Road Bike, Cycling Forums banner
1 - 17 of 17 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
6,017 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I understand that when you are cycling at a more intense level you are burning glycogen within your muscles, not so much fat. If I go out and do a hard 2 hour ride where I burn maybe 1600 calories, what happens? Is my glycogen being restored with calories from fat later? Does the weight loss occur after the fact?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
11 Posts
Once it uses up the carb storage it'll use the fat as fuel. Sometimes I'll exercise without eating breakfast

Sent from my SM-G930V using Tapatalk
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,380 Posts
Is my glycogen being restored with calories from fat later?
I would assume this to be true only if you don't eat. But I did not stay at a HI last night.

I propose that you are either training 'or' dieting. One cannot really do both at the same time. (assuming u are training to go fast, if you're training for a ride around the park, well that is different)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,580 Posts
I propose that you are either training 'or' dieting. One cannot really do both at the same time. (assuming u are training to go fast, if you're training for a ride around the park, well that is different)

Interesting points. This has been my experience exactly.

I understand that when you are cycling at a more intense level you are burning glycogen within your muscles, not so much fat. If I go out and do a hard 2 hour ride where I burn maybe 1600 calories, what happens? Is my glycogen being restored with calories from fat later? Does the weight loss occur after the fact?
To the OP, I can't answer your specific technical questions, but I can share my own anecdotal experience, for whatever that is worth.

I have lost a lot of weight over the last two years. About 80lbs. The first 60 came off really fast. Just eating better and riding the bike took care of most of that.

The last 20 have been very stubborn. I spent all last summer at pretty much the same weight despite the fact that I rode 9k miles (for the year). What I find is that it's very difficult to fuel frequent intense riding/recovery and still lose weight.

So this winter, I consulted with a coach and sports nutritionist and developed a plan. It's working!.

Basically, for most of the winter, my riding schedule has looked like this.

Mon: Rest

Tues: 1 hour of Zone 1/2 endurance in a fasted state - early in the AM before breakfast. Drinking lots of plain water. Followed by some carbohydrate and then 1hr of sub threshold (SST) with a set of four 15s all out sprints at least 5 min apart.

Wed: - 1 hour of Zone1/2 endurance in a fasted state with a few short hard efforts spaced at least five minutes apart

Thurs: - Rest

Fri: - 1 hour of SST/Sub Threshold (not fasted)

Saturday and Sunday: Group rides or races - avoid Zone 3 (power) - either long stead endurance or hard SST and above threshold intervals. Sunday is optional if you need an extra rest day due to a hard ride on Saturday.

Basically, what were doing here is avoiding frequent hard efforts that require lots of calories for recovery and loading. Where I had always consumed a recovery shake of some kind after a ride, because I knew I was riding hard the next day, I can now just have a small portion of protein/carb immediately after these easier efforts, and then follow up with a healthy macronutrient balanced meal within 2-3 hours. By going low intensity (staying in Z1/2) you can manage your fatigue and recovery time - this was a big one for me. Avoiding too much fatigue and burnout. The last thing I wanted to do was go into the summer riding season already tired.

I've also made a few changes to my diet, which include eliminating almost all 'breads' and refined sugar. Most of my carbohydrate comes from whole grains, rice, potato, fruit/veg, etc.. for on-the-bike glucose, which I rarely need except on a long endurance ride on the weekend, I've been using maple syrup from "Untapped". This is a good source of glucose and it contains some good minerals and such. It's also yummy! USE SPARINGLY ONLY AS NEEDED! :)

Also, I don't completely understand the science behind it, but by adding the short (15s or so) hard intervals, spaced ~5 min apart is supposed to promote natural growth hormone release and increase of your metabolic burn rate for several hours after the ride. And by doing the easier fasted efforts it teaches your body to become more efficient at burning fat as a fuel source. I find I have more energy during the day, and sleep better at night when I'm doing this. And because there isn't a lot of intensity, I'm keeping the fatigue (and body stress) under control)

By being fairly strict about following this plan exactly, I've lost about 10lbs since early December. These are 10lbs I've been trying to lose since last April. I'm hoping to drop another 5-10lbs before the summer riding season starts. As motivation, I'm signing myself up for some very climby club rides this year - High Pass Challenge, 7(13) Hills of Kirkland, Whistler and Banff Gran Fondo's (all uphill), and I think I'm going to do The Jensie again. Hopefully I'll enjoy it a lot more if I do it 20+ lbs lighter. :p

I think any weight loss program involves reducing intake, and optimizing the timing and macronutrient ratios. Riding hard in a depleted state is not terribly good for you (my Doctor has strongly suggested not doing this!). It's also not safe. I know a guy who had a very serious crash on a group ride in a fairly remote area due to blacking out from low blood sugar. It nearly cost him his life. Fortunately, there was someone with some medical training on the ride and recognized the signs, and was able to stabilize him before any permanent damage was done. However, he and several others involved in the crash did suffer some fairly serious injuries (knee, collarbones, AC sprains, broken fingers, road rash).

