Eat yourself fit - Nutrition for weight loss

Keep your New Year’s resolutions and get in shape for the upcoming race season with tips from Annie Simpson, Performance Nutritionist at OTE Sports

by Annie Simpson   January 10, 2014  

Boiled_eggs

January is here, the month we most associate with a healthy start, and no turning back on that promise you made in December. New Year’s resolutions and gym memberships are commonplace, and for cyclists it’s time to knuckle down and focus on your goals for the year ahead.

Whether or not you managed a calorie-neutral Christmas and whatever your 2014 goal may be – upping your general fitness, road racing which typically starts in March, that mid-summer sportive you entered under duress last summer or tackling the local TT scene – improving your power to weight ratio will help.

What is power to weight ratio?


Simply enough, it’s the relationships between your power output (measured in watts) and your bodyweight (in kilograms). For example if you weigh 70kg and your average power output for an hour is 300 watts then your power to weight ratio is 300/70, which equates to 4.3 watts per kg body weight.

If you weigh 90kg and still average 300 watts your power to weight ratio would be 3.3 watts per kg bodyweight. Professional riders may be able to average 5.5 watts per kg for an hour with those capable of winning a Grand Tour averaging 6.4 watts per kg for an hour.

It is thought that losing one kilogram of bodyweight is the equivalent to gaining 7 watts when climbing a significant gradient. Even if you do not train with a power meter or plan climbing Alpe d’Huez any time soon, the concept is still worth taking into account.

Anyone who needs to lose weight can do so, it’s about putting your body in a state of negative energy balance – expending more energy than you consume. However, for those in training it is important you lose fat mass and maintain lean body mass; power to weight ratio is as much about muscle mass as it is about overall weight. Merely restricting calorie intake may end up in weight loss, but this can be skewed if your body is breaking down your muscles as an energy source, not the positive weight loss we are looking for.

Best practice for healthy weight loss is to reduce your daily calorie intake by 200-500 kcal at a time. It may take a little longer than adopting a weight loss diet but by doing it this way your body is not being shocked into starvation, weight loss can be controlled and it’s likely to be longer lasting. You could achieve this by simply cutting out a mid-afternoon snack or by reducing portion sizes at each meal. 


 

Carbohydrate cycling

Carbohydrates are often a hot topic when it comes to weight loss. Cutting carbohydrates out of your diet will help you lose weight as your body will use fat as an alternative energy source, but ultimately carbohydrates are needed to fuel exercise. Without them you will not be able to train to your highest ability or intensity and achieve the best training adaptations.

However, overconsuming carbohydrates will contribute to weight gain and with this is mind it is a good idea to ‘cycle carbohydrates’. This means only consuming high carbohydrate meals when your body is in a glycogen depleted state, typically at breakfast time or post training session. This way your body can reap the rewards of your training session as your muscles need carbohydrates to repair and grow. For the rest of your meals and snacks instead of carbohydrates taking up the majority of your plate, reduce servings and substitute with a slightly larger portion of protein.

This will also help with satiety; that fuller for longer feeling. Protein, particularly an amino acid called leucine, has been found to be pivotal in the maintenance of lean body mass during weight loss. Research by well renowned Performance Nutritionist for British Cycling Nigel Mitchell found that when protein, in combination with exercise, contributed to 35% of daily calorie intake, lean body mass loss was significantly reduced during periods of weight loss compared to when protein only contributed to 15% of daily calorie intake.

 

Fasted training


Another technique that can be used to aid weight loss is the idea of fasted training. This is a complex subject that is often misconstrued but the premise is that you embark on exercise without any food beforehand. This may sound ludicrous and in some scenarios it would be, but when done alongside specific training sessions fasted training can have some real advantages.

The main benefit is the idea of teaching your body how to burn fat as it does not have carbohydrates to draw on for energy. This fat-burning adaptation can prove very advantageous when embarking on long endurance rides because your body learns to spare glycogen for when you need it the most using fat as the predominant energy fuel. Ultimately this means you should be able to ride for longer and help improve lean muscle mass.

