What's Cool In Road Cycling

Slim Fast For Racers

One of the most popular requests that I get from cyclists is: “I’d like to lose some weight”. And of course, I am happy to help; I’ve done it myself. To start with there are several simple dietary suggestions that I’d like to make before plunging into a caloric deficit.

Often times these simple “lifestyle” changes will result in a leaner, happier, and faster athlete. So here it goes:

. Avoid all beverages with high fructose corn syrup (this includes Gatorade and soft drinks).
. Try to stay away from processed foods with partially hydrogenated fats.
. Avoid sugary foods like cookies, cakes, and low-fat foods (that’s code for high in sugar).
. Try to stay away from saturated fats found in red meat, cheese, butter, and fried foods.
. Avoid alcohol at all costs.

You may have to start paying attention to the back label of foods where ingredients like high fructose corn syrup, partially hydrogenated fats, and sugars are displayed. So you say you’re already dialed in on these tips? Then let me suggest paying attention to the glycemic index of foods.

Choose foods with a LOW glycemic index before you exercise each day. After exercise select carbohydrates with a HIGH glycemic index for a speedy recovery. Once you’ve replaced your glycogen stores resume a LOW glycemic index food intake.But wait, what’s the glycemic index? Simply put, its a scale from 1 to 100 ranking foods according to how much blood sugar levels elevate after eating.

HIGH GI: Greater than 70; sugar, Gatorade

LOW GI: Less than 55; brown rice, pasta

High GI foods are rapidly digested and absorbed and cause a significant jump in blood sugar levels. This in turn elicits a large insulin response or spike which is great during and after exercise when your glycogen-depleted muscles are crying out for more carbohydrates. But any other time you want to maintain steady insulin levels by consuming LOW GI foods, which are more slowly digested and absorbed. You may want to check the glycemic index of some of your favorite foods just to be sure.

OK, that’s all good but you still need to hit your “climbing” weight. Well, as Eddy Merckx rather eloquently said, “Eat Less, Ride More”. Don’t we all wish. Basically it all comes down to taking in fewer calories than your daily caloric requirements, otherwise known as a caloric deficit.

Before I go any further there are times in an athlete’s training schedule when it is OK and not OK to lose weight. After the season is over and during your base phase are great opportunities to trim the fat. During your weight program or once you start your intensity and begin racing are not. Instead back up and try modifying your diet and pay attention to the glycemic index of foods described above. If it’s the right time of year try some of these tricks I’ve successfully used in the past:

. Try eating several small meals over the course of the day rather than three large ones.
. Pay attention to the glycemic index of foods and try to avoid HIGH GI foods.
. Eat bulky foods that are not calorically dense like salads and vegetables.
. Try to make a habit of snacking on fruit instead of your usual quick fixes.
. On the bike, teach your body to burn fat by riding slow enough that it is using your body’s fat stores as the primary source of energy (<70% HR MAX). Well, that should get you started. And remember to consume plenty of carbohydrates once you start your intervals and begin racing. Dieting during the season is risky business and could result in a decreased power output. Above all, congratulations on the commitment you made to your health. Frank is a USA cycling certified coach and category 1 road racer. Following the 1999 season, I realized I needed to climb better and I lost approximately 12 lbs. I've been a better bike racer ever since ! ------------------------------- Frank Overton Frank is a USA cycling certified coach and category 1 road racer. He can be reached at his website
or may be found riding around Boulder, Colorado in zone 2 on the bike paths or flat roads – – at least until late February when his intensity training begins.

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