More Nuance Around Weight Loss

Perhaps I’ve missed the nuance in the Pod. One thing I’ve heard frequently around weight loss and training is to basically not worry about weight, increase your power, eat right, and your body will recompose itself to create a stronger, fitter, faster, and healthier YOU.

It really isn’t that simple, now is it? The major impetus for me getting into cycling was to lose weight. I am a 6’2" (1.88 meters) in height and ten years ago my weight was near 250# (113 Kg, 17.9 stone). I started cycling and watching my diet and dropped a good amount of weight and went from entry level obese to overweight. I got myself down to 195# (14 stone, 88 Kg) and then since then my weight went back up and during the COVID period I was back up to 220 (100 Kg, 16 stone).

I suppose the advice not to worry about weight applies if you have low body fat or are at an already healthy bodyweight. That is how I’m taking it now.

Last year at that COVID weight I put up PR power levels both in TrainerRoad and actual 1 hour road tests (over 20 & 60 minutes) but my race results were pathetic (I’ve shown flashes of prowess in previous years but nothing solid). I stopped racing last August and instead focused on weight loss. So starting in August of 2022 I started riding easy, in volume, and with just water. I even went to my blood draw (in prelude to my annual physical) on my bike with just a couple bottles of water (there was a point about the presence of ketones on one of the rest results).

Now, I’m back to the near 190# (13.5 stone, 86 Kg) and the problem I have now is when I’m out on training rides I am running out of road and putting myself into Strava top 10s (the later not being a problem).

Are my watts higher than last year? No (though I do have a FTP analysis coming up the week after next) however, with the reduced weight I am riding noticeably faster and the weekly group ride (2x2 at the moment and I spend significant time on the front) I lead rarely exceeds “recovery” effort.

What I’ve learned is massive calorie deficits are more harmful than good – while I may not fuel on a given ride I strive to be no more than 300 calories under my daily budget (which is already set to a deficit). This journey has underscored with me the importance of food quality – I have recently come to associate my effort to increase my quality vegetable intake with triggering whooshes and better moods. I’ve learned that simply taking water along on moderate rides is quite okay and that even on my more intense rides perhaps I don’t need as many carbs as I was taking.

More and more as I go down this road I’m really questioning even my moderate or low consumption of the occasional adult beverage. I slightly overdid it the other night, woke up after a very poor night’s sleep and wasn’t hungover but was very unambitious.

So, I put it to you now. What is your experience with weight loss while trying to race or train?


My personal opinion is that weight and weight loss are nuanced and personal things. Very, very, very often, the people who say things like “just eat healthy and you will look great” are people who have never been overweight in their lives and who are genetically gifted and predisposed to being thin and/or muscular. Talk in endurance athletic circles is usually about “how to maximize output”, not “how to lose 5% body fat”.


I agree it’s very nuanced and individual. I personally can’t just follow the advice of “Don’t diet on the bike”, “Don’t worry about losing weight”, “Eat Healthy Foods”

I can be doing 10-15 hours a week on the bike eating healthy and still put on weight. I just simply like to eat, like to snack. So I do have to focus on fueling my workouts, but watching elsewhere.

I’m also saying this as a reminder to myself, I’d like to to trim a little excess over the next 12 weeks…


My experience showed that cardio isn’t required to be successful at weight the lose/body composition game. I say this as many focus on the extra cardio to create the deficit. A small caloric deficit is hard enough to maintain while doing no cardio but, it’s much harder to do while riding. Impossible for me to do training with any race specific intensity.


The most weight I’ve ever lost in my life came from cutting carbs, caloric deficit, daily 1-2 hour walks, and doing things like chewing a lot of gum and drinking a lot of water so that I could maintain the caloric deficit. No cycling. Cycling just makes me hungry.


I think you’re correct that there is an important distinction around TRs advice on diet and exercise.

If your primary goal is performance their advice applies

If your primary goal is weight loss their advice does not apply

They mention this occasionally, but not consistently, when discussing diet and feeding and I think this lack causes problems when people lose sight of it


Yes to both of these!

For me, much easier to lose weight when I’m walking the dog, doing some strength workouts thrown in, focus on low carb, drinking lots of water, and not doing a bunch of endurance work. All of the carbs I eat when training hard make me want more carbs.

For “Best Performance” for me on the bike, I still need to pay attention to what I eat and I’ve found their advice doesn’t 100% work for me.



Like most things, you need to take some general principles, apply them and then adapt them to your personal needs / experiences. There is no definitive solution, but the general principles almost always apply.

In general, “Eat less, move more” will lead to weight loss. How you apply that principle will likely vary by individual. It starts getting a lot more nuanced as you get closer to your ideal / target weight. The advice given on the podcast isn’t necessarily wrong re: weight loss, but what changed was your behavior….your amount of movement changed, so the pod’s recommendation of “eat right and your body will adjust” didn’t apply because your overall equation shifted.

