Weight Control / Loss for Cycling

Weight a word which always comes up in the world of cycling, be it for bike frames and components, or our own weight. As so many of the big sportives revolve around cycling and we are all focussed on power to weight, managing our weight is such a crucual part of our performance. In this article, we are going to look at how we, the rider, can deal with controlling/losing weight in an un-complex manner. 

When we take on a long sportive, fuel is going to be key, not just in the event but in our training along the way. If we can get an understanding of how our body works in regards to fuel, this can help us control weight in the lead up to our chosen sportive. 

Our bodies are a very clever piece of kit, yes even better than that amazing bike you sit on, but our body needs to be guided by us and when it comes to fuel we need to teach it correct and positive patterns.

I am sure you have heard people talking about the starvation rides to teach the body to use fat supplies in the body? Well what I am going to tell you here means you do not need to try this somewhat hard and, at times, dangerous method used formally by pro level cyclists. 

The best fuel while riding is the fuel we put in directly while riding, that gel, bar drink will all be used up straight away by our bodies as the best and quickest source of energy, yes that means you are not storing anything but using it which is way more productive for your riding.

Now here is how this will help you control and if necessary, lose weight... If you chose not to eat well on your ride and then on getting home you get that feeling of hunger and start to eat and eat, what your body does is again really clever. It goes 'oh my god you just made me work so hard on little or no fuel I am going to store what you put in now!!' Yes so it will store fat incase you try and do the same thing again. 

  • Eat while you ride
  • More efficient source of fuel
  • Do not binge when you get home

In your day to day diet, try to replace one or two unhealthy snacks with a small bottle of water. Often when we reach for that snack our body is actually after water to hydrate. Therefore by using this method you are helping to lose weight but also making your body more efficient as hydration helps our body perform day to day tasks as well as better performance on the bike. 

Just by following these two simple methods of weight control, you will start to notice a difference in yourself on and off the bike. There are a couple of things to be aware of that not many people tell you however:

  1. When we start out training and asking our body to do more, we undergo a neurological response first. Our brain says ok we need to cope with this as we are, then after approximately 4-6 weeks we get a physiological change. Our brain realises that this is happening a lot  so we need to adapt the body to deal with it now. Be patient there are no good/safe quick fix answers.
  2. Expect to gain muscle so the scales may not be your best friend. As we train more and our bodies adapt, we will start to gain muscle which is heavier than fat but also a lot more useful. The best way to gage if you are losing fat is by using the mirror or clothing and looking for change in shape. This is really positive and is sometimes missed by people who are too focused on scales. 
  3. Look at your climbing efforts, lower heart rate for same the speed up local hills will mean muscle gain and improved cardio, this is more important to look at than weight.