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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm trying to drop about 25-30 lbs. I've usually been around 200, but in the last two years I've crept up to around 230.

I'm looking for a bit of insight regarding calorie intake for cycling and how it relates to losing weight. I've been keeping track of calories and exercise on Livestrong.com, just to get an idea of where I stand. I realize that weight loss is not just about calories in/calories out and that the quality and type of food has as much to do with it as anything, but keeping track fo calories has brought to the forefront a couple of issues that I'm trying to puzzle out.

By all accounts, I need somewhere around 3000 calories just for my daily bodily function. On the days I ride, I burn a ton of calories (sometimes as high as 7000, but usually in the 2500-3500 range), and it's usually very difficult to consume enough calories to equal what I've burned. On the days I don't ride, I find the opposite is true - that it's difficult to eat fewer than 3000. In the beginning I was finding that on some non-riding days I was consuming upwards of 5000 calories.

Normal conventional wisdom regarding weightloss seems to be to cut 500 calories per day to lose a pound a week. Any more than that and you risk kicking your body into starvation mode which makes it difficult or impossible to lose fat.

The question is, when burning tons of calories in an endurance exercise,. does this still hold true? If one burns 7000 calories on a 75 mile ride, and normally requires 3000 calories, is it necessary to consume 9,500 calories or can some of that calorie load be spread out over the previous and next days?

It seems to me that cycling long distances puts your body into a whole other realm of energy use and body chemistry, as opposed to say, just walking on the treadmill or hitting the gym for a 40 minute weight workout. It seems logical to me that the same rules for food consumption don't necessarily apply if you are trying to use long distance cycling to lose weight. Thoughts?
 

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How are you figuring the amount of calories burned? Most web sites and calculators are highly optimistic. A good rule of thumb is 30 to 35 calories per mile. To burn 7000 calories, you'd have to ride around 200 mi in a day.

Yes, it is just about calories in < calories out. That's it. Don't try to make it difficult. I lost 65 pounds in 9 months using that simple formula. I ate just 1800 calories a day. Rode a lot too. I did not count bars/supplements that I ate while on-bike, as I kept those to about 250 cal/hour on rides over 2 hours. However, if I took a lunch break, that was added in to the daily total. I did not factor in calories burned, as the only way to get an accurate count is with a power meter. 1800 a day, and you'll lose weight.
 

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yeah, double check your calorie counts

you don't burn 7000 calories in one day EVER

focus on riding for at least an hour every time you go out
 

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You need to burn more than you consume to lose weight. End of story.
Sounds like you're just working yourself into an unproductive confusion for no apparent reason (and overestimating calories burnt).
 

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Hank Stamper said:
You need to burn more than you consume to lose weight. End of story.
That's what I did last year and lost 36lbs in six months - kinda what the OP is trying to do. I didn't give a rat's buttocks about calorie numbers. Numbers/scmumbers. I just cut down on unnecessary stuff until the weight started to come off and then I held my eating at that. It worked perfectly.
 

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Calorie counts aside, here's another take on weight loss through cycling.

Riding at different levels of effort burns different amount of calories, but the difference between moderate effort and extreme effort is mostly in the amounts of carbs that are burned. Fat burning increases slightly, from moderate to high effort, but not much. The result is that to burn fat one needs hours and hours of moderate riding, rather than short high intensity efforts. Essentially, fat is burned by the amount of time spent exercising, not the effort of the exercise (up to a limit of extra-easy exercise).

The food you eat needs to supply the carbs you burn on a ride. The riding time will burn the fat.
 

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Andy69 said:
I realize that weight loss is not just about calories in/calories out
Weight loss IS about calories in vs calories out. When talking about weight gain or loss in generic terms, it is about how much carbon, oxygen, hydrogen, nitrogen, and other elements you have "in" your body. You have to lose (exhale) more then you ingest.

Andy69 said:
that the quality and type of food has as much to do with it as anything,
The type of food in combination with macronutrient makeup, timing, exercsie, etc. determine (to some extent) the composition of the weight lost while in negative energy balance.

You can burn upwards of 7000 kcal in a day of continous movement. Like ultra endurance events, adventure racing, RAAM, etc.
 

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If you're using the LiveStrong site, I would recommend you set your calorie goal for "sedentary" and enter your exercise manually. The 3000 calories per day sounds a bit high.

On the exercise side, I agree with the other posters that your calories burned are way overestimated. I use a Garmin 500 with a HR monitor and my average road ride yields between 450-500 calories per hour (riding fairly hard). The highest I ever got was about 900 calories per hour in a mountain bike race where my heart rate was nearly pegged for two hours (~95%HRR)

Some have criticized the 500 for calculating calories burned on the low side, but based on my tracking calories in and out and my weight for the past couple of months, I think its in the ballpark. Also, when tracking calories consumed, many sources use pretty small serving sizes so its easy to underestimate your intake.
 

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3000 seems high. I changed my whole diet 2 months ago. My target calorie intake is 1200. I was riding 1.5 to 2 hours a night for 20-30 miles a night X 5 days a week. my calorie burn for that was 1,200 to 2,000. All lean meats, fish, vegetables, fruit and whole grains. As little processed food as possible. I have lost 50 pounds so far. 40 to go!
 

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PdxMark said:
Calorie counts aside, here's another take on weight loss through cycling.

Riding at different levels of effort burns different amount of calories, but the difference between moderate effort and extreme effort is mostly in the amounts of carbs that are burned. Fat burning increases slightly, from moderate to high effort, but not much. The result is that to burn fat one needs hours and hours of moderate riding, rather than short high intensity efforts. Essentially, fat is burned by the amount of time spent exercising, not the effort of the exercise (up to a limit of extra-easy exercise).

