our body doesn't operate in a vacuum so its time you stop treating it like it does.
By Clint Latham – Get FREE updates on new posts here
There are a lot of misconceptions about how your body uses fat. You see articles, blog posts and podcasts all sharing the same information. Which can be misleading. For ever we thought it was the fat in our foods that made us fat. That ushered in the era of the low fat diet. Now its carbohydrates. The common assumption today is if you you eat carbohydrates your going to get fat. The truth is, if you went on a low fat diet you'd lose weight. This is also true with a low carbohydrates diet. So what do we do, how does the body burn fat?
Two research scientists looked to answer this very question. Rena Wing of Brown University and James Hill of the University of Colorado; founded the National Weight Control Registry. In order to be a participant you had to meet the follow ing criteria.
1) You must have lost at least 30 lbs
2) Were able to keep the weight off for at least 12 months.
The goal of the registry was to find the perfect human diet for fat loss. Over a period of 9 years they studied thousands of participants and came away empty handed! That's right, they couldn't find a single diet trend that was the key to losing weight and keeping it off. They did however find 3 habits amongst all the participants.
1) The participants found a diet they liked and stuck with it. Weather it was low fat, low carb, calorie counting etc, so long as the participant stuck with the plan they were able to keep the weight off.
2) They weighted themselves frequently. They found that the more frequently the participants weighted themselves the less weight they gained back.
3) They exercised regularly.
While I think diets like paleo, whole 30 or ketogenic diet can be a great place to start. Don't get suckered into the hype that one diet is superior to other another. As there is NO science to back this up. So often what we find is that people choose a diet for it's social benefits over its actual weight loss goals. The easiest example, and I'm probably going to receive a few nasty emails from my crossfit buddies, is the paleo diet. If you're into crossfit you will naturally choose the paleo diet as it is part of the crossfit culture. There is a great presentation by an Anthropologist who gave a Ted Talk on this very subject. She breaks down how the paleo diet today is not even close to what our paleolithic ancestors actually ate and not in any way based on real anthropologic evidence. Give it a google if you're interested. Thus, if all your muscle bound gym buddies are eating paleo then you are likely to do the same. This can actually be very beneficial, because eating is such a social aspect of human life. If you are compelled by the social aspects of a diet you are much more likely to stick to it, as opposed to dieting purely for weight loss. Just don't get suckered into the marketing hype that one diet is superior to another as this couldn't be further from the truth. If you would like to dig deeper into how affective the human body is at eating a wide variety of foods. Do a little research on what made the Lewis and Clark expedition a success. You'll be amazed at what you'll find.
My personal experience
At 210lbs, 5' 9” tall and 38% body fat I needed to get my butt back on the bike and lose some weight. Hence I started riding any chance I got. Which is a good idea to get started. But I wasn't losing any weight. In fact I was staying about the same.
You've got to do fasted cardio to burn fat
This ushered in the idea that I have heard time and time again. In fact some of my favorite endurance and bodybuilding coaches preach this same methodology time and time again. Wake up early go for a ride and don't let a single calorie hit the pit of your stomach. The idea that fasted cardio is the best way to burn fat. So off I went; tired, hungry and suffering through every ride. But I still wasn't losing much weight. I was still soft and most importantly my rides were suffering. I was bonking constantly and couldn't ride anything longer than an hour. This included regular weight training to help prevent muscle loss and increase fat burn.
I made another change. No more fasted cardio and instead I just started counting every calorie that I ate. I started to see results. But I still was suffering a little bit on my rides. I would eat before but not always during my rides. However, I was losing weight and this was the goal. I stuck with this methodology for quite some time. No specific diet, no foods were restricted, just counted every thing I ate and stayed within a specific caloric intake. At the end of the day calories in needed to be less than my calories out.
Thats right no paleo, whole 30 or any other fad diet that is popular right now. I just counted every calorie that went in and out. I dropped down to 175lbs and 23% body fat. Great improvement right? Well so I thought, but my fitness wasn't progressing like it should. Sure I saw small gains but for as much time as I was putting in on the bike it should have been more. I knew it had to be the fuel. So I made one more change that has helped me to reach 170lbs and 20% body fat and massive increases in fitness gains.