Disclaimer:
I'm not advocating that this particular plan will work for anyone else. I'm only sharing it as my own experience. I would strongly suggest consulting with a Doctor/Coach/Nutritionist if you are serious about it and having trouble losing weight. I was pretty frustrated myself. I thought I was doing all of the right things, especially with all of the riding I was doing, and just couldn't understand how I could burn so many calories and still be struggling to lose weight. After talking to the coach and nutritionist, and better understanding how things work, we came up with this plan. It's been great. And as an additional benefit, I'm seeing some nice increases in my FTP as well. I suspect this is due to better fatigue management as much as anything.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6,833 Posts
If "weight loss" is your primary goal, then
1) eat less
2) exercise at a "medium" intensity while not eating

Several things to keep in mind. At higher intensity exercise, you will burn a higher percentage of glycogen, lower percentage of fat. At lower intensity, you burn a lower percentage of glycogen, higher percentage of fat, but you are also actually burning more overall fat (by mass) than at lower intensity because you're able to exercise longer at lower intensity.

As for replenishing your glycogen stores. You do this after the ride, and you will need to eat carbs to replace glycogen. Fat in your body does not get converted to glycogen. Not going to happen. Carbs and proteins can get converted to glycogen, not fat. The most effective way to rid of the fat is to eat less and exercise at medium intensity over long duration.

For the purpose of burning fat, I rather not eat on the ride or before the ride. Just go at medium intensity until you're out of of muscle glycogen (this should take you about 2-2.5 hours until you feel like you're out of energy). However, you should also mix in a combination of long rides at lower intensity and shorter rides at higher intensity. This will get you both the "fat burning" you want and also the "performance" aspect of cycling (which happens at higher intensity).
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6,017 Posts
Discussion Starter · #7 ·
If "weight loss" is your primary goal, then
1) eat less
2) exercise at a "medium" intensity while not eating

Several things to keep in mind. At higher intensity exercise, you will burn more percentage of glycogen, but you are also actually burning more fat (absolute mass) than at medium intensity. However, at medium intensity, while burning less absolute grams of fat, you can exercise longer and thus you will end up burning more overall fat calories. You will use glycogen in both cases (unless you're one of those ketogenic person, but this is another story).

As for replenishing your glycogen stores. You do this after the ride, and you will need to eat carbs to replace glycogen. Fat in your body does not get converted to glycogen. Not going to happen. Carbs and proteins can get converted to glycogen, not fat. The most effective way to rid of the fat is to eat less and exercise at medium intensity over long duration.

For the purpose of burning fat, I rather not eat on the ride or before the ride. Just go at medium intensity until you're out of of muscle glycogen (this should take you about 2-2.5 hours until you feel like you're out of energy).
Thanks for that info. Some background. I started a reduced calorie diet 3 weeks ago. I am limiting myself to 1600 calories a day (I weigh 195 right now). I started at 202lbs and hope to get to 180 by spring. I have read some articles stating that exercise is not as effective at losing weight as you might think. So I guess my question is: if I do an hour of training and burn 800 calories is that really that same as reducing caloric intake by 800 calories and does that actually results in weight reduction and when?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6,833 Posts
Thanks for that info. Some background. I started a reduced calorie diet 3 weeks ago. I am limiting myself to 1600 calories a day (I weigh 195 right now). I started at 202lbs and hope to get to 180 by spring. I have read some articles stating that exercise is not as effective at losing weight as you might think. So I guess my question is: if I do an hour of training and burn 800 calories is that really that same as reducing caloric intake by 800 calories and does that actually results in weight reduction and when?
Let's look at the problem as a series of smaller problems. I will list them in no particular order of importance

