Ireland’s leading sports nutritionist Sharon Madigan explains why cyclists don’t need to slash food intake to see weight loss in the summer

By We Love Cycling

Why you don’t have to suffer on the bike to lose weight this summer 

Everyone becomes just that little bit more body conscious during the summer, be it because of better weather (yet to experience it this summer, mind you) , impending summer holidays at home or abroad, and of course, cyclists are no different to this.

Even just to be a little lighter on the bike for the summer cycling series – it’s a popular time for a lot of people to start some kind of summer focussed diet and exercise regime.

But, if you’re thinking that you need to resort to drastic measures in terms of your training and nutrition to get your ‘summer body’ then stop what you’re doing at once (and keep reading).

We’ve spoken to Sharon Madigan, head of research at Sports Nutrition Ireland in relation to summer diets and exercise, and she had some key messages that she wanted to convey.

She says: “In terms of the summer for cyclists, people tend to be doing a lot more work, be it longer routes because the evenings are longer or more hillwork, so generally, there is a lot more energy output or a lot more exercise being done.”

“I think generally the narrative of using food to lose weight is something that needs to change.

“The increased output on it’s own is enough to create a calorie deficit and stimulate weight loss or fat loss. Utilise the extra exercise instead of looking to reduce calorie consumption,” she added.

A lot of the time, when people decide to go on “a diet” it means throwing the kitchen sink at themselves in terms of both training and nutrition, but as Sharon points out, a more strict and regimented routine isn’t beneficial for someone juggling additional priorities.

She said: “I’m seeing a lot of people, ordinary people, who are using programmes and diets that are really designed for professional cyclists. What people often don’t remember when they try to replicate this is that this is specificially for a professional. They don’t other full time jobs, they’re not juggling their time with training with this as well as having a family, to me it’s just crazy.

“If you’re not balancing the books, as I’d put it, you’re not going to achieve your goals – you’ll get sick or injured and have to come off the bike until the injury or illness has passed. It’s just not sustainable, something is going to go wrong,” she added.

“If the workload is up anyway, then you need to think about how much you’re eating, even looking at your snack intake – if nothing has changed and you’re still doing more exercise – you’re creating the environment to lose weight without changing your nutrition. It’s really about refocussing and evaluating what is easy and manageable to the person,” she continued.

Another important point to note in terms of your summer bike rides is to remember to hydrate yourself appropriately – ain’t nobody got time for dehydration.

Sharon said: “It’s warmer in the summer, there’s probably going to be more fluid loss and you’ll be losing more salt. You just need to remember to look at your water and salt intake. You might have to start replenishing yourself with  more than just water and just look at some juices or electrolytes, even iced teas or iced coffees can help you in this respect.”


So, your take home points to note from this is that if you’ve already increased your time on the bike as the summer months have hit, and your nutrition hasn’t changed – you don’t need to do anything dramatic to your calorie intake to see some movement on the scales – and stay hydrated – always.

You can follow Sharon on twitter here – while her Facebook page which has some excellent content in terms of sports nutrition is available here.