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Calories and cycling

Old 07-20-21, 05:12 AM
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Awesomeguy
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Calories and cycling

I saw some threads regarding this, but it really didn't answer my thought about calories.

I biked about 30 minutes yesterday, with higher intensity, and averaged about 15 miles per hour. Keep in mind this is in a residential\neighborhood area, and there was quite a few stops and such. The longest stretch was 1 mile long, most other streets were like quarter to half a mile, before slowing and having to make a turn
My apple watch said i burned about 430 calories, online calculators all say roughly about the same thing. My heart rate was 135avg, and 150 max

Then on the other hand when I read power meter related calorie burn from people whom have a power meter, it seems like it is much less than that.
However it seems like power meter doesn't take into account, the heart rate or your age , gender, and weight.

So, how much calories do you think i really burned?
Also, is factors like gender, heart rate, and age not taken into account?
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Old 07-20-21, 05:26 AM
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It's not much help for your real world situation, but reducing things to the purest theoretical level, all you need to know to calculate calories burned is your mass and how far you've moved it. Elevation change and wind direction would also play into it, but not your speed of travel or any biological details.
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Old 07-20-21, 05:42 AM
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First, the disclaimer: Everyone's Mileage Varies

Here's a rule of thumb I've found works for me - I used it when I lost 50 lbs to get down to my current rate of 220 lbs - at 15 mph I believe I burn about 40 calories per mile or 10 calories per minute.

For your 7.5 mile ride, that comes to 300 calories. I've seen gym bikes, bike computer devices, etc say more like 450 as you saw - which is more like 900 calories per hour. But when I was really strictly logging the calories I ate and the exercise I did, I did *not* lose weight at a rate that the higher calorie burn would predict, came much closer to what the lower rate predicted.

I think the simple answer is always use the lower value if you are watching calories in order to lose/maintain weight. If you are not trying to control your weight, don't worry about calories burned.
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Old 07-20-21, 05:51 AM
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Originally Posted by jpescatore View Post
First, the disclaimer: Everyone's Mileage Varies

Here's a rule of thumb I've found works for me - I used it when I lost 50 lbs to get down to my current rate of 220 lbs - at 15 mph I believe I burn about 40 calories per mile or 10 calories per minute.

For your 7.5 mile ride, that comes to 300 calories. I've seen gym bikes, bike computer devices, etc say more like 450 as you saw - which is more like 900 calories per hour. But when I was really strictly logging the calories I ate and the exercise I did, I did *not* lose weight at a rate that the higher calorie burn would predict, came much closer to what the lower rate predicted.

I think the simple answer is always use the lower value if you are watching calories in order to lose/maintain weight. If you are not trying to control your weight, don't worry about calories burned.
Wow, congrats on your weight loss. Just curious, how did you alter your diet, when trying to loss weight?
I want to lose 30lbs, but i don't want to eat less then i do, about the same, just add exercise, but i don't know how realistic that is to lose 30 lbs.
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Old 07-20-21, 05:57 AM
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Originally Posted by Awesomeguy View Post
Wow, congrats on your weight loss. Just curious, how did you alter your diet, when trying to loss weight?
I want to lose 30lbs, but i don't want to eat less then i do, about the same, just add exercise, but i don't know how realistic that is to lose 30 lbs.
Riding fasted is the best
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Old 07-20-21, 06:01 AM
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Originally Posted by Awesomeguy View Post
Wow, congrats on your weight loss. Just curious, how did you alter your diet, when trying to loss weight?
I want to lose 30lbs, but i don't want to eat less then i do, about the same, just add exercise, but i don't know how realistic that is to lose 30 lbs.
Also, how much do you think you biking contributed to weight loss, compared to diet?
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Old 07-20-21, 06:02 AM
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From what I have read, a 3500 calorie reduction in food intake, or in increased exercise equals approximately one pound per week of weight loss.
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Old 07-20-21, 06:05 AM
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Originally Posted by Awesomeguy View Post
Wow, congrats on your weight loss. Just curious, how did you alter your diet, when trying to loss weight?
I want to lose 30lbs, but i don't want to eat less then i do, about the same, just add exercise, but i don't know how realistic that is to lose 30 lbs.
Once lost 90 in 9 months.

Reducing your calorie intake is the easiest way. That doesn’t necessarily mean eating less food.

Last edited by indyfabz; 07-20-21 at 07:41 AM.
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Old 07-20-21, 06:13 AM
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Another YMMV situation, but here is what worked for me: I could lose some weight just by adding exercise, but it was impossible to maintain.