However, it is important to pick and choose which training sessions you do fasted. Research suggests you should only do fasted training twice a week. Doing fasted training all the time is not advantageous for a couple of reasons:

1. Your body needs to be able to adapt to both carbohydrate and fat use for optimal performance. It is important to have a mixture of carbohydrate loaded and fasted training.

2. Training in a fasted state will limit the intensity of your exercise as low muscle and liver glycogen will make sessions feel extra hard. High intensity training rides should be saved for carbohydrate loaded and fuelling days to maximise gains.

How long you can sustain fasted training for will depend entirely on your training status and general cycling fitness. Many pro riders can sustain three hours on an espresso, but for those relatively new to the concept, ease yourself into it an hour at a time. The best time to do fasted training is before breakfast when your body is likely to be in a depleted state after sleep.

A great way to incorporate fasted training into your regime is on your commute to work, but remember to do it only twice a week. It is then important that after your session or commute you consume a recovery meal or shake straight away as this helps your body adapt to the training. Eating something that contains carbohydrate and protein is ideal – porridge, a low fat cream cheese bagel or recovery shake would be perfect. Just because you are not eating during training doesn’t mean you should neglect your hydration. Remember to keep drinking like every other training session.

If you struggle with the concept of training on an empty stomach (which is completely understandable) you could always have a protein only breakfast before your training session as the important element of fasted training is to eliminate carbohydrates. Eggs for breakfast with a good hit of caffeine should set you up nicely for your session.

 

Nutrition is individual to you

Ultimately it is important to set out the aims and objectives of your training and tailor your nutrition to suit. If you are planning an intense block of training then do not use this period to restrict calories and lose weight. Focus on optimal nutrition for training adaptations which involves fuelling correctly on and off the bike. Periodise weight loss so as not to impact greatly on your training or lifestyle.

Remember, weight loss is very specific to an individual whether you are racing, commuting or cycling for fun and not all general advice given will work for everyone. For any more information please do not hesitate to contact the OTE Team at thebunker@otesports.co.uk.

33 user comments

Latest 30 commentsNewest firstBest ratedAll

wyadvd wrote:
What is wrong with eating extra fat as a primary energy source for endurance . If you totally exclude carbohydrates from your diet then the body becomes very adept at putting fat to the front of the queue as an energy source . Ketones can keep the brain happy and the muscles can run directly from fatty acids. I know it's true because I did a 600km audax in 38 hrs last summer with no food at all on the ride. And i had been fasting for 12 hrs before the ride started.

ReAd this:
www.amazon.co.uk/gp/aw/d/0983490716

That's an impressive achievement! Literature would suggest carbohydrates are usually required for your muscles to recover, adapt to training and to keep in reserve for that sprint finish at the end. But yes you are correct, for ultra-endurance events fat would certainly be the dominant energy source. For events with high intensity sprints (cyclo-cross or road racing) carbohydrates would be the preferable fuel source. It all very much depends on the event.

posted by Annie Simpson [16 posts]
10th January 2014 - 20:59

43 Likes

This guy has done some proper n=1 research on himself on a 90% fat diet doing endurance sports.:
http://youtu.be/NqwvcrA7oe8

posted by wyadvd [123 posts]
10th January 2014 - 22:32

36 Likes

"What is wrong with eating extra fat as a primary energy source for endurance ?"
Not much at all I found, as I ate 80% fries, burgers and milkshakes while riding the Divide in the States last summer!
Your 600km Audax on empty - what was the motive behind that, if any? Interested, it's quite a ride.

I'd vouch for the fasted training too, had been doing that 1-3 mornings a week for around 2hrs for a couple of years. Seems to have made big changes in my ability to ride distances without sugar crashes as well as shifting weight fairly easily as needed.

posted by james-o [208 posts]
10th January 2014 - 23:42

34 Likes

james-o wrote:
"What is wrong with eating extra fat as a primary energy source for endurance ?"
Not much at all I found, as I ate 80% fries, burgers and milkshakes while riding the Divide in the States last summer!
Your 600km Audax on empty - what was the motive behind that, if any? Interested, it's quite a ride.

