Weight gain and carbs

I’m a coached UK rider, coming to the end of my Season in August reverse periodised and racing XC Marathon. In the past before I was coached I used TR, focused in an 1800 cals per day gross and reduced myself to 161 lbs. I was racing my best XC races at the time, training about 5hrs per week.

I’ve moved to XC Marathon and the extra carbs and 2400 cals gross my coach has suggested to supported my training has pushed me to 175 lbs. Now, my FTP hasn’t changed although we’ve focused on muscular endurance and Vo2 max early as I’m a poor climber. My performance seems to have stagnated though to be fair, there have been mitigating circumstances at every race - nothing is the same! I’m training 5-10 hours per week and tapering properly.

So, my question is should I drop the carbs and therefore the weight to help me climb faster/better?

I’m no professional coach, but I’d say if you gained 14 pounds of fat, you calorie intake is probably too high…

Was this all gained this year, as soon as you upped your daily calories by 600?

What is the composition of the body type changes? Are you putting on muscle or fat? Is it muscle in your legs or your upper body?

Broadly speaking an increase of 14 pounds with no change in FTP is going to hurt your ability to go uphill. If you flip the scenario most people would immediately drop 14 pounds if they were certain it wouldn’t lower their FTP. I think this would be referred to as a significant gain

Talk to your coach about why he wants you racing at this weight, see how the body changes have impacted you. Maybe you’re on a plan that’ll see significant FTP gains during the coming off-season, or maybe not. Hard to say without more info

An a bit of last year, about 9 months in total, yes. BUT he’s concerned less carbs = less health and less support for muscular change.

I’ve no idea how to measure that, but I “feel” flabbier around my gut which is where I usually put on weight. My muscular endurance has improved so I guess there is more muscle mass.

I should add I’m 6ft of medium build so not a small person - 161lbs is fairly decent for my stature.

You need to talk to your coach about the weight gain - 14 pounds in 9 months is a pretty rapid weight gain

Increasing your carbs to better support the physical efforts makes sense - having that lead to a daily increase of 600 calories doesn’t make sense. Perhaps you should instead be balancing to the same total calorie input you had previously (or even something that would be +200 instead of +600) but with less fat and protein and thus a higher carb blend

You really need to talk to your coach about this. If he doesn’t want to have the conversation or doesn’t have good answers for why gaining this much weight in this amount of time is a good idea then you might want to consider getting a different coach

What weight were you before you reduced to 1800 calories a day (ie are you just returning to your previous weight after a period of restricted eating)?
Also, 1800 calories a day doesn’t seem a lot - I assume you were/are fueling your workouts on top of your 1800/2400 calories? How were you working out how much to eat, and has that changed?
Talking to your coach (or maybe a dietician that they work with?) sounds like good first step because he will know you, your workouts and your abilities better than us!

Also, something I noticed…and I assumed it was just mis-represented, was the word ‘gross.’

1800 GROSS calories, or even 2400 gross calories a day, while following a structured training plan would be a very, very low amount, probably bordering on forcing the body into reducing metabolism. Adding calories back in after under eating for an extended time could very well cause significant gain.

I assume however…that the 1800 and 2400 calories are actually NET calories, IE total calories consumed minus calories burned during training.

Fair play, but I’m dusking asking here for some independent validation. So past weight history;

I’m 47. Up to the age of 25 I played Rugby and was a more muscular 190 lbs whilst I was busy bulking up. After I stopped due to injury, I started cycling on a recreational basis and eating a “normal” diet and reduced to 175lbs, which I maintened until about the age of 44 which coincides to when I joined a cycling club and hear the mantra regarding w/KG. I’m not a particularly powerful rider and am more endurance and TT based profile - so I struggle with power on climbs.

So, at 44 I started the 1800 cals diet which was net cals - so total Calories plus exercise = 1800 using MyFitnesspal including measurement food weight.

Mid last year as I upped my training, it was suggested I get more carbs in to support development and protect my immune system - about 250g on a non training day, about 450 on a 1hr-90min training day and up to 650 (very challenging!) to load pre XC Marathon.

Maybe as you say, the answer is to reduce cals but increase carbs. Yes my apologies I meant NET not GROSS!

Ok, I think I’m getting a more clear picture, but there still is a bit of information missing.

Did your coach recommend increasing net calories from 1800 to 2400 per day, or did he recommend increasing carb intake, or did he recommend both?

Because going off of the 250-450g carb numbers…that 200 gram increase on a training day would fairly closely fuel the calories burned during your workout. Makes perfect sense.

