New years plans: weight-loss vs FTP-loss

Hi folks,

Along with millions around the world, from 1 Jan I plan to prioritise weight loss. I’m currently sitting at ~90kg, having started 2018 at ~100kg. I had really good results eating LCHF (low carb, high fat) for the first 6 months of the year, and then progressively my diet has got worse since the Summer and my weight has ticked back up a couple of kilos. I’m only 5’7" and as an ex-rugby player I am carrying much more muscle than the cycling ideal, but I still have plenty of fat to lose. The aim is to be sub-80kg by Summer 2019 for the triathlon season (and my wedding!)

Over the last decade I’ve tried basically every diet and LCHF is the only one that has worked for longer than a month - I have serious issues with self-control when it comes to eating, so need a diet that keeps my satiated. However, @chad and @Nate_Pearson (especially!) have said time and time again on the podcast that carbs are necessary for performance on the bike. I’ve spent the last few months building my FTP, which is currently sitting at 279w half-way through a mid-volume half-distance triathlon base plan.

So my question is, what can I do to maintain this FTP whilst eating LCHF and targeting weight-loss?

My current thinking is to set up my own plan that has a lot of Endurance/Tempo/Sweetspot work that doesn’t tax my anaerobic system and therefore doesn’t need to be fuelled by cards. I think this will help with the weight loss, will this type of training maintain my FTP or should I expect to lose a few watts? Or is the FTP-loss offset by fat adaptation for someone looking at 70.3 length triathlons? Last year I found I could easily ride 100km completely fasted, so I know that I have the capacity to use my fat stores when my diet and training has been on point.

Grateful for thoughts! Particularly if anyone has delved into the science behind this.

You can lose weight and increase your FTP at the same time. You just have to go slow on the weight side.

Slow and steady wins this race, not only from a “losing it” but also from the “keeping it off” perspective (I’ve gone from 93kg to 72kg over the past few years).

If LCHF works for you and you can stay consistent at it, then here is what I would suggest:

Traditional Base 2 and 3 (instead of SSB2 due to the VO2 work in there)
Half Tri Build
Half Tri Speciality

Those have minimal top end work, so you’ll be flat anaerobically but you should be able to push the pedals at tempo for a long time.

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Been doing Keto for over a year now… will say when I lost 50lbs, going from 22% to 8% body fat what I noticed was I significant jump in performance, however not in FTP. Power to weight performance jump I concluded.

So for 2019, my plan is this… In October I began weight training and being mostly endurance workouts until the new year.

Will see if that makes a difference with FTP… honestly… don’t really care… Power to weight is the trick for me!


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First, great job losing 10kg! That’s no small feat!

I too benefit greatly from a LCHF diet. However, that’s because it’s just that - a diet. And I’m built very similarly, being a former American football/hockey player. Once I add carbs back into the mix, I gain weight again. So… the secret for me has been to remove the word “diet” from the equation. A “diet” implies temporary, short lived, for a purpose. I don’t believe LCHF is sustainable for most (and I’m sure there are exceptions) cyclists.

Instead of dieting, why don’t you make a lifestyle change and count calories? Diets are nothing more than temporary solutions to a long term problem. Calorie counting is maddening, borderline obsessive, but so is tracking cycling data - it’s a perfect match! I’d bet that after you calculate you basal metabolic rate (roughly what your body consumes in calories if you just sat on the couch all day) and reduce calorie consumption with a balanced and healthy (non-processed, whole foods) plan, you’d shed weight AND still be able to build that FTP.

My all-time favorite article on the entire internet is here:

This is a no B.S. real-talk approach to why you can’t lose weight and keep it off by rebound dieting. I owe over 25lbs (and still dropping) of weight loss to this approach and principles. The answer is so much simpler than we make it out to be. During this time, I have added nearly 30% increase to my FTP. Losing weight does not have to equal a loss of power - that is a myth. Put the right amount of the right fuel in, and your body (which is an amazing machine) will respond. Don’t take the “quick and easy” route - it’s not sustainable.

Wishing you luck in your 2019 goals! I know yo can do it!

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