Intermittent Fasting, Gaining Weight, Race Nutrition, and More - Ask a Cycling Coach 404

I always wonder about intermittent fasting from an evolutionary standpoint. We’ve been intermittent fasting for all but about the last 150-200 years of human existence. Yes, theres been salt curing, but prior to the refrigerator, the concept of “having extra for a day or 2” didnt really exist. Had a good hunt? ate well that day. Had a shit hunt, youre hungry when you go hunting tomorrow… I just cant help but feel like our bodies know how to deal with only 1 or 2 meals a day. And for comparisons sake, I guarantee a hunt has a much higher energy expenditure than any of us do at work and on the bike for a bit a day.


I’m a fan of IF, did it myself for weight loss myself for a long time, but I never got this argument. We don’t live in caves anymore and we don’t go on hunts. Out body may be fine with two (or even one) meals day, but our social-economic circumstances have changed so much.


While this is true, it may not be optimal. The body can deal with a lot of stuff, that does not mean it correlates with good performance. In the past, we didn’t brush our teeth either. Thus, many had poor dental health. While this didn’t kill us, most would probably argue that having good dental hygiene and avoiding cavities is more optimal. Surgeries were still performed on people before modern anaesthetics, and while patients were able to deal with the pain, I would venture to guess that a majority would prefer modern procedures because they are simply more optimised.

To put the argument in cycling terms - consider workout fuelling. Most experienced cyclists will be able to ride 4 hours without taking in any calories. It may take a while, and you may have to ride slowly, but you’ll get through it. However, if you were to take in say, 90 grams of carbohydrate per hour of riding, you would not only feel better, but you would be able to go a lot faster. Thus, while not eating on the bike is something the body can deal with, it is far from optimal.

This is the common issue I see with evolutionary arguments. We, as a species, used to do a lot of stuff that we would have avoided had we been able to. I’m not saying that modern dietary habits in western civilisation are particularly healthy in general, but at least we’re not dying of starvation. Throughout history, people have dealt with disease, natural disasters, scarcity of food, conflict, predators, and much more. While many have survived the aforementioned struggles, many have not. Modern medicine, housing, farming, trade, government, etc, are all developments that have optimised our problem solving and thus produced a higher likelihood of successful outcomes. In the past, you may have survived a common infection, outran a tiger, or managed to keep warm during winter, but it was far from guaranteed. While some people still face these issues today, most of us rarely consider how to avoid getting mauled by a large feline on our way to work.

In summary, the body can deal with a lot. There are incredible stories of people enduring starvation, torture, illness, and abuse for years on end while still making it out the other side alive. As impressive as this may be, these people are not setting any world records in the marathon. There is a considerable difference between optimising performance and simply surviving. Most of the people using TR are not professional cyclists. They likely have jobs, families, and obligations that limit how much they are able to train and recover. These constraints already limit their abilities to perform as cyclists. Thus, adding another constraint in the form of intermittent fasting based on the argument that the body can “deal with it” likely isn’t improving an already hampered potential to perform. Instead, consider how to optimise that which you can, and leave the body to “deal with” those demands that cannot be removed.


Yeah, that sounds like an ED. Excessive rigidity does no one any good outside.

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I am currently on an incredibly slow restriction -binge process. I’ve lost 11 lb so far, (over 4 months) with 3 to go. I’ve been fueling my work outs and eating healthily off the bike, being really conscious of fat intake ( not cutting out healthy fats like chai and flax seeds, salmon etc).
I’m aiming to loose the final 3 lbs and then maintain my weight whilst increasing my training load heading into spring. My aim is BC Bike race which starts July 3rd. The reason why weight is so important is that I don’t think I would b able to finish it carrying that extra 14 lb ( even though my BMI was and is, healthy.
I am having lots of fantasies about carb loading and eating boxes of cereal and donuts during race week :rofl::joy:

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He said he doesn’t count calories most of the time (except for his periodical calorie counting he does to “keep himself in check”). It’s a non-issue for him, particularly because he seems to be able to maintain his weight. But yes, he screwed that info up for the audience.

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It’s very rare Jonathan “screws up info”
I think it goes to show how much most of us struggle with food in some way.
We’re all just human


Hot take: everyone intermittent fasts everyday when they sleep at night.


Hot take - pretty much everybody even uses the term “Intermittent Fasting” wrong, including the TR crew on the podcast (maybe because of how the listener question was asked), and many in this thread.

IF is reduced calories for a day or days during a week, or a period like a week during a month.

Time restricted feeding / eating is a reduced feeding window where you get all of your calories during a reduced amount of time during the day. e.g. 16-8. This is what pretty much everyone is actually talking about when they (incorrectly) say “Intermittent Fasting”



My wife is an RD and I have worked along side RD’s in counseling patients in health care. Most RDs support the framework, after all the scientific facts are taken into account, the plan must be “individualized” to basically “see what works” towards the goal and fitting into the lifestyle.

