Eating Disorder remarks on a recent podcast

There are definite upsides to carrying more body fat.

Doing hours of riding outside in bad weather, I notice when I’m at my thinnest that I get colder quicker. Fat is insulating, allowing me to train more.

I’d also add that endurance sport promotes a great deal of hostility to fat people, often verging on fatphobia. TR is a real antidote to that obsession with being thin, pushing an important message about eating plenty, and weight not being a suitable focus for training efforts.

But as a community more generally, cyclists are way behind the curve on the subject of fatness and disordered eating. I’d recommend the podcast Maintenance Phase, which is a funny show all about diet culture and its evils. One of the hosts, Michael Hobbes, is a keen cyclist too!


I think you are using the word under fueling incorrectly: losing weight (i. e. maintaining a calorie deficit) is not synonymous with under fueling, the latter is usually in the context of workouts. E. g. when I fuel for workouts (even at 120 g/h), I still end up with a calorie deficit.

For the record, I went from 87 kg at my heaviest (moderately overweight) to 71.5 kg to now 74–75 kg. Am I faster than at 87 kg. Yeah!

Nobody is disputing that losing fat mass can mean you are getting healthier or that you can lose fat in a healthy fashion.

But the context is eating disorders, which is a known issue for many athletes, including cyclists. And making people who are likely watching their weight and often want to lose a few kilos aware of the dangers is IMHO a very good thing. You want weight loss to be sustainable and healthy.

Most of the time I hear the word “woke” mentioned in a dismissive fashion, it is usually to meant to trigger someone and to end a discussion.

None of what I have heard on the podcast centered around “careful language” but around behaviors — recognizing patterns of behavior that could be problematic. Were they careful to emphasize that these are indications and not a diagnosis? Yes, but not out of some shallow concern for using the wrong words.

What I detect instead is that you are taking this personally for reasons I don’t understand.

Humor — especially inappropriate humor — works best when you know the audience very well. I like inappropriate humor, I really do. But I am also old enough to know when it is better not to use it.


The thing is, you can’t tell body composition from appearance. You can tell if people have a higher proportion of subcutaneous fat than their riding partners, but that’s not the same thing. What’s happening here is a taught response to seeing fat people and thinking they’re unhealthy. That’s not necessarily true.

Incidentally, this kind of judgement is hugely off-putting to potential riders. Sometimes we can tell ourselves that ‘no these people are nice, they wouldn’t do that’. But then the mask slips and it turns out we are being ‘weighed up’ as if we were to be pitied.

We know cycling is male dominated, and I am confident that this is partly to do with the norms around weight. This video by Jenny Tough and Emily Chappell is thought-provoking in that respect.

On the contrary. The TR messaging has changed significantly over the past few years and their emphasis on happiness, robustness, strength, has corrected the tendency to think cycling speed is an adequate measure for success. They have some responsibility for people’s health, which shines through in the care they take around messaging.

I ride faster at 93kg than I did at 87kg. I can train more consistently, I can hold an aero position better, and I can outlast my competitors in longer events. Also, I can have a life that is not governed by caloric restriction, which reflects the fact that I am an adult with a job, a family, and other interests.


Eating disorders are not at 1%. Globally they’re estimated to be 9%, which is the same number as in the US. Eating Disorder Statistics | General & Diversity Stats | ANAD

I think we’re at the end of this conversation. This is repellant and I’d encourage mods, @IvyAudrain, to intervene.


No, it doesn’t. Your math is wrong.

Unless your FTP is very low (think <=150 W), you will have a net calorie deficit even if you take in, say, 100 g/h. Roughly speaking, I usually consume 100 g/h, which amounts to 440 kCal and change. To be precise, you need an average power of 120 W for the workout to burn 440 kCal = 100 g carbs. At an FTP of 200 W, you will accomplish that with a very easy endurance workout with an IF of 0.60. (Clearly, you are not forced to take in 100 g/h, you can adapt if your FTP is lower.)

At my FTP I run a net calorie deficit of about 500-600 kCal/h (depending on the workout type). So I need to add a meal’s worth of calories after a two-hour workout if I want to break even. My FTP is probably above average, for people with a smaller FTP the deficit is just smaller.

If you have a power meter, you can compute the total energy output of your legs (that’s the number in kJ, kilo Joule), the total energy your body needed to produce is roughly 4 times that. Hence, to good approximation, the number of kJ at the pedals equals the number of kCal expended by your body.

You are simply describing the fact that you can perform best when you consume simple carbs. It’s not kind of true, it is true. Why isn’t that healthy? (Provided that you have a healthy diet otherwise, of course.)

Yes, when you are overweight, then losing weight gives you big gains. But context cuts both ways: in previous posts you wrote things like “there are no upsides to lugging excess baggage around.”, and we merely pointed out that this isn’t always true.

Yes, except that cause and effect are reversed: your body composition improves, because you exercise regularly.

This is what happens when you remove context and leave out other pieces of advice: “Don’t diet on the bike!” isn’t the same as “Don’t diet!”. Apart from exercise, diet and sleep must be the other two of the three perennial topics covered in the AACC podcast and the forums.

You still seem to insist to distinguish between obese people and people who suffer from disordered eating. Obesity can also be caused by disordered, or at least unhealthy eating habits.

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There is no spectrum with ‘obesity’ on one end and ‘eating disorders’ on the other.

People of all shapes and sizes can have eating disorders.

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You wrote that fueling your workouts properly means “having to skip a whole decent sized, healthy, nutritious and filling meal”, but this simply isn’t the case. You don’t have to skip a meal. Even for dieting purposes the net calorie deficit during workouts is likely large enough to account for most if not the entire max recommended long-term sustainable calorie deficit of 500 kCal/day.

