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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
OK, so I have lost 15 lbs. I really only need to lose *maybe* another 5-8. According to my body fat scale (which is not always the best) my body fat has dropped some, too. This is good, so I hear, since if it were to up, I would have lost muscle, vs. fat.

However, my cycling performance is suffering. I *did* start with a new coach last year and have changed a few things up (IE gear mashing to spinning, more interval training/zone training/base training). But, overall, my performance, in my opinion, SUCKS this year so far.

I know things can differ from year to year, but has anyone ever experienced something like this from weight loss? Is my power just gone? I eat healthy, do all the recovery stuff, etc. However, I am angry, disgusted, frustrated, and (sometimes) to the point of tears. I know I am not a pro or anything, but I have worked too hard for what I have earned to lose it.

I XC skied a bit more this year than last (since we had snow), so my aerobic capacity is great. The last LT test showed I *had* lost some power...but this is crazy. I do everything he says, and people who are older than I, who have changed little to nothing, have had a heart attack in early spring, and have changed as much stuff as I have are ALL doing better this year. Me? I stink, pretty much, right now.

I have told my coach that, whatever he is doing, it is not working. And, I am on the verge of firing him. However, before I do that, I really want to know if weight loss can significantly mess up athletic performance, or if anyone else has had a similar experience and, if they have, what have you done about it/what can I do/suggestions?! TIA!
 

· Formosan Cyclocross
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In some cases, when you lose a lot of weight rapidly, and your diet isn't tuned in to giving you energy when you need it, you can really get really fatigued. Symtoms: Lethargy, pressure around the eyes, tunnel vision, irregular bowel movements, nose bleeds... they all point to lacking vitamins and calories. You can train yourself to perform at high levels for shorter periods of time while starving, but for long, endurance activities it will not work.
 

· Darling of The Lounge
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If find myself too grappling weight loss and lack of performance issues. I’m 43 years old and 5’8”. After the holidays, I weight about 155 pounds, and always shoot for a target weight of between 130-135 for peak riding form. Invariably, I start getting down to around 140 and my climbing, which has always been my strength, begins to suffer. I just don’t have the power in my legs. The other guys I ride with tell me that I have reached a point in my weight loss where I no longer have fat to burn and now my body is starting to go after muscle for energy. I do lift light weights at high reps every other day, but just to maintain upper body tone.

After years of fighting with my body, I reached a compromise weight of about 142-145. In this range my, climbing ability is good and I also have the power to pull a group on the flats at a very good clip.

I guess at 5’8” and 145, I will never look like a Cantador, Sastre or Rasmussen, but at least I will enjoy my riding and feel satisfied with my performance.
 

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Weight loss

I think it is impossible to comment intelligently on the OP's issue without some real numbers.

If you BF% went from 12% to 8% I can see it maybe being an issue. If from 25% to 15%, I'd say look elsewhere.

Also this is the wrong time of year to be losing weight, right now you are presumably racing/recovering and doing some hard intensity work to build/maintain power. Weight loss should have been done early in the year. See Armstrong vs. Ullrich saga for a good example of how to do this right & wrong.

Losing weight means calorie deficit, no way around it, and that does not lend it self to peak performances.

Cheers,
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
OK, here's a little more info:

I am 5'4" tall. I was about 153. I am down to 138. I am female. I did NOT lose the weight quickly. It has taken me since January 12th to lose the weight. Obviously, I needed to lose a few pounds, and my body size makes is obvious I could lose a few more--though I *am* more on the stocky side, so I am not looking to become Twiggy or anything remotely like her.

My caloric intake varies from day to day, based on my workout intensity and duration--so, I am not being stupid and only eating a set amount of calories per day, esp. on days when I do 2-3 hour rides. I have been using Weight Watchers, but mostly eating high fiber foods with low fat and lean protein--basically, an athlete's diet. I eat a good ratio of carbs to protein after a workout, and stick to good fats--no fast food, etc.

My body fat analyzer at home (which runs WAY high, so I ignore the # , but use the percentage, since it is a consistent off-amount when compared with what the trainer at the gym says when doing it manually) says I have lost 5% body fat. So, I went from about 24% to 19%.

