Calorie intake after a long ride

According to my power meter I used 2612 calories on Sundays ride while i consumed 1998 calories measured by my fitnesspal. As I’m aiming to lose 1.5 pounds per week my daily goal is 1850 plus exercise.

So my deficit for the day was 1232 calories, which to my uninformed view is not enough calories to balance recovery means I’m struggling to consume more and i don’t want to feed after 7pm.

As Sundays ride was hard I want to ensure i maximise the adaptation process. So do you aim to balance expenditure and consumption to aid recovery or is one ride per week, at a deficit, ok as long as the rest of the weeks’ daily intake-expenditure balances?

It looks like you could have eaten another 500 or so calories to get to your 750 daily deficit which will help you lose 1.5 lbs per week. For those long rides in which I burn so many calories I usually load up before the ride significantly and replace about 60% on the ride itself and then another 300 calories in a recovery drink and follow that up with a nice big dinner up to my deficit, 500 a day for me. Another thing I do is plan my meals in myfitnesspal and add my workout as a placeholder before I do it so all the calories line up, then you can see how much you should eat ahead of time and during the ride depending on the time of day the ride is completed.


Depends on where you are pulling ride calories from during the ride - if all fat (i.e., low intensity), why replace if you’ve butter to burn!

If a tough ride draining glycogen stores, I would focus on replenishing.


How do you feel after the long ride? i’d say it’s okay as long as you don’t feel your recovery is significantly compromised, and your deficit averages out to a sensible amount throughout the week.
If not, I’d suggest adding some more calories on the day of the long ride- smoothies can be good for this as they don’t add a ton of volume, can be customized to suit your needs, and you can fit a bunch of really nutritious stuff in there.
You could also plan to eat a couple of higher calorie ‘fun foods’ on that day- obviously don’t aim to eat garbage all day, but it could be a good way to break up the monotony of dieting while also putting the extra calories to good use. That’s obviously dependent on your specific dietary approach and relationship with food, but i found it to be a fairly positive/sustainable strategy in my case.


Between coffees and a sedentary work, I find it a bit hard to build up a proper caloric deficit on a typical weekday - even with some intense workouts, I’m barely balancing the in/out, according to the data that I gather (and most importantly, according to the scale).
So a larger caloric deficit after a weekend long ride, at least for me, is great.
I know the absolute best way to lose weight would be to have a small caloric deficit every single day, but having a larger deficit on some days and a smaller deficit on others should also work, so it feels to me like a ‘good’ problem to have?
Also don’t skimp on food on your day after, even if you’re not riding - you want the body to have nutrition to recover - this was covered in one of the podcast episodes.

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Remember these calorie calculators are estimates. If you have the chance the first 40 minutes is the time to get the cals in, carbs etc. My wife recently stopped eating after 4pm… although not absolute … she has the odd bowl of breakfast food. She is loosing 700g of weight per day and has done so for 2 weeks… Oh! she starts eating at 10 am… so its the 6 hour window day Keto. some fruit when hungry…

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Hello, @slowmart! A few things (bear with me, I’m an RD and have many thoughts on your question):

  1. If this is a one-time deal, you’ll be fine. However, making this large Saturday deficit a weekly habit could generate a few negative consequences, including overeating later in the week, muscle loss, and suboptimal Sunday rides.

  2. Try to nail your pre-, during, and post-nutrition as much as possible for that Saturday ride. I’d say to definitely not skimp on the immediate post-ride nutrition to replenish glycogen stores. Can you throw in a big snack after dinner? Something like a smoothie/shake, big muffin, or trail mix would do the trick.

  3. Don’t forget the protein post-ride, and in general - going too hard on the weekly calorie deficit will just lead to muscle loss…no good.

  4. All of that being said…calorie estimates on nutrition are just that - estimates. Food labels can be off by about 30%, and expenditure estimates can vary widely, even with HRMs. So, see how you are feeling on Sunday’s ride, track your weight loss over time, and get your body comp checked as you lose weight.

Hope that helps :slight_smile:


Thank you for bringing his point up. Not nearly enough people are aware of this.

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Surprised to see a muffin being suggested. Others sound nice though!

What I did when I had a goal of 500 g lost per week, was to do as you do, but don’t focus on single days, focus on weeks.
For you that’d be 12.950 Cal per week plus exercise. Use that as the goal rather than stuffing you on days with exercise and being hungry on rest days.

Even a 1 hour endurance ride at 167 watts is 600 Cal, but you don’t really need to eat that on that day, at all.
For instance if you burn 5,500 Cal on exercise during the week, that’s a total of 18,450 for the week or 2,650 each day. Lets say you ride 5 times each week, so on the two rest days I’d keep it to about 2,000 which gives you 650 extra for a total of 3,300 for the long Sunday ride, and 325 extra for a total of about 3,000 for the two days of hard intervals. And you still have 2,650 Cal for the two endurance days.

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@d_diston I was wondering if anyone would call me out on the muffin haha. The reason I threw that suggestion in is that it fits the need described - highly palatable (easy to eat when you’re not hungry) and high in CHO.


…and sometimes it does the soul good to have something “sub-optimal”!! Especially after a long ride.


Thank you for all the informed replies which provides me with some interesting weeks/months ahead to see what works best for me. I’m aiming to get to a benchmark weight before i start winter training again and want to avoid the need to cut calories during base, build and speciality which means extra focus elsewhere.

I second that. I treat my weight as a a variable, similar to TSS each week, in that I expect it to vary to a degree. I also continue to fuel the same as high TSS weeks during recovery weeks. This helps me to keep feeling strong and ready for the next block of training - when racing, it also ensures that my glycogen stores are maxed :muscle:

Using this method, my weight normally floats +/- half a kilo week to week.

Also, it seems to be that if you exercise plenty and eat “good foods” you can get away with eating pretty large amounts and still naturally gravitate towards the correct boy composition. Eating to hunger and not leaving yourself feeling a bit mental because you’re seriously hungry and then stuffing a doughnut in is probably a good long term approach.
I got a lot of useful perspective from Matt Fitzgerald’s “The Endurance Diet”. Basically eat well, eat lots.

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