Stronger and faster

Ok so here goes , im a 40 year old man from Northern Ireland , I’m new to cycling to a degree , got a MTB in 2018 loved it but was weighing around 86 kg and had a turbo trainer , doing the odd ride
Lockdown and my neighbour being a regular cyclist I bought a bike of him and that was that , for a year I couldn’t get consistent but my bro who lives in cali and has entered us into BWR cedar city , so since jan my ftp has went from 221-256 ( today) and my weight has went down from 86-74.5 kg
I’m training 5 days a week on TR and the odd outside ride , I’m calorie counting trying to live on between 1200-1800 a day .
Now times getting on since race is in September , I need to be over 4watts per kilo and under 70 kilos,
So here is my question , do I start fueling better with the chance of putting weight on but hopefully get a higher ftp or should I keep doing what I’m doing ? I’m on my feet all day long as I’m a carpenter.

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If you keep counting calories you can fuel effectively and not get worried about gaining weight. Last half of last year I was counting to lose weight. Lost about 10KG and now I’m counting to make sure I eat enough. Sometimes I’ll go over a it, sometime stay under a bit, all evens out in the end.

When losing weight I was on -500 calories a day, making sure I got enough protein and still had some minor ftp gains, but my mindset was always to try and not lose too much power. Managed that. After picking up the fueling again I did notice it’s easier to gain power on the bike (without gainibg weight).


To get stronger your body needs essential nutrients, especially protein. There is no way to get in enough nutrients with 1800 kcal/day. If you do 5 TR workouts which with your FTP would burn between 600-900 kcal you’d still be in a deficit with 2500 kcal/day


Need….? You’d be better off raising your FTP rather than just barely eating enough. Fuel properly and chase fitness/performance. Your weight will naturally land where it needs to if you’re eating a decent diet. I’m 46 (4.1 w/kg) and I’m fitter faster now at 2+ kilos more than I was 2 years ago.


Well that’s what I’ve been doing and has been working ok 5 tr a week , I eat a high protein diet , with a intake of as I said between 1200-1800 a day slightly more at weekends

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I feel I’m eating enough making sensible choices and not starving myself , but yes that’s what I want TR to advise me on .

Just remember that even though your diet plan may be working “ok” for you up to now, that does not mean that the wheels won’t come off as you progress.

At 1800 cal, you are definitely underfueling with your training schedule. Fuel the work properly and you’ll reap the benefits. This is especially true as you move into the Build and higher phases of the cycle.

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Cheers , I’ve just completed a general build and moving onto a sustained build on Wednesday . During the build phase my ftp has went up from 242 to 256 , i am aiming for 300

Fuel the work and hat do you recommend ?

You also need to remember you burn more calories per session as your FTP increases. Higher watts means more energy used when riding at the same % of FTP. So, the higher the interval wattage the more calories you need to take in during the session to optimise performance. Your glycogen stores wont increase to compensate.

Basic TR advice is 60-90g carbs per hour, so you want to be making sure you are getting that consistently, and then your recovery meals/foods.

You can continue to see weight loss and some performance gains for a short time with a (too) restricted calorie diet, but essentially the body is cannabalising itself and breaking down muscle its not using to fuel your workouts. Basic calorie demands for a 75kg male is about 1875kcal per day and your probably doing +1000-1300kcals of sessions 5 days a week. Thats too much of a deficit to sustain for healthy development.

That’s a very low calorie intake. What kind of daily deficit is that working out as once you factor in your training? Do you have any kind of all day activity tracker (fitbit, whoop, garmin watch, etc) that might give a reasonable estimate of how much you’re burning through with what is a relatively active job? (Relative to those of us who sit in front of a computer for work anyway!)

I would hazard a guess that the main reason you have been able to improve both W and kg so much to date on those calories is that you were coming from quite a low starting point. I.e. Quite a bit of excess weight and a relatively untrained state. At some point (probably sooner rather than later) you’ll find the improvements starting to get much harder to come by. If you’re fairly inactive then almost any kind of training will give initial gains, even if done with restricted calories. As you get past those early gains though you’ll need to start fuelling your workouts properly to make further improvement. Absolutely still possible to do that while also still maintaining a calorie deficit, but it will probably need to be a more modest deficit than you’ve been doing to date. 250-500 cal/day as suggested above is a good target. At some point you’ll still likely find your watts and/or kg hit a plateau and you might need to pick one or the other to work on. I’d maybe avoid having hard goals like 300W or 70kg because you simply don’t know how possible they are. Or in the case of 70kg it’s certainly possible but may not be desirable if getting to that weight means you’re struggling to train effectively.

I’ve personally found there’s a relatively small optimal range for my weight of 78-80kg. I can get lower than that but it’s not sustainable (for me) as being that light while still being healthy, happy and able to maintain quality training requires a level of discipline and rigour around every aspect of my training, nutrition and sleep that I can’t maintain. Whereas I find it relatively easy to stay in that 78-80kg range and keep everything on an even keel.

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I also thought this was an odd statement. OP: Why do you need to be 4 W/kg?

221 to 256 watts might have come in one or two training blocks but 256 to 300 might be five times as hard to achieve. It’s really hard to count on hitting a certain power number. Good luck!

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The only thing you “need” to do is to eat enough. You aren’t doing that at the moment. Seriously, 1200-1800 is very low. I couldn’t function on that and i’m 75Kg (@302W) and eat ~3000 per day. I would bet good money that if you ate another 500-800 calories a day you would settle at about 75Kg and your FTP would go up a big chunk.

Seriously - you have to fuel to work. You’ll find the training a lot easier if you are fueling correctly and you’ll do more of it and get faster for sure.

Forget the old trope about cyclists needing to be feather light to be able to get up a hill. Maybe if you are going for the climber’s jersey in a grand tour then the extra kilo is worth losing but you are nowhere near maxing out your power abilities yet. Focus on more power, that is where the gains are to be made.

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That’s the aim 4.5 watts per kilo is the aim

Yes totally that’s y I’m asking the questions to find out what’s suits me best to get more improvement .

Ok. Goals are good. You want to be 4.5 W/kg (wow, big goal). You don’t need to be. You could very well be a super responder to training, i have no idea… but, you’re at 3.43 W/kg now, and progression into the 4s… well, I wish you all the best - 4.5 is stratospheric from where you are now.


I use a app to track my calories everything I put in is calculated , on the days I train TR tells me I’ve burnt usually 800-1000 calories all before breakfast I usually fire a gel in for them . I don’t ware a watch or a tracker during work but my phone tells me steps which is anything from 5000-10000 .
Thank you for your in put it’s been much as I thought il keep plowing on and see what happens , I have a goal to meet for bwr cedar city in sept we will c if we get to it , im ultra competitive lol

Thankyou good advice

Oh totoally is I know this I’ve no blinkers on , I train hard haven’t missed one since jan . I’m very focused , I will get here at some stage