It’s easy to lose the excess flab whilst cycling, but if you ride long term the body adapts and it starts to creep back on!
Atkins diet don't work long term. Picture of me in 2006 with a belly.
Dieting doesn’t work long term. Picture of me in 2006 with a 12st belly. Surprisingly I was riding 3 times a week! It took a few years to figure out what was going on.
“I like to live a normalish life and enjoy going out at weekends.  I also want a body that’s lean and fit…but can you have both?”

“I don’t train to race nowadays, I train to keep fit while still enjoying food and drink!”

As a 50 odd yr old, my competitive days are over, but I still love cycling.  I also enjoy food and drink just as much!

Now it’s turned into a battle with the waistline!

Intake more calories than you spend and the excess is stored as fat.
Burn more calories than you take in and the body makes up the shortfall by using  it from your fat stores.

Well it’s not as simple as that.  Stick with any one routine and your body adapts.   Slowly but surely the fat creeps back on!

lessons learnt after 20 or so years of cycling with an increasing  and decreasing waistline is…. Keep your body second guessing by changing your diet and exercise regime.

Once weight starts going back on, change either one or both diet and exercise routine.  It can take a month or two to get the right formula and sometimes eating more can help lose weight!

Holidays I can let go and enjoy!
Holidays & weekends I can let go and enjoy! 9st 12lbs, lean and fit once you learn how to eat properly.

If you have ever been on a diet, you may notice that weight drops quickly at first, only for the weight loss to slow down to a standstill after a few weeks.  Annoyingly weight starts to slowly increase and you feel disillusioned and give up.
Whats happening here is that your body has trained itself up for that diet!  (“and it seems to do that with every diet!”)

“What the hell is going on?”  Read this later!

Its trained itself up just like when you exercise…

“Remember your first couple of bike rides.  You were out of breath  and your muscles were aching.  Now it’s easy to knock off 30 miles”.  You couldn’t have done that when you first started riding!

It’s the same when you diet.  The body adapts to its workload and diet, basically it’s adapted to your way of life.  Bloody marvelous just what you don’t want in this case!

So what do we do to keep the weight off?

Keep the body on the back foot.   Keep it guessing and trying to catch up with with your chosen way of life.

Monitor your weight twice a week, once on Monday and again on Friday.  Weigh yourself at the same time with no clothes on (then there is no excuses!)  Your Monday weight will tell you how much weight you gained over the weekend.  Your Friday weight will tell you if got back to where you where the week before.  If you are happy with the same weight then continue with what you were doing.  But keep an eye on it, as after a while it will start to creep up and it’s now time to throw in a curved ball in whatever way you see fit.  Keep monitoring  yourself to see if you got the right result.  Change as necessary.  Once you have got back to where you were, then continue with your regime until it changes.  ( And it will!”)

Below are some recommendations for having the best of both worlds.”

As most people will know, cycling is just about the best way to get fit and stay in shape.  Just about anyone can do it.   Fat, thin young, old and disabled.
Only excuses will stop you from losing weight, and as we know… … “Excuses never lost a single ounce!”

Don’t starve yourself   . . . Don’t diet!

If you starve the body it quickly adapts and goes into a type of “starvation mode”.  This means that any food consumed is stored very efficiently indeed!  ( and we don’t want that! )
Keep eating to stop from going into starvation mode, but eat fruit, veg, and carbs to feed your muscles.  Avoid bread.

Don’t cut out sugars in favour of substitutes like Aspartame and Saccharin, these mess up your blood sugars and work in the opposite way.  In fact have unrefined cane sugar and eat whole foods, not fat free this, Low carb that.  Whole foods like butter, jacket potatoes, nuts, pulses.  Cook pasta and rice al dente so the carbs are released slowly.  At least you now know what you are eating!

Exercise more.  It sound simplistic but the more you ride the more carbs are burned.  Don’t forget that “after a while the body adapts and as I have found you can be riding as much as 200 miles a week and still put on weight!” ( unbelievable but true )  Thankfully it’s reversible.

Rest.  important!  The day after a good session.  Your body will still be burning fat as your muscles adapt and repair.

Keep your body guessing,   when it starts heading the wrong way,  change food & exercise regimes .  e.g, exercise before breakfast.  Exercise after your evening meal.

Always have a good breakfast, eat lunch, eat regularly, but change what you eat when things start to reverse.  Instead of cereals have fruits and nuts, or porridge and honey.  Take out sandwiches at lunch and eat whatever salad you like.

Not too much in the way of animal proteins,  but allow all foods to avoid binging.

If you are a Vegan then it’s a lot easier, I’ve tried a Vegan diet for a year or so and it’s the best diet by far for long term weight control.  “You just can’t over eat if you are a Vegan cyclist!”  Go on give it a go even if it’s only to get back to a where you were!  Vegetarians have to work nearly as hard as us Omnivores to hold their weight!

Sometimes just eating proteins can lose weight,  But don’t do this one! ( Atkins type diet) Weight is lost at first as the body has to work harder to digest and produce energy.   The moment you start eating (carbs) pasta, bread and potatoes your body will balloon out of control!  The diet gets much worse if you try to repeat as your body will have trained itself up to cope with the protein and you will just stack on even more pounds.  “Yes the human body has trained itself up again!

Drink lots and lots of water to offset the hunger feeling.  This also keeps food moving. Your pee should be practically colourless. ” More water please!”

Don’t eat much bread if at all, as it’s an expert at building your waistline.  The saying goes (” Bread goes to waste”, it literally does go straight onto your waistline).

Try to eat foods that are full of natural minerals, salads, fruit & nuts.

Don’t drink Alcohol midweek (except on holiday!) its 185 cals per pint, save it for socialising at the weekends.

Keep your metabolism ticking over nicely by moving around and keeping active.

Go to bed early with a belly full of water.  “Yes you will be up in the middle of the night but the weight will drop off”.

Don’t eat before bedtime unless the food is high in water content and lacking in carbs like celery or cucumber Ugh!

Cycle more often and to work if possible.

Invest in a smart turbo trainer.  “Turbos have come a long way in the last year, now you can be totally engrossed with virtual reality programmes like ZWIFT

In a nutshell, from Monday to Friday I stay off alcohol, eat sensibly, drink shed loads of water and exercise as much as lifestyle allows.  “Weekends are yours for the taking!”

There is a link or two below that can shed a little more light on this subject.

Why Dieting doesn’t work

Understanding fat burning

Tips for losing lard

Ian Donohoe, Science Technician
Ian Donohoe, Science Tech, keen cyclist and lover of good food & drink!

Share your thoughts and own personal experiences with the fight to keep the weight off?


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