Training When Sick, Weight Gain to Build Power, Anemia and much more – Ask a Cycling Coach 232

Training while sick, gaining weight to increase power, how to modify training for athletes with anemia and much more will be discussed on Episode 232 of The Ask a Cycling Coach Podcast. Join us live on YouTube this Thursday, November 14 at 8 am Pacific!

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Hoping we’ll cover this, too?


perfect timing after finishing SSB1 and gaining 9 watts on my FTP I’m about to start SSB2 but I’ve been struck down with a chest infection, question is do I push through it or put training on the back burner for a few days.

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Looking forward to this one.

After a static year FTP wise and weight (after a gradual but significant weight loss (122kg+ to 70kg over 6 or 7 years)) now I’m in SSB1 I’ve targeted fuelling workouts and recovery, as well as cutting some remaining junk.

I’m still tracking calories, and shouldn’t be losing weight, but since the start of SSB and the fuelling and replacing junk calories with fuelling/ recovery calories I have been! I’ve added in more carbs overall, and have no hunger issues, but do I need to be upping calories/ carbs further?

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If you’re tracking calories and you’re still losing weight then somewhere the tracking is off. Either you’re under estimating your calorie burn or over estimating your consumption.


Yes, I’m aware after the number of years I’ve been tracking. My point was more around the effects of that drop in the context of the podcast and growing power.

I actually think it’s just after being convinced a calorie is a calorie, I’m finding it isn’t. I think the podcast covered this a while ago, that a calorie is a calorie up to a point.

My calorie intake hasn’t changed, and my basis for expenditure hasn’t changed (power output where I have it/ Garmin when I don’t) hasn’t changed. The only adjustment is the composition of my diet - less junk or at least less nutritionally poor food, swapped for more carbs for workouts and recovery. My calorie intake has actually gone up if anything! I’ve also been taking rest days as rest, so activity is down.

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If you’re losing weight you’re not eating at maintenance - you’re eating at below maintenance. Either you’re doing more work than expected [possible] or over-estimating your fuel intake [nearly 100% likely].

Yep, am going to work on more calories (started today). I’d still like to know the impact on power growth though!

My tip: If you have an instant pot, steam your potatoes first, then air fry. The centers of the fries are fluffy and soft and the outside is crispy goodness. Just be gentle with the steamed potatoes coming out of the instant pot or they will just disintegrate


A good amount of the power increase you see during training is from increased efficiency at producing force through the pedals.

There’s a number of ways to increase this efficiency:

  • More efficient FFA [Free Fatty Acid] metabolism transport and metabolism - more power.

  • More efficient oxygen uptake - more oxygen to the mitochondria equals more power.

  • More efficient neurological muscle recruitment - more/faster muscle activation equals more power.

  • Faster muscle recruitment / increased rate of force development allows for quicker responses to load changes. If you look at your interval power vs. target power you may notice it is closer to the target faster in the interval. When you ‘normalize’ this it becomes apparent that the reduction in lag leads to a higher power average.

Your power growth will be slowed if you can’t provide fuel substrates to your muscles. Dipping into your fat cells to cover the overage will work for a while, but there’s efficiencies in training to be had if you properly fuel … since faster fuel uptake will allow you to further take advantage of the benefits of training.

It’s all cumulative as well, right? If you get 1% more adaptation per session by adding more fuel, well, where does that leave you after 25 sessions?


I’m curious about the EverlyWell tests. It seems there is a host of information you can get but what are the action items you have taken after you get the results. I mean, are you really going to give up eating eggs forever? If I take a test and discover my cortisol is elevated, what am I supposed to do with that knowledge? Same with all of those DNA tests, curious to hear from people who have done them or something similar and what they did with the information.

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Listening to the podcast right now. Is submittting lots of drops of blood for 29 available tests like Nate a recognised cause of anemia?


Does it matter whether you have done a hard ride before taking a blood test to check for low iron? Should you take a day or 2 from training off before the test?

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Glad this was covered it is so prevalent in endurance athletes.

I live in the UK and was diagnosed with Anemia in February of this year, I was told not to take Iron tablets or take on any extra iron. Iron via supplements or otherwise is reserved for losing blood, either internal bleeding or external via a major trauma, in the UK at least based on what I was told. Also the health risks of too much Iron regarding treatment of Anemia without knowing the exact cause is considered too high.

I was asked about my diet which includes 150 - 200g of broccoli a day, I asked if it would help to include more iron rich food but the reply was your body probably isn’t adsorbing it so just eat a ‘normal’ healthy diet. ‘Your body will sort itself out’ on a healthy diet which I was considered to have, stop training and recover.
I was (as Chad mentioned) told it could take months to recover. I was lucky it took 6 - 8 weeks.
On the worst weeks I could not stand or get up for more than a few minutes, could not breathe if moving, there where days when I could not walk up or down stairs. It’s not just being tired, in my experience at least, it is a whole new level of tired

Even though I was told not to take pills or change my diet which they said was good, spinach and broccoli , I did add liver to my diet but no more than a portion a week as you can get too much Vit A.

This is very personal stuff, so I hope it might be of some value, otherwise I would not have posted it.


@Jonathan I feel your pain! I’ve given nearly 4 gallons of blood over the course of my life. I am also O+ and I swear the Red Cross knows the exact second that I’m eligible to give again. :smile:
Darn vampires!


I am O neg a scares group but wanted by the Red Cross here in Australia. I am hiding from donating purely because I travel to a Ross river fever area and are not allowed to donate :rofl:

Guys! Such a fan of your podcast and I’m listening to it as I train, but I literally had to stop and listen to the allergy discussion which almost made me choke on my water. Please be careful. It’s a tricky subject already and I have to deal with debunking allergy misconceptions and frankly false information on a daily basis. Unfortunately, quite a number of very incorrect statements made during the podcast.