More simplified math with lots of generalization: losing 1 lb requires burning roughly 3500 calories more than you consume. That is about 6 hours of cycling per week, using my 10 calories per minute and it assumes you will not eat anything extra doing all that exercise. A business trip or vacation interrupts the exercise regime or you eat more during or after the cycling that you do on days with no cycling and you are not losing weight.

So, cutting 500 calories per day will help you lose 1 lb per week with no additional exercise, the exercise calories are a bonus above that.

What worked for me was using a free app (LoseIt) to log what I ate and keeping the weekly average calories in at what would maintain my goal weight - and NOT logging exercise for anything less than a 2 hour ride. I've maintained most of that loss for over 10 years now, only have to go back to logging everything a few times like after particular food-filled holiday season or when I had rotator cuff surgery and my exercise went to near zero for a while.

Loads of generalizations but that works for me - just adding exercise did not work. To answer your other question, I think the exercise (biking plus some weights) was key - resting muscle requires more calories for you body to maintain that resting non-muscle. Just one of the other probably can be done but much harder and definitely didn't work for me.

Originally Posted by Awesomeguy View Post
Wow, congrats on your weight loss. Just curious, how did you alter your diet, when trying to loss weight?
I want to lose 30lbs, but i don't want to eat less then i do, about the same, just add exercise, but i don't know how realistic that is to lose 30 lbs.

Last edited by jpescatore; 07-20-21 at 06:18 AM.
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Old 07-20-21, 06:14 AM
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Originally Posted by Awesomeguy View Post
So, how much calories do you think i really burned?
Also, is factors like gender, heart rate, and age not taken into account?
When calculating calories based on power meter data, no - conventional wisdom has it that cyclists don't actually differ all that much (the range last I looked at studies - admittedly with trained cyclists - was about is +- 10%) when it comes to turning calories into watts. Of course your basal metabolic rate differs based on age, sex, weight, height and so on but taking that into account is a bit iffy - you'd have expended (a good part of) that anyway just being alive.

Generally, 200W (which on a road bike on flat terrain with no wind is good for about 31-35 km/hr depending on how aerodynamic you are and how efficient the bike is) requires about 720 kcal plus whatever your basic metabolic rate is (which depends on weight, sex, etc) comes out to let's say about 800 to get a nice round number, so 430 kcal for going hard for half a hour is entirely feasible (or more, or less).

As long as you're watchful what and how much of it you put in your mouth, cycling is going to help.
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Old 07-20-21, 06:15 AM
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Everyone is different, but basically we eat too much.

I've never been heavy or sedentary, max 160lbs at 5'-10" and cycling since 1990. However, when I totally adjusted my lifestyle which included "very little" food, I dropped down to sub 140lbs. "Diet" is not a list of fad foods, its a view on nutrition. I then got married and lost some control over what and when I eat so now up to 150, still lighter than before my "adjustment."

Exercise, such as cycling tones muscles and makes people look nicer.
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Old 07-20-21, 06:20 AM
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Originally Posted by DorkDisk View Post
Everyone is different, but basically we eat too much.

I've never been heavy or sedentary, max 160lbs at 5'-10" and cycling since 1990. However, when I totally adjusted my lifestyle which included "very little" food, I dropped down to sub 140lbs. "Diet" is not a list of fad foods, its a view on nutrition. I then got married and lost some control over what and when I eat so now up to 150, still lighter than before my "adjustment."

Exercise, such as cycling tones muscles and makes people look nicer.
It is really difficult to eat less calories for me, i feel sooo low in energy, and worst of all , l get low sugar symptoms (light headed, dizzy, sometimes the sweats), after doctors testing, they said i'm generally healthy
I personally don't think eating less calories will be option for me, all thought it is most effective

18 years ago, i had gone from 250 to 180, by cutting lot of calories, and maintained around 195-200 until i was 34-35, , at which point i started gaining, from 195 to 230, however bc i get the symptoms i described, it is hard to lose weight by calories cutting.
I literally, just naturally eat more, when i gained my weight, albiet, they are healthy choices, its kind of strange.