I know this is not the best time to lose weight, so I have cut back on trying to, and am going more for maintenance. SO! NOW what do people think?! Thanks again :)
 

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Retro Grouch said:
If find myself too grappling weight loss and lack of performance issues. I’m 43 years old and 5’8”. After the holidays, I weight about 155 pounds, and always shoot for a target weight of between 130-135 for peak riding form. Invariably, I start getting down to around 140 and my climbing, which has always been my strength, begins to suffer. I just don’t have the power in my legs. The other guys I ride with tell me that I have reached a point in my weight loss where I no longer have fat to burn and now my body is starting to go after muscle for energy. I do lift light weights at high reps every other day, but just to maintain upper body tone.

After years of fighting with my body, I reached a compromise weight of about 142-145. In this range my, climbing ability is good and I also have the power to pull a group on the flats at a very good clip.

I guess at 5’8” and 145, I will never look like a Cantador, Sastre or Rasmussen, but at least I will enjoy my riding and feel satisfied with my performance.
Are you saying that you try to lose 20+ lbs every year for the riding season? I'd say ride through winter and keep a consistant weight so you start training at your target weight (or very close to it). Losing 15+% of your body weight must be a shock to the system.
 

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few other thoughts

CyclingChica said:
OK, here's a little more info:

I am 5'4" tall. I was about 153. I am down to 138. I am female. I did NOT lose the weight quickly. It has taken me since January 12th to lose the weight. Obviously, I needed to lose a few pounds, and my body size makes is obvious I could lose a few more--though I *am* more on the stocky side, so I am not looking to become Twiggy or anything remotely like her.

My caloric intake varies from day to day, based on my workout intensity and duration--so, I am not being stupid and only eating a set amount of calories per day, esp. on days when I do 2-3 hour rides. I have been using Weight Watchers, but mostly eating high fiber foods with low fat and lean protein--basically, an athlete's diet. I eat a good ratio of carbs to protein after a workout, and stick to good fats--no fast food, etc.

My body fat analyzer at home (which runs WAY high, so I ignore the # , but use the percentage, since it is a consistent off-amount when compared with what the trainer at the gym says when doing it manually) says I have lost 5% body fat. So, I went from about 24% to 19%.

I know this is not the best time to lose weight, so I have cut back on trying to, and am going more for maintenance. SO! NOW what do people think?! Thanks again :)
hmmm, ok, I'd probably rule out the diet/weight loss as your culprit. Losing that amount over that time is not drastic. I don't see anything really weird going on there as long as you are in fact getting proper daily intake to recover & rebuild. I'd start looking elsewhere for the missing Watts....

Cpl thoughts -
1) You said you performance sucks in your opinion. Quantify. Are you testing regularly? Power meters are good but so are long gradual hills where you can get in a good 30-40 minute uninterrupted effort. Mainly something you can benchmark against previous seasons. Also, figure out where you are lacking - hills only, or in flats, or in sprints? etc etc.
2) You mention being very stress/angry/upset - what is your overall stress level like? Other life changes interfering, etc.? These have huge implications on bike.

Your coach should really be having this detailed discussion with you to figure out what is up. As a coach who often has to beat info out of his clients, I would just remind you to be communicating regularly & in detail with him/her so that they can make it a useful discovery process to find the answer. If you've been doing that, and are not getting any satisfactory guidance, then look elsewhere. A good coach will also know when they are out of ideas and when to send you to someone else for help, like the doc.

Cheers.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Karl: to answer...

1) My times for events that I did last year, this year, are a consistent 2 minutes (or so) slower. So, I am lacking pretty much overall. I am not a great hill climber, but they are not much harder for me this year (the 28 mile TT I just did yesterday is pretty hill--2 min slower. The flat race I did not long ago...2 min slower...) I have done LT tests with Coach (his set up w/the power meter thing does not work with my bike), and, it seems I have lost a fair amount of power. However, how much is hard to give a specific number. Last year I could push about 200 watts just fine. This year, I think I am lucky to get about 140-150 with the same effort.

