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Curious about calories

Old 12-30-19, 01:06 PM
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CyclingBK
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Curious about calories

Iím fairly new to cycling, about 6 months. I have been strength training and doing about 30 minutes of cardio (step machine/elliptical) for 4 years. In fact, gym cardio being so boring is one reason I wanted to get a bike.

Iíve had a good bearing on my diet, try to eat around 2000 calories, 100 grams protein, moderate carbs.

My cycling has been around 3 days a week for 10-15 miles and I havenít changed my diet much.

But I finally did my first 20 miles and hoping to consistently ride that and build up to more.

Im pretty slow, around 14mph on a hybrid but I was thinking, even at that speed, at 165 lbs, 1.5 hours or more on the bike can burn 800 calories or so and thatís a pretty big dent.

So, just curious how people eat. Clearly, to maintain weight, muscle mass from lifting, I will eat more. But do you eat more of any specific foods/categories? And do you try to eat a lot before you ride and what do you eat? Appreciate any ideas.
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Old 12-30-19, 02:36 PM
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i think your calorie estimate may be a bit high, maybe more like 600 calories for 1.5 hours. Assuming you aren't going into the ride fasted, then your glycogen stores should be pretty topped off and you could get by with no food on the bike if you want. Then eat back half the calories you burned is a good rule of thumb
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Old 12-30-19, 06:32 PM
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Originally Posted by CyclingBK View Post

So, just curious how people eat. Clearly, to maintain weight, muscle mass from lifting, I will eat more. But do you eat more of any specific foods/categories? And do you try to eat a lot before you ride and what do you eat? Appreciate any ideas.
I don't keep track of how many calories I burn on my rides or during my workouts...However I do sometimes count how many calories I eat, especially on days when I do longer distance rides...I need to be eating between 3000-4000 calories per day just to maintain 160 pounds of bodyweight. I am actually around 157 pounds right now despite eating a massive amount of calories per day. On days when I do longer distance rides I can easily eat around 5000 calories and not even gain any weight. My diet is very high in carbs and protein with moderate fat intake.
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Old 12-31-19, 03:43 AM
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I go with 100 calories for every 5 km. That pretty much matches what Strava tells me. Close enough!

If I ride for 1.5 hours, I usually cover about 27 km, or about 500 calories and a bit.

If I want to maintain, I need to eat 1500 calories + my exercise calories, so if I ride for 1.5 hours that equals 2000 calories.

If I want to lose weight, I need to eat 1500 calories and not bother replacing those 500 exercise calories.

That's how it works for me.
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Old 12-31-19, 04:50 AM
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The standard guidelines are to consume 30 - 60 grams of carbohydrates per hour of riding, which equates to 120 - 240 calories consumed which will offset 30 - 50% of the calories you burn. That translates to about 16 oz of a sports drink and a packet of fig newtons. If you are drinking more sports drink and eating those 300+ calorie sports bars, really not hard to ingest 75% of the calories you are burning, so not much need to change any eating habits! On organized rides, with well stocked rest stops every 25 miles or so, I'm pretty sure I end up eating as much if not more than I burn.

The only thing I do differently for long rides is to try to eat more protein before the ride (like peanut butter on an english muffin) and after, since during the ride I'm eating mostly carbs.
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Old 01-01-20, 02:16 PM
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No, I never eat a lot before I ride. If anything, less. While one might get hungry on the bike when starting to do 20-30 mile rides, that goes away with more time on the bike. For rides up to ~30 miles, I don't eat on the bike. After the ride, I usually eat a little something, a bagel, some soup maybe. Otherwise just my normal day-to-day diet and quantity. That said, I think it's always a good idea to carry one water bottle with some sports drink in it on every ride, just in case I start feeling a little weird.

In addition to the above, when I do say 40-100+ mile hard training rides, all-out to exhaustion, I definitely eat on the bike in the quantities described in post 5, and will have a pint of a strong sugar/whey protein recovery drink after, then keep eating bits of carbs until I get a meal. But don't worry about that until you're doing that.

I ignore calories burned reported by any electronic device except my power meter. Power meters report total kilojoule output, which translates directly into calories burned. Heart rate monitors, wrist devices, etc., are horribly inaccurate, often reporting double the calories actually burned.
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Old 01-01-20, 03:07 PM
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Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post

I ignore calories burned reported by any electronic device except my power meter. Power meters report total kilojoule output, which translates directly into calories burned. Heart rate monitors, wrist devices, etc., are horribly inaccurate, often reporting double the calories actually burned.
To speak to this point, I did an FTP test today and recorded power on both my trainer and my crank based PM. The crank based PM sent it to my computer which, being wahoo, computes the calories burned based on HR, not on the actual work being done.