Last edited by Awesomeguy; 07-20-21 at 06:31 AM.
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Old 07-20-21, 06:42 AM
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Originally Posted by Awesomeguy View Post
It is really difficult to eat less calories for me, i feel sooo low in energy, and worst of all , l get low sugar symptoms (light headed, dizzy, sometimes the sweats), after doctors testing, they said i'm generally healthy
I personally don't think eating less calories will be option for me, all thought it is most effective

18 years ago, i had gone from 250 to 180, by cutting lot of calories, and maintained around 195-200 until i was 34-35, , at which point i started gaining, from 195 to 230, however bc i get the symptoms i described, it is hard to lose weight by calories cutting.
I literally, just naturally eat more, when i gained my weight, albiet, they are healthy choices, its kind of strange.
So you've gained 35 pounds on what you perceive to be a consistent diet, and you don't want to change how much you eat.

You could try an experiment on yourself. Maintain your current diet, and start riding that 30 minutes every day. Weigh yourself once a week, same day, same time. After two months, see if you've (a) maintained your weight, (b) gained weight, or (c) lost weight. (The two months is so you don't confuse one week's fluctuations with a long term trend.)

My experience is consistent with those who say you have to change your diet to lose weight. If, however, you start burning 200-300 Calories a day and don't start snacking more, you should lose about 4 pounds in that two months. If so, congratulations! If not, perhaps it's time to change something else.

If you've been inactive during most of your weight gain, perhaps you can add 30 minutes a day of walking on top of your bike riding. Or climb stairs, or add some other activity. Your self-reported symptoms sound like a lot of people's when they're used to sitting and not much else for most of the day, and most of those people see those symptoms diminish when they start moving more. In addition to that, if you can reduce your caloric intake by about 500 Cal/day, you should start losing about a pound a week, as noted. If I were a betting man, that combination is how I'd bet you could lose weight and keep it off.
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Old 07-20-21, 06:49 AM
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I ride with a power meter, and here are some stats from my end. Firstly, power is work in kj, so stuff like gender, age, HR etc. is not a factor. In cycling, we essentially take kj of work measured by the power meter to be equal to calories expended.

If I'm just riding at a steady endurance pace, I burn about 700 calories an hour, and I'd consider myself pretty highly trained. On rides with my 10 year old (where we average 13ish mph) it's like 300 calories an hour. So if you're pretty novice, I'd guesstimate on maybe 400 calories an hour at the pace you indicated.

I started riding in 2013 and weighed 225-230lbs, and my strategy (besides limiting my eating) was to ride some sort of combination of longer duration or more intensity. I'm not going to delve into what to eat, there are so many self proclaimed nutrition experts. But you can use cycling as a tool to facilitate weight loss (and of course improve cardiovascular health).
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Old 07-20-21, 06:51 AM
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Originally Posted by pdlamb View Post
So you've gained 35 pounds on what you perceive to be a consistent diet, and you don't want to change how much you eat.

You could try an experiment on yourself. Maintain your current diet, and start riding that 30 minutes every day. Weigh yourself once a week, same day, same time. After two months, see if you've (a) maintained your weight, (b) gained weight, or (c) lost weight. (The two months is so you don't confuse one week's fluctuations with a long term trend.)

My experience is consistent with those who say you have to change your diet to lose weight. If, however, you start burning 200-300 Calories a day and don't start snacking more, you should lose about 4 pounds in that two months. If so, congratulations! If not, perhaps it's time to change something else.

If you've been inactive during most of your weight gain, perhaps you can add 30 minutes a day of walking on top of your bike riding. Or climb stairs, or add some other activity. Your self-reported symptoms sound like a lot of people's when they're used to sitting and not much else for most of the day, and most of those people see those symptoms diminish when they start moving more. In addition to that, if you can reduce your caloric intake by about 500 Cal/day, you should start losing about a pound a week, as noted. If I were a betting man, that combination is how I'd bet you could lose weight and keep it off.
Yes, i did remain in active, for most of my weight gain, mostly due to, rough work schedule and 2 hour commute each way. Thank you for your comments , i appreciate your feedback.
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Old 07-20-21, 07:06 AM
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Originally Posted by Awesomeguy View Post
I want to lose 30lbs, but i don't want to eat less then i do, about the same, just add exercise, but i don't know how realistic that is to lose 30 lbs.
The problem with this approach is that your body is much better at counting calories than you are - add a work load and your appetite will adjust to compensate and you're left hovering in the same weight range. I'm intimately aware of this because I've gone through it myself. Sure, I'd go through the annual cycle of taking off 15 pounds or so during the summer, but it was never long before it was back. The only thing that changed that was close tracking of my input (eating) and output (activity) and maintaining a daily deficit; I did this with a calorie counting app (it's actually not as tedious as it may seem and it's enlightening to do, even if you only keep it up for two weeks or so), an activity tracker and a power meter.