I'd vouch for the fasted training too, had been doing that 1-3 mornings a week for around 2hrs for a couple of years. Seems to have made big changes in my ability to ride distances without sugar crashes as well as shifting weight fairly easily as needed.

I was ( and am now) in ketosis. Not only does this suppress appetite, but ensures that virtually 100% of you energy comes from fat up to a surprisingly high level of exertion . It took about 13000 calories to do that ride . Even skinny a$$es like me have upto 100000 calories in reserve as fat. But only 3000 as glycogen if you are dependant on carbohydrate.
So in short , if I had needed to stop and eat I wouldn't have made the 40 hr limit for 600km audax. Eating takes up a hell of a lot of time on long rides.

posted by wyadvd [123 posts]
11th January 2014 - 6:24

53 Likes

I have no choice in the matter. As a T2 diabetic on diet and exercise control, all I can do is avoid carbs like the plague as they cause my blood glucose level to take off... So I'm on a low-carb, high-fat diet ALL the time...

posted by Paul_C [239 posts]
11th January 2014 - 8:53

35 Likes

Paul_C wrote:
I have no choice in the matter. As a T2 diabetic on diet and exercise control, all I can do is avoid carbs like the plague as they cause my blood glucose level to take off... So I'm on a low-carb, high-fat diet ALL the time...

Good for you mate! That's the only drug free way of "curing" diabetes (type 2)and amazingly diabetes uk refuse to admit that the body can adapt to running on fatty acids as an alternative to glucose.

DONT FEAR THE FAT!:

http://youtu.be/dON-fPp5Hy0

Diabetes uk secretly funded by drug companies in a big way:
http://www.drbriffa.com/2006/10/25/drugs-company-accused-of-disguised-ma...

posted by wyadvd [123 posts]
11th January 2014 - 11:57

34 Likes

Thanks. Will look up ketosis. I wouldn't have thought 600km on empty was possible, at least not at a reasonable pace. An amazing ride..

posted by james-o [208 posts]
11th January 2014 - 18:17

35 Likes

http://www.strava.com/activities/59268623

The above is is the gps trace for my 600km food less ride.

If you want to read up on ketosis I can recommend volek and phinneys the art and science of low carbohydrate performance. Also follow some of the links I have posted. I can recommend. The film " cereal killers " on yekra.com as it's made by a triathlete. The YouTube clip from
Peter attia is fascinating but maybe a bit scientific for some.....

posted by wyadvd [123 posts]
11th January 2014 - 19:28

39 Likes

Also check out the Australian cricket teams doctor( they thrashed our spud eating boys btw):
http://youtu.be/JMuD4Z-Oxys

posted by wyadvd [123 posts]
12th January 2014 - 13:51

26 Likes

Eat sensibly, ride often/hard enough and forget low carb fads and Youtube.
It works pretty well for the overwhelming majority of people Wink

I don't follow trends. Trends follow me.

posted by BBB [188 posts]
12th January 2014 - 18:10

46 Likes

Good article by Annie and some fascinating comments, thanks all. While I'm in favour of cutting the starchy carbs, persistent Ketosis does however ring alarm bells for me (though I can't claim any expertise in this area). Intermittent Fasting and 5:2 seem to be a popular current approach.

When I started commuting I would feel uncomfortable if I had brekkie beforehand so started riding the 25-30mins empty. It was never an issue, and it's a 40-45mins ride now. Having read articles by Barry Murray (http://www.optimumnutrition4sport.com/) and others I now do morning rides without eating beforehand, just a glass of warm water. A fruit/snack bar every hour seems adequate to keep the pace up.

