Managing long term calorie deficit and training

I’m trying to lose 50 lbs by the end of the year and can calculate the required deficit easy enough by tracking calories in/out with Myfitnesspal. I’m aiming for 10 hrs on the bike and 2 full body strength sessions per week. I’m fueling my rides and trying to get at least 1 g protein per kg lean body mass (per a dexa).

I think I’m doing some of this stuff right (and appreciate all the threads about weightloss) but I’m afraid my metabolism will adjust to the deficit and could be counterproductive to fat loss/body recomposition. Any tips to help avoid this? Maybe shifting the deficit to a weekly goal and eat at maintenance for a few days per week? Or deficit for 3 weeks, eat at maintenance for a week (rest weeks)?

Any thoughts are welcome!

(Thanks for fixing my tags @mcneese.chad !!)

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Over 5 months I lost ~4lbs/month, averaging about 8.5 hours/week of cycling. Key for me was stepping on the scale every morning, dropping alcohol consumption to 2 beers/week, and refocusing efforts on guesstimating calories in/out.

We cook and always eaten ‘clean’ in terms of the house being full of fruit, vegetables, and lean meat. Reflexively used the 3 weeks calorie deficit and 1 week ‘recovery’ although wasn’t counting calories. If something had to give because of time, it was replacing weight workouts with maintenance work (12 minute foundation routine plus band work for hips/glutes).

I’ve definitely found there is a delicate balance between improving cycling, slowly losing weight, and recovery. Pushed harder on cycling in January and let weight plateau over the second half of the month. Its killing me because I’m sitting right at 2.99 W/kg :joy:


Key for me was to limit the daily calorie deficit to 500 max and making sure I got enough protein.

I’d actually be aiming for more like 1.5g per kg body mass.

Don’t skimp on fueling your workouts and be patient.

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Your body will adjust, but not the way you think. Your body does not magically get more energy from substrate, it tends to adjust all the other parts of your activity. TDEE is very much a moving target. I suggest you take a look at the new diet app the stronger by science folks made called macro factor. Its not free like MFP but it tracks just exactly what you are looking for here, how much is your body REALLY burning every day and helps you make adjustments from there.

The main thing the app has helped me do is not over do the deficit. I tend to go to far, then break and have a bad weekend over eating. If i keep to just enough to lose .75 per week i can train hard and all is happy. Push to 1.25 per week and the will to eat crap takes over. Because sometimes i do 20 hours of work (not bike outside, like physical construction/yard stuff) outside per week and sometimes I do 0 my total cal needs move around a LOT so I can be way under or over without noticing This helps me notice.

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I’ll check out the app – thanks! I think there’s temptation to overdo the deficit and I don’t want that to come around and sabotage my long term goals.

@WindWarrior I’d round that to 3.0W/kg. I’m sure your PM is a little low :rofl:

@kevstraining I could probably up the protein. Thanks!

I’ve been doing that for 3 years now, forgot to mention that above.

@FrankTuna did 32-minutes at 276W a couple weeks ago, but it was ad-hoc and not a max effort. So my coach reluctantly accepted my request to bump ftp, but discounted ftp for lack of doing a max effort… either pushing time out until exhaustion, or doing traditional 20-min test. So I’m leaving it at 272W / 2.99 W/kg as a reminder that there are pacing efforts :nerd_face: and there are ‘empty the tank’ field tests :muscle:


Yes, increased fitness and reduced caloric intake (long term) will definitely trigger your body to adjust to some degree.

Your best option is being able to measure your Resting Metabolic Rate and then checking it every few months. That way you aren’t relying on basic online calculators or generic formulas, which tend not to be terribly accurate for active lifestyles.

As your metabolism adjusts, if you are measuring your RMR you can then also adjust your caloric intake to match. But that can be a bit of a pain and can be expensive. Check with some local nutrition clinics and see if they offer RMR measurements. (I may be able to offer a few options, depending on where you live.)

As noted, try and keep your caloric deficit to less than 500 cal / day and make sure you fuel intense workouts properly. Z2 stuff you can do in a fasted / caloric deficit state a bit more easily.


that works, and if you pay attention the other method is to use the scale and calories burned cycling to figure it out.

My wife is getting annoyed hearing me cook for dinner, like last night “burned 1500 calories, ate 400 calories on the bike, so I have 1100 deficit and need to eat a smidge more tonight.”


I’ll see about measuring RMR…that’s a great idea! I’m in Western Mass…not sure if you know anyone up this way.

I’m a bit dubious about the online calculators. I sit in front of a computer for work all day, then bang out a 1400kj bike ride. We cyclists certainly aren’t their target demographic :rofl:

I’m a bit dubious of calorie counting and ‘precise’ measurements of anything. Get a handle on calories for different portion sizes, get in tune with calories burned on rides, and get in tune with weight trends. I will do some quick & dirty calorie counting when my brain needs recalibrating.


I’ll check our records and see if I can find anyone.

The good thing about riding with a power meter, you know exactly how many calories you burn…but without measuring your RMR, your base line is still gonna be a bit of a guess.

Most people are shocked at how low an RMR can be…the rule of thumb for many is to use 2K cal / day. But when I had my RMR measured, mine came out to 1600 cal / day.

Also frightening how quickly you can get to that calorie level…have a single Coke? That is ~10% of your RMR for the day!

Which, as a side note, is a great tip to reduce your caloric intake…eliminate all liquid calories. Black coffee, sparkling water and no alcohol. You can eliminate hundreds of calories per day by doing this.


Most bros and some researchers suggest up to 1g/lbs of body weight of protein and protein is very satiating so at least if it doesn’t build muscle you don’t go hungry

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Sadly I don’t drink alcohol or soda…that would be an easy thing to cut! I appreciate the help!!

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I was 203 lbs at 6’5" in college ~20 years ago (where did the time go??) so 50lbs would get me pretty close. I figured it was a round number that’s doable in a year with a ~500 cal deficit.

I like your idea of smaller goals and I’m trying to think long term health rather than short-term rapid weight loss. I hear you about eating at night too…I’ll do great all day then want to eat junk at night. I’ve been doing my rides in the evening lately which has helped that a bit.

I appreciate the tips and it’s always comforting to know there are other folks in the same boat. Good luck to you as well! I do want to say though…please try not to think stuff like “I’m so disgusting”. It’s fine to be bummed about gaining the weight, but we need to stay positive! Turn that frustration into additional fuel for your rides. That’s been helping me!