Until you do it, people seem to think of tracking input/output as an exercise in self-denial. It was quite the opposite for me and I found it much easier to maintain than "just watch what you eat."

"Just watch what you eat," *is* an exercise in constant self-denial and I think that the vast majority of people will fall off that wagon sooner rather than later. Maintaining a deficit, though, allows even daily treats, as long as you're not completely sedentary and as long as you're not too indulgent. Some ice cream at the end of the night? Sure. A beer? Yup, no problem, even on days where walking is my only exercise. On a day when I ride three or more hours? ****, I can eat just about anything I want and not come close to threatening my 750 cal deficit.

But this is only what works for me. If something else works for you, kudos, but if you're not seeing the results that you want, give the above a try.
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Old 07-20-21, 07:14 AM
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More cycling - more calories you lose
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Old 07-20-21, 07:20 AM
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Originally Posted by DorkDisk View Post
Everyone is different, but basically we eat too much.

I've never been heavy or sedentary, max 160lbs at 5'-10" and cycling since 1990. However, when I totally adjusted my lifestyle which included "very little" food, I dropped down to sub 140lbs. "Diet" is not a list of fad foods, its a view on nutrition. I then got married and lost some control over what and when I eat so now up to 150, still lighter than before my "adjustment."

Exercise, such as cycling tones muscles and makes people look nicer.
Yep, diet is more important than exercise. Many cyclists who pick up the sport to lose weight fail because they listen to all the "experts" who say you have to carbo load before a ride, then eat some sugary "energy" gel crap, a banana, and a PBJ sandwich every 30 minutes during a ride, then pig-out after a ride to recover. All of the calculators are wrong. All of them. They are based on generic formulas and generally overstate the calories burned. They are designed to give a ballpark estimate (usually wildly inaccurate), not a precise calculation. Like you said, everyone is different. Every body reacts differently to exercise. The easiest way to lose weight is to simply eat less. Experts trying to sell something like to complicate that formula with all kinds of non-sense. But the scientific fact remains that you can not lose weight if you take in more calories than you burn. It's pretty easy to keep track of calories consumed. There really isn't an easy and accurate way to track calories burned.

Also, increasing your metabolism is also critical for maximum weight loss. The amount of calories you burn during that hour of exercise is minor compared to the amount of calories you burn the rest of the day. Regular strenuous exercise will gradually increase your metabolism. A casual bike ride once or twice a week likely won't get you there, but hammering away for 30 minutes 4-5 times a week to the point where it's difficult to breathe will. That's the key, figuring out how to get your metabolism up. In short, it doesn't really matter how many calories you burn WHILE riding, it's how many calories you burn the rest of the day....and is that more than the amount you consumed.
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Old 07-20-21, 07:23 AM
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Chances are that calculators that are taking into account your weight are using the MET method of calculation, which I think is highly dubious in estimating individual calorie burn. MET assumes a very direct relationship with weight and the number of calories burned that I believe is problematic when analyzing the use of a machine whose primary mechanical function is supporting your weight and propelling it efficiently. Frankly, I find it impossible to believe that the relationship between weight and calorie burn is the same for cycling as it is for running, so I strongly suspect that MET tends to overstate the calorie burns for heavier cyclists, and the heavier you are, the higher the overstatement.

I lost about 140 pounds over 3 years about 6 years ago. I lost the first 100 pounds pretty much through diet alone, then lost about another 54 pounds through intense exercise while actually eating more, but that's only with about 12-15 hours of relatively intense riding/working out per week. It's not a regimen I can recommend to anyone because it's a very large time and energy commitment that probably can't work for many people. I don't tell people what I think they should do because I don't really believe anyone is particularly good at giving such advice. There's simply no scientific evidence that anyone has come up with a specific program that people can and do successfully follow consistently. I developed what I do to keep the weight off for the past 5 years through trial and error.

I will say that I think there probably needs to be a mix of calorie control and exercise to successfully lose and keep off weight, but I think the balance of those and what foods work best vary immensely from person to person. I will also say that nothing makes me hungrier than lying around, doing nothing. I end up cooking and eating just for something to do.
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Old 07-20-21, 07:35 AM
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Originally Posted by Awesomeguy View Post
I saw some threads regarding this, but it really didn't answer my thought about calories.

