More Carbs affecting weight loss…. Or not?

Sorry I know the general subject has been done to death but I don’t have the energy to scroll through thousands of posts to answer my specific question;

For those like me that deliberately lose weight over the base / pre race period and added more carbs to their z2 / general workouts (I follow Dr Alex advice fwiw), did you still cut weight?

I suffer from a lot of fatigue after an EBV / mono flare and diagnosis, and wondering if my usual fasted / low carb base period should be changed to support recovery and immune system and I could still lose weight.

1 Like

Weight loss is all about energy balance. If calories in > calories out → weight up. If calories out > calories in → weight down. You can increase on-bike fueling and maintain / loose weight if your overall (daily / weekly) energy balance is negative (calories out > calories in.). So if you increase on-bike fuel you’ll need to decrease off-bike eating to maintain or loose weight.

Personally, I think low-carb / fasted training could be beneficial for 0.1% of people and not worth the risk/potential reward for the 99.9% of the rest of us. Carb up on the rides. You’ll probably feel better, you’ll probably recover better (less glycogen depletion and less restoration required.)


Hey @kryton57!

I think you’ll find this YouTube video we made pretty helpful :slight_smile:

And this blog post too, as you do need to fuel to loose weight:


Fasted rides and calorie deficits in general put a lot of stress on the body so my thought is that they will definitely not help with fatigue and EBV! I would focus on quality nutrition and sleep while in recovery from illness.

Ironically, if the body is less stressed and sleep is good, it might just shed some weight from that alone. (Less cortisol, better hormonal balance). :woman_shrugging:


Thanks for the replies.

Calories in/ out I’m all good with, I think the immune support and muscular re-build I need after lost power over 2 yrs of respiratory illness affecting training and racing could be better supported if I drop the fasted nature of my rides and fuel the effort, disregarding the need for weight loss currently.

1 Like

I would ditch the fasted riding if you are feeling a lot of fatigue and aren’t recovering well for whatever reason. I typically average around 200 watts / 800 kJ per hour for my z2, and fuel with about 80g carbs / hour. That still puts me in ~500 calorie deficit per hour, and I have much better endurance and recovery, with much less of the post-ride fatigue, headaches, heavy legs, and it even keeps me from developing the bottomless pit of hunger brought on by fasted riding. IMO, proper fueling makes weight loss even EASIER.


well yes and no. you need also all the vitamin and mineral groups. I do the inverse, I start with just that, satisfying all those first. I really only lose weight when i switch to almost only fats, and protein. 1000 cal of random carbs is not at all the same as a steak, some eggs, some cheese, a slice of red bell pepper, couple broccoli, etc.

for example my meals today, I’m really, really full and I’m still under (granted, i had way more meat than i need, burgers just too good):

How many hours do you ride per week? Also what’s your FTP? Without carbs I am a complete wreck on the bike, and cannot ride with sustainable power for any real length of time, and in general my training is trash.

1 Like

well the trick is to reduce the carbs for a long time first. Depends if you’ve done it before or not too, once I’m running on ketones only I’m like a diesel. But if you’re still running on glucose mainly, and you’re having low carbs but not so low, then you’ll always feel down right away (as soon as you finish those little carbs), because you’re not… in keto, and your body is still asking for glucose as soon as it finishes. You can measure it easily with the same testers for glucose, just a different strip. If you don’t like cooking, it might be a problem to eat in this way.

1 Like

So you are in a negative energy balance (calories out > calories in)??? Unless you can violate the laws of thermodynamics, thats all you need. How you get there is a different matter.

If you like high fat (high calorie density and potentially more satiating), then do what works for you. I prefer high volume, low calorie dense foods as I find that more satiating. Micronutrients are important for short / long term health, and should be considered, but don’t really impact the energy balance much and aren’t factored into most peoples weight loss strategy.

1 Like

yea works well for me because i eat a lot. carbs don’t really satiate me, i get hungry very soon after.

