There’s no better time for a cyclist to shed some pounds than in the off-season. In fact, while it may seem counter-intuitive, it can be very difficult to lose weight during a long, grueling on-season of cycling, training, and racing (especially if you’re already reasonably fit and just want to lose those last few pounds).
3 Reasons Why Intense Endurance Training Makes it Hard to Lose Weight:
- As you get better at a specific endurance sport, your body burns fewer calories and fat during them. You become more efficient, so it takes less work for the same amount of activity. During the off-season, many cyclists use cross-training activities, at which they are less efficient. Hour for hour, these can burn more calories and fat than our normal training.
- The off-season is a great time for cyclists to add resistance training. Lifting weights can increase calorie burn simply because muscle in our bodies burns more calories than fat burns, even when at rest. The effects of resistance training increase our calorie output for hours, even days, after we’re done. While cardio exercise is great for overall heart health and calorie burn while we’re doing it, adding weights can improve our overall daily calorie burn.
- With shorter days, we often engage in shorter cardio workout sessions during the Autumn and Winter than in the Spring and Summer (especially if we’re adding resistance training as well). With shorter workouts, even at higher intensities or with cross-training, you need less fuel. One of the factors that diminishes fat loss during the on-season is the need for adequate, efficient training fuel (before, during, and after training) to improve athletic performance. This carbohydrate fuel is not needed when cardio sessions are less than an hour, and in fact, will likely not provide any benefit even when you do add them (fluids and electrolytes can still help). What’s more, you’ll burn more fat without added carbs in these shorter sessions, even up to 40% more (again, this extra fat burn can be negligible for longer activities, in which decreased performance reduces calorie burn). So, for cardio sessions of 60 minutes or less, I recommend hydrating before and after, and drinking water or a low-calorie electrolyte drink during training as needed (you can really lose a lot of electrolytes when training indoors).
If you have goals to shed fat this off-season, we’ve listed a few recipes that will help. Plus, I’ve included my 5 Top Tactics for Off-Season Fat Loss.
Off-Season Fat Loss Recipes of the Week
(click links to find see recipe posts):
Homemade Low-Carb Electrolyte Drink (if training 60 minutes or less, skip the carbs during it)
Eggs for Breakfast (protein in the morning often lasts longer and helps decrease needless snacking compared to refined carb breakfasts)
Half Plate of Vegetables every Dinner (paired with a protein source and healthy fats, this is the perfect combo for evening)
Winter Squash in place of Pasta (replacing grains with vegetable whole foods, even slightly starches ones, can reducing total carb and starch intake)
Salmon as a Nutrient Powerhouse Protein (more omega-3s in your diet can reduce inflammation & fat storage)
Pre-Sleep Muscle Sparing Shake (especially helpful if adding strength training)
Bonus: Top 5 Tactics for Off-Season Fat Loss
- Engage in High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), Strength Training, and regular cross-training and cardiovascular exercise. Changing up your exercise routine can pay off with fat loss and muscle growth.
- Use “regular” meals as pre-training and post-training recovery rather than adding in extra ones like those needed during an on-season (as long as cardio training is 60 minutes or less). With your recovery meal, you can still add in a tablespoon of Organic Coconut Oil to promote less muscle breakdown by giving your body a direct energy source.
- Reduce your total carbohydrate intake, and omit refined carbs from white starches and sugary foods/drinks as much as possible. While small portions of whole food carbs and intact grains are fine for the off-season, you don’t need as many Daily Nutrition carbohydrates with less training.
- Don’t succomb to the Over-Eating Holiday Season. The “Holidays” really only consist of a few days. Enjoy these wonderful days. Reject the notion of over-indulging for 3 months in order to celebrate a couple Holidays.
- Keep warm, winter comfort foods light and loaded with vegetables. There’s no reason for winter food picks to pack in more calories than summer ones. You can make a simple and delicious Pureed Vegetable Soup with broth, broccoli, and spices. Or, a Stir-Fry with a double serving of vegetables.
Embrace the months to come with new vigor and excitement as you look forward to your cycling goals next year. A good off-season can allow you to begin Spring cycling a few pounds lighter, with an improved strength to weight ratio. The off-season is full of opportunity!