2) The stress is coming from the poor performance. The rest of my life is great! I have taken to doing triathlons to keep myself less focused on my biking performance (because I am a good swimmer, kick it on the bike, and am a plodding but consistent runner). I do not want to burn out on biking, but I want to do really well at it--I love speed! I love being competitive (which I am NOT being, having lost time). I love bettering my times/becoming a stronger rider. It is hard to have fun when none of the above seems to be happening...hence, the triathlons (they are just fun for me). I have also taken to MTBing more, again, because it is something different and distracting (and fun).

I have had a short discussion w/Coach just yesterday. He left for MTB Worlds in Italy yesterday (he is a saunier). I am probably one of his most "annoying" clients--I call him weekly, since I compete almost weekly. He is sort-of setting me up for "The Big Race" I do in August. However, I want to *also* do well w/my other races, and so far, that is not happening.

I told him I am kind of doing my own thing this week while he is gone, and he was ok with that. We are going to have a "come to Jesus" session when he gets back, because even he admits what he's got me doing is not working. I am hoping he is brainstorming on this while gone and talking to his compadres (as he is wont to do).

Thanks for your time and thoughts. I was pretty sure it was not the weight loss, but I wanted a "second opinion" before having this session with Coach. He is pretty ethical, so I am guessing he will refer me out, if necessary. Here's hoping for a better, happier season...
 

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It sounds like you're comparing results on courses that favor overall power vs power/weight ratio. Losing that much weight that fast can result in lower overall power. But hopefully the lower weight will make up for it and result in a better power/weight ratio. That'd have you climbing faster but slower on flat ground. However if the races you're doing don't have any serious climbs or you're not using your better climbing tactically, you wouldn't be seeing any of the benefit. You would see the drawback if you're racing using the same tactics that worked when you had more power (i.e. going off the back on climbs but catching back on the descent/flat) or if you are riding races that reward overall power better than power/weight ratio.

It may be that your coach thought that he could get you lighter for better climbing without your losing much power.

OTOH, it may be unrelated- it sounds like you're kind of burnt out. Have you been getting enough rest?
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Yep! Lots of sleep. I teach college English, so I only teach online in summers (which leaves lots of time for biking--but I DO rest enough, I promise).

I didn't stop to think about the power to weight ratio thing. I actually lost the weight of my own accord (and 15 lbs in 6 months is slow enough, or so I have been told).

We have had almost *all* TTs this year, unfortunately. Not nearly as many races, unfortunately--the scheduling changes every year, and we just seems to have lost some races (which stinks!). So, it is hard to *really* compare.

I will say I feel better on climbs, though it is still not my favorite thing to do. I am guessing some power has gone, but the ratio is better. I am hoping to clear this up soon.

Honestly, I envy men. It seems like when they lose weight, they get faster; when women lose weight, they have to worry more about the power thing (at least, athletes do), because we have less muscle/testosterone, and it is still harder for us to build muscle mass, overall.
 

· The Dropped 1
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CyclingChica said:
Honestly, I envy men. It seems like when they lose weight, they get faster; when women lose weight, they have to worry more about the power thing (at least, athletes do), because we have less muscle/testosterone, and it is still harder for us to build muscle mass, overall.
Too much intensity and not enough recovery?

I've lost about 20lbs ~ since August and am faster than ever. I'm getting quite a bit of miles. I didn't race much last year (I have only raced mountain bikes, btw), so don't have a lot to compare to, but I have been doing really well.

Plenty of sleep, rest, recovery, and just lots of riding.

I also lift weights usually 3days a week (except last week and this week) and will go back to 2-3 soon. Upper body only; will add in legs later this summer to try to build up to races in Oct/Nov.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
"Too much intensity and not enough recovery?"

Nope. If anything, I have done a LOT more endurance and not enough intensity. I guess I just have to resign myself to the fact that I have, somewhere along the line, lost power, and that whatever my coach has been having me doing is just not working for me--at least at it pertains to my power, as my endurance is great right now. I recover very quickly from intervals and from long, hard rides (my HR drops super quickly), so I know I am not over-trained.

