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Does fat hurt your fitness?

Road Cycling “It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.” -- Ernest Hemingway

Does fat hurt your fitness?

Old 05-06-19, 09:02 PM
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rousseau
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Does fat hurt your fitness?

Don't mean to sound glib. I gained weight this winter. Why? Seven of the last eight months have had lower than normal temps and a precipitation pattern that took aim at the days I wanted to get out on the bike. My fall and winter riding really took a hit, and I didn't make up for it at the Y due to a lack of motivation. Being on the sunlight-challenged island of southern Ontario, there's a bit of SADish low-level depression in the mix. Which I'm generally able to counteract if I get a decent amount of riding in during the off-season, but this fall and winter in the northeastern part of the continent was total crap weather-wise.

It's not the donuts' fault. Mother Nature is to blame.

I've noticed a distinct lack of energy on the bike this year as I start to ramp up the frequency and distance. Don't feel spritely at all, though, confoundingly, my average speeds are right around normal on my standard routes (save for hills, of course).

Is this a standard consequence of weight gain? Am I going to ride myself back into shape after a good month of increased frequency? So far I feel like I've made modest gains in fitness, but it doesn't feel yet like I'm close to breaking out of this malaise.

Just curious if anyone else has had this kind of experience.
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Old 05-06-19, 09:42 PM
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Yup, fat hurts fitness.

It's bikeforums, so I won't be surprised when someone provides an exception to the rule and then declares the rule incorrect, but yup- fat hurts fitness.

Been that way since...as far as i can tell.

Last edited by mstateglfr; 05-07-19 at 06:46 AM.
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Old 05-06-19, 10:40 PM
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I dunno if the mere presence of the extra fat is doing it, just sounds like you don't have enough miles under your belt this season. I had the same late start down in Iowa, and am only starting to feel like my fitness is returning after ~800 miles.
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Old 05-06-19, 10:45 PM
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Depends how you define fitness.

In theory you could find a 400 pound guy with a 400w FTP. For the same of discussion. We'd call that guy pretty fit because he can sustain a big effort. We'd also drop him on every hill. Like his w:kg, the guy's VO2max would be pretty low, and that's a way to describe fitness too. VO2 won't tell you who's going to win a race, but it's an important health metric; you're more likely to be alive in 5 yesterday if you're on dialysis than if you have a very low aerobic capacity normalized by weight.

But the shorter, down to earth answer is that getting fat generally means less time exercising, and that's where the sluggish feeling comes from.
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Old 05-07-19, 01:18 AM
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We got snow yesterday...I feel your pain. Luckily, I have been on my MTB most of the winter slogging through. I'm still fat though. Italian food and wine is awesome...
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Old 05-07-19, 05:10 AM
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GNC on Youtube has a test about light vs heavy bike. They test two people on a ride, with and without extra weight to carry, I think it is 5kg. There is definitely an increase in time to complete the ride with extra weight.

That test was done by in-shape cyclists. We all know that we are our engine, so extra fat goes along with reduced efficiency. So expect lower strength, lower lung and heart capacity.

As for your mood, there are certainly links to that as well. I have heard that toxins build up when not excersizing, which tracks with what you have experienced.
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Old 05-07-19, 07:44 AM
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Carrying some extra weight doesn't help, but I'm betting it's just your lack of overall exercise over the winter that is affecting you more.
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Old 05-07-19, 07:57 AM
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I put my bike on a trainer in front of the TV during the winter. I do short, intense workouts, just trying to maintain my fitness level. Gotta be short because I hate riding the trainer. Watching TV while I exercise is the only way I can do it.

Before I started doing this I always gained weight and lost a lot of fitness (and motivation) over the winter.
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Old 05-07-19, 08:11 AM
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I've come to the understanding that it takes twice as long to gain fitness/ability back than it took to lose it. Maybe I'm an outlier, maybe not.

I took 6 weeks off this winter, it took me about 3 months to return to "normal."
The winter before, I never stopped.
The 2 winters before that, I took 2 months off (half of November, December, half of January) and it took 4 months to return to the old metrics of ability.

Strava is awesome. But, having actual metrics quantify how much "suck" I've allowed myself, sucks.

Stick with it, you'll be fine.
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Old 05-07-19, 10:04 AM
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Originally Posted by Minnesnowtan View Post
GNC on Youtube has a test about light vs heavy bike. They test two people on a ride, with and without extra weight to carry, I think it is 5kg. There is definitely an increase in time to complete the ride with extra weight.

That test was done by in-shape cyclists. We all know that we are our engine, so extra fat goes along with reduced efficiency. So expect lower strength, lower lung and heart capacity.

As for your mood, there are certainly links to that as well. I have heard that toxins build up when not excersizing, which tracks with what you have experienced.
If you have kidneys, you're detoxing 24/7.
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Old 05-07-19, 10:12 AM
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Originally Posted by mstateglfr View Post
Yup, fat hurts fitness.
Care to expand on that? I'm curious.
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Old 05-07-19, 10:14 AM
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Originally Posted by Seattle Forrest View Post
If you have kidneys and a liver, you're detoxing 24/7.
^^^^^
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Old 05-07-19, 11:22 AM
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I'm big boned.
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Old 05-07-19, 11:24 AM
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Originally Posted by MoAlpha View Post
^^^^^
Wow I'm dumb before I get my coffee!
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Old 05-07-19, 11:27 AM
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Originally Posted by Seattle Forrest View Post
Wow I'm dumb before I get my coffee!
You made the important point.
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Old 05-07-19, 11:30 AM
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If for no other reason it's extra weight which means you have to work harder. Don't over look the effect of any medications you might regularly take.
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Old 05-07-19, 11:42 AM
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Originally Posted by base2 View Post
I've come to the understanding that it takes twice as long to gain fitness/ability back than it took to lose it. Maybe I'm an outlier, maybe not.

