Losing weight to improve performance: a sort of mirage for almost all cyclists, but the matter is a delicate one and mistakes are just around the corner. Let’s take a look at the most common ones.
Brand new superlight bikes, top components… pity about that couple of extra kilos that we carry on us and which somehow limit performance.
Our body weight does, in fact, have a decisive influence on performance – at least as much as our equipment – if we relate it to power output.
This is the famous power-to-weight – Watt/kg ratio, one of the myths of cycling and many other endurance sports.
Without going into complicated notions of sports physiology, the basic concept is easy to understand: just to give an example, with the same power it is less difficult to move a mass of 65 kg compared to one of 70. Which means that, with the same effort, the lighter we are on the bike, the faster we will go. In theory. Because in actual fact what a sportsman should reduce is simply fat: just losing weight could also result in a counterproductive decrease in muscle mass.
In short, it is a minefield full of false myths and clichés, through which to move with care.
Let’s therefore avoid rumours and DIY diets: all aspects related to nutrition and weight should always be addressed with the professional support of a nutritionist, who can advise us on the best approach for our specific situation.
Below are the 5 most common mistakes that cyclists make to lose weight.
Carbohydrates are considered “fat-friendly”, and replacing them in the diet with protein is a widespread method of losing weight. But it is wrong, especially for a cyclist.
These substances are essential to provide energy to the body, favouring performance and subsequent recovery; the only focus should be placed on the type of carbohydrates you take, favouring the consumption of those with low glycaemic index and slow absorption, which are more difficult to convert into fats.
Always train in the same way
As in any other sport, even in cycling, by always training in the same way, in the end the body adapts, becomes more efficient and consumes less. It is better to vary the terrain, change the pace, stress the body in different ways, even trying out some MTB rides, and maybe a short high-intensity session on the rollers a couple of times a week, thus forcing the body to consume more oxygen and burn more calories.
Looking for quick results
When you decide to lose weight, you want to see results in the shortest possible time, but rapid weight loss, besides being more difficult to maintain, also means that the response of our body is “forced” by some imbalance in the diet.
Instead, you should consult a specialist to obtain the correct nutritional indications and then have patience. Follow a program scrupulously and set realistic goals. At first the gain may be minimal, but in the long run the benefits will be greater.
Bikes, bikes and more bikes. Obsessively pedalling means triggering a “virtuous circle” that can turn into “vicious”: the more you train in the saddle, the more you get results in terms of weight; these in turn lead to an improvement in performance that will be a stimulus to continue, and so on.
This way, however, you risk physical and mental “burnout”.
Much better to cross train, which includes for example swimming, running, gym … and which stimulates the head and muscles in different ways and intensities.
If we are not professionals who can make the two things coincide, to train and work takes commitment and especially time. Not to mention that family and social life also have their own needs…
In this scenario, making room for at least 7-8 hours of sleep is sometimes not easy. But it is essential for our psycho-physical wellbeing and also… to keep our weight in shape. Several studies have in fact shown that sleeping poorly or badly leads to metabolic imbalances that result in an accumulation of fat and a reduction in the proteins present in muscle fibres.