There’s no question instant oats is a carb source. Ivy has tried it & it seems to work for her. Ivy’s a pro and has dialed this individualized dietary component in. . . there’s simply no point to disagree if she is saying her guts transforms this source of carb to energy when she needs it. If it doesn’t work for someone else, so be it - they may may need to either give it more time than Ivy has to give it or work with another carb source that works better for their timing and absorption.


As an overweight cyclist I always have to remind myself the podcast advice on diet usually just doesn’t apply to me. I don’t need to lose 5lbs, I need to lose 30.

Intuitive eating just doesn’t work for my brain and I can’t exercise away 30 lbs.

Eating BMR + exercise calories is about all that works for me while also training. Loosing .5 - 1lb a week right now, but like usual, dieting sucks. If I weighed food religiously and gave up eating out a couple nights a week it would certainly go faster, but I don’t want to do that :person_shrugging:

I’ve been trying to retrain my eating for 20 years, but at this point I think daily food logging for the rest of my life is going to be the only way to succeed.


I’ll give my take on the advice the TR crew gives and how it almost always gets presented when they bring it up.

Other than Nate quickly addressing this, they’re beginning to sound like an annoying broken record of skinny people. “Fueling More”, “Eat Better”, “Don’t Diet on the Bike”, “Eat more to lose weight” isn’t everyone’s problem. It’s literally getting to the point I have to stop listening to them when it comes up.

I get that may be what’s worked for them - but here’s the other side. I can very easily hit my calorie goals for a day with healthy nourishing food even when looping in HARD workouts. Maybe I have an iron stomach and just like to eat, but getting enough calories just blatantly isn’t a problem for everyone. If I continuously follow their advice - I’m just going to keep putting on weight above and beyond what I need to rest, recover, adapt, and get stronger. Not everyone has a problem eating and getting enough calories.

I am decently lean, sub 15% BF and more muscle than a typical “cyclist build”, but count me as one of those people that has to watch what I eat, even when training hard and big volume if I want to lose weight and not gain.

/endrant #2 for today…


Haha I’m with you. The carbs talk is quickly turning into Joe Rogan talking about taking DMT…


I think this is a fair criticism….I’ll also add that their age also skews their perspective. It is a biological fact that it becomes harder to lose weight as you get older. Fueling / nutrition strategies that worked in your 30’s may not work in your 50’s (ask me how I know. :crazy_face:)

I worked to increase my on-bike calories last year….and while it increased, I never even got close to the mythical 90g / hour. I carried an extra 2kg all year that I could never drop. In hindsight, I believe it was at least partially due to all the calories I was consuming in the bike.

I have reduced my on-bike calories this year but still above where I was before last year). My weight is down a bit but still not at my old race weight (see age comment above :woozy_face:)


Actually, it is an anecdotal “fact”, and rather a common myth, that it becomes harder to lose weight as you get older. A “slow metabolism” is not what primarily makes losing weight become more difficult with age. It is true that young individuals have a higher metabolism than their elders up to the age of about 20 years. Children between 1-2 years old tend to have the highest metabolisms in relation to body mass (around 50% higher than would be expected just based on weight), and from that age, metabolism gradually slows until the age of 20 (give or take a year or two). The increased BMR/TDEE is likely due to the fact that children have greater contribution of FFM from more metabolically active organs like liver, heart, and brain compared to skeletal muscle on a per gram basis.

However, between the ages of 20-60, metabolism is all but rock solid. It does slow down after the age of 60, but only by about 0.7% per year, which for someone with a BMR of 2,000 calories only works out to about 14 calories per day in the first year. Even after 10 years of decline, BMR would only been reduced by 150-160 calories.

The biggest factor in why almost all people experience weight loss struggles as they age seems to be a reduced activity level but constant eating habits. Activity level will impact TDEE far more than the 0.7% yearly decline after 60 years of age.

Link to a study on the topic:
Daily energy expenditure through the human life course


Thank you @BCM - I was not aware of the difference and had been using the term Intermittent Fasting incorrectly.

I can share that I’ve been using a form of Time Restricted Feeding to great effect over the last few months to help lose and now maintain weight. I had been in a habit of post dinner snacking, and having a 7pm eating cuttoff has really helped reset my habits.

I eat breakfast around 10am, so it’s more like a 15:9 ratio… not extreme by any means, but has proven really helpful.
I’ll add that if I’m doing training early I’ll take on carbs for that (drink mix), or if heading out early for a big ski day or ride I’ll eat early that day- so flexible to suit the chaos of life.


Didn’t he also say he’s about six kg heavier than this time last year? I’m guessing he’s not underfuelling but simply struggled to come up with the right numbers at the time.

I eat before bed, in the middle of the night, and then around 5-6am. No IF for me. :joy:


Their advice makes sense if you’re a skinny person trying to stay skinny.

For overweight folks, it makes about as much sense as GCN’s recent suggestion that most people only need to lose, and I quote, “a kilo,” all while skirting around how weight loss actually happens.

I think talking about calorie deficits has become verboten in endurance sport media because of the prevalence of EDs.



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