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What's the skinny on optimum heart rate for weight loss?(13 posts)

What's the skinny on optimum heart rate for weight loss?Ken of Fresno
Jun 20, 2002 5:06 PM
I've been busy riding hard trying to shed some unwanted weigth. I've gotten faster, but so far I have yet to shed more than a few pounds. I know if I ride smarter instead of faster it should be easier to reach my goal. I guess it's time to pull out the old heart rate monitor and get serious. What % HR should I shoot for for max weight loss? I think if I knew exactly why a lower HR was better for dropping lbs it might be easier for me to pull back on the reins a bit. Also, I'm assuming that longer the time spent in that zone the better. I've been going for 1 /2 to 2 hours for each ride. Should I up the time in the saddle? I had been more concerned with speed and distance, but I think time in the zone is what I should probably be going for. Any advice?

Minimal correlationKerry
Jun 20, 2002 5:51 PM
You lose weight when you burn more calories than you consume, simple as that. If you ride an easier pace (lower HR) then a high % of calories that you burn will be fat calories, but you will be burning fewer calories per hour. Probably the fastest route to weight loss is to ride lots of miles and go to bed hungry every night. You'll burn lots of calories in a day and your metabolism will be elevated at night as your muscles rebuild from the long miles. If your stomach is empty when you hit the pillow, then your body will have to burn a higher proportion of fat at night. However, it still is a matter of the in/out balance, and there's nothing you can do about that. Your time in zone theory is pretty much useless - it's the daily delta that causes weight loss. If you run a deficit of 1,000 calories per day (you will be hungry most of the time), you'll lose 2 lb per week (3500 calories per lb of fat). That deficit will cause pretty much the same weight loss whether you are burning 6,000 calories per day (rougly 150 miles a day, depending on pace) or 2,000 per day (roughly 15 miles per day).
re: correlationcyclopathic
Jun 20, 2002 6:26 PM
the highest amount of fat calories burned in Zone 2. Roughly it's about 250-400 Cal coming from fat, so 8-12hr burn ~1lbs. Riding above LT will only utilize carbs. Second at beginning of the ride (for first 1-2hr) you burn more carbs and less fat, so 8hr ride will be more beneficial then 4 2hr.

with respect to going to bed hungry you need to be careful to get enough protein or your body will cannibalize muscles. Probably the best would be to go to meat/eggs/salads/fruit diet and 100-150mi rides.
But after the exercise ...Humma Hah
Jun 21, 2002 12:55 PM
... burning carbs during exercise is OK, if you don't replinish them immediately after exercise. The body will find the energy it needs to replinish them thru fat if not fed a big carb snack.

The same goes for muscle. The body will only cannibalize muscle for energy if the fat reserves are virtually gone. However, during rapid weight-loss diets, when the body thinks it is starving, it WILL reduce muscle mass in an attempt to conserve energy. That's why the weight loss program should be gradual, and involve exercises that prevent the body from pulling this particular stunt.
95% ...Humma Hah
Jun 20, 2002 5:57 PM
... Forget that "fat burning range" ... it is great to encourage couch-potatoes to get off their arses and walk half an hour a day, but it is NOT the best way to burn calories.

Continue to ride fairly hard, but concentrate on distance. Distance burns calories. You want to be in the mid to upper end of the "aerobic fitness" HR, for hours on end.

Also, do some strength-building intervals, such as riding fixed gear or climbing hills in too high a gear, and doing sprints. Put on muscle, and that muscle will burn calories all day! If you've had a cardio stress test and know your ticker is good, you might even go for 95% once a month or so, a VO2-max interval which may do wonders for improving your ability to burn calories in hard riding.

But the bottom line is to take in fewer calories than you burn. If riding is making you ravenous, and you're wolfing down junk food (chips, candy, and other nutrition-poor foods which are almost all carbs), you'll not lose weight. Toss out the junk, eat only a balanced diet of high-quality foods. These are more satisfying, you'll be less hungry.
Try Cross Training - Lifting Weightsjose_Tex_mex
Jun 20, 2002 7:05 PM
Try lifting weights on days you do not cycle. As your muscles attempt to heal over the next few days (because of lifting) they will tap in to any extra energy sources you have. By combining cycling and lifting you'll drop whatever you need.
As for losing the weight - ride as hard as you can for as long as you can. Don't bother with that 60% max HR stuff. You'll lose more weight the more intense your workout is.
I kind of agree - let the lifting begin!empacher6seat
Jun 20, 2002 9:11 PM
I read once that lifting weights is much better for losing fat then cardio. However, if you're cycling, don't lift so much with your legs... they already get that type of work out on hills and intervals and so on. Marathon runners don't usually lift weights with their legs. They get their big legs by running really hard on certain days, which increases the amount of force they must use for each step. After their hard days, they have a few recovery days. The same goes for cycling. If you bike 6 days a week, doing leg presses only once a week will force you to stay off the bike for around 2 days to recover from the damage your legs sustained while lifting.