So, in Strava, I've got the following:
Trainer - 221 watts avg power and 575 calories burned (603 Kj of work done)
Crank based PM using HR - 209 watts avg power (this is a bit low as I forgot to turn it off for a minute or so at the end), and 728 calories burned (588 Kj of work done)

So a direct example of your point, the HR based number is way off.
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Old 01-03-20, 04:52 PM
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A few years ago I upgraded my Garmin (watch). I disconnected the old one from my power meter, and rode with it in my pocket, connected to my chest strap. Wanted to see how its estimates compared. It was almost always too high, sometimes by as much as 45%, other times by as little as 5 kCal over the course of several hours. There was no way to know how much error was in the number it gave you; it could be reasonably close, more often it was way over. Not reliable.

I guess how imported that is depends how much time you spend riding. On the other hand, in the winter I like cross country skiing, there isn't a better way to estimate calorie burn than HR, and I know better than to trust it.
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Old 01-04-20, 07:48 AM
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For rides under 30-35 miles, nutrition - simple calorie replacement - is more a matter of responding to what your body and brain require. It's when you ride to and past attrition that you need to be more attentive to caloric replacement, with more particular attention paid to the activity, balance of carbs, proteins, and fat, and timing to promote recovery and prevent bonking.
Not everyone processes nutrients the same, so following specific percentage rules for protein-carbs-fat is useless, for the most part. I never gain more that 2-3 lbs any time of the year, and my only loss is during the hotter part of the year, through dehydration, sometimes as much as -4 lbs from average (which I replace within a few hours).
For myself, my body tells me what I need to consume when riding under the attrition rate - when my rides exceed 35 miles or so, that is when I have to be more careful, and eat while in the saddle (or at rest stops), and before I get hungry. I never really have to concern myself with counting calories per se, but rather counting carbs during a ride to make sure I do not deplete.
If you begin riding longer distances - those that use up all of your glycogen stores - then you will likely need to be more concerned about calories. If you are staying strong and not drifting far plus-or-minus from your average weight, I would just listen to my what my body tells me...

Last edited by travelerman; 01-04-20 at 01:40 PM.
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Old 01-04-20, 06:11 PM
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I appreciate the replies and experience.

Sounds like I donít need to change much until Iím consistently riding quite a bit more distance.

But even with what Iím doing now distance wise, cycling drives a nice appetite but still keeps you trim.
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Old 01-05-20, 07:17 AM
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If you think you can measure calorie burn from exercise accurately, learn to live with disappointment. All the various formulas will give you is a ballpark figure. There are too many variables to allow dead on accuracy. If you are interested in losing weight, exercise can be a benefit but the best way is to reduce calories. I would start with less intake, exercise regularly and eat real food. Eliminate or reduce alcohol, manufactured foods and sugar. See the results and modify if needed.
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Old 01-05-20, 09:40 AM
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Originally Posted by bruce19 View Post
If you think you can measure calorie burn from exercise accurately, learn to live with disappointment. All the various formulas will give you is a ballpark figure. There are too many variables to allow dead on accuracy. If you are interested in losing weight, exercise can be a benefit but the best way is to reduce calories. I would start with less intake, exercise regularly and eat real food. Eliminate or reduce alcohol, manufactured foods and sugar. See the results and modify if needed.
In my case, Iím interested in maintaining and possibly adding muscle mass as my riding increases.

The answer overall is simple...eat more ; ) But Iím interested in a few specifics as far as the cycling side goes.

Last edited by CyclingBK; 01-05-20 at 09:46 AM.
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Old 01-05-20, 10:30 AM
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Originally Posted by CyclingBK View Post
In my case, Iím interested in maintaining and possibly adding muscle mass as my riding increases.

The answer overall is simple...eat more ; ) But Iím interested in a few specifics as far as the cycling side goes.
How to proceed depends on your current fat percentage. What you want to do is very difficult. Why do you want to add muscle mass? Do you know your bodyfat percent? Have you been taking key measurements? The answer overall is not simple at all, though that all depends on your goals, endgame.
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Old 01-05-20, 11:29 AM
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Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post
How to proceed depends on your current fat percentage. What you want to do is very difficult. Why do you want to add muscle mass? Do you know your bodyfat percent? Have you been taking key measurements? The answer overall is not simple at all, though that all depends on your goals, endgame.

Heres some background.