I knew the quality of my foods needed to increase. The higher the octane in the fuel the faster the motor can burn. I continued to food journal but instead of worrying about the number of calories as I ate every day I started listening to my body. I started building my Food Relationship. Building a food relationship is having a fully developed understanding of how your body reacts to certain foods. What I eat won't necessarily work for you and vice versa. This individuality in food response is partly why the National Weight Control Registry failed to find the perfect diet. Because there isn't one! Each one of us is different and thus our eating habits to lose weight is not going to be the same. Now this is not something that I can cover in a couple blog posts and in fact this is all about fat and how your body uses it. So I will leave it at that. For more info on building your food relationship start here.
As I started to research how my body reacted to certain foods, by food journaling, I became amazed at how accurate my calorie intake was just by listening to my body. I wasn't counting calories as I ate I counted them at the end of each day to put a number on the amount of calories I had consumed. Like clock work my body would consume 2000 calories on non-training days and 2800 to 3000 on training days. This was just by eating when I was stomach hungry and not head hungry. I started to understand the times of day when my body would get hungry and I would be proactive in preventing it so that I wouldn't over eat. The times when I wasn't hungry I could shift calories from my non-hunger hours to the times I knew I would get hungry. Then I realized if I had a better understanding of how the body uses fat then I could start to manipulate my personal foods even further to maximize fat burn.
I knew if I could manipulate how my body was fueled I should be able to burn fat and get stronger at the same time. I started with the easier resources. Books by leading obesity researchers and leading nutritionists for endurance athletes. As I read these books I took notice of their citations. What studies were they using to support their findings. Then I moved onto the fun stuff. The ever so dry “white pages”. The actual studies themselves. This lead to finding more and more studies on the topic. And thats the point of this article. To take all of that info, break it down and give you a better understanding of how fat works within our bodies. Then we can take measures to make our bodies fat burning machines on and off the bike.
The Bodies Fuel Sources
Your body has 3 sources for fuel
1) The Food you eat
2) The Sugars stored in your muscles – glycogen
3) Fats stored in your muscles and in the adipose tissue – your gas tank
The food you eat is used for immediate energy. In order to be used as fuel food has to either contain fat & glucose or be converted into glucose. Your body can only turn fat and glucose into ATP. This includes protein. In essence you only have to types of fuel that your body can use as actual energy, fat and glucose. When your body has no immediate need for the food you eat, your body stores it in your gas tank, the adipose tissue or fat.The body can store roughly 90 mins worth of glycogen in the muscle. This is a super fast form of fuel that the cell can use for an immediate source of energy.
The fat stored in your adipose tissue. This is an almost unlimited fuel source. But requires multiple stages to be used. Your body has to release the fat from the adipose tissue through a process called lipolysis. This creates a fatty acid that gets deposited into your blood stream. Then your body has to oxidize this fatty acid in the mitochondria of the cell to be converted to ATP. This means oxygen is required to burn it. Glycogen however can be used without oxygen via the ATP/CP system.
Thus our goal is to figure out what triggers the body to start using the fat stored in our gas tank. This is what we want to decrease. There are two simple methods for fat utilization by the body and now we can get into the science how these systems work.
1) Calories in vs Calories out
2) Nutrient timing
First Law of Thermodynamics
The energy added to the system – work done by the system = Change in the amount of stored energy
Lets start with the simple one first. I know its not sexy new or cool. But if you eat more calories than your body burns, it will get stored as fat. Both glycogen and fatty acids can be packaged and stored into the adipose tissue. Thus any additional calories you eat, that you do not burn, will be stored as fat.
A calorie is not a calorie. In Matt Fitzgerald's book “Diet Cults” Matt sites a study in which processed vs whole foods were compared. In it they made two turkey sandwiches
1) One with processed white bread, processed american cheese and processed turkey.
2) One with whole wheat bread, whole fat cheddar, and turkey breast meat.
Both sandwiches contained 300 calories. The participants ate both sandwiches and measured their metabolic rates after consuming each sandwich. What they found was fascinating. The net calorie gain, ie the total number of calories the body had available after digesting each sandwich was greater for the processed version. This means the net calorie gain for the processed version was almost the full 300 calories. Approximately 295 calories after digestion. Where the whole food version of the same sandwich resulted in a net calorie gain of 265 calories. 10% more calories were burned in digesting the whole version of the sandwich. Thus by eating the same amount of food in a 'whole' version you are actually consuming fewer calories because of the work your body has to do to digest whole foods.
