How to train and lose weight properly at the same time

Hi, i‘ve just bought a set of Elite Smart Rollers and a powermeter to actually train with TR and not just occasionally ride my Mtb during the winter. I do race Enduro MTB races in the summer (3-5), ride my MTB in the wood for around 2-4h and i join group rides occasionally on my road bikes. Most of the time they are a little bit to hard for me, but I mostly manage to stick to the group. Only on the longer rides (above 80km) I really hit a wall and get dropped for sure at some point. But I have some strong friends on road bikes which i like to join during their recovery rides.

I’m currently 37 and if I learned anything since starting with MTB 4 years ago, the fitter you’ll get the more fun it is. I’m currently about 78kg at 173cm, technically not overweight but I definitely want to loose some kg, with 70kg as a long therm goal. After hard rides I tend to overeat somewhat, otherwise I just like nice food and my overweight is most likely the result of to much sweet snacks and late night second small dinners. Otherwise my diet is pretty good (mostly vegan at home), no soda, lots of vegetables, beans, lentils and so on. I know what i have to do to loose weight and i was mostly to lazy to regulate my intake properly by counting calories.

So my goal for this winter is to train my fitness and loose weight in a good sustainable manner. Next year I would like to try my luck in some shorter road races in spring (i’ve only raced Enduro so far and that’s more like a time trial). Also I would like be able to pull in the group rides sometimes and also to improve my ability to sustain power during my enduro race stages (mostly about 5min each stage, about 7 stages in total, but I get really exhausted after 2-3min and don’t push the pedal hard any more given the opportunity).

Do you have hints and tips how I can combine these two goals. It looks like fueling is as important for training as it is for racing, it’s something i’ve never really done. Once in a while i’ve added a pinch of salt to my water and maybe had a banana with me, that’s it. What i’m good at is long aerobic rides, I can do that like forever and only my ass is my limiting factor.

Thanks for your feedback! (And please feel free to add links for follow up reading)

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It sounds like you already know how to tackle most of these issues, and they’re all small issues.

  1. Track your calories. Start this as soon as possible so you can start to build up a history and start identifying trends and habits. Simply having this information is really useful for cutting back on unnecessary food or replacing good food with even better food (you’d be surprised the caloric differences between different types of rice).

  2. When you start training, look to eat at maintenance level. In other words, don’t put yourself in a calorie defecit straight away. Give your body the fuel it needs to this sudden addition of training stress. After a few weeks when you’re in a rhythm with your good eating and training, then consider eating 200-500 fewer calories and see how this affects your training. There are probably bigger gains to be had in power than in weight loss so target training with higher priority than the number on the scales.

  3. Again, using your food tracking, consider the types of foods you eat around workouts. Think about using carbs for fuelling workouts rides and protein to recover. This will probably take some experimentation but there are some good rules of thumb that you will find on this forum.

  4. Make sure you’re eating enough on the bike on longer rides. You said you can ride aerobically for a long time, so it sounds like one of the limiting factors on your longer riders if fuelling. Again, there’s plenty of guidelines on here about how much you should be eating whilst riding. You might be surprised just how much it is!

  5. Consistency. Track your calories accurately every day. If you have a bad day, forget it and move on. If you have a bad training session, don’t beat yourself up about it. Chip away at all these things slowly and at a pace that is maintainable for the next few months/years.

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Welcome to the forum!

General approach that works for me is thinking of carbs as workout fuel. So on easy or recovery days I don’t have a lot of carbs. The harder and longer the workout, the more carbs I take on. Some before to ensure I’m starting it with a full tank, some during to replace what I’m burning off, some after to ensure quality recovery. The time for those sweet snacks (and I have a very sweet tooth!) is before and during the hard workouts when you’ll burn that sugar right off. If I’m doing a particularly long ride (e.g. 4+ hours), or riding first thing in the morning when I won’t have time to digest much breakfast beforehand, I’ll make sure I get a good amount of carbs the night before, but from something like brown rice or sweet potato, nothing too sugary.

If you’re overeating after hard workouts it’s likely that you’re not fuelling sufficiently before or during those workouts so your body is craving calories.

Personally I’ve never got on all that well with calorie counting. My wife and I both cook a lot, and with a lot of variation, and I just can’t be bothered weighing and measuring all the ingredients and entering them into an app (not to mention figuring out portion sizes, and my tendency to finish off any of the kids leftovers…). I find that if I cut out most of the crap (alcohol, sugary stuff other than for fuelling workouts, and overly processed foods - i.e. anything where you don’t recognise half the ingredients), then that is enough to get me as lean as I want to be. Eating lots of veg helps, nobody ever got fat eating too much broccoli. YMMV, some people swear by calorie counting.