1. Weight loss should be based on your diet. Diet involves both the quantify and quality of food. To me, the food must be 80% plant based, and 20% meat based (max). And the food has to be as natural as possible, that means no processed food like candies, chips, coca cola, junk food. Natural plant based food should be lots of greens, whole yams, potatoes, whole grains. For meat, stick mainly to lean meat like fish and chicken. Stay away from red meat. So this is the quality part. For quantity, an average man if he eats about 2000 calories/day, he'll maintain this weight. To lose weight, he needs to eat less than 2000 calories/day. You at 195 lbs, aim for 1800 calories/day. 1600 calories/day sounds like it's not enough. Expect to lose 1 pound per week, or 4 pounds per month. Don't go on a crash diet and suddenly starve yourself by too much of extreme caloric restriction (extreme caloric restriction never works long term, and it doesn't work because extreme restriction puts your body and mind under constant stress and you'll only up eating more at some point down the road)

2. Lifestyle changes. In addition to diet, look to change your lifestyle. For example, go to sleep early. Eat earlier in the day, not late at night. Empty your house of ALL junk and processed food. Start learning how to cook fish and chicken, the internet has plenty of recipes. And skip eating out. You cannot ever out exercise a bad diet and/or bad lifestyle. I mean look at the pro cyclists, almost all of them are religious about their diet and lifestyle. It's not a coincidence that all pro cyclists look the way they do.

Here is my tip on how to eat a "proper dinner". Let's say you plan to eat a dinner at 6 pm and you're thinking about consuming 600-700 calories for dinner. Well, before you even start dinner, eat a couple ripe bananas, that's 200 calories. Then eat a couple oranges, or an orange and an apple, and this gives you another 200 calories. So now you're up to 400 calories pre-dinner. And you're not just eating 400 calories, you're eating 400 calories filled with fiber and vitamin and antioxidants, all good stuff. So now you'll only need to eat another 200-300 calories for your actual dinner, and to get that, you'll just need to eat some carbs like potato, or yams, or whole sphattti or whole lasagna with like 1 small piece of fish or 1 chicken wing. Now compared what I just wrote to say eating a 600-calorie TV dinner bought from Costco??? Surely the Costco dinner can't be a healthy 600 calorie one.

3. exercising to burn off 800 calories is not quite the same as cutting 800 calories from your diet. Cutting 800 calories from your diet is more beneficial because your body doesn't need to go thru the stress of exercise. Having said that, you can't burn 800 calories/hr, that's just too much, it's more like 200 calories/hr. At the end of the day, calories in must be less calories out.

On days that you do not exercise, this is when you also should consider cutting back maybe 200 calories for that day. Over time, you stomach will shrink, yes it will, and your mind will readjust to your new psychological state of what is "full and satiated", and as your body readjusts, you will feel less of a need to always be "full" to be happy, and the weight will roll off even faster.

So to conclude, eat healthy food, eat more whole plant based food, and eat less calories overall, and calories you do eat they must be high quality plant based. Then exercise at moderate intensity without eating while exercising. Don't stress yourself out by restricting the calories TOO MUCH (I think this is a mistake some do), extreme caloric restriction has never worked long term. You need to think long term.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6,017 Posts
Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Having said that, you can't burn 800 calories/hr, that's just too much, it's more like 200 calories/hr. At the end of the day, calories in must be less calories out.
.
Thanks for that. A follow-up question. My calorie number was based on the data I see from Strava. If I do a harder 1 hour ride I might see "calories burned" as 800-850. Is that number too optimistic? The good news is that I am losing weight (7 lbs in 3 weeks) and I am not dying on my calories limit. I was mainly curious about the actual effect of calories burned on real weight loss
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,935 Posts
Thanks for that. A follow-up question. My calorie number was based on the data I see from Strava. If I do a harder 1 hour ride I might see "calories burned" as 800-850. Is that number too optimistic? The good news is that I am losing weight (7 lbs in 3 weeks) and I am not dying on my calories limit. I was mainly curious about the actual effect of calories burned on real weight loss
Probably misinterpretted what he meant or he wasn't clear, you can burn 800 calories / hr if you are riding hard and at your weight, 500-600 might be more realistic for a more casual pace. You will drop weight faster managing the intake than the output. You can train to gain at a calorie deficit too, just not too much deficit or your training will suffer. It's reasonable to drop a lb/week and build fitness if you have 20lbs of extra weight.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6,017 Posts
Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Probably misinterpretted what he meant or he wasn't clear, you can burn 800 calories / hr if you are riding hard and at your weight, 500-600 might be more realistic for a more casual pace. You will drop weight faster managing the intake than the output. You can train to gain at a calorie deficit too, just not too much deficit or your training will suffer. It's reasonable to drop a lb/week and build fitness if you have 20lbs of extra weight.
I've been skinny most of my life. In High School I was 6'2" and less than 160lbs. Until my early 40's I could gain a few over the winter and just ride them off come spring. Now its harder every year and I am struggling with the change in mentality. Since I am logging everything I eat on this diet I am learning a lot about caloric content of different foods and portion sizes. Anyway, I appreciate everyone's feedback
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,935 Posts
I've been skinny most of my life. In High School I was 6'2" and less than 160lbs. Until my early 40's I could gain a few over the winter and just ride them off come spring. Now its harder every year and I am struggling with the change in mentality. Since I am logging everything I eat on this diet I am learning a lot about caloric content of different foods and portion sizes. Anyway, I appreciate everyone's feedback
Learn about glycemic index for different foods too, that will help quite a bit.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,493 Posts
Once it uses up the carb storage it'll use the fat as fuel.
I believe this is incorrect. The body NEEDS carbohydrates to access the fat stores. Once the carbs run out, at about the 2 hour mark, the body begins to convert protein/its own muscle to energy. This is a very inefficient process, which is part of the reason you feel the bonk.

To answer the OP's question; after that hard ride, your body is not converting your stored fat to glycogen to replace the burned glycogen. It's the food you eat post-ride that replenishes your carbohydrate stores. Any fat you burned in that 2 hour ride is a contribution to weight (fat) loss.

aclinjury has it right.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,006 Posts
Thanks for that. A follow-up question. My calorie number was based on the data I see from Strava. If I do a harder 1 hour ride I might see "calories burned" as 800-850. Is that number too optimistic? loss
Averaging 278 watts an hour will burn 1 mJ or approximately 1,000 calories an hour. So going easier than that will be less, harder than that will be more.

If you're not using a powermeter than strava is probably just making up calorie numbers based off of other made up numbers (made up power)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6,017 Posts
Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Averaging 278 watts an hour will burn 1 mJ or approximately 1,000 calories an hour. So going easier than that will be less, harder than that will be more.

If you're not using a powermeter than strava is probably just making up calorie numbers based off of other made up numbers (made up power)
On a ride this week with my PowerTap wheel, Garmin and Strava estimated very different calories numbers. For a 21 mile ride Strava has me at 840 calories and Garmin at 660.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,580 Posts
They almost certainly both wrong. There are dozens of ways to estimate calorie burn, and most of them are rough guesses at best. There are so many individual variables. Things like weight, age, gender, metabolic burn rate (which changes constantly), etc...

The good thing is, it isn't really that big of a deal.

Here is an interesting read
Do Calorie Monitors Really Work? | Greatist


Edit:

The last paragraph of that article:
But it may not matter. For those aiming to lose weight, calorie calculators can be a helpful tool, yet they’re far from the only tool. Heart rate and exercise intensity (as measured by the “talk test”) can be equally effective for gauging a good workout. Instead of relying on pure numbers, focus on lifestyle changes that will naturally burn more calories (like taking the stairs or riding a bike to work). And for those bigger goals—say running a 10K or losing 10 pounds—consider talking to a trainer or physician to get cracking on a more specific master plan.
Despite a significant effort, I didn't really lose much weight over the last year. It wasn't until I starting paying closer attention to the timing of my workouts and my meals, making myself get up and move around more during the day, walking to lunch, taking the stairs, and just generally doing things that keep the 'burn rate' high throughout the day that I started losing weight.

I know a lot of people say a calorie is a calorie, but I believe that not all individuals handle various macro nutrients the same. Through trial and error I learned that things like breads and pastas, even whole grain all organic versions, were kind of bogging me down. I used to love my soup and sandwiches for lunch!. Without changing my total calorie intake, I switched out some of those bread based carbohydrates for a balance of high quality lean proteins, and single source carbohydrate foods that have some beneficial nutrient content. Things like various types of potato (white, yellow, sweet, etc...), whole grain brown rice, etc.. I also pretty much completely eliminated processed sugar and replaced those carbohydrates with small amounts a fruit, grains and vegetables. I also cut way back on dairy (particularly milk), although I do still have greek yogurt with some fruit for breakfast a few days a week. The hardest thing for me right now is keeping enough fiber in the diet. This is also important. Even though the total calories have been the same, by doing my workouts during in the morning instead of the evening, timing my meals after my workouts (especially the morning meal), keeping my metobolism "hot" throughout the day, and eliminating some foods my body apparently doesn't deal with well, I have lost about 15 pounds this fall and winter (a time when I'm usually putting on weight).
 
1 - 17 of 17 Posts
Top