Simon E's picture

posted by Simon E [2031 posts]
12th January 2014 - 22:03

22 Likes

BBB wrote:
Eat sensibly, ride often/hard enough and forget low carb fads and Youtube.
It works pretty well for the overwhelming majority of people Wink

Depends how you define "eat sensibly" . It is my opinion (which no one has to agree with btw) that the diet followed by the majority of the western world is a very extreme diet which is causing all the chronic diseases we All seem to end up suffering from like type 2 diabetes, heart disease and obesity. These are not conditions we need to suffer. And I am living proof that a ketogenic diet extends the endurance envelope beyond what most people think is possible ( I'm a pretty ordinary guy) . Low carb is not a fad by the way. It has just become official dietry advice in Sweden after a 2 year review of the evidence by a team of government scientists there.

posted by wyadvd [123 posts]
12th January 2014 - 22:04

21 Likes

Simon E wrote:
Good article by Annie and some fascinating comments, thanks all. While I'm in favour of cutting the starchy carbs, persistent Ketosis does however ring alarm bells for me (though I can't claim any expertise in this area). Intermittent Fasting and 5:2 seem to be a popular current approach.

When I started commuting I would feel uncomfortable if I had brekkie beforehand so started riding the 25-30mins empty. It was never an issue, and it's a 40-45mins ride now. Having read articles by Barry Murray (http://www.optimumnutrition4sport.com/) and others I now do morning rides without eating beforehand, just a glass of warm water. A fruit/snack bar every hour seems adequate to keep the pace up.

That website you mention has what I regard as some really good articles . Especially the one about saturated fat. He explains it really well.

posted by wyadvd [123 posts]
12th January 2014 - 23:20

23 Likes

Simon E wrote:
Good article by Annie and some fascinating comments, thanks all. While I'm in favour of cutting the starchy carbs, persistent Ketosis does however ring alarm bells for me (though I can't claim any expertise in this area). Intermittent Fasting and 5:2 seem to be a popular current approach.

When I started commuting I would feel uncomfortable if I had brekkie beforehand so started riding the 25-30mins empty. It was never an issue, and it's a 40-45mins ride now. Having read articles by Barry Murray (http://www.optimumnutrition4sport.com/) and others I now do morning rides without eating beforehand, just a glass of warm water. A fruit/snack bar every hour seems adequate to keep the pace up.

Seems like you have exactly the right idea Simon, and persistent Ketosis would ring alarm bells for me as well. Everything in moderation- completely cutting food groups out is never the answer. Happy Commuting!

posted by Annie Simpson [16 posts]
13th January 2014 - 11:03

21 Likes

Annie Simpson wrote:
Simon E wrote:
Good article by Annie and some fascinating comments, thanks all. While I'm in favour of cutting the starchy carbs, persistent Ketosis does however ring alarm bells for me (though I can't claim any expertise in this area). Intermittent Fasting and 5:2 seem to be a popular current approach.

When I started commuting I would feel uncomfortable if I had brekkie beforehand so started riding the 25-30mins empty. It was never an issue, and it's a 40-45mins ride now. Having read articles by Barry Murray (http://www.optimumnutrition4sport.com/) and others I now do morning rides without eating beforehand, just a glass of warm water. A fruit/snack bar every hour seems adequate to keep the pace up.

Seems like you have exactly the right idea Simon, and persistent Ketosis would ring alarm bells for me as well. Everything in moderation- completely cutting food groups out is never the answer. Happy Commuting!

Hi Annie, Not being funny but other than "ringing bells" do you have any recent papers which show that moderate protein ketogenic diets are not good for you in the context of daily vigorous activity (30 miles of cycling for instance)? Because I have a job finding any on Google scholar. Of course I'm assuming that your entire article is based on the latest evidence.

posted by wyadvd [123 posts]
14th January 2014 - 12:16

20 Likes

wyadvd wrote:

Hi Annie, Not being funny but other than "ringing bells" do you have any recent papers which show that moderate protein ketogenic diets are not good for you in the context of daily vigorous activity (30 miles of cycling for instance)? Because I have a job finding any on Google scholar. Of course I'm assuming that your entire article is based on the latest evidence.

There is limited research on this area, but there is a wealth of research showing carbohydrates improve high intensity exercise. I have not seen a wealth of studies yet with performance outcomes to suggest ketogenic diets are the best practise for those part-taking in high intensity events. There is however promising research for weigh-lose for the obese and those in resistance training.

