Diet Decision Help


I would appreciate some advice from the hive.

I am a slowly recovering fat guy. I started from 307 five-ish years ago. I am down to 230 now. My progress was slowed for the last 3 years due to adopting a newborn that hates everything about sleep. Fitting in running a business,a wife and a super awesome sleep depriving little girl plus a regular workout has been all but impossible up until now. I have just done the best I could with diet and exercise during this time.

We finally have a bit of a routine and I have spent all summer on a regular cycling schedule. I joined trainer road a few weeks ago after stumbling onto the podcast. Indoor training has been a blessing in the MIssissippi summer heat. It allows me to ride in the afternoons without melting.

Now for my question. My next goal is to get my weight down to 200. Would it make sense to stay on the bike (SS base currently) and slowly keep shedding the lbs like I have been?

Or would it makes sense to put the bike aside (not completely) and get serious about dieting only and cut the weight faster and then start up a base plan mid/ late winter? I am currently a very sugar dependent rider from years of poor diet and I would like to give a keto diet a try to help my body ween off of the sugar. If I did this it would kill my energy on the bike in the short term.

My only long term cycling plan is to just get faster so I can make a better showing on group rides and ride a century or two next spring. I am not time crunched and there is no racing season or particular event I am prepping for next year.


Continue on your diet and continue your sweet spot base. You want to try to have about a 500 calorie deficit every day to lose. Stay away from processed foods. A new study showed people who eat processed foods put on 2 lbs in 2 weeks and those who ate non processed lost 2 lbs in 2 weeks. The study was done in controlled circumstances. The people who ate processed foods ate about 500 calories a day more. Both groups could eat as much as they liked. Blood draws showed people who ate non processed food had higher levels of a hormone that reduces appetite and the ones who ate the processed food had higher levels of the hormone that stimulates appetite.


I have been in a similar spot as you once before (started @220 and end up getting down to 178 over 2 years). I then got married, a house, kids, all that stuff that demands your time and I went back up to 235 before I finally realized I needed to do something to get back into shape.

I think diet and exercise need to be done together. I lost the most weight while doing my base training along with a calorie deficit. I would shoot for 500 calories a day deficit or ~1 pound a week. I probably averaged closer to 1.25-1.5 pounds per week during the early base periods when intensity wasn’t that high and I had lots of time in zone 2-3. A few things that worked for me were to try and get my fiber intake as high as I could. It made me feel full longer. I also like to eat, so 6 small meals a day just doesn’t work for me, I never felt satisfied, so I gravitated more towards three square meals and depending on when my training was a post workout recovery meal/shake. Back then I actually liked training in the afternoon, finishing right before dinner, so my dinner ended up being my recovery meal, and that saved me decent calories per day. Keeping my intake light on off days was important as well.

That being said, I didn’t like trying to drop weight when in a build phase. I just couldn’t complete the workouts as strong. So when I took two years to drop 40 pounds, I lost about 25 of them the first winter, then hovered at that 195 pound for most of the cycling season as I tried to build my fitness. Then the next winter I ramped up the calorie deficit again once base started to shed the final 15-18 pounds. I felt like getting to my build cycle was also a great psychological motivator because I knew I got to eat an extra 500 calories a day to fuel my workouts. I would make sure to eat well before the tough workouts so I could complete them as best as possible.

Good luck, it takes a long time and a lot of hard work, but it’s worth it. I have a picture of skinny me and fat me I look at all the time for motivation now to remind me that it’s possible to get where I want to be and also keep me from going back to where I was.

Exercise and eating a higher quality diet have a symbiotic relationship. There are several studies that show that when you exercising consistently, you are more likely to make better food choices throughout the day.

I’d recommend continuing with the riding for a number of reasons beyond just the weight loss; the extra burned calories are just one of the benefits :slight_smile:

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Take a look at this short youtube video. Dylan does a good job explaining (and backing up with scientific studies) than I could.

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In terms of pure weight loss, my experience is that diet trumps all - and is probably easier without a lot of endurance exercise. However, exercise can definitely be used too. Just make sure you eat enough to fuel the workouts or you might find you are under eating cracking and having a ‘eat everything in the house moment’. What you might think is a 500 deficit can easily be 1000 which is too high.

Additionally, if you main goal is to become faster on the bike, this should be a key focus.

This is true, to a point I’d say. But I also think it could be valid to focus on a very clean diet, weight loss, while still cycling but at a level sustainable while operating with an energy deficit. And then once you can fuel properly, getting back into harder training like the TR programs. In a way you’re still focusing on being faster the whole time, just rotating your priorities.

I know for me I’m prone to focusing on being able to maximize my training time, and performing well and I end up optimizing my performance at a suboptimal weight. When I feel like I’d be better served to focus, at least at times, on reaching a more competitive weight and then I can go back to what I like doing and focusing on the training/performance aspect.

You could switch to traditional base, which is less intense and might be easier to do at a caloric deficit.

Diets hurt performance in exercise, but who cares. You’ll be much happier to go ride at 200 than 230, burning extra calories helps. I’d look to burn extra calories everywhere. Absolutely stay on bike. Add 20 minute super low intensity sessions if you want. Walk EVERYWHERE, etc.

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can you cite the study? :slight_smile:

The study was published in the magazine Cell Metabolism May 19, 2019. It is called Ultra-processed Diets Cause Excess Calorie Intake and Weight Gain:An Inpatient Randomized Controlled Trial of Ad Libitum Food Intake. The authors are Kevin D Hull, Alexis Ayyketah, Robert Brychta, Hongyi Can, Thomas Cassimatis et al

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Mouse studies are not my favorite things in the world, but there was one I saw where the mice were fed the exact same food (and portions), except the experimental group’s food was “pulverized” into an ultra fine powder (ie, more “processed”) and those mice put on much more weight. Certainly suggestive that the faster-absorbing a food is, the more obesogenic it is. When you’re told “brown rice is better than white rice” and “whole grains are better than refined grains”, this is kind of what they’re talking about.

In the context of active exercise, refined is probably not a big deal… but all you have to do is look at everyone’s shopping cart when you’re in the grocery store to realize these highly processed and refined foods are what everyone is eating all-day, every-day. I leave the logical conclusion of this situation to you, dear-reader.