This makes a lot of sense when we think about it. Our bodies are processing plants. When ever we ingest a food our body has to process it into the basic components. By processing foods before we ingest them, this takes out a lot of the work that our bodies have to do to break it down. But not all processing is bad. In fact anthropologists have found that the act of cooking, a form of processing, was one of the key components of humans evolution. Our brains require so much energy that the act of cooking made it possible to get the calories needed to support increased brain development. However, as human life has become more sedentary and our foods more processed; we are rapidly increasing the number of calories we ingest while decreasing our total calorie expenditure.
You can eat more when you eat whole.
When you eat whole foods your body has to work harder to processes it before it becomes fuel. Thus by watching your total calorie intake each day and eating whole foods you are burning calories eating, living and riding your bike. You have now stacked the odds in your favor. In fact in the study “Weight loss on low-fat vs. low-carbohydrate diets by insulin resistance status among overweight adults and adults with obesity: A randomized pilot trial.” found; 'Substantial weight loss was achieved overall, but a significant diet × IR status interaction was not observed. Opportunity to detect differential response may have been limited by the focus on high diet quality for both diet groups and sample size.' This means purely shifting the quality of your diet will have a greater impact on weight loss than by using a specific diet plan, ie low carb, low fat etc. Thus whole foods are a key tool in your fat loss goals. This includes naturally processed foods like olive oil, whole grain breads & pastas, honey etc.
How fat works within our bodies.
The introduction of fat
Our bodies have 3 main sources of fuel; glucose, glycogen and fat. Our bodies have the ability to convert one to another. By weight fat can store up to 3 times as much energy as the other two fuel sources making it a great storage tank for fuel. 'Fat is our body's primary long-term source of stored energy. The fat molecule, triglyceride, is made from three fatty acids and a glycerol molecule. Because fat is insoluble in blood, the body has special mechanisms to transport it' – Howard Hughes Medical Institute.
During and after meals, when there is plenty of glucose to supply the body's metabolic demands. The muscles convert excess glucose into glycogen. Any remaining is then converted into triglycerides and then stored in the adipose tissue. Between meals, glucose is obtained from glycogen and other precursor molecules. The triglycerides are broken down into fatty acids to be metabolized for energy.
How the body digests fat
When you eat foods that fats are broken down by the mouth and stomach. As the fat droplets exit the stomach and enter the duodenum, bile acids are added to the droplets. These bile acids further break down the droplets into smaller droplets. This makes it easier for the body to digest the tiny fat droplets. The pancreas then adds additional digestive fluids, the pancreatic enzyme lipase. Lipase breaks downs the triglycerides into two fatty acids(FA) and a monoglyceride (MG). These fatty acids and monoglycerides are then absorbed by the small intestine at the microvilli. Here the FA's and MG's are converted into chylomicrons because FA and MG are insoluble in blood. These chylomicrons then reach the capillaries of the muscles and fat tissue which activates a lipoprotien lipase. This lipase then releases the FA's from the chylomicrons for either use or storage.
FA's that are released from the adipose tissue. That soft stuff around your waist you want to get rid of. Are transported by the plasma protein albumin. Each albumin can carry 7 FA's . FA bound to the albumin can then be taken up by the muscles, organs or other tissues to be used for energy. Besides being insoluble in blood FA are also insoluble in the cell's cytoplasm. Thus the FA have to be bound to fatty acid binding proteins to transport them into the cell. The liver is the key in the fat pathway. It converts fat to glucose and glucose to fat. It also regulates the amount of fat in circulation. During and after a meal, the liver converts sugar to fat and glycogen.
