While cyclists talk about dropping kilos, diet and weight loss might not be the answer. Weekly meal plans trump the trendiest weight loss diet. You’ve tried The Paleo, Jenny Craig, Weight Watchers, and now you’re playing around with The Kytogenics. The diets all work in the beginning, but they are not really creating healthy habits. You are constantly reminded of what you shouldn’t put in your body, instead of reminding you of what you should be adding to your diet. Weight loss plans remove fat, remove carbs and reduce portion size. The simple concept of adding good quality foods to your diet will help fuel you properly, losing weight in the process.
Weight Loss Diets Aren’t Fueling Your Ride
Cyclists should be focusing on what they can add to their diet to improve energy levels before, during and after rides. The calories and nutrients that you deprive your body of during the week will leave you feeling flat by the time you get to your Saturday morning club ride. Challenge yourself to be more mindful of how your body feels during a ride. Ask yourself:
- Was I dropped the last time I rode on an empty stomach?
- Did the salad I substituted for my carb-load-pasta provide me with enough punch for my Saturday club ride?
Replacing Junk Food
We’ve all heard the analogy: “Fueling your body with junk is like putting diesel in a Ferrari.”
- Do I feel sluggish after smashing that bacon cheeseburger?
As you start to add nutrient rich foods, keep asking yourself these types of questions:
- Did my smoothie bowl fuel me for my ride better than my nutella and toast?
- Do my legs feel fresher after I substituted corn flakes with a quinoa-fruit bowl?
It’s cliche, but true: Everyone’s different, so be mindful of what your body needs.
3 Steps to Supercharge Your Diet
1. Meal Plan
Sit down on Saturday or Sunday night before your weekly grocery run. Start with broad strokes and general meal ideas, having a plan will help keep track of the quality of calories you are adding, as well as a general idea of the quantity of calories. It’s not a fail-safe solution, but seeing fish taco Tuesday is exciting, for one, and two, if you’ve shopped for the ingredients and they are in the fridge already, it’s much harder to order Pad Thai from across the street. The meal plan will take all of 10 minutes, and will help you fuel your work week, and your weekend rides.
2. Grocery Shop
Knowing what you are cooking for the week makes doing a weekly grocery shop easy and possible. Having the bulk of your produce at the beginning of the week allows you to get home and unwind instead of adding the task of picking up groceries on the way home from work. It doesn’t sound like much, but with the food already in the fridge, you can start food prep earlier, and get to the good part! Picking up a couple of missing or forgotten items is more manageable once the bulk has been taken care of.
3. Plan Your Snacks
Snacking is the most dangerous part of your diet. Chips and salsa is great if they accompany Fish Taco Tuesday, but not great if they creep into a nightly routine. Planning your snacks will help. Nuts and dried fruit are a cyclists’ best friend (try dates, figs and apricots they are underrated). Keep these in the pantry so they are easy to grab when a salt or sugar craving springs up. These nutrient-dense snacks can be sweet, salty and fatty but they are also providing your body with valuable resources that corn chips can’t (full disclosure: the author is known to eat a bag of corn chips a week).
Now Go Out and Ride
If you’re trying to lose weight, riding your bike will be the biggest tool at your disposal. Adding volume to your weekly regime will shift your current caloric balance in your favor– Be warned, that adding kilometers will also have you craving more food (pro tip: add good calories)!
Furthermore, if you are training with any kind of intensity, losing weight might be harder than you think. When you train with intensity your body will add muscle while shedding fat. This change in body composition replaces dead weight with functional muscle mass. Paying attention to the quality of the foods you put in your body will allow you to ride more, faster, and more frequently.