I agree it has its place for those doing ultra-endurance events or those working on adapting their energy utilisation, but for those in racing scenario with intermittent intensity I would worry if no carbohydrates were being consumed.

This is my opinion formed from my studies and my interpretation of the recent research, obviously you are entitled to your own. Thanks for your input

posted by Annie Simpson [16 posts]
15th January 2014 - 12:49

26 Likes

Well I can agree with you there. But what worries me is that what is often recommended for optimum sporting performance isn't always best for optimum health overall. There is lot of anecdotal evidence amongst long distance runners who develop insulin resistance and even diabetes towards the end of their careers from non stop carbs. Thats why Mr Noakes has changed his tune. (author of the Lore of running) --he got seriously diabetic in his fifties. and Fructose as a means of getting extra carbs on board may not be too clever.

I would like to add I do a super radonneur audax series every summer, and other than that I have 25 mile round trip commute 5 days a week. Peak sprint performance is not my aim. However if you watch the peter attia clip he says that on long hard rides he maintains ketosis with high carb intake so he gets the best of both worlds. But to achieve this you need to be keto adapted which takes about a month and can be very uncomfortable during conversion. When the ketones start flowing though you feel FANTASTIC.

posted by wyadvd [123 posts]
17th January 2014 - 17:27

21 Likes

I always liked to go running for an hour or so before breakfast. When I started cycling again I did the same. I'd usually cycle for an hour then have a shot blok, and that would be enough to get me home.

Depending on how far I ride, I either eat some carbs e.g. 3 dates before I go, or don't eat anything and then refuel after an hour.

A lot depends on the meal I had the night before. If I ate more than I should have it's not a problem to go out before eating, but if I'm hungry so be it. Also not eating after 8pm also helps to control weight.

My biggest problem is my family's crazy schedule and eating habits and trying to fit that in with my cycling/refueling/rest/cycling...

posted by ronin [153 posts]
18th January 2014 - 11:49

21 Likes

Is there any scientific evidence that not eating after 8pm helps reduce weight?

I'd be interested to read the articles (or better still, a systematic review) on that topic.

posted by Kadenz [48 posts]
18th January 2014 - 12:32

18 Likes

Kadenz wrote:
Is there any scientific evidence that not eating after 8pm helps reduce weight?

I'd be interested to read the articles (or better still, a systematic review) on that topic.

Let me check.....ummm, no. Neither is there any peer reviewed research or systematic reviews that show that any of the fad diets are appropriate or successful.

There is plenty of evidence now that supplementation does not work and that anti oxidants use shows higher early mortality. But this information does not sel books or advertising space

posted by jason.timothy.jones [303 posts]
18th January 2014 - 14:19

22 Likes

'Neither is there any peer reviewed research or systematic reviews that show that any of the fad diets are appropriate or successful.'

You should probably do a bit of research. Try Pubmed as a starting point.

posted by andyp [1013 posts]
18th January 2014 - 14:59

15 Likes

andyp wrote:
'Neither is there any peer reviewed research or systematic reviews that show that any of the fad diets are appropriate or successful.'

You should probably do a bit of research. Try Pubmed as a starting point.

Thanks for the sarcastic comment, I have done plenty of research as a part of my Ph.D, published on pubmed does not mean the same as peer reviewed or systematically reviewed

posted by jason.timothy.jones [303 posts]
18th January 2014 - 16:09

17 Likes

Kadenz wrote:
Is there any scientific evidence that not eating after 8pm helps reduce weight?

I'd be interested to read the articles (or better still, a systematic review) on that topic.

