How To: Use Cycling Weight Loss Strategies Sensibly - Total Women's Cycling

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Training & Nutrition

How To: Use Cycling Weight Loss Strategies Sensibly

We spoke to an expert about fasted training and protein shake meals...

The early months of the new year are often those that cyclists like to use to attempt to drop down to their ideal riding, or racing, weight. If you think doing so will help your performance – it isn’t a bad time to focus on weight loss, as come spring and summer a calorie deficit could cause a drop in strength and speed when it matters. 

However, as with most things – there’s a right way, and a wrong way. Many athletes attempt fasted training to help them burn through more fat during rides or swap meals for high protein shakes that don’t provide all the nutrition they need.

We spoke to Charlotte Kennedy, a a sports nutritionist at Etixx to get her advice on how we can ensure we’re practicing these strategies sensibly… 

Get out before breakfast…

Q: Fasted training is often used to help burn through fat instead of carbohydrate, teaching the body to be more efficient in its energy consumption. Is there a way to make fasted training any easier? Any tips for your body to get used to it?

Many athlete’s struggle with fasted training as it leaves them feeling fatigued and needing food. There are a few things you can do to try and make these sessions easier. These include:

Caffeine

Caffeine has the potential to have a performance enhancing effect and this can help with fasted training. Firstly, it can affect the perception of effort of muscular contraction and help to reduce discomfort. This may ease the pain of fasted training allowing you to complete your session without feeling too tired! Secondly, it plays a key role in facilitating muscle contraction. When you’re glycogen stores are low, this facilitation of muscle contraction may help you to continue an exercise session on little energy.

Keep at low intensity

Many people struggle with fasted training because they are attempting to do it at an intensity which is much too high. Remember that fasted training should only be done at a low intensity and should not be done more than 2-3 times a week.

Have a high protein breakfast

If you’re really struggling with fasted training, try eating a breakfast high in protein such as boiled eggs or scrambled egg with grilled mushrooms and spinach. Some people struggle with the psychological aspect of fasted training as they feel like they are exercising on ‘nothing’ and therefore a breakfast high in protein alleviates that influence, but does not compromise on providing you with carbohydrates for energy.

It’s not for everyone…

Remember that the response to fasted training is very individual. Some people find it easier than others and if, after trying a few strategies, you still find that you’re struggling to complete sessions or finding them too difficult, then stop doing it. Fed sessions will allow you to train much harder and to a higher intensity and there are significant benefits to both.


Q: Apparently upping our protein intake and lowering carbohydrates can help us to feel fuller longer, and will protect us from losing too muscle as we lose weightCan a protein shake be considered a good meal replacement?

Read more on using protein to your advantage

As a cyclist, your energy demands are likely to be relatively high and therefore you should be cautious when using a protein shake as a meal replacement.

A standard protein shake alone is very unlikely to provide you with substantial nutrients to leave you feeling full and provide you with energy. However shakes, particularly breakfast shakes, are quite common amongst athletes.

You just have to make sure you are adding enough substance to the shake so that it provides you with all the nutrients you need. For example, when making your protein shake, try adding some more ingredients such as:

– Peanut butter (around 3 tsp)- provides you with protein and slow release energy to keep you feeling fuller for longer

– Milk- provides you with protein and extra calories for the added energy boost

– Fruit- shakes are a great way of incorporating plenty of fruit into your diet. Try adding 2 portions of fruit to increase the amount of vitamins and minerals you are consuming

– Vegetables- this might sound strange, but try adding two handfuls of vegetables to your shake (such as spinach and kale). Once blended, you can’t taste them, but they provide you with loads of essential nutrients, in particular important minerals, which are essential for an athlete’s diet

8 Great Nutribullet and Smoothie Recipes

As you can see, protein shakes can be a great way of packing in nutrients and ensuring you’re getting plenty of fruit and vegetables. Just make sure you’ve packed it out with extra goodies and you’re good to go!

Charlotte Kennedy is a sports nutritionist at Etixx. For more information on Etixx sports nutrition, please visit: www.etixxsports.com

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