Im 51, a little over 5í8 and 4 years ago I was in lousy shape and weighed about 182. As a former ďUncle RicoĒ who gradually worked out less and less through the years until basically not exercising at all for 5 years, I said, ďgotta make a changeĒ

I started lifting and working out religiously, nothing crazy but hereís what Iíve been doing,

3 days a week, lifting. Heavy, compound lifts, Saquats/Deadlifts, Bench/Shoulders, Back Rows/Pulldowns. Usually 5 sets x 5-10 reps to failure.
3 days a week cardio, 45 minutes, step machine mostly.

4 years later, Iím 165, I have had a slight calorie deficit but I definitely look like a guy who lifts regularly. Not sure about the ratio of fat lost to muscle gained and I understand gaining muscle while losing fat is very difficult but whatever Iíve been doing, Iím very happy with the results.

So, I hated gym cardio and got a bike in August and love it. Iím just getting to 20 mile rides.

Im not necessarily making gaining muscles mass a goal, Iíd be happy to just keep increasing my strength in my lifts, but certainly want to maintain mass.

I donít think I have to make any changes until and unless I start riding farther and faster. Hoping to to a bit of both this year ; )

As far as my body fat percentage. I really donít know. Going by google pics, lol, Iíd say Iím getting to 15% or so.

Last edited by CyclingBK; 01-05-20 at 01:15 PM.
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Old 01-05-20, 08:00 PM
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Originally Posted by CyclingBK View Post
Heres some background.

Im 51, a little over 5í8 and 4 years ago I was in lousy shape and weighed about 182. As a former ďUncle RicoĒ who gradually worked out less and less through the years until basically not exercising at all for 5 years, I said, ďgotta make a changeĒ

I started lifting and working out religiously, nothing crazy but hereís what Iíve been doing,

3 days a week, lifting. Heavy, compound lifts, Saquats/Deadlifts, Bench/Shoulders, Back Rows/Pulldowns. Usually 5 sets x 5-10 reps to failure.
3 days a week cardio, 45 minutes, step machine mostly.

4 years later, Iím 165, I have had a slight calorie deficit but I definitely look like a guy who lifts regularly. Not sure about the ratio of fat lost to muscle gained and I understand gaining muscle while losing fat is very difficult but whatever Iíve been doing, Iím very happy with the results.

So, I hated gym cardio and got a bike in August and love it. Iím just getting to 20 mile rides.

Im not necessarily making gaining muscles mass a goal, Iíd be happy to just keep increasing my strength in my lifts, but certainly want to maintain mass.

I donít think I have to make any changes until and unless I start riding farther and faster. Hoping to to a bit of both this year ; )

As far as my body fat percentage. I really donít know. Going by google pics, lol, Iíd say Iím getting to 15% or so.
That all sounds good to me. If you wanted to really get into cycling, you'd have to ride a lot more and lift less. Say 10 hours/week total, 8 cycling, 2 X 1 hr. lifting. 100 miles/week year 'round average is good. Work up to that a little at a time. Measuring is good, say bicep, belly, thigh once a month. Belly can go down, the other two hold steady or up a little bit, not much. BMI is good now, could come down a little.
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Old 01-06-20, 02:33 PM
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Originally Posted by CyclingBK View Post
In my case, Iím interested in maintaining and possibly adding muscle mass as my riding increases.

The answer overall is simple...eat more ; ) But Iím interested in a few specifics as far as the cycling side goes.
A power meter has a maximum error of about 5% for bike calories. If you just change the label from kilo Joules to kilo calories, you put yourself in the middle of that range, so the number you get is +/- 2.5% of the actual truth. You can rent a power meter, probably locally, and online if not. If you get to the point where what you're doing stops working and you want or need more precise numbers, rent a PM for a week.

I think we're all assuming this is for road cycling, is that right?

There's a lot of controversy about whether weight training has any benefit for road cyclists. But there's no question it's great for health and fitness. Don't let anybody talk you out of it.
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Old 01-06-20, 03:35 PM
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Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post
That all sounds good to me. If you wanted to really get into cycling, you'd have to ride a lot more and lift less. Say 10 hours/week total, 8 cycling, 2 X 1 hr. lifting. 100 miles/week year 'round average is good. Work up to that a little at a time. Measuring is good, say bicep, belly, thigh once a month. Belly can go down, the other two hold steady or up a little bit, not much. BMI is good now, could come down a little.
Originally Posted by Seattle Forrest View Post
A power meter has a maximum error of about 5% for bike calories. If you just change the label from kilo Joules to kilo calories, you put yourself in the middle of that range, so the number you get is +/- 2.5% of the actual truth. You can rent a power meter, probably locally, and online if not. If you get to the point where what you're doing stops working and you want or need more precise numbers, rent a PM for a week.

I think we're all assuming this is for road cycling, is that right?