Glad you are back on it….fitness and weight loss is a journey, not a destination. You will constantly make adaptations for both based on current life situations and how you change as an athlete. But the overal arching concepts tend to remain true the whole time.


My personal opinion is that all of the talk on the podcast is more harmful than helpful in regards to weight loss. They’re effectively telling people, don’t bother trying to lose weight, you can’t control it. I’m not sure that is the intended message, but that is the end result when you tell people dont worry about if…your body will find the right weight on it’s own.

The “right” weight, in modern western society, is obese. Decent volume of cycling negates some of that, but not all IMO. It is still very easy to run a calorie surplus even when following a training plan, or even on 10+ hour weeks.

It takes a LOT of thought and…not exactly dedication, but awareness. You first need to identify what you should be eating, then identify the most obvious and consistent ways in which you fail at the ideal.

For me personally…I’m pretty good with fueling appropriately for riding, and I eat healthy enough with proper portions that I should be very slowly but consistently dropping a half pound or so a week.

However…beer, and late night snacking derail this for me. I never drift more than 2-3 pounds upwards, but I have been unsuccessful in dropping the ~10 pounds I feel would get me to a sustainable, lean race weight without approaching overdoing it. Just committing to going to bed at a consistent and reasonable hour would solve pretty much all of my issues lol.

For reference, I’m a pretty muscular 185-187lbs, 16-17% body fat if you trust the scale. I’ve got a very small bit of obvious squish…abs not completely hidden, but they’ve got a light security blanket :joy:.


I disagree to a certain extent. My biggest gain in performance is coming from the weight loss and not the power gains. Last year I was at 284 watts FTP and this year I am at 263 watts (I am going to say it is higher as I’m about due for another check). Despite the reduced power my ability to go faster and ride with less RPE has me convinced I"m getting more value from the weight loss. But I do state to a large extent that is ME with a fair amount of useless weight (FWIW my bodyfat according to my bathroom scale is in the low 20% range last year it was in the upper 20s).

At this time, every ride I take fuel along but instead of 60 grams/hour I generally go with 40 grams/hour but a hard ride I may mix at higher levels.

I’ve gone both ways over the years and discovered running big caloric deficits while training is going to result in illness and burnout. So as I state I try to keep a caloric deficit just not a big one.

My biggest power gains without a doubt occurred when I wasn’t losing weight but holding steady but my biggest perf gains are from weight loss.

Late beer and snacking is definitely detrimental to my weight-loss goals and both alone or together jank up my sleep. If I have even 1 late beer my sleep will be noticeably and adversely affected. Late eating is a bit trickier – sometime late food janks up the sleep sometimes it doesn’t. I think good food is less likely to jank up my sleep (eg brotein power + fruit + maltodextrin shakes) than bad food (doritos, cookies, etc).

I have found this to be the case with me. This is why I track calories and even before I cycled I had success with calorie tracking. Try it!

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Disagree with this blanket statement. Your best performances requires optimal body composition and weight. Nobody is at their best with suboptimal metrics.

The only way to do this objectively is measuring everything.

Curious how fueling the workouts per their advice contradicts this from your perspective.

My statement was perhaps too broad, but in general what I meant was that if you’re chasing improving your power curve then fueling your workouts is one of the easiest ways to ensure you’re doing that. That is what I see as TRs primary fueling advice, maybe we’re talking about different things they’ve recommended

If your primary goal is weight loss, not improving your power, then their advice is wrongheaded at best and harmful at worst

Well, i think the issue is that trainerroads recommendation lends no thought whatsoever to even maintaining weight, much less losing any.

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The difference is that performance and weight/body composition are tied at the hip. Their fueling recommendations are ok, perhaps a bit high in my opinion, for the typical TR customer.

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I think their advice is way too one sided and doesn’t acknowledge that some people just blatantly don’t have a problem getting enough carbs and fuel, even when training hard.

For me, eating and fueling the work is easy. I can run a surplus even with a 2500KJ day if I don’t watch myself.

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That was the point of my original post…they are giving advice without clarifying it has nothing to do with weight

So you’d change their advice by adding the very context I said was missing in my post…?

Well…to elaborate on what I meant…trainerroad recommending to ‘fuel rides’ is perfectly fine and reasonable. One can quibble about their exact numbers…but the idea is reasonable.

However…when you have zero deficit bracketing workouts, and no specific thought or guidelines for the rest of your week at all, weight is only going in one direction for 99% of the population - up.

“Dont worry about it” is just a dumb strategy for weight management.

Added: Your body is not going to find it’s ideal composition on its own. On it’s own, it is going to adapt itself to modern, western, sedentary, overindulged lifestyle (assuming you are part of that culture).

Bodies need active, consistent redirection from their owners if you want the body to change. And, if you are fueling rides completely, ie, no deficit, the work has to come in the other non training part of your life.