Leptin's role in appetite
Depending upon your body composition your adipose tissue will produce a hormone called leptin. Each one of us depending upon our genetics will generate a specific amount of leptin to help our bodies maintain our genetic homeostatus. “Our bodies, assuming no genetic diseases, use leptin as our bodies natural calorie counter. Research has shown that our bodies are able to regulate our weight within 5-10lbs per year by using leptin to control our apetite. Assuming you consume roughly 2000 calories a day; that means the body can 'calorie count' with a margin of 5% accuracy, at 730,000 calories a year. Food labels have shown to have a margin of error around 25% of the calories listed to the actual calories contained. The human body has a very accurate calorie counter, leptin” - Jeffrey M. Friedman, MD, PhD
How leptin works
As your body fat levels decrease the adipose tissue then generates less leptin. The decrease in leptin then triggers the brain to increase appetite. Once body fat levels begin to rise leptin levels increase telling the body to slow down. Research has found that large numbers of obese people contain either a lack of leptin production or leptin resistance which leads to increased appetite. A child in a recent leptin study in the UK at the age of 4 weighed over 200 lbs. He would consume 2000 calories per meal, that's the total caloric intake for an average sized adult. Once doctors began giving him leptin injections he consumed only 200 calories per meal and is now able to keep the weight off and maintain a normal BMI.
Each one of us is coded with instructions on how much fat our bodies want to store. Then our adipose tissue produces leptin to control our hunger and maintain these genetically coded levels of fat. Dr Traci Mann of the University of Minnesota, is seeking to understand the role genetics play in determining our overall fat content. In short she has found that your body may not be coded to have that lean six pack look that you so badly want. In fact all you need to do is find your body's natural state of homeostasis and allow it to maintain it.
Now that we understand how the body uses fat is there a way for us to manipulate our foods to maximize fat burn over fat storage. The one thing we have to keep in mind, once we get below our bodies genetically coded point of homeostasis its going to be really hard to get below that weight and maintain it. But if we are above that point we can work in conjunction with our bodies to help us reach that point faster. Thus we can use food timing like a magic diet pill.
Getting our bodies to burn fat during and after exercise.
Riding your bike has one huge benefit, it raises your oxygen intake inducing lipolysis and releasing fatty acids into the blood stream allowing you to oxidize fat as a fuel source in the cell. One of our main goals is to work hard enough to induce lipolysis but not so hard that the cell can not accept the fatty acid we just released. You need to walk the line. One simple formula to find that line is to Ride to 75. In Ride to 75 we ride at 75% of our maximum heart rate as this accomplishes two key goals.
1) Pushes us to towards the upper limits of our aerobic threshold. When our bodies are using the aerobic system we are able to use fat as one the primary fuel sources. If we push above this for our average exertion rate we rely more heavily on our ATP/CP system and the use of fat greatly decreases. Going to hard shut's the door on your mitochondria, the little fat burning engines in your cells. In the study Regulation of plasma fatty acid oxidation during low- and high- intensity exercise, concluded "Our data suggests that, in addition to sub-optimal FFA availability, fatty acid oxidation is likely limited during high-intensity exercise because of direct inhibition of long-chain fatty acid entry into mitochondria." Mitochondria are what burn or oxidize the FFA's in your body. Thus we need those doors wide open. However if you don't work hard enough then you can not maximize the additional affects of EPOC.
2) Maximize the effects of EPOC. EPOC (Excess post exercise oxygen consumption) is the effect of our bodies returning to a state of oxygen homeostasis after a bout of physical activity. Research has shown that the primary fuel source used by the body during EPOC is fat. When you Ride to 75 you will burn an additional 14% fat calories post workout. Lets say you ride for an hour and burn 1000 calories at your Ride to 75 Heart rate. You will burn an additional 140 fat calories once you get off the bike.
Building a bigger fat burning engine
One way to increase your fat burning potential is to increase your engine from a 4 cylinder Honda Civic to a v12 Ferrari. The bigger the engine the more fuel you burn. To make your engine bigger you need to increase the size and density of your mitochondria via mitochondrial biogenesis.
In your cell you have a little watch dog that regulates energy up take. This watch dog is called AMPK or AMP-activated protein kinase. AMPK plays a key role in mitochondrial biogenesis. What this indicates is that if we want to increase the size and density of the mitochondria we need to get our watch dog, AMPK, to take notice.
In the study Effect of Exercise Intensity on Skeletal Muscle AMPK Signaling in Humans, they noticed that AMPK signaling occurred as exercise intensity increased. This was in part due to the whole body glucose uptake that begins to take place at high intensities. As the muscle cell requires more glucose because cellular levels ATP/AMP and phosphocreatine concentrations decrease the cell screams for energy. Our watch dog then takes notice. This generates a process by which the cell generates larger mitochondrial size and density to become more efficient working under heavier stress.