Last point, you’ll find that as you get leaner and fitter, there will come a point where it becomes harder to improve both fitness and weight at the same time and you may need to prioritise one then the other. E.g. a period where you focus on raising your FTP while maintaining weight, then a period where you focus on keeping your FTP at the same level while dropping some pounds. Sounds like you’ve got some low hanging fruit though, so you can hopefully work on both at the same time at least for a while.

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This. Weirdly, I calorie-count when it comes to fuelling rides (because TR tells me exactly how many Kj I’m going to burn). But I’m much looser when it comes to everyday cooking.

I think that the important thing should be called “calorie awareness”. I was having a breakfast of wholemeal toast, baked beans, and 2 poached eggs when a colleague said “you’re packing in the calories today”. It turned out that they knew a cooked English breakfast was high calorie, but hadn’t realised that it was the sausages, the bacon, the fat they fry the eggs in, the bread if it’s fried, the hash browns etc that were responsible for most of it. It didn’t occur to them that eggs poached in water, a little wholemeal toast, and some beans is actually pretty healthy. So for me it’s just about developing that greater awareness of what foods should raise a red flag and have you checking the label, and which ones are basically fine.

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This. Probably the best advice I got for losing weight. No carbs for breakfast, little carbs on lunch (ie. protein rich salad), carb rich snack before (oats, sweet potato, rice) and during workout (dried fruits FTW!), a balanced dinner and as much veggies as you can muster. Plus minimize fluid calories (beer, soda, juice etc.) and sweet snacks. And drink lots (+2,5L/day) of water. That’ll get you going.

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I think that this is a really key point. A quick and drastic drop in weight can see you struggle to hold power figures that you’d previously knock out for fun.

Over the past three months I’ve been slowly working to reduce my weight. I was never ‘big’, but at 75kg and 5’10, I knew there was ample room for improvement. This morning I stepped on the scales and I’m 71kg. So over three months I’ve managed a nice drop in weight and ensured that my ability to produce the power stayed on target.

I don’t calorie count (simply cannot be bothered) but I am mindful of what I eat and when. Almost all of my meals are self prepared and I could happily eat my own body weight in fruit and veg.

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True story!

I’m down 15+kg from when I began my weight loss initiative (about 1.5-2 years). My power has suffered all season. W/kg is higher overall, but power above threshold went out the window. (Admittedly, some of this is due to an early season knee injury that’s plagued me all summer)

Now that I’m stabilizing my weight loss, things are starting to shape up again. But power loss during weight loss is a real thing.

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I’ve lost 20 kg 2 years ago and 10 kg this season. Both years my power either went up for maintained (not including power under 30 seconds). Right now I’m sitting around 12% bodyfat so I’m being much more lenient because I don’t want to lose muscle mass.

  • Track everything that goes in your mouth
  • Have a baseline meal floor and ceiling(I use 450 / 1000 calories)
  • Exercise isn’t an excuse to pig out no matter how many calories you burn
  • Try to eat as naturally as possible; processed foods don’t absorb properly
  • Workout everyday (some days I go 30% FTP for an hour)
  • Always create your calorie deficit via exercise
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good luck making real gains in a calorie deficit. lean body mass will reduce along with fat, glycogen storage levels, and with it your muscular endurance, recovery and work capacity. your body simply won’t prioritise adaption in a stressful calorie deficit.

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False.

Provided you eat enough protein, you will not lose functional muscle in areas where you are working out. Happy to provide plenty of sources on this one.

Also, on a personal basis, I’ve lost 50 lbs, a ton of fat, and my FTP has gone up almost 75w over the multi-year time period that I’ve been training. It can definitely be done.

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i was under the impression that protein would offset the % of lean body mass lost (when resistance training is added), but not reduce it to zero (from TR podcasts plus Layne Norton as my source).

Cycling is largely an endurance sport. You can have rail think calves and quads and outside of power under 20 seconds, its not going to hinder you.

Granted, that energy system is crucial in crits and CX, but I still contend that if you have a weight issue, get down under 10-12% body fat and then build up short burst energy. Getting lean is crucial in that it not only makes you faster, but increases T production, metabolic efficiency, recovery, etc. Once you pass that threshold the its quite noticeable.