I realize it’s possible to train without carbs, I just cannot imagine why anyone would do this. I’m eating hundreds of carbs a day, usually around 200 grams per hour per day in total.

0-60’: 200-250
120’: 400-450
240’: 800-900

I have excellent blood sugar, low body fat, sleep great, etc. What’s the performance advantage of running hundreds of grams of fat instead?

1 Like

Well, the topic is more focused on weight loss. With only fats you can lose weight much more rapidly, once you reach your target weight feel free to carb up all you want, you’ll stay slim if you keep burning.

Because I’m a 4-12hr endurance MTB racer and suited to that physiologically so teaching my body to use fat for fuel is very important.

To try to answer all the other questions, yes I did it before regularly to lose weight, so I’d go from 77kg at the end of the season to re-start in March at 74.5kg. I’d do this with hours of Z2 - I train 8-12hrs a week as a general rule of 80/20, and by cutting the carbs between October and Feb. However, In 2022/23 I’ve had lots of respiratory diseases - I’m asthmatic also - affecting my training and Vo2max power going from 4wkg to about 3.2wkg currently. It’s only 2 months ago I was diagnosed with EBV / mono after a period of trying to work out what caused a May to August period of extended fatigue.

So now I’m very much in a new world, trying to work out how to re-build my competitive ability, power and endurance with an underlying issue of extended recovery / additional fatigue duration and limited duration of holding threshold/power at vo2max.

I may never be the same again, hence the question as I need to understand how to support recovery, muscular power and my immune system whilst living with EBV. Anyone got a hotline to Cav for tips ? :smiley:

The thing is, if you want to cut aggressively, and still maintain your muslces and training and all, the best options will usually fall on fats. Then you’ll still have all your needed proteins, all your mineral and vitamin groups… and even while cutting aggressively you’ll maintain and have energy.

I’ve played around with tons of options, I ended up with a keto-ish style because that’s simply the best options. If I need vitamin C, ill go for a couple slices of red bell pepper, tenderstem broccoli, brussel sprouts.

so once you have like 300-400g ribeye, 2-6 eggs, an avocado (or half if it’s a big one), and the aforementioned veggies… cook in abundant oil and/or butter, plus mixed nuts (brazil nuts, macademia, peanuts, walnuts, 50-100g total), a piece of aged cheese like parmesan or pecorino (tons of calcium and no carbs/no lactose) a shot of cod liver oil… you’re pretty much set with most of your needed values.

If you add more carby things to the equation, you just get more calories for the same net. Let’s say for example we switch broccoli, brussel, and red bell pepper for 2-3 oranges. Now you have a ton more calories from sugars, you have only vitamin C basically (broccoli and brussels have a ton of other stuff, vitamin K, etc). That’s without even counting that once you convert to fats and are used to it, your energy is quite sustained.

It can work with any setup of course, but satisfying all you need with the min. amount of calories (and all whole foods, prepared from scratch) leaves you ample room for whatever extra you feel like after. Just counting calories is simply short-sighted, you’ll fall short of something you need… a mineral, vitamin, or total protein, etc.

yesterday i skipped cheese and didn’t have any spinach, so my calcium level was a bit low. everything else way over the top, as I ate way more than I needed (was just on balance, about 4k eaten 4k used)

most recent pics, now maintaining (down 23 kg from end june to end august) (doing less gym than when I was heavier actually):

I honestly never ever had any similar result, not even close, and just endless energy all along. I cycle anywhere on my mtb, many of the sessions are on strava for reference. Planning on starting kickboxing again as soon as my knee is 100%, should work well as I cycle less now that it’s very windy, wet, and cold.

1 Like

Well those weight loss strategies are not viable then. My belly is always full, and I eat massive amounts of food. You can’t really resist hunger day after day forever, and losing your mineral/vitamins is just… no, sorry, I don’t care about losing 5-10kg fast to just then have injuries, conditions, and overall less energy. Because what I found is, when I do satisfy all I need… my energy level is through the roof, especially while fasted in the first half of the day.

