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Why Am I Gaining Weight Cycling?

Ask a Pro — Diane Stibbard

Coach, Personal Trainer, and Two-Time Canadian Duathlete of the Year

Diane Stibbard - two-time dualthlete of the year
 

Question: “I have recently started cycling. I’m training for an event so I am starting to do 90 to 100 miles over the weekend (40-50 miles each day). I watch what I eat pre-ride, during, and post-ride and also watch my calorie intake throughout the weekend. Despite this I notice that every Monday and Tuesday I weigh 4 to 5 pounds heavier than my Friday weight. By Friday my weight is back down again. Do you have any thoughts about this?” -C

Diane’s reply: 
This is something I hear from many of my clients who are not able to get their weight down and keep it down despite a lot of cycling. If that happens to you, try these tips.

1. Consistency
In order to see weight loss and not face the yo-yo effect of weight going up and down your diet needs to be consistent throughout the week.

HACK TO OVERCOME INCONSISTENCY:
Create a food log and keep track of what you are eating daily. You may find that you eat larger meals during the beginning of the week. Be specific with serving sizes in the food log.

2. Water loss verses weight loss
To know if you are truly losing weight due to cycling, weigh yourself before each ride then again right after you ride to see how much your weight is down. If you cycle in very hot and humid weather it’s conceivable you could lose anywhere from 2 to 5lbs. of fluid, which will be regained once you have a recovery drink and re-hydrate correctly over the next 24 – 48hrs.

HACK TO OVERCOME WATER LOSS VERSES WEIGHT LOSS:
Weigh yourself as soon as you get up each day before eating or drinking anything. This will be your true body weight. Keep in mind that if your body is dehydrated then your weight might again show an artificial lower number. The colour of your urine will tell you if you are dehydrated. Pale yellow to clear urine means you are sufficiently hydrated. A strong yellow colour indicates you are dehydrated.

3. Food choices
On weekends food choices tend to be better than on weekdays as there is more time to prepare meals. Ask yourself, “What am I eating on the weekends that is different than what I eat during the week?”

HACK TO OVERCOME POOR WEEKDAY FOOD CHOICES:
Avoid processed carbohydrates during the week such as wheat pasta and white rice. Try to stick to a variety of root vegetables, and/or quinoa (if you eat grains). These types of carbohydrates will not cause water retention and unwanted bloating and weight gain, and they will keep you well-fueled for shorter weekday rides.

4. Insufficient sleep due to busy week
Many cyclists juggle different activities throughout their week, and sleep sometimes falls short. When you don’t get adequate sleep the body goes into a slightly more stressed state. This causes an increase in the hormone cortisol, which leads to weight gain that is often seen around the mid-section of the body.

HACK TO OVERCOME INCREASES IN CORTISOL RELEASE DUE TO LACK OF SLEEP
Decide what a time to go to bed so you can get 7 to 8.5 hours of quality sleep. Set an alarm for 30 minutes before your pre-determined bedtime. When the alarm goes off begin to wind down and prepare for sleep. This means turning off all electronics and dimming the lights to stimulate your body’s release of melatonin, a sleep hormone. Ensure that the temperature of your bedroom is not too warm. The body needs a cool, dark environment to encourage a deep and restful sleep.

If your weight loss goals are being derailed, it may just take a small tweak to your eating or sleeping habits to shift the scales. Being consistent will help you achieve your weight and cycling goals.

Training for a two-day cycling eventDiane provides training programs for recreational and competitive cyclists, duathletes and triathletes, including nutritional counseling and personal training. Does your company need a fitness consultant? Get in touch with Diane to discuss fitness seminars for corporations

You want personal training but don’t live near Diane? No problem. Diane does email and telephone consultations. To learn more, visit Diane’s website or contact her at
LinkedIn.

Check out Diane’s e-programs: Keeping Fit in the Off-Season and Training For a Two-Day Charity Event For the Time-Starved Cyclist.


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