*Sigh* I don't know how it happened, but it did. Aside from the gear mashing I used to do, it might be best for me to just go back to training the way I used to. I like my coach and all, and I hope he is able to help. However, if I don't get results, what is the point of paying for the coaching? Time to cogitate...
 

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CyclingChica said:
Karl: to answer...

1) My times for events that I did last year, this year, are a consistent 2 minutes (or so) slower. So, I am lacking pretty much overall. I am not a great hill climber, but they are not much harder for me this year (the 28 mile TT I just did yesterday is pretty hill--2 min slower. The flat race I did not long ago...2 min slower...) I have done LT tests with Coach (his set up w/the power meter thing does not work with my bike), and, it seems I have lost a fair amount of power. However, how much is hard to give a specific number. Last year I could push about 200 watts just fine. This year, I think I am lucky to get about 140-150 with the same effort.

2) The stress is coming from the poor performance. The rest of my life is great! I have taken to doing triathlons to keep myself less focused on my biking performance (because I am a good swimmer, kick it on the bike, and am a plodding but consistent runner). I do not want to burn out on biking, but I want to do really well at it--I love speed! I love being competitive (which I am NOT being, having lost time). I love bettering my times/becoming a stronger rider. It is hard to have fun when none of the above seems to be happening...hence, the triathlons (they are just fun for me). I have also taken to MTBing more, again, because it is something different and distracting (and fun).

I have had a short discussion w/Coach just yesterday. He left for MTB Worlds in Italy yesterday (he is a saunier). I am probably one of his most "annoying" clients--I call him weekly, since I compete almost weekly. He is sort-of setting me up for "The Big Race" I do in August. However, I want to *also* do well w/my other races, and so far, that is not happening.

I told him I am kind of doing my own thing this week while he is gone, and he was ok with that. We are going to have a "come to Jesus" session when he gets back, because even he admits what he's got me doing is not working. I am hoping he is brainstorming on this while gone and talking to his compadres (as he is wont to do).

Thanks for your time and thoughts. I was pretty sure it was not the weight loss, but I wanted a "second opinion" before having this session with Coach. He is pretty ethical, so I am guessing he will refer me out, if necessary. Here's hoping for a better, happier season...
Karl was right, makes sure you know about performance rather than think you know.

1. You think you are getting 140W vs. 200W before. You know or you are guessing? Performance in time trials can be dependent on many things - is that what you are training for? But if you think you are going worse, then you probably are.

If your TT power to weight ratio is up but absolute TT power down, then that will change performance depending on the nature of circuits. Is your equipment and set up the same? Are you pacing differently? And conditions plays a big part in times (which are notoriously poor indicators of fitness without context).
e.g a client of mine did a 25km TT the other week and he went 30sec slower than two months earlier. But his power was up 9%. Conditions were considerably slower. If he'd produced the same power he would have been ~ 1:15 slower again or 2:15 slower than the previous TT.

2. you've taken up triathlons!! well no wonder cycling power is falling.


Sustainable weight loss for those that have ample fat stores and are looking at racing should be considered a by-product of training. Focus should be on improvements in power. If you are not eating a properly balanced diet with an appropriate amount of carbohydrate to fuel your training, then performance will degrade.

we know little of your history or training loads, patterns, composition etc which is really needed to get to the bottom of a specific performance issue.

If you really want to know what's happening power wise, then a power meter will really do the trick. You could borrow or rent one to try perhaps.


Have a good discussion with your coach but I'm wondering if your goals are ill-defined.
 

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the upside of this might be that if you add more intensity to your training you may recover (or even go beyond) the lost power quickly since it sounds like you've developed a better aerobic base than previously, but are just lacking the higher end components. Why not add a period of intensity to your training to see how you respond?
 

· Impulse Athletic Coaching
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CyclingChica said:
"Too much intensity and not enough recovery?"

Nope. If anything, I have done a LOT more endurance and not enough intensity. I guess I just have to resign myself to the fact that I have, somewhere along the line, lost power, and that whatever my coach has been having me doing is just not working for me--at least at it pertains to my power, as my endurance is great right now. I recover very quickly from intervals and from long, hard rides (my HR drops super quickly), so I know I am not over-trained.