I biked about 30 minutes yesterday, with higher intensity, and averaged about 15 miles per hour. Keep in mind this is in a residential\neighborhood area, and there was quite a few stops and such. The longest stretch was 1 mile long, most other streets were like quarter to half a mile, before slowing and having to make a turn
My apple watch said i burned about 430 calories, online calculators all say roughly about the same thing. My heart rate was 135avg, and 150 max

Then on the other hand when I read power meter related calorie burn from people whom have a power meter, it seems like it is much less than that.
However it seems like power meter doesn't take into account, the heart rate or your age , gender, and weight.

So, how much calories do you think i really burned?
Also, is factors like gender, heart rate, and age not taken into account?
I can't answer how many I think you burned, but I think 430 calories is generous. This morning I rode 10 miles in around 40 minutes with an average speed of 15 MPH and Strava said I burned 278 calories. And I'm a Clyde at 255 pounds. Personally I take all calorie burn counts with a grain of salt. They're probably good as estimates but I wouldn't rely on them to be 100% accurate.
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Old 07-20-21, 07:36 AM
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Originally Posted by livedarklions View Post
Chances are that calculators that are taking into account your weight are using the MET method of calculation, which I think is highly dubious in estimating individual calorie burn. MET assumes a very direct relationship with weight and the number of calories burned that I believe is problematic when analyzing the use of a machine whose primary mechanical function is supporting your weight and propelling it efficiently. Frankly, I find it impossible to believe that the relationship between weight and calorie burn is the same for cycling as it is for running, so I strongly suspect that MET tends to overstate the calorie burns for heavier cyclists, and the heavier you are, the higher the overstatement.

I lost about 140 pounds over 3 years about 6 years ago. I lost the first 100 pounds pretty much through diet alone, then lost about another 54 pounds through intense exercise while actually eating more, but that's only with about 12-15 hours of relatively intense riding/working out per week. It's not a regimen I can recommend to anyone because it's a very large time and energy commitment that probably can't work for many people. I don't tell people what I think they should do because I don't really believe anyone is particularly good at giving such advice. There's simply no scientific evidence that anyone has come up with a specific program that people can and do successfully follow consistently. I developed what I do to keep the weight off for the past 5 years through trial and error.

I will say that I think there probably needs to be a mix of calorie control and exercise to successfully lose and keep off weight, but I think the balance of those and what foods work best vary immensely from person to person. I will also say that nothing makes me hungrier than lying around, doing nothing. I end up cooking and eating just for something to do.
When you lost your first 100lbs through diet alone, what did you change in your diet?
Also, i'm curious, once you lose all that weight, do you generally eat less, like is your appetite lower (unrelated to junk food or over eating)?
HOw many calories do you eat now you think?
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Old 07-20-21, 07:43 AM
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Originally Posted by DorkDisk View Post

Exercise, such as cycling tones muscles and makes people look nicer.
But only if they shave their legs.
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Old 07-20-21, 07:43 AM
  #23  
Milton Keynes
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Originally Posted by jpescatore View Post
What worked for me was using a free app (LoseIt) to log what I ate and keeping the weekly average calories in at what would maintain my goal weight - and NOT logging exercise for anything less than a 2 hour ride.
I agree with this, don't get into the habit of telling yourself "Hey, your cycling app said you burned 300 calories on your ride this morning, so you can get away with eating a candy bar." Eating back the calories you burn is a sure fire way to sabotage your weight loss. Just maintain your diet and consider any calories burned through exercise to be a bonus.
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Old 07-20-21, 07:53 AM
  #24  
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Don't take any calories on your ride. Just water or zero calorie drinks. If your goal is weight loss, you don't need to eat while exercising. Also, exercise on an empty stomach. If you ride in the morning, don't eat breakfast. Don't eat immediately after a ride either. Let your body burn calories that are already there. Intermittent fasting works for a lot of people. Eating 4-5 smaller meals is generally better than eating 3 big meals. Skipping meals is good also. Our bodies have kind of been programmed to eat in the morning, around noon, and then at night. It won't kill you to skip a meal or two. These are just some easy techniques to limit eating that have worked for me in the past. Oh, and as you get older, weight loss gets more difficult.
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Old 07-20-21, 08:07 AM
  #25  
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Just forget about Calories altogether. Just be happy you burned some. Don't try to rationalize the Calorie burns or formulas with some aspect of your performance.

If you want to apply them to weight loss, then can you accurately tell how many Calories you consumed?
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