Right Now Is The Right Time For Weight Loss
To ride faster in May-August, focus on losing weight right now.
February can mean different things to different people. In Florida, Arizona, and southern California, the racing season begins before Valentine?s Day, while for the majority of North American cyclists, it may be another two months before the road and mountain bike racing seasons begin in earnest. For those still waiting for spring?s thaw, one piece of advice for the coming month: To ride faster in May-August, focus on losing weight right now.
Take a look in the mirror. In late January and early February, the typical American cyclist is 10-12 pounds heavier than during the height of the previous season. By American standards, you?d probably have to pack on another 20 pounds before anyone referred to you as overweight, but you have already noticed your pants are a little tighter than normal.
Following the traditional pattern of bodyweight and training, this winter weight gain is relatively normal, and you would lose the weight by mid-summer. This year, I encourage you to break from tradition and try losing the majority of this extra weight early in the year, specifically in the next two months.
The late winter and early spring are a good time to focus on moderate weight loss because training is primarily focused on aerobic development and the intensity is not very high. In order to lose weight, you have to burn more energy than you consume, but this condition also endangers your ability to recover from workouts and make progress in training. A caloric deficit becomes more harmful to training as the intensity of workouts increases, so waiting until later to lose weight may harm your performance more than focusing on weight loss now.
Most people wait until they start racing or training hard to start losing weight. They believe the increased energy output provides a good opportunity for weight loss because all they have to do is keep their caloric intake constant and let the extra work take care of creating a deficit. The problem with this plan is that you?re depriving your body of energy when it needs it most. Energy, particularly carbohydrate energy, is essential for optimal recovery from strenuous workouts because you burn through carbohydrate stores more quickly as exercise intensity increases. Recovering from workouts near lactate-threshold intensity is challenging enough under normal conditions; depriving yourself of energy in an effort to lose weight inadvertently hinders your ability to replenish carbohydrate stores and recover optimally before your next workout.
Establishing a caloric deficit early in the season is relatively easy, and a moderate reduction in caloric intake won?t be detrimental to your current training goals. By dropping some weight now, you?ll be able to fuel yourself optimally when it really counts; during the late spring and early summer workouts that drive up your sustainable power for breakaways, time trials, and extended climbs.
How to Do It:
Make Small Changes
Cyclists tend to be hearty eaters, and achieving a moderate caloric deficit (about 500 calories a day) is not difficult when you?re already eating a lot of