Your simplistic computation also does not take into account that fueling your rides improves the chances that you will complete workouts successfully and keep on exercising regularly.

I’m not sure whether you mean you are aiming for a total intake of 1,400 kCal or you are targeting a net deficit of 1,400 kCal. Either way, that seems completely unsustainable.

Overall, your attitude towards foods seems quite unhealthy to me to be honest. Sugar ≠ bad.

Sure, if your diet off the bike consists of cheetos, chocolate and cheeseburgers. But if you eat well off the bike and fuel your rides on the bike, your body composition won’t get worse. Even if you eat alright off-the-bike, your body composition will improve, just not as much and as fast.

A good approximation of a healthy diet isn’t that hard: make sure you are taking in enough protein, eat your share of healthy fats (think olive oil rather than butter) and the rest of the calories comes from carbs. Regulate total calorie intake by varying the amount of carbs you eat.

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Good point. In fact it’s quite common to hear World Tour riders who say they ride stronger and faster with a little more weight as their power goes up faster than their weight. Also Chris McCormick was famous for this, he said that it wasn’t until he gained a few more pounds that he was finally able to win Kona.


It did make me take stock. I do count calories, as I’m determined to be one of the 10% who loses more than 10% of their body weight and keeps it off!

However, in general it doesn’t stop me eating out/ changing choices of what I’ll eat out or in the takeaway, which I take as a plus for “not disordered eating”

On the negative side, I do struggle with fueling the work in order to “save” for poorer choices elsewhere in the day and can be prone to binges. I have to reset every so often for those habits.

So do I have disordered eating? In my opinion, yes, sometimes. The overall picture is still much better at low to mid 70kg than it was at 120kg plus though!

As for IF - my own belief is how rigid people are. Like I stick to my calories, but don’t sweat it on nights out, holidays, even a lot of weekends, I’m sure there’s lots of people who take the same approach with IF.


I was 88kg in Jan 2014 and 75kg today - and that’s having put about 4 kilos on since my lightest this year… So I guess I can be happy, although I would like to get back to 72kg.

I think the biggest problem with this debate is that everyone is so different. I have a friend who has been referred to specialists for thyroid tests and so on because he doesn’t put weight on whatever he does. A guy I race with on Zwift is super skinny, 61kg and taller than me, and always complains about not putting weight on. Whereas I put weight on just by thinking about it… As soon as I stop paying fairly close attention to what I am eating, my weight starts creeping back up.

Then when you start asking pro or semi-pro athletes about it, these people are obviously doing stacks of exercise and you’d guess aren’t usually the ones who struggle with weight anyway. Like Ivy was talking about struggling to eat enough and that’s just something I couldn’t relate to at all. So because it’s so individual and n=1, you get very strong views based on lived experience, people naturally have very conflicting opinions about it.

Personally, I don’t feel the need to take in additional carbs during a 60-90 minute typical TR workout. I will often take something extra on board beforehand if it’s been a long time since my last meal (my go-to is a 230 cal flapjack bar thing) and normally for an evening workout I eat dinner straight afterwards, but I generally think I should have enough stores for workouts of that length.

That’s basically where I’m at. For me, I know that if I train regularly and keep an eye on my eating, my weight will come down/stay steady (usually calorie counting Monday-Friday, but still trying not to be too silly at the weekend). As soon as either of those drops off, my weight will start to creep up.

The killer this year has been the return of work travel, I was away at least 2 nights every week in October which ruins training consistency and makes the diet a lot harder to manage as well.


Stigmatising behaviour among GPs–i.e. primary healthcare–has an impact on the rates of follow ups and effective diagnosis.

Shaming people who are overweight has damaging health effects. Here’s the expert’s research paper.

This isn’t about a language of ‘inclusivity’, but about measurable health outcomes.

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A good podcast episode (IMO) on the distinction between eating disorders and disordered eating

TLDL; the bar for disordered eating is very low, the bar for eating disorder is quite high.


German historian here. Not sure what mission you are on, but he who tells people they need to lose weight to “become better humans” would do well to lay off the Nazi comparisons. Thanks.


Indeed. And if we’re talking about the authority with which people are posting on this topic, I run a degree programme on the history, philosophy, and sociology, of health and medicine.

But our man here has a strong opinion, so who are we to stop him?

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Actually that was meant to limit the scope of my intervention to the things I know, not to invoke authority, but I can see how that backfired. Anyway, I’m out.

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You’re more restrained than me.

Sir this is a Wendy’s


Pretty much where I’m at. I’ve always been everything in moderation, never excluding food or food groups. Monday - Thursday normally watching, then a bit easier over the weekend. Out on a school night tonight, and won’t be restricting my beer intake ahead of a gig!


Thanks to those who have offered constructive feedback and contributed to the dialogue on our podcast discussions! It’s welcomed and encouraged.

I want to make sure it’s understood that constructive debate on the TrainerRoad forum needs to fall within our Community Guidelines:

1. Be excellent to each other
2. Challenge the idea, don’t attack the person
3. Contribute Constructively

We’re looking for participation on this topic (and all topics) that fall near the top of the triangle here:

‘Upper triangle’ posts strengthen your argument on how you feel about the disordered eating narrative, and does not, 1. direct focus away from your points through attack, 2. encourage others to engage in a back-and-forth dissent, or 3. harm the climate that facilitates constructive debate.

If you aren’t sure if what you’ll post aligns with our community Guidelines, DM me your draft for review! :wink:


Agreed! Thanks for the feedback. We’ll do that for future episodes where we cover sensitive topics :slight_smile: