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Weight diet vs. training(20 posts)

Weight diet vs. trainingSruggle
Feb 8, 2003 10:02 AM
I want some advice from other people that have done this. I am 6' 220lbs starting out. This will be third year of road biking. Where I live I am limited on riding outside and am a stay at home dad so swinging the fridge door this winter has gotten me into trouble with weight. I have started on herb-a-life last week. This is what I am trying to accomplish. Go from 220 down to 185 with out losing muscle mass in legs hopefully increasing riding strenght. This past week I have rode the trainer for 4 times at 1 hr each time and lifted weights for three hours over two days during that week. Total weight dropped this first week was 8lbs. Some people tell me more than 2 pounds a week loss is to much. I have found that I just do not sleep well if I ride the trainer to late in the day or same with weight lifting. The herb-a-life is two meals are sort of protein shakes and one sensible meal with no snacking at all. I road ride and mountain bike as well. I am going to start this week lifting three times a week 1hr each day. What has worked for you? Is this to much with cutting my meals back by more than 2/3+ ? During the day I do not feel weak. When I group ride it is always with people I can usually stay with on flats but never the bigger hills. I would like to get below 185 but feel that that would be difficult with my height and body build. Let me know bad or good.

Struggling onward
Diet advice...Raven1911
Feb 8, 2003 10:26 AM
First off let me tell you I have taught dieting and been on both sides of the coin for the past 10 years now. I have been in bodybuilding and also now, endurance training. In saying that, so here is my advice for you.

First, get OFF that Herb a life diet! Eating 2-3 times a day is going to kill your metabolism! Eating that seldom raises blood sugar levels increasing fat storage. The best diet I know of is the Body-For-Life diet (in no way am I affiliated with the company either). Go get the book Body for Life by Bill Phillips. It is the best diet to be on if you have a busy lifestyle and he gives you very good advice on everything.

Second, 8 pounds in one week is really high. It is realistic to lose 2-3 but not much more. Make sure you are drinking a lot of water, as a lot of this weight you lost might have been water weight. Trying to lose just fat is next to impossible. It is inevitable that you are going to lose some muscle weight as well. But that is not to say that your strength will definitely go down on the bike. A guy your size is definitely not a climber, but more a locomotive sprinter or more fast paced rider anyway.

If you are going to lose say 45 pounds, it will take some time, probably 5-6 months. The fact that you ride will really help. Also a bit of advice on when to ride. If it is weight loss you are more worried about, try to get up in the morning and ride that trainer on an empty stomach. The concept behind this is that your body is in a fasted state and has no more glycogen or carbohydrates to burn since you have not been eating typically for 6-8 hours. When you ride in the morning the body uses the fat stores for energy. This is the best time to burn fat off of your body. Get up in the morning, drink a big glass of water and hit that trainer for say 30 min to 1 hour. The fat is estimated to come off 300% faster this way, I know I have done it and it definitely works.

Overall, don't worry about your strength. If you are lifting then you will maintain your strength pretty well. Concentrate on losing that weight for now.

I'd like your advice too :)PODIUMBOUNDdotCA
Feb 8, 2003 10:31 AM

I'm not sure if you can help me but I trust your opinion so I may as well ask. Thats what you get for giving good advice! As I head into the season I'd like to drop some body fat. I'm at around 15 right now and if I can get down to 12 for my racing weight that'd be perfect. Only thing is obviously I don't want to end up losing muscle mass I have spent a lot of the time in the weight room developing. How can I do this?

You have to eat clean...Raven1911
Feb 8, 2003 3:30 PM

By eating clean, I mean no fast food, watch your fried foods and watch your sugar. Good foods to eat would be chicken breasts, salad, sweet potatoes, oatmeal, Turkey, steamed brocholli(spelling?), some fruits (apples, oranges, grapefruits) but not canned fruits as they contain too much sugar. I would not advise on cutting your carbohydrates (like the Adkins diets)but learn about them. There are different kinds of carbohydrates, being complex and simple. You want to stay away from simple carbos which mainly are sugars which raise your sugar levels and spike your metabolism to store fat. Good sources of complex carbs are oatmeal (not the packaged sweet stuff but the old fashion plain oats), and sweet potatoes, or regular potatoes, either red or idaho type, stay away from breads, tortillas, and white rice. Plain brown rice is ok because it is processed less and contains less sugar. Drinks lots of water, up to 1 gallon a day!

Also keep doing your strength training as it will maintain your lean mass and strength, do upper body too. Often times cyclists make me laugh because they say they "don't want to get too big in the upper body", I was trying to get big and it was really hard! I would bust my ass and still not get the results I wanted! Granted you don't have to bench press 405 lbs or do bicep curls with 70 lbs, but don't be afraid to do upper body even though you cycle. Keep your reps around 10-12 and do approx 1-2 exercises per body part and 4-5 sets of each exercise. This will keep your strength. Keep your protein level up, approx. 1 gram of protein per lean body mass to help build and maintain the muscle you have. The more lean mass (muscle) you have the more calories you burn in a given day at rest (higher metabolism).

I would advise you to do the same as stated above and do some of your cardio in the morning right when you get up in the morning maybe 2 times a week only. Eat 5-6 times a day to keep your metabolism and blood sugar levels running evenly and consistent. You also might want to get that book as it tells a lot about dieting and gives pretty good inspirational stories. If you don't want to read the stories as it seems you are in pretty good shape, just skip to the chapters on foods and dieting. Really good stuff (more than I can explain in this thread).

When I was bodybuilding I got down to 7%, which isn't contest fat percentage by any means but you really have to watch what you eat when you get in the single digits. I have since switched to cycling, so I lost a lot of muscle mass, down to about 165-170 approx 10-12% all the time now. If you want to get to 12 that shouldn't be a problem at all though. I would suspect you could lose 3% body fat in approx 4-6 weeks. Don't worry about cutting calories, just eat cleaner and do your cardio in the morning a couple times a week on an empty stomach (make sure you are hydrated though) and you will lose body fat.

To help you stay consistently on a stricter diet, I would take the suggestion of the Body for Life book and take one day a week and eat whatever I wanted (which for me usually included going to Claim Jumpers to eat a big dinner);) Eating bad one day a week will not hurt your week long diet, in fact it helps it(in a weird way). When I ate crappy foods I would definitely know a difference in the way I felt afterwards (sluggish, hair and skin more oily, no energy) and it would help me shy away from fast foods and eating badly and help me want to eat clean. But I would typically love to eat that cheese cake once a week!:) Any more questions just ask,
Hope that helps, now go get that book!

Don't these diets stress almost having no fat?PODIUMBOUNDdotCA
Feb 8, 2003 4:09 PM
When I'm working out I do 2 things: 1) try to keep my protein consumption up (not to the point where its stupid high) and 2) getting calories whatever way I need to.. so if I'm at work and I'm hungry and am having trouble getting food I have no problem diving in to the junkfood. Especially when I'm doing hypertrophy and seem to be eating my bodyweight in food a day (these phases seem to be all but done till September though). So these diets seem to go against how I eat... except for atkins which I just think is dumb for athletes.

I'm anxious about working out on an empty stomach because how do I know catabolism is not going to occur? 15-17% (lean on the extremities but a bit of a belly) whether just because of the way I've always eaten (good but not great) has always been where my body naturally seems to reset itself.

Feb 8, 2003 4:45 PM
Fats are the same as carbohydrates. There are good fats (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats found in nuts, avocados, fish, and oils) and bad fats (saturated) is usually found in red meats. Fat intake is relatively low...approximately 20%. You can adjust it if you want. Just remember, fats have are 9 calories per gram whereas protein and carbs are 4 calories per gram. Definitely get your good fat intake though.

Here's a link to a website:

No way will catabolism of muscles happen with you strength training. Its not like you are doing a 60 mile road bike first thing in the morning and not eating the whole time. Your body uses fat and muscle for energy at different times. Catabolism would happen if you were really depriving yourself of food, like anorexics. You doing cardio in the morning for 30 minutes or so will not make your body use the muscle for energy. You will supply your body with proper food after you ride so it is getting the nutrients it needs to recover. You are also using your muscles through strength training and cycling and your body simply adapts to that stress, not destroy itself.

You say your body naturally resets itself to where you currently are. That is probably because your diet has not changed(junk food eating). The old saying of 'you are what you eat' kinda holds true. You probably have that little belly from picking up that junk food when you get hungry and you might also eat too late or before you go to bed or might not have been paying attention to what you eat since you do a lot of cardio. Try not to eat past 9pm, or have a small protein only meal before you go to bed if you are hungry. The trick to staying away from junk food is to have a small cooler with you that you pre-pack with small meals and when you get hungry you pull food from there. Don't be afraid...try it and tell me what happens. I'm sure you will be happy with the results.

Remember, I did this when I was a bodybuilder and the last thing bodybuilders want is to lose lean muscle tissue after having built it up for months on end. Trust me it works.

Feb 8, 2003 6:33 PM
Raven this is great information thanks. I just have one question for now anyway. You said that after an early morning ride you will give your body the food it needs. Ok if i ride 45 minutes to and hour on the trainer can i get by with oatmeal a banana and coffee. If i ride outside a couple of hours should i eat more? thanks for all the really good info. also for the guy doing Herb a Life just by some protein mix at the grocery store and some multi vitamins and save your money
Feb 8, 2003 10:00 PM
Oatmeal and a banana is too many carbs for one meal if you ride just for an hour. I would eat oatmeal with a protein like 2-3 scrambled eggs(one egg yolk to 2-3 egg whites) or egg beaters for protein. The coffee is fine(in fact you could drink this before your workout if you wanted to), just remember to stay hydrated and drink your water all day. Just try to eat a balanced meal of carbs, protein, and fat. A good range to shoot for is 40-45% carbs, 35-40%protein, and 20% fat. An example of what I eat would be coffee, oatmeal with a scoop or two of vanilla protein mix and add Splenda sweetener. Mix all that with the oatmeal and it tastes really good believe it or not. Splenda is really good stuff and no aspartame. Make sense? You need some protein to maintain muscle mass and help rebuild muscles, especially if you work out. A person like Nick and I, would probably want to eat about 4 eggbeaters or egg whites with his oatmeal because of the fact that we work out more and need the protein.

Yes, if you ride a couple of hours eat more, maybe add that banana to the above and a little more protein like 2 more eggs. But riding a couple hours on an empty stomach would be too long. I wouldn't go more than 1 hour for this type of program, as you might get into that catabolism of muscle that Nick brought up. If you do ride 2 hours then eat a banana after an hour during your program, but this kinda defeats the purpose of fat burning. But if you are riding for 2 hours for cardio reasons then use the first hour for fat burning, eat your banana, and the second hour for your cardio fitness. (I know you will be getting the benefit of cardio for the first hour too, but I am trying to make this simple)

I eat at 7am, 10am, 12pm, 3pm, 7 or 8pm, and possibly a protein like cottage cheese before I go to bed about 9:30-10pm sometimes, but you don't have to. Don't eat directly after your workout, but wait about 30 minutes or so since most of your blood is in your body(muscles) and if you eat you will force it to your stomach for digestion and starve the muscles of nutrients carried by the blood, not to mention you might get light headed if you eat right away as well.

Here's a good rule of thumb...take your body weight and multiply it by 12-15 (12 being a low activity level person adn 15 being a higher activity level person). This is a rough estimate of your resting metabolism or the amount of calories you burn in one day. If you are seriously overweight then subtract about 300 and then divide that number by how many meals you eat(5-6) and you have the number of calories per meal you are supposed to eat. I say subtract 300 because you want to be in a calorie deficit to lose weight. You kinda have to fine tune this as you go. If you are not losing enough weight then subtract a couple hundred more calories per day and try again for a week, until you start losing weight again.

One more questionPODIUMBOUNDdotCA
Feb 8, 2003 10:17 PM

Thanks for the info. Out of curiousity did your strength change at all when trying to slim down?

Then why not eat directly after a workout? I've found having a protein shake to make the single biggest difference in my recovery after hard weight workouts with a good stretch.

One more questionRaven1911
Feb 9, 2003 6:51 PM
My strength did change because my caloric intake was lower when I was losing body fat, but you can certainly maintain your strength at a desired body fat %. I didn't notice a big change in my strength until I got below 8%. Nick, you should have no strength deficits, especially in cycling. In fact, you might get faster as your weight will go down but your strength will stay the same or go up.

I stated the reasons for not eating RIGHT AWAY above, but a protein shake(a meal replacement, not a protein only shake as you want carbs too)is one of the best things to eat after a workout. If you have no problem eating right after your workout go for it. I would just make sure your heart rate is below 100 before eating as this indicates that your body has recuperated and is cooling down. I recommend eating about 30 min to 1 hour after you workout, which isn't very long and won't affect your recovery.

Feb 9, 2003 2:17 PM
Your protein/cab/fat ratio is alot like the Zone; I've used it for years and it works great. Good nutritional advice.
you need some protein there tooColnagoFE
Feb 10, 2003 9:45 AM
I too like the body for life a nutshell 6 meals a day, portion of carb/protein/veg about the size of your fist for each. all good quality crap and then have one "cheat day" built in per week so you won't feel deprived. makes sense to me. you can forget the stuff about the EAS shakes if you want and substitute real food, but for me protein bars and shakes are an easy way to keep the right stuff coming in. one thing i've found is that when i increase my cardio significantly my carb needs go up. it's pretty easy to run out of fuel/glycogen when you are mostly eating protein.
Ammonia smell = Catabolism?js5280
Feb 9, 2003 3:35 PM
Read recently here that if you get that Ammonia smell, particularly when you first hop into the shower, that's a sign that catabolism is happening. My source is the 29 Pro Cycling Secrets from Here's the excerpt:

"Here's an interesting warning sign from Dr. Massimo Testa:

"Sweat that smells like ammonia is a signal that you're overtrained, glycogen-depleted,and destroying muscle cells as you ride. It indicates catabolism and means you aren't
respecting your need for rest."

