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I understand that the best way to lose weight from cycling is to ride steady miles at low intensity heart rate levels, the so-called "fat burning zone". From what I've read this is around 65% of your maximun heart rate. My max rate is 178 and so this would suggest a HR of about 116 bpm. But I find this impossible. Even just creeping along with zero intensity my heart rate goes up to 120-130. My resting rate is about 65, I am 51 years old and weight approx 200 lbs, hence my desire to drop a few pounds. I performed the recommended uphill sprinting exercise to come up with 178 max, rather than the inaccuarate 220-minus your age.
Any advice greatly appreciated.
 

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Weight loss goals.

After getting cleared by a qualified healthcare provider, you should have a weight loss goal of 10% of your actual body weight over the next X6 months (if your height is 68-70 inches), or about 3.3 lbs. per month. A pound of fat contains 3,500 Kcals of stored energy, so you need a daily caloric deficit of 500 kcals to loose a pound of fat a week. IMHO is better to achieve this caloric deficit with energy spent through vigorous cycling, than to accomplish this caloric deficit with avoidance of foods. I also like to eat, but it is a joy to enjoy any foods, and still loose weight (or keep it off), since my daily cycling training rides ensures a fast and efficient catabolic metabolism, an efficient fat burning machine. I hope you accomplish your weight loss goal. Like the Nike commercial says: just get up and do it! .
Wiaruz said:
I understand that the best way to lose weight from cycling is to ride steady miles at low intensity heart rate levels, the so-called "fat burning zone". From what I've read this is around 65% of your maximun heart rate. My max rate is 178 and so this would suggest a HR of about 116 bpm. But I find this impossible. Even just creeping along with zero intensity my heart rate goes up to 120-130. My resting rate is about 65, I am 51 years old and weight approx 200 lbs, hence my desire to drop a few pounds. I performed the recommended uphill sprinting exercise to come up with 178 max, rather than the inaccuarate 220-minus your age.
Any advice greatly appreciated.
 

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"I understand that the best way to lose weight from cycling is to ride steady miles at low intensity heart rate levels, the so-called "fat burning zone".
.
That's a pile of crap. Carbs and fat are two sides of the same coin. The more calories you burn, and the less you take in, will determine youe weight loss.
You would have to ride 4 hours in zone 1-2, to burn the same calories as a 1 hour zone 4 workout.
 

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"Fat burning zone" myth

Wiaruz said:
I understand that the best way to lose weight from cycling is to ride steady miles at low intensity heart rate levels, the so-called "fat burning zone". From what I've read this is around 65% of your maximun heart rate.
The idea of a "fat burning zone" is bandied about quite a lot, but is based on an over-simplification. It is true that at at lower heart rate zones a higher percentage of fuel comes from fat, but at higher heart rates, a higher total amount fuel comes from fat.

It is true that your body stores the majority of its extra fuel as fat. But the most most effective way to lose fat is not to somehow "target" the fat reserves by exercising within some "fat buring zone", but to instead simply burn more calories than you consume - your body will naturally fill in this calorie deficit by releasing and burning stored fat reserves. The bigger the calorie deficit, the faster the fat loss.

Of course, it is also possible to go overboard in trying to induce this calorie deficit, either by over-exercising or under-eating, so you need to have plan to make sure that you are still getting adequate nutrition for your activity level to stay healthy. The usual recommendation is for a balanced diet with a calorie deficit of 3500-7000 calories a week, for a weight loss of 1 to 2 pounds a week.

So, what intensity of cycling is best for weight loss? The highest intensity that you can maintain, while still allowing cycling to be enjoyable enough that you want to continue doing it long enough to burn the calories desired.
 

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Here is what I have found to work well for losing weight with a goal of being a faster rider:
1. eat enough before/during rides! When you ride the last 15 miles home all bonked and pedalling squares, you are just wasting your time. You don't get any training benefit and you don't burn nearly as many calories as you would if you'd eaten enough to let you finish your ride strongly.
2. eat more frequent, smaller meals. If you try to go too long without eating, you'll get ravenous and eat an entire bag of Cheetos or a jar of peanut butter or whatever you can find. Eat before you are starving.
3. bring healthy food to work. Lunches and snacks. So you are not tempted to eat junk, or go out for lunch and eat more food or worse food than you need. When my wife or I make dinner, we cook extra so there are leftovers for lunches.
4. don't forget to splurge. A diet that is too extreme is worse than no diet at all, because its simply not possible to keep on it. But splurge in moderation, i.e. instead of an entire bowl of mediocre ice cream, have a scoop of really good ice cream.
5. eat to support your riding. Riding more, and eating more to power it, makes you faster than riding less and eating less.
 