Sorry, should have said me specifically. When I get up early, by 8pm ish, or 9pm in summer, I'm already loosing my appetite, feeling tired. It's nothing to do with science Smile if I eat late when I get up in the morning I don't feel that hungry neither has my body processed what I ate the previous day through its waste management system. You get the picture. I like to get up in the morning feeling hungry.

posted by ronin [153 posts]
19th January 2014 - 19:49

16 Likes

Have you seen the peer reviewed work done by volek and phinney ? Some of the seminal research on fat metabolism in sport was done by them in the eighties.

posted by wyadvd [123 posts]
20th January 2014 - 19:17

13 Likes

Phinney et al the human metabolic response to chronic ketosis without caloric restriction: physical and biochemical adaption. Metabolism 1983,32(8):769-776

posted by wyadvd [123 posts]
20th January 2014 - 19:30

16 Likes

Burning fat with low intensity is a good exercise which i do often, but it doesn't help your speed/short interval training.

(as literature tells, as a result my d1 one and d2 intensity zones are pretty good and i can be very competitive at day-long races/cyclo's, races just over an hour or less are a bit of a problem, so make sure you do the interval training, with suger-buring creatine depleting efforts also or you will loose that ability, especially if that kind of effort doen't come naturally to you.)

Also be wary, that after a long fat burning ride with no food you are inclined to eat the the contents of the fridge, along with the fridge itself, nullifying the weight effect. (a good hot tomato soup can remedie the hunger, be sure to ad protein: tuna, or meat.)

posted by KnightBiker [44 posts]
18th February 2014 - 9:45

11 Likes

Your muscles do not need carbohydrate to repair and grow..... Basic nutrition 101 Roadcc! Carbs to replenish glycogen (the stored conversion of glucose) AND PROTEINS to REPAIR & GROW.

“Never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups.”

― George Carlin

“Talk sense to a fool and he calls you foolish.”

― Euripides, Bacchae

Cyclist's picture

posted by Cyclist [212 posts]
18th February 2014 - 19:40

15 Likes

'Well I can agree with you there. But what worries me is that what is often recommended for optimum sporting performance isn't always best for optimum health overall. '

Being fit for performance has nothing to do with being healthy. If you are at your training/racing threshold for maximum performance gains then you are always treading a fine line between performing, and crash & burn.

“Never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups.”

― George Carlin

“Talk sense to a fool and he calls you foolish.”

― Euripides, Bacchae

Cyclist's picture

posted by Cyclist [212 posts]
18th February 2014 - 19:42

14 Likes

The fat vs. carb argument is fun one... and because we are all individuals, some go better one way that the other.
The scientific fact that is inarguable is that to lose weight one must burn more calories than they take onboard.
The reason fasted training works has nothing to do with carbs or fats. It is like digging a hole, it is easier to make a hole when one starts digging before more dirt is piled on top.
Compare 2 cyclists- both train in the am before work, cyclist A eats prior to training and consumes 400 calories, cyclist B does not consume any calories. Both cyclists burn 700 calories on their morning ride. Cyclist B has a 700 calorie deficit to start their day. Cyclist A has a 300 calorie deficit to start their day. Each will eat through out the day and "pile dirt" into the hole they dug while training. Given that human nature is what it is, both will most likely eat in a pattern that is similar to what they are accustomed to and consume their normal caloric intake. It is easy to see why the one with large hole will lose weight more easily. They can eat more and still have a "hole" left at the end of the day.
If you really want to "trick" your body, break your training into a morning and afternoon session (I know it is hard to find the time). The morning session is ridden fasted and the afternoon is not. The "trick" here is exercise raises the metabolic rate and that carries itself into the next 8-12 hours. When I raced I got myself down to 123lb at 5'10" doing this... used to fairly fly up hills. Of course, I got cold every time the sun went behind a cloud and looked like refuge.

Bryin

posted by Bryin [19 posts]
27th April 2014 - 17:16

5 Likes

Fasted training is great for long distance endurance riding (e.g. >= 12 hours). The ride ending killer on long rides is not fatigue, it is having a stomach full of sh-t and no more room left to take in any new energy source - even sports drink does not get absorped properly - just turns your stomach into into mud. The only solution is to ride on an empty stomach, and that requires practice.

Charlie Horse

posted by ch [109 posts]
27th April 2014 - 18:15

4 Likes