There's a lot of controversy about whether weight training has any benefit for road cyclists. But there's no question it's great for health and fitness. Don't let anybody talk you out of it.
Thanks Carbon and Seattle.

My goal is to maximize overall fitness and strength by combining equal weight training and cycling. I really like both.

Id say my overall realistic goal would be to lift for 45 minutes 3 days and get to the level where I can cycle 3 days for 1 to 1.5 hours those days.

Way short of 100 miles a week but given my baseline, Iíd be happy with it. If I could be doing 20+ mile rides, 3 days a week, and get to 15+mph average, that would be fantastic. I try to ďpushĒ each ride and not just cruise around.

One issue is that it takes me 2 full days for my legs to recover after squat/deadlift day.

As far as if Iím ďroad cyclingĒ...I think so, lol!

I picked up a cty 1.1 hybrid. Itís a bit heavy at 27 pounds but besides the flat bars, I think the overall geometry is good for now. I ride the 3.3 mile loop at Prospect Park and generally never need my brakes. But I know my speed will be limited and while a 20 mile ride is still very comfortable, a road bike is ideal
if I get more serious and want to go farther faster.

Appreciate the advice and encouragement. Hereís the bike...



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Old 01-07-20, 11:13 AM
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Originally Posted by CyclingBK View Post
Heres some background.

Im 51, a little over 5’8 and 4 years ago I was in lousy shape and weighed about 182. As a former “Uncle Rico” who gradually worked out less and less through the years until basically not exercising at all for 5 years, I said, “gotta make a change”

I started lifting and working out religiously, nothing crazy but here’s what I’ve been doing,

3 days a week, lifting. Heavy, compound lifts, Saquats/Deadlifts, Bench/Shoulders, Back Rows/Pulldowns. Usually 5 sets x 5-10 reps to failure.
3 days a week cardio, 45 minutes, step machine mostly.
Failure training has its fans, but I suspect you're going to run into recovery issues with that workload eventually. You can get away with it for a while when you're just starting out (and when you're young), but you need to give your muscles time to build back up after breaking them down. I seem to recall that it's taxing on your nervous system, too.

I do like the emphasis on big compound lifts! Maybe consider just having one day of failure or "max effort" (higher weight, lower reps) per week, and other days could be 2x10 or 3x8 with a bit lighter weight and not to failure. Sort of like the low-intensity "recovery rides" we cyclists try to do.
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Old 01-07-20, 02:15 PM
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CyclingBK
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Originally Posted by ThermionicScott View Post
Failure training has its fans, but I suspect you're going to run into recovery issues with that workload eventually. You can get away with it for a while when you're just starting out (and when you're young), but you need to give your muscles time to build back up after breaking them down. I seem to recall that it's taxing on your nervous system, too.

I do like the emphasis on big compound lifts! Maybe consider just having one day of failure or "max effort" (higher weight, lower reps) per week, and other days could be 2x10 or 3x8 with a bit lighter weight and not to failure. Sort of like the low-intensity "recovery rides" we cyclists try to do.
TS, lol, I should have been more clear and, youíre right, if I did all that work every lifting session, Iíd never recover. I couldnít imagine even trying that even if I was 20 years old again.

I only do *one muscle group each day. So the fitness calendar I shoot for is,

Sat/Sun-ride or cardio if itís too cold
Monday-rest
Tues-ride or cardio
Wed-squat/deadlift
Thurs-back
Fri-chest shoulders

I average about 10 working sets per session, about 30 minutes . And I rest a lot between sets. Iíd like to add 5 sets of some type of isolation move to each day.

Ive been doing this for about 4 years. Trying to keep it sustainable for the long haul.

Cycling has been that missing link to make the cardio much more interesting/enjoyable so I can do it longer.
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Old 01-07-20, 09:09 PM
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I figure Iíll just add what I eat....


Pretty much eat the same most days but switch it up on weekends a little.

M-F

Breakfast, fage yogurt. Banana. Maybe some Cheerios is Iím extra hungry.

Lunch, I eat early. About .4 pounds of salmon, chicken, or turkey and greens.

Snack on Cheerios in the afternoon and an apple

Protein whey shake before workout

Dinner, .4 pound of chicken, fish, occasionally pork or beef. Carbs-potato, pasta or rice. Green veg.

Ill throw in an egg sandwich morning after leg day or on weekends but pretty consistent otherwise.

And Iíll definitely take opportunities to eat decadently at restaurants, what have you, every now and then.

I guess if I start cycling a lot more Iíll need to bump up, but seems like Iím quite a ways from that. Canít imagine how much you guys eat if you cycling 100 miles a week and more.
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