So I guess I’m asking if you extrapolated from that recommendation on your own to assume you must increase total calories per day? Which in and of itself is not necessary…even on a non-training day, you’ve still got 800 calories worth of space in an 1800 calorie day to meet your protein/fat intake needs.

Ah. I think you’ve led me to my mistake. My coach recommend the Carb increase, not the Calorie increase. I’ve translated it into a Calorie increase using a Basal Metabolic Rate calculator. But I’ve ADDED calories daily rather than just adding calories - which would be netted off - on workout days.

Brilliant :frowning: I’ve sabotaged myself - best re-adjust MyFitnesspall PDQ!

Thankyou, that’s why I posted - I couldn’t see the missing link!

Actually for clarity - I use the Harris Benedict formula for BMR - my BMR is 1745. I multiplied it by 1.35 (lightly active) because although I train 4-5 times a week I have sedentary desk / car based job (IT Salesman). That led me to the 2400 cals… I’m quite often “under” and average about 2200 according to MFP.

The way I use a BMR calculator (I used the one in myfitnesspal) is as follows. Input correct age, height, weight, etc…and then put myself down as fairly sedentary. I have an office job and am not very active aside from my training. For me this comes out to around 2100-2200 (6’3", 170 lbs, 37 year old, male)

I then add in my average weekly on-bike caloric expenditure (around 7-8000) divided by 7 - which brings me up to the 3300-3500 range as a daily target for calories.

My BMR, training volume, and kJ are higher than yours - so my daily target is going to be much higher - but the same methodology should give you a fairly good daily caloric target.

Basically I do this because I know pretty precisely what I’m burning on the bike (thank you power meters) over a given period of time and know I need to fuel that but don’t want to gain any additional weight.

I’m not sure I understood your methodology exactly - do you think you are burning around 1745 calories just laying around and then a further 650 on the bike and thus the target of 2400? Can you compare your kJ to that 650 and see how close the two are?

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Yes, TodaysPlan links to Strava which links to MFP - so my cals go straight onto MFP. So yes, 1745 + KJ is a typical daily requirement. I quickly added up a couple of typical weeks and averaged together I’m burning about 5000kj a week, say 715 a day is roughly 2400, so its not far off. Sometimes its more if I have 4hr+ endurance rides at the weekend.

My issue is that I’m eating to 2400 on non training days… and should be eating to 1800… I think.

If you want to track it that closely, day to day, then yes - you should only be doing 1800 on non-training days and more (how much more will depend on how big the ride was) on training days

You have the right idea. I think there is an argument to under eat a tad on training days, over eat on others…but yes, over time (weeks/months/years, etc), calories consumed should precisely equal calories burned through resting metabolic expenditure PLUS calories burned through exercise. Assuming of course you want overall weight to be stable.

that’s a lot of weight gain, but you’ll retain a lot of weight from so many carbs.

Carbs are KEY to cycling success, and you do need your muscle stores filled with glycogen, but even as carb crazy as I want to be, the math from carb loading doesn’t always make sense and will leave you flabby, and I don’t think with more carbs than if you ate a balanced meal and just leaned your diet towards carbs.

Also, tapering properly,don’t taper for every event; only for A priority races…are you tapering every weekend / every race?

Thanks for posting Brendan. No, I’m only tapering for my A races which are 4 x XC Marathon and 1 12hr at the end of July.

I do race a once a month Xc with no taper and have recently completed an 8 week once a week local series. This was treated as an hour of training intensity. No taper here either just part of my training program.

Interestingly whilst I’ve been posting I’ve had a serious throat infection and cough after my 3rd Marathon last Sunday, and have lost 1lb just sitting and getting through the malaise…

Thanks for this, I just did this exercise myself based on my Garmin data on calories (although I don’t have a PM on my rides outdoor).
Based on this I should eat more, or atleast increase it a bit as I am still trying to shed some weight but don’t want do a drastic kcal deficit.

Do you only consume the 3300-3500 on training days or do you also do that on your resting days?
From your previous post on the forum I am not sure if you even have rest days :wink:

I try to keep the calories lower on rest days and higher on training days.

For instance today I’ll burn around 1350 calories doing Dade+4 so I plan to eat around that 3500 target. Tomorrow will be much lighter (Pettit - 800 calories) so I’ll try to keep it around 2900-3000 calories.

On a day off I’ll make sure I don’t go much over 2500, but will generally eat to hunger