When you shower after a ride, be aware of the odor as the first spray of water hits your
body. If you catch a whiff of ammonia, take an easy week. Be sure you're eating enough carbohydrate to fuel your training."

I was very familar with that ammonia smell, but this was the first time I heard it tied to catabolism. Have others heard this as well? Is catabolism necessarily bad?

I have heard about working out in the morning before eating to focus on fat burning. The caveat was that you have to keep a pace that allows for the slower conversion of fat to energy. If you go too hard, you'll just bonk because the energy conversion can't keep up.
Not familiar with that...Raven1911
Feb 9, 2003 6:36 PM
I have never heard that before but I have had that experience in the shower before. Not sure on that one....

more likely to come from too much alcohol the night beforeColnagoFE
Feb 10, 2003 9:50 AM
The ammonia in your sweat is a byproduct of alcohol metabolization. If you go on a big bender and then take a Spin class the next morning you're liable to reek pretty bad of ammonia.
My problem with Body for Life programColnagoFE
Feb 10, 2003 9:59 AM
It seems more designed to sculpt the body and lose weight rather than improve cardio. At 20 minutes of intervals 3x a week you aren't gonna be building a big enough aerobic base to do longer rides. Did you just not worry about the aerobic end of it when doing the program? I would think you could still use the basic principles and modify it for endurance athletes so you are getting more cardio in.
Learn to eat right at weight watchers!mazobob
Feb 8, 2003 3:31 PM
I've been a lifetime member for the past 5 years. If you learn to eat right you can still eat all the same foods you eat right now. It works for life not just a small amount of time!!! I rode coast to coast in 2000. I'm 48 and lost 80 pounds and have kept it off for 5 years! I ride daily. Contact me at if you would like. I tried all the diets and as soon as you want mcdonalds it all goes to hell. At weight watchers you CAN HAVE mc donalds!
Feb 8, 2003 6:01 PM
This is great info. I am more curious about why you say get off herb-a-life. It is a program that I used last year with great success; however, I failed mid last summer in just eating way to much with the attitude I could ride the weight off on the bike following my old eating habits like I did the first year riding. What I found was my legs must have become more efficent and was not able to get rid of the weight without changing eating habits. I now am doing the herb program since I was able to lose large amount of fat last year on it. I am going to look into the book you posted and the web site. I do drink now over 100 oz. water now and then more on top of that when riding or lifting. Thanks for all the input it is great. I guess now I need to make the effort to get up earlier to ride an hour in the AM time slot. I now also realize the great effort needed to now change my food intake after I drop so much weight. I did read some articles from Herb-a-life about tri athletes and cyclist that talked of great sucess on this program. Please tell me more info!! Thanks a lot
Struggling on
Feb 8, 2003 10:13 PM
This is what I think...Herb-a-life is a supplement company that doesn't sell very good supplements. I know the quality of their products is sub-par compared to others like EAS, Designer, and MuscleTech. However, the advice they have is good regarding portion control and some of the tips are good, but they will want you to buy their products to stay on a healthy diet when you don't need to. You can buy everything you need at the grocery store. Supplement companies want your money. I have no problem if you like a particular protein mix from a certain company as some taste better than others, but don't buy into the company telling you that you NEED to buy their products to have a good diet.

As you stated you can get really efficient at a particular cardio workout so changing it often and doing other things for your cardio like the elipse machine or stair stepper is a good idea to constantly shock the body. Change is good in the wonderful world of fitness.

Feb 9, 2003 11:27 AM
On the Herb-a-life thing I am doing I am not buying into anything from them other than the set up I am on to dump the weight. I completely agree with the fact that with proper food intake one does not need supplements to survive. During my first year riding I was on nothing other than regular food and I allowed myself to go on to full feed thinking I would have no problem losing the Lbs. but 31 now I realize more than ever that dropping the pounds does not always happen as fast as one would like. I consider the herb-a-life since I was able to drop so much weight in a short time , but like you know it will do no good to go back on to full feed after I lose the weight. This time I sure am going to make the eating habit change since I myself do not like the roller coaster effect in the season change on weight gain. I will post again later if interested as to how my outcome is with this. Thanks for the input Raven

Struggling on