11  
hhnngg1
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2010
Posts: 3,456
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 50 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 2 Times in 2 Posts
Yes, you can absolutely improve ( a lot ) even while losing weight by restricting calories. Endurance sports doesn't require a lot of muscle mass; a lot of the gains can be made with normal diet quantities of protein and carbs. You don't need some calorie surplus like bodybuilders who are bulking up and intentionally trying to gain large amounts of weight. In fact, most competitive cyclists coming from the off season will drop at least a few pounds, which shows that they're eating less calories than maintenance, but they're still improving.

You really need to eat a balaned diet with enough calories so that you can still do strong workouts at various distances. You don't need a surplus.
hhnngg1 is offline  
Related Topics
Thread
Thread Starter
Forum
Replies
Last Post
Pasty
General Cycling Discussion
161
11-25-17 09:49 AM
Kertrek
Training & Nutrition
3
10-01-15 06:43 PM
Raigoki
Training & Nutrition
5
12-30-14 10:03 AM
Mark Stone
Clydesdales/Athenas (200+ lb / 91+ kg)
25
06-04-14 06:46 PM
Mithrandir
Clydesdales/Athenas (200+ lb / 91+ kg)
12
05-16-12 09:22 AM

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off


Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Terms of Service - Do Not Sell or Share My Personal Information -

Copyright © 2023 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use.