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Cycling for Weight Loss – 5 Diet Tips

By Jiri Kaloc

Diet is important for all cyclists but those looking to lose weight have to pay extra attention to it. That’s because weight loss happens primarily in the kitchen. You need a calorie deficit to lose weight and taking in fewer calories is a lot easier than burning more. Let’s take a look at the main things you have to do right to promote weight loss while cycling.

Keep fuelling your training

It can be tempting to completely cut out pre- and post-training nutrition in hopes of accelerating weight loss. The problem with that approach is that you will lose much more muscle mass compared to a less extreme calorie deficit. Cutting out fuel for your ride also reduces the quality of your training because of lower muscle glycogen stores. And ifthat wasn’t enough, you are also much more likely to experience disrupted sleep, increased irritability and lower motivation. Losing weight is not a sprint. You should still eat before your training rides, especially when you need to ride at high intensity. Aim for a deficit of around 500 kcal and focus on consistency, rather than trying to rush in with a huge unsustainable deficit.

Increase your protein intake

The goal is to lose fat and spare as much muscle as possible. Another thing that will help you maintain muscle mass while losing weight is high protein intake. Aim for 1,5-2 g of protein per 1 kg of body weight per day. If you don’t feel like counting grams of protein, then think of it this way. When you reduce your portions, keep your protein intake the same and only cut carbs and fats. Protein also helps you feel full so you will have an easier time sticking to your weight loss diet.

Spread protein intake across the entire day

Staying on the topic of protein, make sure you get a decent portion of it with every meal. Muscle synthesis happens throughout the whole day. If you only give your body protein once or twice per day, you are likely to spend a lot of time in a catabolic state, breaking down muscle. Build your breakfast, lunch, and dinner around protein-rich foods such as eggs, meat, dairy, legumes, nuts, and seeds. And choose high-protein snacks too. This is where protein bars and protein powders can come in handy.

Choose less energy-dense meals

Another way to reduce calorie intake is to go for foods that are not very energy dense. Energy-dense foods are great for fuelling a ride or replenishing glycogen reserves after a race. But for weight loss, these foods make it easy to eat a lot of calories at once. You probably know that candy, cakes, chocolate bars, and chips make weight loss harder. But there are otherwise healthy ingredients that can be very energy dense too. Keep an eye on your intake of those.

  • Pasta, bread, potatoes
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Fatty cuts of meat
  • Cheese with high fat content
  • Avocado
  • Dried fruit
  • Dark chocolate

To lower the overall energy density of your meals, try including plenty of the following foods. They are rich in fibre and water and low in calories.

  • Green leafy vegetables
  • Fresh fruits and veggies
  • Legumes
  • Whole grains
  • Lean proteins

Don’t forget about liquid calories

One of the most overlooked aspects of a diet are liquid calories. It’s easy to focus on food so much that you forget about all of the energy you get from liquids. The good news is that this can become your secret weapon. If you’re someone that enjoyed soda, fruit juices, sweetened coffee with cream or other energy-rich beverages, you can lower your calorie intake very easily just by replacing these with unsweetened options. Unfortunately, alcohol belongs in this group too. That one can be harder to reduce but give it a try and let the results be your motivation.

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