*Sigh* I don't know how it happened, but it did. Aside from the gear mashing I used to do, it might be best for me to just go back to training the way I used to. I like my coach and all, and I hope he is able to help. However, if I don't get results, what is the point of paying for the coaching? Time to cogitate...
Find a different coach? What sort of rides is he prescribing over the past, say, month?
 

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CyclingChica said:
OK, so I have lost 15 lbs. I really only need to lose *maybe* another 5-8. According to my body fat scale (which is not always the best) my body fat has dropped some, too. This is good, so I hear, since if it were to up, I would have lost muscle, vs. fat.

However, my cycling performance is suffering. I *did* start with a new coach last year and have changed a few things up (IE gear mashing to spinning, more interval training/zone training/base training). But, overall, my performance, in my opinion, SUCKS this year so far.

I know things can differ from year to year, but has anyone ever experienced something like this from weight loss? Is my power just gone? I eat healthy, do all the recovery stuff, etc. However, I am angry, disgusted, frustrated, and (sometimes) to the point of tears. I know I am not a pro or anything, but I have worked too hard for what I have earned to lose it.

I XC skied a bit more this year than last (since we had snow), so my aerobic capacity is great. The last LT test showed I *had* lost some power...but this is crazy. I do everything he says, and people who are older than I, who have changed little to nothing, have had a heart attack in early spring, and have changed as much stuff as I have are ALL doing better this year. Me? I stink, pretty much, right now.

I have told my coach that, whatever he is doing, it is not working. And, I am on the verge of firing him. However, before I do that, I really want to know if weight loss can significantly mess up athletic performance, or if anyone else has had a similar experience and, if they have, what have you done about it/what can I do/suggestions?! TIA!
what is your 'healthy' eating?

how many carbs/protein/fats? how many of the carbs are sugar?

how many calories per day?

how many calories are you burning in your workout?

are your workouts nothing but spinning? are you doing any strength workouts?
 

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I know this is non-scientific and totally a shot in the dark, but perhaps your body is just more comfortable at a higher weight. You know weight charts are simply guides, if you are a bit over or under you are probably ok. When I thought of your issue, the first thing that came to mind was one of my favorite sports - boxing. You see boxers going up and down in weight classes. Some do better when they gain more weight, some do better at lower weight classes. Perhaps your body is just at it's peak when it's got a little more bulk to push and burn?

The other thought was that maybe you should see a doctor. Perhaps there is a medical reason like anemia or the like from dieting that is slowing you down.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
These are all really good ideas--so many I can hardly answer them all! I eat low glycemic index carbs (whole grains, fruits, veggies) lean proteins, and low fat--basically, Weight Watchers Core plan, but I count their points to keep portion under control. They have "Athletic Points" that you count, and eat those on top of daily points. I use a HRM to calculate those, and then go to Caloriesperhour.com to see what their estimates are (which are usually higher), then average the 2 out to figure out how much I have burned for the day/how many APs I get.

I am doing power intervals on the bike (per coach), but no weight training in the gym right now. Coach varies my plan each month--it is constantly changing based on how I feel/my riding has been in the previous month. He has had me doing a LOT of zone 2; but, after our ride together last week, he decided to up the power stuff and 1-legged drills this month.

In response to Stevesbike, I am really hoping he has the right of it, and that I will regain it quickly. I felt awesome tonight, in spite of a tweaked back from MTBing Sunday (did a ride with a few friends vs my crazy team ride), and was able to really crank the smaller hills, though I do admit my back was sore at the end of the ride (glad I skipped the "big boys" ride after that!).

In response to gobike1, I was thinking about that...I am hoping you are wrong, just because I look better at this weight :) But that is a good shot in the dark. I have my annual physical coming up pretty soon. That is a good thing to have the Dr. check. Though I will admit...my Drs, most not being athletic, tend to be kind of jerks about this stuff, saying "you're in great shape and really healthy. What more do you want?" I mean, I get what they mean, and I DO appreciate my health and wellness; their being non-athletic to this degree, though, makes it hard for them to relate.

This has been a really great discussion, and I can't thank you all enough for these ideas!
 
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