Additionally, also try to avoid foods that bloat you/inflame you, as with an inflamed gut you will tend to absorb less of all the other good foods you ate. I gradually eliminated most onions, carrots, and other stuff that makes me quite gassy… it means your gut doesn’t react too well to it, and also interfers with the absorption of other stuff.

2nd note: even going through a calorie count, the values are always nominal. If you eat 1000 cal of refined carbs, you use almost 0 energy to convert them to energy. If you eat 1000 cal of meat, eggs, etc, you will burn a lot of calories in digesting them (and also cooking them!), and a lot of that stuff is building blocks for your skin, muscles, etc. So even when the calorie count says 4k and i consumed approx. 4k, if it’s only from fats… I know I will still be in deficit. That’s why even eating 3-6k a day (with 6-10k semi-frequent ‘‘boost’’ days to keep metabolism high) I lost way more than the math would suggest.

since 1kg should approximately be 8000cal, the math would certainly not add up. in 60 days losing 23 kg, let’s say 5kg of those are water mass+some muscle loss, so conservatively 18kg.

18 x 8k = 144,000 cal deficit, divided 60 days (without considering the many +days, so less than 60 actually), roughly 2400 average daily deficit. That would mean, counting the many +days, all the other off days would have to be close to a 3k deficit average over 2m. I will typically have 500-2000 less on any day that i meticulously count everything. I’m not sure how to quantify it, but it’s evident that the calories reported on foods do not take into account the energy that you burn in digesting them/using them.

When I had a more ‘‘normal’’ approach, having a lot of normal carbs in the mix, then the calorie in/out was more in line with the weight loss amounts (I still have them logged on polar, several weeks at around 27k used per week, and eating roughly 7-8k less per week, then i was getting just about exactly 1 kilo less of weight per week).

They are viable. All you need is negative energy balance. Your talking to things I never said about the health side re: micronutrients, essential macronutrients (fats), bloating / digestive comfort, etc. If anyone says anything other than negative energy balance is required they are wrong. period. How you get there in a way that is heathy, both physically and mentally, is a different matter.

If you are losing weight, its either water, which you will lose if you start keto/low carb or actual body mass which means negative energy balance. My guess, in the US calories in food labels can be up to 20% off, so that is a huge margin of error when calculating calories in. Are you living with a breathing tube on to accurately measure calorie burn? Unlikely, so your BMR could be off, your RMR could be off, your power meter might not be 100% precise, if you’re using HR to estimate calorie burn - good luck. lol. Thermic effect of food is a thing but not very high.

Calories in calculations are perfect. Calories out aren’t perfect. It just seems the estimations are better with certain foods / situations.

1 Like

We’ll have to agree to disagree, for me a diet that is not complete, is not a diet. A short term nominal loss, i’m not interested in.

As for the water weight factored in, I removed 5 kilos from the 23kg i lost, should abundantly account for the water weight difference in storing no carbs.

As for the measurements, I have taken them for months with belt+watch, with a nutritionist on the side. Of course I don’t measure everyday, but if you understand what I’m saying, you’ll see there’s a huge discrepancy in calorie count.

I guess I don’t explain myself well, so we’ll just leave it at that. I’m confident in what I found over the years on myself, I’m sorry if I cannot explain it in a better way. I am open to seeing other plans that just as efficiently satisfy all the mineral, vitamin, protein… I honestly cannot find a way to make them more efficient (granted, also adjusted with foods I like).