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Not Crap

MR_GRUMPY said:
"I understand that the best way to lose weight from cycling is to ride steady miles at low intensity heart rate levels, the so-called "fat burning zone".
.
That's a pile of crap. Carbs and fat are two sides of the same coin. The more calories you burn, and the less you take in, will determine youe weight loss.
You would have to ride 4 hours in zone 1-2, to burn the same calories as a 1 hour zone 4 workout.
Yes, but low intesity riding (or running or whatever) trains your body to more efficiently burn fat, and more likely to burn fat over other energy sources (like that power bar you ate, or your left Deltoid). Talk to any marathon runner. The idea is that a marathon is too long to count on energy stored as glycogen and ya can't stop for a burger, so you have to burn fat. To burn fat, you have to train slow.

Honestly, I didn't believe this until I tried it. So, you're correct on your 'calorie consumption' example, but it says nothing about where those calories are burned from. In short, not crap.
 

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Crap

Calorie in, calorie out.

You will lose much more weight if you sprint for 4 hours as opposed to riding slowly for 4 hours. The only problem is that no one is capable for sprinting for 4 hours so we pick a sustainable level of intensity that is much higher than "fat burning zone" and lower than sprinting.

The way to lose weight is to put yourself in very moderate caloric deficit over a long period of time. Ultimately, weight gain and loss will be determined by the #of calories going in and the # of calories going out -- not the source of the calories. Excess calories will be stored as fat or muscle while calorie deficits will be expressed as catabolism of muscles or fat.
 

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no, not crap. :)

tobu said:
Calorie in, calorie out.

You will lose much more weight if you sprint for 4 hours as opposed to riding slowly for 4 hours. The only problem is that no one is capable for sprinting for 4 hours so we pick a sustainable level of intensity that is much higher than "fat burning zone" and lower than sprinting.

The way to lose weight is to put yourself in very moderate caloric deficit over a long period of time. Ultimately, weight gain and loss will be determined by the #of calories going in and the # of calories going out -- not the source of the calories. Excess calories will be stored as fat or muscle while calorie deficits will be expressed as catabolism of muscles or fat.
I think you're misunderstanding me. I'm not arguing your 'calorie in, calorie out'. I'm saying by training in this so called 'fat burning zone' your muscles will learn to more efficiently metabolize stored fat over other energy sources. In that state your body is more likely to metabolize body fat instead of your lunch - on the bike and while you're sitting in your little cube.

This is not contradictory to putting yourself at a calorie deficit. Yes, to lose weight you have to maintain a slight calorie deficiency. But by training slow you can better target the kind of calories burned, and trim stored fat faster than just going balls out everyday and consuming less than you burn.

Funny, there's so much written about this subject, especially in the distance running world, I'm suprised at everyone's opinion here. Also, please note that we're talking weight loss here, not the way to make yourself the strongest rider, nor the fastest way to 'burn calories' in a general sense.
 

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brock said:
I think you're misunderstanding me. I'm not arguing your 'calorie in, calorie out'. I'm saying by training in this so called 'fat burning zone' your muscles will learn to more efficiently metabolize stored fat over other energy sources. In that state your body is more likely to metabolize body fat instead of your lunch - on the bike and while you're sitting in your little cube.

This is not contradictory to putting yourself at a calorie deficit. Yes, to lose weight you have to maintain a slight calorie deficiency. But by training slow you can better target the kind of calories burned, and trim stored fat faster than just going balls out everyday and consuming less than you burn.