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Assuming you are getting >2g/kg of protein while in a calorie deficit while training, you should expect the following:

  • Improved aerobic capability (the body gets more efficient at lower BF levels)
  • Maintain existing strength
  • Maintain existing muscle in areas you are doing endurance and resistance training
  • Minimal lean muscle tissue loss elsewhere
  • Greater percentage of fat loss

A few studies to get you started:



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Lost over 20kg since started riding. Lots of good info in this thread. Calorie tracking is very important, and just avoiding artificial crap, kept it simple and it worked. Of course riding a decent amount too. The amount of fruit and veg i eat now compared to before is out of this world. Would highly recommend Fitzgerald endurance diet cookbook to get you going.

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You can absolutely lose weight and gain power over a multi-year period. Either by just losing weight very gradually (assuming 3 years that’s 0.3lbs/week) or by doing phases where you focus on weight loss while maintaining power then vice versa. You can also absolutely lose weight and gain power simultaneously if you have relatively low hanging fruit - e.g. somebody who is getting off the couch and has an excess 50lbs to lose is going to make some relatively quick/easy initial gains in both fitness and body composition just by training regularly and eating cleaner.

My original point was more to somebody who is already fairly lean and well trained and trying to make improvements in both W and kg. E.g. me right now! I’m planning on doing Haute Route Oman in March which involves a ton of climbing so need to optimise W/kg. I’m currently 14-15% BF and 6-8lbs over what I believe is my optimal climbing weight based on past experience (or at least the lowest weight I can sustain while being healthy and not miserable). I’m also about 10W off my best FTP but think there’s some room for improvement in that number so am hoping for 15-20W improvement (or at least getting those 10W back but improving how long I can hold them for). I know from past experience that it will be very difficult to lose the last few lbs while also doing the Threshold and VO2 Max work that will be needed to bump my FTP up. Workout quality and/or recovery would suffer. So my plan is:

  • 12 week Base with a mix of SS and long endurance rides. Aim to lose most or all of the 6-8lbs during this period, this is ~0.5lbs/week which I know is doable for me while doing Z2 and SS work. Hopefully will claw back some of the lost 10W during this period but highly unlikely to improve on past numbers
  • 8 week Build where I focus on fuelling the quality workouts needed to boost FTP. Aim to hold weight during this phase
  • 6 week Specialty phase focused on fatigue resistance and extending the duration that I can hold FTP for. There will be some long rides in this phase aimed at increasing fatigue resistance which should mean it’s possible to trim a little more weight if necessary
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My own n=1 was that I wasn’t really able to grow FTP, despite hitting protein targets every day. However, I did manage to maintain FTP, so saw big increases in power to weight.

I would say I’d do things dfferently now fueling rides and recoveries - my knowledge has grown since!

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First of all, thanks for all the in depth feedback. I very much like the idea to create a slight calorie deficit via the training and take my time with loosing weight. I think i will count for 2-3 weeks again to get in the habit and also feeling how much everything i eat has, but as we almost cook every evening it always get to much after a while. I know the real culprits anyway, I belief… it‘s the snacks in between and the self made cake in the Office from my colleagues (“Oh, you of all of us don’t have to look for you weight…”).

Probably I will gain the most in the beginning anyway from my better power to weigh ratio due to weight loss. But as I’ve never done any ramp or ftp test, i’m looking forward to see where i’m currently at. But before i’ll do that i have to learn how to ride my rollers :smiley: I’ll update this post as soon as I know.

Ah btw, has anyone maybe maybe a demo code available? I would like to try out TR for a month to see if it really fits me before i’ll subscribe. Edit: got one, thanks!

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My experience is that it’s certainly possible to add aerobic power while losing weight, but I’ve only had real success during lower intensity training. I’ve had very good luck doing high volume endurance and tempo work while dropping significant weight, but I can’t imagine trying to run a calorie deficit while doing regular FTP or V02 intervals (or even sweet spot). With those type of intense workouts, I just don’t function well without topping off glycogen constantly. I can always knock out a long tempo ride even when I’m not topped off. It’s just easier to just focus on rides that rely heavily on fat burning rather than trying to walk a tight rope of calorie deficit vs. the glycogen stores needed for those harder workouts.

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PM me your name and email and I can send a code.

I sent you a PM as well.

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Yes, there are some good recipes in that book. I’ve added a few of them to my rotation already. Some of his other stuff is worth reading as well. The Endurance Diet book, Racing Weight and the Racing Weight Quick Start Guide are all useful.

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