I burn around 2300 a day without moving from the house, more like close to 2700 without any exercise and just doing a few chores/etc. That almost never happens, I will typically use 4000/5000 a day, some days I take long rides and push another 1-2k calories over that. I don’t measure anymore, as I don’t need to. I have seen the difference at = calorie amounts of carb diet vs fat diet, and there is absolutely no comparison (for my body, that’s all I can research!). 1. the same amount of calories just make me fatter with carbs. It’s a mix of:
a. not having all i need at equal amount of calories
b. energy levels variate much more. with only fats I can easily go through the whole day without eating, and doing all trainings fasted. Not that I have to all the time, I don’t really force it. If I’m hungry in the late afternoon, I don’t hold myself.
c. generally just less hungry. 4k of fat stuff vs 4k of carby stuff…
d. I’m pretty accurate in my calorie consumption, I’ve measured it long enough to know. If I’m cycling hard and often over 150bpm, I know I’m close to 1k calories an hour with my weight. I’m not really considering the machines, although for reference I can use those just to see the difference between a workout and another. If I’m in the gym for an hour, I know it’s anywhere between 400 and 700 calories, depending on exertion/bpm/types of sets.

Either way, they are all nominal values. If you eat a piece of meat with 700 calories, it’s not just that it has 700 calories. You use 1. energy to process it/break it down. 2. it is ‘‘material’’ to build your muscles, not just an empty calorie in and out. You might think it’s a minimal difference, it’s not. Calorie is simply = burn the food in a lab, and see the temperature change that results from the burning of that food item. I hope you can see the difference in ingesting 1000 cal of sugar, that can only be used for energy or storing fat (which is totally not = eating fat), and 1000 cal of actual building blocks for your muscles, hair, nails, skins, etc.

I have found I have 0 use for any sort of empty carb, if not only for an immediate satisfaction/enjoyment.

Same applies to protein powders, I have completely eliminated them from years. And I’ve only seen results improve. If you play around with the numbers, you’ll see there’s a sense to it: Let’s say I want 200g of protein a day, If i take 50g of those from a protein powder… I’m left with only 150g from other sources. But those other sources also give me: vitamin D, b12, iron, just to name the main ones. By ingesting 50g of protein powder, I’m effectively reducing my intake of those important minerals (given I don’t want to surpass those 200g). I’ve studied a lot of athletes, such as Uchimura, that train strength heavily twice a day, many times gold medal winner, and figured it’s not true that you need to eat/ingest protein powder or any food for that matter 10minutes after your workout (or any of that similar bullshit).

The point being, most of the stuff out there is biased and made by people that have an intent to sell something (makes sense, if you don’t have any interest in it= you won’t invest in any research in your favor). What happens with only fats = you can train like an olympic champion, even in regards to pure strength (uchimura is a champ on the rings), while eating just once a day at night when you’re back home. Who has interest in that? No one. You walk out the door in the morning fasted, no need to buy any crap outside. no need to bring lunchboxes and whatnot. Gatorade, protein powders, pre workouts, and all that crap all have an interest to sell, so they’ll be prone to making studies that justify their use. People in the gym are bombarded with blogs and ads that tell them they have to chug down protein powder every X minutes or hours.

The reality that there’s athlethes that just train fasted and gain the same or more strength than those than eat every 2hours, seems to be lost in the void.
Naturally, no industry at all wants you to know you can easily avoid all that daily junk (and waste of time), and just feast at home with your natural foods. Which you will enjoy 100x more as it’s your daily ‘‘feast’’.

The power of repetition/propaganda is such that people even still believe ‘‘light’’ products are for losing weight. The reality that in the U.S. they eat less grams of fat today than in the 60/70s (when everyone was slim) still doesn’t wake up people to the fat-demonizing propaganda they’ve been subjected to.

The only thing you can do is try yourself. Don’t expect the majority to tell you any type of real truth. Calculate the stuff yourself. See yourself what you absorb best, what doesn’t irritate your gut. That’s at the base, because any and all gains and power exertion will have to be fuelled from there.

Edit: also another big factor in, is how much of what you eat gets converted into muscle/repair/etc. That also depends on how you train, if you’re wasting effort, or if you’re more methodical and a larger portion of what you eat actually goes to building (building in every sense… hair grows faster, nails repair faster, muscles, etc. Yes, when you have all your mineral and vitamin groups, also stuff like hair growing faster occurs).