Funny, there's so much written about this subject, especially in the distance running world, I'm suprised at everyone's opinion here. Also, please note that we're talking weight loss here, not the way to make yourself the strongest rider, nor the fastest way to 'burn calories' in a general sense.
Back to Crap. What you are saying about endurance athletes learning to preferentially use fat is true - also irrelevant to weight loss. For weight loss it doesn't matter where the calories come from (what "kind"). If you burn fat and eat, you replace the fat. If you burn carbs and eat, you replace the carbs. If you eat more than you burn, it goes to fat. If you eat less than you burn, you will replace less fat.

Please see:

http://forums.roadbikereview.com/showthread.php?t=47922

TF
 

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brock said:
I think you're misunderstanding me. I'm not arguing your 'calorie in, calorie out'. I'm saying by training in this so called 'fat burning zone' your muscles will learn to more efficiently metabolize stored fat over other energy sources. In that state your body is more likely to metabolize body fat instead of your lunch - on the bike and while you're sitting in your little cube.

This is not contradictory to putting yourself at a calorie deficit. Yes, to lose weight you have to maintain a slight calorie deficiency. But by training slow you can better target the kind of calories burned, and trim stored fat faster than just going balls out everyday and consuming less than you burn.

Funny, there's so much written about this subject, especially in the distance running world, I'm suprised at everyone's opinion here. Also, please note that we're talking weight loss here, not the way to make yourself the strongest rider, nor the fastest way to 'burn calories' in a general sense.
I'm surprised that the running world hasn't kept up with modern training methods. Just joking -- cycling and running are very different.

Cyclists also used to believe that you could target fat burning by riding at low intensities (actually some coaches still believe that). They also used to believe that exercise over "anaerobic threshold" didn't utilize oxygen and that lactic acid was a metabolic waste product of anaerobic metabolism.

There's really very little reliable research showing that you can train a body to metabolize one fuel source over another. You can probably train a body to be more efficient (more power produced per calorie burned) and raise BMR, but the fuel mixture is not as simple as low intensity= fat, high intensity = glycogen.

That being said, I can understand why runners misinterpret the low intensity zone uses fat argument. 1) It's probably very difficult to put in enough volume at higher intensities while running to get significant weight loss since running at high intensities is incredibly stressful on the body. 2) The stress of running at high intensities elevates cortisone levels. Extended durations of high cortisone levels have been shown to favor muscle catabolism and fat storage.

It is possible to tinker with the endocrine system to optimize certain types of weightloss -- pro athletes are known to take insulin, HGH, protein shakes, etc -- but the simplest idea to promote weightloss ends up being burn energy and don't consume as much.
 

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Oh jeez

TurboTurtle said:
Back to Crap. What you are saying about endurance athletes learning to preferentially use fat is true - also irrelevant to weight loss. For weight loss it doesn't matter where the calories come from (what "kind"). If you burn fat and eat, you replace the fat. If you burn carbs and eat, you replace the carbs. If you eat more than you burn, it goes to fat. If you eat less than you burn, you will replace less fat.

Please see:

http://forums.roadbikereview.com/showthread.php?t=47922

TF
Yeah, not worth arguing here I guess, since y'all are not listening...

I don't disagree with any of the premises in your linked post beacause they have nothing to do with the point I'm making. You are making vast oversimplifications.

We are talking weight loss, speciffically about stored fat loss. Any yes, low intensity exercise will condition your body to burn fat efficiently instead of other energy sources. Until you do that your body looks at available calories to burn - stored glycogen, muscle mass, stored fat. It is least likely to pull from fat stores when other forms are available.

Do I need to say "you need to burn more than you take in to lose weight"? Yes, I guess so, since that's the mantra everyone is repeating here. So, OP, go with that advice, it is true, if oversimplified. If you want to lose weight (body fat) more efficiently and have the time, add some long slow rides a couple times a week. Oh, and maybe get some more opinions from someone who has studied physiology or a nutritionist instead of listening to armchair pundits on a bbs (myself included, eh? :D )
 

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"fat-burning-zone" = irrelevant nonsense, IMHO.

Lose weight by net caloric deficit.

Working hard burns more cals than not.
 

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Don't forget

Not all calories are created equal. If you added up the calories need to eat what your body needs to thrive you're left with little if any spare calories to spend on jelly beans, chocholate rabbits and eggs and shamrock shakes.

