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Riding far versus fast

Old 11-27-20, 05:58 PM
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Riding far versus fast

Any advice on which is better? Like which one is more recommended for weight loss?
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Old 11-27-20, 06:10 PM
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The best advice I received from BF is to ride hard. Find some local hills and push yourself. You will use more calories in the hills and mountains than riding fast on the flats as a novice.
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Old 11-27-20, 06:36 PM
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No matter how far or fast you ride your diet will be a more important factor to any weight loss goals. It's very easy to eat any calories you burn. (or more!)
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Old 11-27-20, 07:58 PM
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Your body burns fat at a fairly constant rate no matter how hard you exert yourself. Or at least that is what I've read from several places. So it seems to me that long rides done at a moderate aerobic level will go further toward weight loss.

My own anecdotal experience finds that short hard rides just have me eating back the Calories I burned. Long rides seem to get the weight off me but I don't devoted enough time to longer 50 mile plus rides lately. So my weights not quite were I want it.
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Old 11-27-20, 08:01 PM
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you can't outrun your mouth. Abs are made in the kitchen.
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Old 11-27-20, 08:07 PM
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Both. One burns more calories riding far, fast. However, as above, intake is more important. Smaller portions works for most folks. Same food, less of it. Simple. What used to feed us 2 nights, now feeds us 3.

Looking at the data, losing weight slowly as a result of lifestyle change works better and is more likely to keep it off. Ride more frequently. On long rides, eat on the bike - you'll eat less when you get home and less in toto.

How to ride far fast is a training issue. But if your time and days to ride are limited, you'll have to settle for fast. If your time is not that restricted, 5 days of 1.5-2 hour moderate rides, plus one long, hard weekend ride is a good combination. "Moderate" rides are rides which you can do every day without needing a day off. They are not easy rides. One pushes hard enough to tire the legs every day, but not so hard that one can't do it again tomorrow. One gradually hardens up so that one can push a little harder, further. Takes a few months. I used to ride with a woman who did a 55 mile round-trip somewhat hilly commute which she rode every weekday it wasn't icy or snowing. She lost weight like crazy, got fast. I expect it took her a while to work up to that, but I don't know the details.
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Old 11-27-20, 08:31 PM
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Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post
Both. One burns more calories riding far, fast. However, as above, intake is more important. Smaller portions works for most folks. Same food, less of it. Simple. What used to feed us 2 nights, now feeds us 3.

Looking at the data, losing weight slowly as a result of lifestyle change works better and is more likely to keep it off. Ride more frequently. On long rides, eat on the bike - you'll eat less when you get home and less in toto.

How to ride far fast is a training issue. But if your time and days to ride are limited, you'll have to settle for fast. If your time is not that restricted, 5 days of 1.5-2 hour moderate rides, plus one long, hard weekend ride is a good combination. "Moderate" rides are rides which you can do every day without needing a day off. They are not easy rides. One pushes hard enough to tire the legs every day, but not so hard that one can't do it again tomorrow. One gradually hardens up so that one can push a little harder, further. Takes a few months. I used to ride with a woman who did a 55 mile round-trip somewhat hilly commute which she rode every weekday it wasn't icy or snowing. She lost weight like crazy, got fast. I expect it took her a while to work up to that, but I don't know the details.
I agree on "both". I can vouch for this!

If you can ride far, why not also do it fast? I got my weight down from 140 lbs to 120 lbs in about 6 months. I got as low as 115 lbs at some point but my weight stabilized at 120 lbs.

I ride at least 100 miles a week 9 to 25 miles / day. Plenty of hills and climbs involved (up to 1,300' elevation gain in a day) and cruising at ~22 mph in a heavy, 40 lbs bike.

No need to find hills if you can ride as fast as possible (like a long uninterrupted road with very little traffic) until your legs hurt a bit.
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Old 11-28-20, 04:52 AM
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Whatever you do, you need to make sure that you're burning up the sugar that's inside your body, if you don't burn all that sugar it will turn to fat.
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Old 11-28-20, 06:18 AM
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You lose weight in the kitchen, not on the bike.

Control what you eat.
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Old 11-28-20, 06:41 AM
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A lot of the advice in this thread has been pretty good. You can lose weight by riding 0km and controlling your diet.

Riding anaerobically (high output) will burn calories faster but will also cause you to fatigue more quickly ; additionally, this results in the consumption of your muscle+liver glycogen (Your body's accessible short-term reserves of carbs/sugars). When these get burned, it will trigger you to replace those calories with other carbs.

On the opposite side, riding slower and over a longer distance will contribute to more lipolysis, the burning of fat for fuel. In this way, you can ride longer distances if that's something you're interested in.