I took 6 weeks off this winter, it took me about 3 months to return to "normal."
The winter before, I never stopped.
The 2 winters before that, I took 2 months off (half of November, December, half of January) and it took 4 months to return to the old metrics of ability.

Strava is awesome. But, having actual metrics quantify how much "suck" I've allowed myself, sucks.

Stick with it, you'll be fine.
Yeah, I guess that's just the way it is. In previous years I'd start to get up to speed after a month or two, but this year I suspect it will take a lot longer.

I certainly didn't help myself with the increased sugar intake, though. All winter I stuffed my gob with desserts and junk food. I couldn't stop myself. The self-loathing would kick in within seconds of completing the sorry exercise in immediate gratification, but I felt like a slave to it. I'm hoping the sunshine and warmth will help me kick the habit.

What I really need is a proactive plan to address this issue for next winter.
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Old 05-07-19, 11:52 AM
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Originally Posted by Seattle Forrest View Post
If you have kidneys, you're detoxing 24/7.
Singular for me. Was born this way, and didn't know until I was fifty years old via an ultrasound for a suspected gallbladder issue. The breezy chit-chat trailed off and I was asked to flip continuously between my front, back and sides as the technician, I later realized, searched for the second one. They're not allowed to give you an opinion or diagnosis, so the news came from my doctor a few days later.

It was amusing how friends and family all said "well, I guess you need to be careful now." Meaning what? That had I two kidneys I could willy-nilly engage in all sorts of renally compromising behaviours like sharing dirty needles with heroin addicts, but that kinda fun was totally verboten now as I didn't have a backup?

Heh heh...
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Old 05-08-19, 10:21 AM
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Having extra fat isn't going to reduce the power you can put out. You probably feel sluggish because you haven't been riding as much (I too am in SW Ontario so I feel you pain). Extra weight will make it harder to go up hills.
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Old 05-08-19, 10:23 AM
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I think it's just fitness, plain and simple.

I rode some decent mileage during the 2017-18 winter, but it was all outdoors and very slow through snow and ice. I also forgot that I was no longer riding summer mileage, ate a bunch of food, lost muscle, and gained a little bit of weight. I worked hard to gain fitness back, and it took most of the summer to do so.

This last winter (which was absolutely awful), I bought a trainer, did some mildly structured sessions of 40-60 minutes, ~3 times a week, and tried to eat normal people amounts of food rather than athlete quantities. With only 900 outdoor miles this year, I'm already feeling much better, my average speeds are increasing, and I'm hitting some PRs.

For years, I resisted the trainer. I hate the trainer, but it's been worth the benefits for transitioning from slow outdoor winter riding into fast summer road cycling.
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Old 05-08-19, 11:07 AM
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Originally Posted by rousseau View Post
Don't mean to sound glib. I gained weight this winter. Why? Seven of the last eight months have had lower than normal temps and a precipitation pattern that took aim at the days I wanted to get out on the bike. My fall and winter riding really took a hit, and I didn't make up for it at the Y due to a lack of motivation. Being on the sunlight-challenged island of southern Ontario, there's a bit of SADish low-level depression in the mix. Which I'm generally able to counteract if I get a decent amount of riding in during the off-season, but this fall and winter in the northeastern part of the continent was total crap weather-wise.

It's not the donuts' fault. Mother Nature is to blame.

I've noticed a distinct lack of energy on the bike this year as I start to ramp up the frequency and distance. Don't feel spritely at all, though, confoundingly, my average speeds are right around normal on my standard routes (save for hills, of course).

Is this a standard consequence of weight gain? Am I going to ride myself back into shape after a good month of increased frequency? So far I feel like I've made modest gains in fitness, but it doesn't feel yet like I'm close to breaking out of this malaise.

Just curious if anyone else has had this kind of experience.
Did you recently turn 40?

😁
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Old 05-08-19, 12:11 PM
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Originally Posted by wipekitty View Post
For years, I resisted the trainer. I hate the trainer, but it's been worth the benefits for transitioning from slow outdoor winter riding into fast summer road cycling.
I gave up on the trainer years ago, but I'm starting to think I might get a smart trainer and do Zwift. I'm becoming less tolerant of the cold as I age, and the riding isn't consistent enough to maintain any fitness.

Originally Posted by Wilmingtech View Post
Did you recently turn 40?

😁
Just turned 53. And over the past couple of years I've really noticed how easy it is to lose fitness.
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Old 05-08-19, 12:23 PM
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Originally Posted by rousseau View Post

Just turned 53. And over the past couple of years I've really noticed how easy it is to lose fitness.
I think getting the motor running is exponentially harder each year after 40.
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Old 05-08-19, 12:40 PM
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Originally Posted by rousseau View Post
I gave up on the trainer years ago, but I'm starting to think I might get a smart trainer and do Zwift. I'm becoming less tolerant of the cold as I age, and the riding isn't consistent enough to maintain any fitness.


Just turned 53. And over the past couple of years I've really noticed how easy it is to lose fitness.
You definitely should try Zwift next winter. For most people, it’s a game changer. Makes the trainer tolerable so you can maintain fitness.

That, or do XC skiing, speed skating, or some other winter workout.
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Old 05-08-19, 01:36 PM
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Originally Posted by rousseau View Post
self-loathing
Not conducive to positive changes in life and lifestyle, in my limited experience.
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