If you're just looking to lose pounds than these guys are mostly right, the more calories you burn the more weight you'll lose. I'm surprised that nobody actually tried to address your concern about HR. How are you determining your max HR? It seems to be low even for your age. You may want to try to determine your lactate threshold HR and then work at a percentage of that. Training based on HR is not useless or a load of crap.
 

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brock said:
Yeah, not worth arguing here I guess, since y'all are not listening...

I don't disagree with any of the premises in your linked post beacause they have nothing to do with the point I'm making. You are making vast oversimplifications.

We are talking weight loss, speciffically about stored fat loss. Any yes, low intensity exercise will condition your body to burn fat efficiently instead of other energy sources. Until you do that your body looks at available calories to burn - stored glycogen, muscle mass, stored fat. It is least likely to pull from fat stores when other forms are available.

Do I need to say "you need to burn more than you take in to lose weight"? Yes, I guess so, since that's the mantra everyone is repeating here. So, OP, go with that advice, it is true, if oversimplified. If you want to lose weight (body fat) more efficiently and have the time, add some long slow rides a couple times a week. Oh, and maybe get some more opinions from someone who has studied physiology or a nutritionist instead of listening to armchair pundits on a bbs (myself included, eh? :D )
No need to get huffy! Since you claim that I'm not listening, I'll tell you what. I'll spend the next 6 months doing 4-6 hour rides at 1 mph. I'll use a 50/50 mixture of vegetable oil and water for my sports drink to further teach my body to use fat as fuel. I'll report back to you my results in September.
 

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"Any yes, low intensity exercise will condition your body to burn fat efficiently instead of other energy sources. Until you do that your body looks at available calories to burn - stored glycogen, muscle mass, stored fat. It is least likely to pull from fat stores when other forms are available."

The relative percentage of energy derived from fats when exercising is dependant on 3 factors; the exercise intensity, your diet, and your fitness level (i.e. aerobic capacity or whatever you want to call it). If you're aware of some research that indicates that low-intensity exercise "conditions" your body to selectively burn fat (beyond what's being burned during that exercise session) please provide it. Since high-intensity exercise is more effective at increasing one's aerobic capacity than low-intensity exercise, you could actually say that the former "conditions" your body to burn fat more so than the latter. I'm just not aware of any evidence that low-intensity selectively trains the body to burn fat beyond any benefit derived from an increase in your aerobic capacity.

"If you want to lose weight (body fat) more efficiently and have the time, add some long slow rides a couple times a week."

Again, would this raise your aerobic capacity more so than doing an hour of intervals? I don't know, I doubt it. Raising your aerobic capacity is one way to condition your body to derive a greater % of energy from fats at any given work rate. The other way is to consume a high fat diet. The best reason to ride slow, is that you can do it for much longer than if you ride hard.
 

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A brief engineering lesson

brock said:
If you want to lose weight (body fat) more efficiently and have the time, add some long slow rides a couple times a week.
Brock,
There seems to be a little shady acconting going on here. You have advocated for low intensity excercise to promote the efficient use of fat as fuel. Then you say that long slow rides (low intesity excercise) is an efficient way to lose weight. I say you cannot have it both ways.

"Efficiency" is a ratio of energy out to energy in. If you body is 25% efficient in making energy from stored fat in the untrained state, you may in fact be able to improve that number to near 30% by training that mechanism. Consistent low intensity exercise may bring about this goal.

However, increasing the body's efficiency in turning fat to used energy will DECREASE the weight loss effect for a given unit of work output. I.e. the more efficient a marathoner is at turning fat to miles, the less fat he uses per mile. The OP will not gain any metobolic advantage that will help him lose weight by training that system. In fact, if your theory is correct and fat-to-energy efficiency can be improved, he will be hindered in his quest to loose weight.

Slowing down weight loss over the course of an even is, in fact, the marathoners goal. The OP has the opposite goal.
 

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Advice from a guy with a PhD in exercise physiology....

I have a PhD in exercise physiology. My specialty was metabolism and muscle physiology. Mattv has it right below. Don't sweat all of the details. Just ride lots and eat less!

mattv2099 said:
heart rate is a worthless metric.

Just ride a lot. And eat less.
 
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