Build / Racing - Slight Calorie Deficit

Hi all. First time posting here, although I’ve been a silent observer for awhile and feel extremely grateful to the community for being a valuable resource :slight_smile:

So my question. I’m in a build phase and am a few weeks from racing but recently had a few weeks off injured where I piled on a few pounds and am now over my ideal (and from experience, optimal) race weight. It’s especially annoying as I was already a bit over where I wanted to be at that stage.

I’m aware that I can’t do the intense training I am doing right now (threshold intervals, over/unders coming up soon) and maintain a decent calorie deficit - at least if I want my FTP to improve - however what if I were to be in a slight deficit of say 150-200 cals per day?

Obviously this would mean a very slow gradual weight loss, but that’s fine by me as my A race isn’t till mid-August.

Thanks in advance.

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Why not. When Froome can (supposedly) be on a weight loss programm for TdF and win the Giro at the same time, why not.

I guess key is fuel sufficiently before, during, and right after your workouts. And leave a small deficit at the end of the day. Definiteyl don’t underful your workouts, probably not the time to do fasted rides and so. And don’t fall into the trap of not eating before and during the workout.

Hi @sryke. Unfortunately I’m no Froome (and I don’t have his doctor / pharmacist to manage my weight loss :wink:), however totally get your point and it sounds like good advice.

Thanks for replying :smiley: .

Well at 150-200 cals, that’s just a bit of fat you’ve burned off so in theory it should be alright.

I think it’s more complicated though. Your body seems to have a way to work out you’re running a deficit over a prolonged period of time and start shutting you down for abusing it. There was a study on the Michelton Scott guys and their Classics period which showed that even with the smartest timed calorific intake, running an overall deficit over the period hurt them - it’s being reported as RED-S which is a more generalised version of the more serious women’s triad.

How or when RED-S kicks in for any individual is up for debate. I think this is an area that’s not well understood and there’s no measure or tracking tool that can keep you above the threshold. It’s often said the body has no way to count calories. Except that it kinda does, in some indirect ways.

Maybe you’re alright at 200cal deficit for 3 weeks. 4 weeks might be the end of your run. Who knows. I’d love to know. Think everyone would!

How much of a deficit you can run and it’s relationship to power loss in specific athletes is voodoo held only in sacred texts of the best pro team docs. Guys like us just need to experiment.

tl;dr
Should be alright, for a while. If not, eat a bit more.

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I’ve found the only way to properly manage a calorie deficit while racing/building is to look at the week as a whole rather than individual days. You end up “overeating” some days, and “undereating” on others, but it helps to level things off a bit and avoids the massive calorie days followed by a rest day with minimal intake.
Grazing on the bike also helps to curb the bigger hunger pangs that can occur post-ride on big days out, which allow you to run a bit of a deficit on those days, while overeating the next day (recovery) which gives your body sustained calories to help fuel that recovery.
If you try and calorie match by day you just wind up super hungry on the day after big rides, and you end up eating garbage on those big ride days just to say you got the calories back in.