I can out-eat a 2-hour ride, but if I do 10-12 hour rides (5-10k calories) I find my appetite ramping up over 4-5 days.

This isn't a healthy way to lose weight, but I hope some of this information helps you to better structure your weight loss plan.

At the end of the day, you need to burn more calories than you're ingesting. If you only restrict your diet, I would argue that you're also limiting the amount of micronutrients, vitamins and minerals. You're better off eating normally and increasing your activity, whilst maintaining the same intake.

Originally Posted by wolfchild View Post
Whatever you do, you need to make sure that you're burning up the sugar that's inside your body, if you don't burn all that sugar it will turn to fat.
No. Just no.
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Old 11-28-20, 11:18 AM
  #11  
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My personal approach is to ride fast on the days when I don't have much time to ride, and ride far on the days when I do, so that usually works out to 2 x 1 1/2 hour rides during the week and a 4-4 1/2 hour ride on Sunday. I combined this with calorie counting on MyFitnessPal to lose about 25 lbs since July - mind you, I weighed about 230 when I started. The bonus is that the extra fitness from riding and the lost pounds make it easier to go farther and harder.

The calorie counting is key. For me it has to be rigorous, right down to every snack - eat one of those tiny Snickers bars, and you gotta record it. It helps that I have a good memory, so I can generally remember what I ate the day before, plus I know pretty well the calorie count of whatever I'm about to eat. I try to leave at least some calories on the table every day.

It's really easy when you get back from a ride to convince yourself that you can eat ANYTHING! but if you do, the weight will stay on you. No matter how much we like to imagine it, there is no 'magic hour' after a long ride where everything you eat magically replenishes your glycogen stores and doesn't pad your waist.
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Old 11-28-20, 12:53 PM
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Originally Posted by SapInMyBlood View Post
At the end of the day, you need to burn more calories than you're ingesting. If you only restrict your diet, I would argue that you're also limiting the amount of micronutrients, vitamins and minerals. You're better off eating normally and increasing your activity, whilst maintaining the same intake.
Banking on increased activity as a means of losing weight is pretty difficult way to lose weight. It just doesn't work for the majority of people. If there's enough of an issue with discipline that you can't control caloric intake, then there's certainly going to be an issue with exercising when you're tired, busy, etc.

And unless you're eating some really awful fast food or freeze dried stuff from a cardboard box all day, restricting caloric intake by 500 or so calories a day is certainly not going to impact micronutrients in any meaningful way.
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Old 11-28-20, 02:36 PM
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^ Yes. History of self-reporting on BF over the years says that riders who maintain their normal off-the-bike diet eat back their on the bike expenditure. I think what needs to happen is that the rider needs to get used to having less food in their stomach. My observation is that if I'm never hungry, I'm not going to lose weight. If I eat smaller portions, when a larger portion comes along, I simply can't eat that much. Yay! And I have less desire to eat when I return from a ride. I tend to eat before I ride and then have an apple and plenty of water when I return. An apple is ~80 calories and fills me right up.

Of course it matters how long your daily rides are. If they're 100 miles, you'll eat a half a pan of lasagna when you get back.
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Old 11-28-20, 03:06 PM
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Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post
^ Yes. History of self-reporting on BF over the years says that riders who maintain their normal off-the-bike diet eat back their on the bike expenditure. I think what needs to happen is that the rider needs to get used to having less food in their stomach. My observation is that if I'm never hungry, I'm not going to lose weight. If I eat smaller portions, when a larger portion comes along, I simply can't eat that much. Yay! And I have less desire to eat when I return from a ride. I tend to eat before I ride and then have an apple and plenty of water when I return. An apple is ~80 calories and fills me right up.
I tend to eat the same things for breakfast and lunch every day - low fat yogurt with some walnuts, which keeps me going till around 1 PM; then a sandwich and an apple, maybe with a Coke, if I'm at work where they're free. That keeps me going till dinner time, BUT if dinner is delayed, I get the Low Blood Sugar crankiness, and that's when I'm prone to eat a high-Calorie snack. That, and late at night. I learned not to keep nuts around, because a little dish of those guys is around 400 Calories.

One trick I've learned is to eat the same breakfast before, and the same lunch after Sunday rides, rather than looking for cookies and ice cream, "to make up for what I burned".

Of course it matters how long your daily rides are. If they're 100 miles, you'll eat a half a pan of lasagna when you get back.
The one century I've ridden was so well supported that I weighed the same the day after as I did the day before. I blame the little new potatoes, boiled and tossed in olive oil with a sprinkling of salt and pepper that they had at all the rest stops.
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Old 11-28-20, 03:21 PM
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Originally Posted by Iride01 View Post
Your body burns fat at a fairly constant rate no matter how hard you exert yourself.
It's hard for me to understand how I'm burning fat at the same rate (mass/time) riding 6mph, 12 mph, and 18 mph.
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Old 11-28-20, 04:16 PM
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Originally Posted by asgelle View Post
It's hard for me to understand how I'm burning fat at the same rate (mass/time) riding 6mph, 12 mph, and 18 mph.
I over simplified the factors. If you look at the rate of fat being converted to energy while riding, it does go up, when you increase effort. But not much. You glycogen reserves get used up at an increasingly faster rate compared to energy from fat as you increase effort.