The food you eat needs to supply the carbs you burn on a ride. The riding time will burn the fat.
One important thing to add to that point is overall energy balance is the key to weight (FAT) loss.

More specifically, you do not need to maximize fat loss (i.e. exercise in the "fat burning zone") to lose primairly fat during weight loss.

We metabolize fat at rest and in the postabsorptive period. Negative EB drives weight loss. Exercising at a higher intensity burns more calories per minute. And assuming those calories are not fully replaced, fat metabolism in the the post-exercise and post-absorptive periods result in loss of body fat.
 

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As said Calories in< Calories out. I've lost just over 50lbs since last february using this principle. also to keep your body out of starvation mode you can mix your diet so that not every day is supper low intake and if the activity level is high it seems to keep this from happening as well. Was 230 now just about 175 and riding faster and farther than I ever though I could after only a couple months of riding.
 

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How did you figure that you need 3000 calories daily? That's a lot. Most men need about 1800-2300 calories.

And your calorie burn calc is way too high. As previously stated, it's only 30-35 cals per mile and increasing the exertion only takes that up a bit.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
sdeeer said:
Weight loss IS about calories in vs calories out.
I wasn;t intending to debate this, really, but it really isn't just about calories in calories out. 3000 calories worth of HFCS and beer is not the same as 3000 calories of lean meat, fresh fruit and vegetables, and whole grains like barley. The wrong food can derail your weight loss efforts.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Most calories burned calculators that I've found put my calories burned for a 100 mile ride somewhere in the neighborhood of 7000. A website calculator like that is not going to be as accurate as a direct measure, to be sure, but I can't see it being off by a factor of two, but maybe it is, Keep in mind that I weigh 230 and I'm finishing that century with an average speed of somewhere around 18-19 mph.

I've been using these numbers for a month and a half and am not having trouble losing. I'm down about 5-7 lbs as of this morning. But, really, they ARE just an estimate, so if I'm really curious to see how much I really am burning, a power meter would be the way to go.

I was surprised at the 3000 number myself (although I try to take in less than that, usually around 2500). I find it difficult, though. My body is constantly giving signals that I need more calories (and not because I eat junk. The only thing I eat that could be considered junk from a weight loss perspective is beer).

Anyway, my real intention in this post is to see if anyone had any input as to the disparity of calories on ride vs nonride days and if having a large calorie deficit on ride days (say, 2000-2500 calories) and a small calorie overage on nonride days (say, 500) is going to eventually derail weight loss efforts. Well, not derail necessarily, but would eating a consistent 500 calories less even on ride days be more conducive to long termn weight loss.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
BTW, I appreciate the input, even if it is slightly off topic :)
 

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Andy69 said:
I wasn;t intending to debate this, really, but it really isn't just about calories in calories out. 3000 calories worth of HFCS and beer is not the same as 3000 calories of lean meat, fresh fruit and vegetables, and whole grains like barley. The wrong food can derail your weight loss efforts.

BUZZ.....It is and always will be about Energy balance for weight loss.....

http://www.thestar.com/article/861244--losing-weight-in-the-twinkie-of-an-eye

http://www.metronews.ca/vancouver/life/article/633934--you-are-not-what-you-eat
 

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Andy69 said:
Most calories burned calculators that I've found put my calories burned for a 100 mile ride somewhere in the neighborhood of 7000. A website calculator like that is not going to be as accurate as a direct measure, to be sure, but I can't see it being off by a factor of two, but maybe it is, Keep in mind that I weigh 230 and I'm finishing that century with an average speed of somewhere around 18-19 mph.
7000 cal for that ride is likely about 45-50% too HIGH an estimate. The calorie counters ARE off by that much.

30-35cal per mile is reasonable.

And yes, it really is about cal in<cal out.

Don't make it more complicated. Eat less. Your body will adapt.
 

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I highly doubt that you burn 7000 cals in a day. Maybe if you were doing a 24hr solo race. And yes weight loss is as easy as cal in vs cal out. The quality of food only determines how you feel and how well the food will last you. I know for a fact seeing as im your same weight that I need to eat at 1800 cals a day for 1 week to lose one pound of weight(emphasis on weight, no one says it will be fat.). This is all very complicated and I dont feel like explaining it all. But if you are interested go to body building dot com and go on their losing fat forum it helped me alot.
 

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adirondack blues said:
Ride more, eat less. Do more intensity- intervals, climbs, etc.- this really helps you drop the pounds. Riding around at an easy pace will not help the average 10 hr/week rider lose weight- there's just not enough time spent riding to have much benefit.
I agree with what you said, BUT in addition to eating less, we need to eat better. If a person is plump, it's also because s/he needs to eat better food. Cut out processed, crappy foods. So much food is loaded with chemicals and sodium that it is impossible to remain fit if we eat that stuff. We should eat lean meats, all the fruits and veggies we like. Stay away (as much as possible) from sugar drinks like soda pop and foods that have no value.

My experience:
After my Achilles exploded in 2000, I gained 45 pounds over 5-6 years because I stopped running and spent a ton of time at a computer. From 2005-2009 I lost 15-20 lbs just by riding, without changing the diet a bit (eating anything I wanted). This last season, tightened up the diet a bit while I increased the distance to 2-3 hours a day and I dropped another 20 lbs. After plateauing, the last ten pounds came from eating better foods and staying away from processed foods in bags. Just my 2 cents
 
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