Therefore my conclusion is this: lift upper body, and keep riding! (Don't forget your core strength excersizes!)

Can anyone back me up on this information? I'm pretty sure I remembered it correctly, but a second opinion is always nice.
Forgot to mention upper body lifting onlyjose_Tex_mex
Jun 21, 2002 5:23 AM
I agree. I forgot to mention to not lift with your legs. Just do the upper body, maybe some push-ups, and crunches and the fat will disappear.
Have you ever noticed that even some of the pro's have a bit of a gut. It's just interesting when you see the rest of the body looking immaciated yet still a bit of a belly.
Do not lift with your legs???bob_vanderhaus
Jun 21, 2002 7:18 AM
Is this a cycling newsgroup? If you want to be a better cyclist, as well as losing weight, you should better lift with your legs as well. If fact, of the competitive cyclists I know, almost all lift, but spend 80% of the time working on legs. What do you need an upper body for? It just makes you slower on the hills. If you want a balanced body, than great lift with the arms, if you want to be faster on the bike focus on the legs. I don't know what all this crap about burning fat in the right zones is. If you want to lose weight, eat less or ride more, or a balance of both. I lost 30 pounds in 6 months when I first started racing, and it wasn't rocket science.
Totally Disagree - Not all cyclists are Emaciated Super Modelsjose_Tex_mex
Jun 21, 2002 10:09 AM
I think the original post was for a cyclist who wanted to lose weight faster than by just cycling. Combining anerobics definitely helps. We are not talking about getting ripped for competition, but at least being able to bench your weight.

All of the Cat 1's I know lift for legs during the off season and do no serious work during the summer - more of stretching than anything else. The bulk of their workout comes from the road. If you are going to cycle a few times a week and on your days off lift with legs you won't have much time to recover let alone be competitive.

As for upper body, if you are weak (triceps, back, shoulders, chest area) you can expect to fail during higher mileage or intense competition. The upper body is especially important in to the hills both in the saddle and out. I routinely see people who are unable to ascend the hills with their back straight (easier to breathe) and wind up cracking - big legs and all.

As for rocket science - that's easy, most space time Physics is. Try dealing with the human body and variables increase apparently without limit. If the answer to the original question is indeed trivial, the why is there no clear consensus amongst responses. Feel free to provide all of the physical, chemical, and physiological equations or proofs. Unlike in Physics, what works for you may not work for me.
re: What's the skinny on optimum heart rate for weight loss?JSchneb
Jun 21, 2002 3:36 AM
One factor that's just as important as exercise for losing weight is diet. And, btw, it's not just a matter of burning more calories than you consume. Different foods are used (and stored) differently by the body. Those who are carbo intolerant will not loose weight no matter how many miles they log if they don't reduce the amount of High-Glycemic carbs that they eat. An optimal diet is to get most of your carbs from fruits & veggies, eat a little protien w/each meal and save High-Glycemic carbs for after a hard ride to aid in recovery.

I struggled w/this for a long time. I ate the "traditional" cyclist's diet (lot's of pasta, bread, grains etc.), counted calories, etc. and rode lots of miles. I was baffeled as to why I was GAINING weight! I then started doing some research and found that I was carbo intolerant. I reduced the amount of high-glycim. carbs, got most of my carbs from fruits & veggies and ate a little protien w/each meal and the weight finally came off. I've lost ~15lbs this way in the last 4 months.
My weight loss and opiniondirtyheel
Jun 21, 2002 10:51 AM
i've been riding since January and am down 40lbs (actually still have a ways to go...). i agree that you need to ride long and hard. check out the author there makes the point that you tend to burn the same amount of fat regardless of %Max HR, but the amount of glycogen you burn increases at %HR increases, so the total # of calories increases...

yeah, eat good stuff and exercise...
40 lbs? That's awesome! You are an inspiration.Ken of Fresno
Jun 21, 2002 1:13 PM
Congrats, and thanks for the site. It looks to be very informative. I'll be happy if I can be 25-30 lbs lighter by the time summer's over. I think it's an obtainable goal since I'm not teaching this summer, and cycling is just a really fun thing to do. Never could get much into weight lifting. I'll just have to eat less.

Thanks everyone for your advice.