Once you deplete your glycogen your fat conversion to energy won't ever be able to give you as much energy as you need to keep you going at the same level. So you either slow down and rest or you bonk on the next hard climb.

Glycogen can be replaced from fat conversion if I remember correctly. But since on a ride you are using quite a bit of energy it's a slow process. But you want Glycogen. It's the energy source that will let you make that hard effort to sprint or out climb you previous record or others.

Glycogen is created faster in the body from carbohydrates. That's the reason many of us drink or eat carbs while riding. The faster absorbed the faster they are available for creating more glycogen to make that next best effort.

Unless every part of your diet is carb free, then the glycogen reserves in your body probably came from carbs more so than fat. The average fit person probably has 1-1/2 to 2 hours of glycogen in them. So until you exhaust your glycogen on a ride, then as you go from easy effort to hard effort, most of that increase in effort is fueled by glycogen, not fat.

Any how that's how I've always thought of it. But I admit this stuff is above my pay grade. So I've probably gotten some stuff wrong. So I won't mind much if someone needs to correct something.

I guess to be more correct I should have phrased it that as effort on a ride increases the amount of energy obtained from glycogen stores increases much faster than energy from fat stores.

Last edited by Iride01; 11-28-20 at 04:25 PM.
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Old 11-28-20, 05:10 PM
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I have a friend who is a Randonneur, ultracyclist, endurance swimmer, and ultra distance hiker. He weighs over 300 pounds.

Back in the 80's I had a friend who was a track cyclist. He was fast, strong, had great endurance, and weighed over 250 pounds.

Neither of those guys could outrun their appetites. I don't think it matters whether it's short/hard or long/easier.

I think exercise is an important part of maintaining a healthy body, but managing intake is just as important. Managing intake is also much harder.
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Old 11-28-20, 06:25 PM
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Originally Posted by genejockey View Post
I tend to eat the same things for breakfast and lunch every day - low fat yogurt with some walnuts, which keeps me going till around 1 PM; then a sandwich and an apple, maybe with a Coke, if I'm at work where they're free. That keeps me going till dinner time, BUT if dinner is delayed, I get the Low Blood Sugar crankiness, and that's when I'm prone to eat a high-Calorie snack. That, and late at night. I learned not to keep nuts around, because a little dish of those guys is around 400 Calories.

One trick I've learned is to eat the same breakfast before, and the same lunch after Sunday rides, rather than looking for cookies and ice cream, "to make up for what I burned".


The one century I've ridden was so well supported that I weighed the same the day after as I did the day before. I blame the little new potatoes, boiled and tossed in olive oil with a sprinkling of salt and pepper that they had at all the rest stops.
I was saying that about daily 100 mile rides. One of my riding buddies did 25,000 to 30,000 miles/year for a few years and that's how described how much he ate for dinner. It's different when you do that every day. One year he gave up on mileage goals and did gain instead. He did 1.5 million feet. He wasn't skinny but certainly not overweight. Just an average guy and a fast climber, though he obviously never rode what we would describe as "hard."
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Old 11-28-20, 06:58 PM
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Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post
I was saying that about daily 100 mile rides. One of my riding buddies did 25,000 to 30,000 miles/year for a few years and that's how described how much he ate for dinner. It's different when you do that every day. One year he gave up on mileage goals and did gain instead. He did 1.5 million feet. He wasn't skinny but certainly not overweight. Just an average guy and a fast climber, though he obviously never rode what we would describe as "hard."
Yes, I know. I was just sharing a potentially humorous anecdote showing that no matter how far you ride, it's almost always possible NOT to lose weight.
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Old 11-28-20, 07:42 PM
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Start eating non or semi-palatable foods. It will seriously help to lose weight And I'm not kidding!
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Old 11-28-20, 07:44 PM
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Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post
I was saying that about daily 100 mile rides. One of my riding buddies did 25,000 to 30,000 miles/year for a few years and that's how described how much he ate for dinner. It's different when you do that every day. One year he gave up on mileage goals and did gain instead. He did 1.5 million feet. He wasn't skinny but certainly not overweight. Just an average guy and a fast climber, though he obviously never rode what we would describe as "hard."
That is an insane amount of riding! Holy crap. I want that level of comfort on my bike ... saddle, shoes, bikefit, etc.

Originally Posted by Iride01 View Post
I over simplified the factors. If you look at the rate of fat being converted to energy while riding, it does go up, when you increase effort. But not much. You glycogen reserves get used up at an increasingly faster rate compared to energy from fat as you increase effort.

Once you deplete your glycogen your fat conversion to energy won't ever be able to give you as much energy as you need to keep you going at the same level. So you either slow down and rest or you bonk on the next hard climb.

Glycogen can be replaced from fat conversion if I remember correctly. But since on a ride you are using quite a bit of energy it's a slow process. But you want Glycogen. It's the energy source that will let you make that hard effort to sprint or out climb you previous record or others.

Glycogen is created faster in the body from carbohydrates. That's the reason many of us drink or eat carbs while riding. The faster absorbed the faster they are available for creating more glycogen to make that next best effort.

Unless every part of your diet is carb free, then the glycogen reserves in your body probably came from carbs more so than fat. The average fit person probably has 1-1/2 to 2 hours of glycogen in them. So until you exhaust your glycogen on a ride, then as you go from easy effort to hard effort, most of that increase in effort is fueled by glycogen, not fat.

Any how that's how I've always thought of it. But I admit this stuff is above my pay grade. So I've probably gotten some stuff wrong. So I won't mind much if someone needs to correct something.

I guess to be more correct I should have phrased it that as effort on a ride increases the amount of energy obtained from glycogen stores increases much faster than energy from fat stores.
Glycogen comes from carbs / sugars 90% of the time. It cannot be created from fat. The only other source is gluconeogenesis; this is when your liver performs some witchcraft and turns protein into glycogen, in an emergency situation. Very inefficient process. It will not provide enough glycogen for any kind of a hard ride.
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Old 11-28-20, 07:45 PM
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I think that longer, moderate paced rides are better. I'm not nearly as hungry afterwards. And as a previous comment mentioned, moderate steady paces let your body adapt to burning fat reserves in addition to carbs. That's good anyway, for efficiency as a rider.

It's way too easy to eat back the whole ride's calories in one meal. I had a power meter, which also reports kilojoules for the ride. That number matches up to approximately the number of extra calories burned, probably within 20% or better. ( Because a calorie is approx 4 kjoules, but most riders only put around 25% of their calorie burn into pedal output. The rest is wasted as heat! ...as we find out.)

Bikes are "too" efficient!
Some example rides. I'm around 170 lbs. These calcs assume the kilojoules equal the calories, which is close enough.

A fast for me club ride, with lots of small roller hills: 28 miles, 1:37 riding time, 17.2 mph average speed, 960 feet of elevation. 723 kjoules.
About 450 calories per hour. Or 26 cal per mile!

A long exploring ride with a half dozen 300 foot climbs: 52 miles, 4:09 riding time, 12.5 mph with these hills, 2800 feet. 1402 kjoules.
About 340 calories per hour. Or 27 cal per mile.
That actually surprised me. Around 22 to 30 cal per mile is a good rule of thumb for many different rides. Lots of rides have hard, high wattage efforts, but often periods of easy pacing or coasting.
But I thought the full hard effort, shorter ride would be much higher.

Last edited by rm -rf; 11-28-20 at 07:49 PM.
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Old 11-28-20, 08:17 PM
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Originally Posted by cubewheels View Post
Start eating non or semi-palatable foods. It will seriously help to lose weight And I'm not kidding!
"The food here is inedible! And the portions are too small!"
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Old 11-28-20, 09:35 PM
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Originally Posted by asgelle View Post
It's hard for me to understand how I'm burning fat at the same rate (mass/time) riding 6mph, 12 mph, and 18 mph.
Well, yes. But perhaps a little slack is in order. Where's that graph!? Ah, had to search for a while to find one in calories rather than percent of calories. Here 'tis:

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At least for this person, fat burn increases, what would you guess, maybe 30% between 50 and 120 watts. We don't know this rider's history, specialty, etc., so have no idea what he's trained to do.
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Old 11-29-20, 07:39 AM
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asgelle
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Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post
Well, yes. But perhaps a little slack is in order. Where's that graph!? Ah, had to search for a while to find one in calories rather than percent of calories. Here 'tis:...
Interesting, but I'm not sure what I'm looking at. Was this a direct measurement of substrate utilization? I don't see data points on the graph so I wouldn't think so. It could be they measured gas exchange and then applied a model to correlate gas exchange to fat/CHO, but again no data points. Finally, did they simply apply a model to an assumed or measured threshold? That would be consistent with the smooth curve with no data points. If a model was involved, it raises the question of how accurate and accepted it is. The fact that whoever created this plot was sloppy with their axis labels doesn't help with their credibility. A reference would help.
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