However this comes with one big caveat. "Calculated fat oxidation increased from rest to low intensity in parallel with ACCβ phosphorylation, then declined during high intensity." Working at high intensities will help to generate more mitochondria but comes with a negative fat burning potential during the workout. "Fat oxidation increased (P < 0.05) from resting to low intensity, plateaued from low to medium intensity (P > 0.05), and decreased (P < 0.05) back to approximately resting levels during high intensity" Thus when you workout at high intensities your body is burning fat at the same rate as when your sitting on the couch!
This doesn't mean that high intensity training is not a good benefit. Incorporating workouts that signal our AMPK watch dog will help you build more mitochondria and a larger fat burning machine. One way is through a tough ride pushing you to your limits. Like climbing a big hill. Lifting weights is another way to decrease ATP/AMP and phosphocreatine in your muscles. As the fast concentrated contractions rely solely on the this ATP system which will get your AMPK watch dog to take notice. This just means your not burning much if any fat during these workouts. Instead you are making an investment in greater fat burning potential in the future.
Eating to maximize fat burn
What have you been eating leading up to your ride? Depending upon your food quality and carbohydrate intake will greatly affect what you should eat to burn the most fat during your ride. In the study Nutritional Needs of Elite Endurance Athletes found that ”Endogenous glycogen stores during moderate to high intensity levels (65 – 85% VO2max) of exercise may only last from 90 min to 3 h”. Thus if we are Riding to 75 we only have a couple hours worth of sugar stored in our muscles to fuel our workout. Furthermore exercise intensity, pace and output decrease as glycogen levels diminish. “Depletion of muscle glycogen is associated with increased levels of muscle tissue break down and immune system suppression.” This also assumes you have sufficient carbohydrate intake to maintain maximal glycogen stores.
Remember your 1st goal is to reach 75% of your maximum heart rate. Thus we want the intensity to be fairly high so that the body keeps burning fat during the ride and will create an EPOC affect after. If you've been following a paleo or other low carb diet your body is likely not at optimal glycogen capacity and will greatly affect your ability to increase the ride intensity enough to generate both of these affects. Thus the International Society of Sports Nutrition holds that you should ingest 1-2grams of carbohydrate per kg of body weight and .25 grams of protein per kg of body weight 4 hours prior to exercise to be fully fueled for your ride.
Lets say I currently weight 170lbs at 20% body fat. That means I have a lean body weight of 136 lbs. Now we want to base this calculation off our lean body mass, as we want to support our lean mass while burning our fat mass.
136lbs converted to kg = 61.6kg (62kg to make it easier)
62 x 2 = 124 grams of carbohydrates & 15.5 grams of protein within 4 hours of exercise. If you like to ride early in the morning and have less than an hour before your ride you want to consume .25 to .5 grams per Kg of quick digesting carbs. Like a whey protein shake and some simple sugars like dextrose or table sugar. With liquid calories the digestion rate is much quicker and thus will raise your blood sugar levels rather quickly. Thus we need to use them before we store them. Use 4 hours before to consume whole foods to slow the digestion process and quick digesting foods when time is limited to 60 mins or less.
If you have been eating fairly 'normal' or have developed a good food relationship there is a good chance your body is operating closer to maximal glycogen levels. Research has shown “Regular ingestion of various protein sources in conjunction with carbohydrate stimulates greater increases in strength and favorably impacts body composition when compared to carbohydrate alone”. - Effects of supplement timing and resistance exercise on skeletal muscle hypertrophy. A small dosage of carbohydrates and protein prior to your ride will help you to optimize your lean body mass.
How do you know if you are eating to maintain maximal glycogen stores?
You will feel it in your workout. If your legs are struggling right out the gate and a 30 min warm up hasn't made a difference you might be depleted. Make small adjustments to see how you feel during your next ride by slowly increasing the number of carbohydrates you eat before each workout. You should have enough energy to feel the burn on that big hill but not suffer on the flats. In order to boost our fat potential on and off the bike we need to be properly fueled before the ride. This is important so that we can push ourselves to our Ride to 75 to increase fat burn and EPOC.
Multiple studies have been conducted on the effectiveness of caffeine in sports performance and weight loss. This is the reason it's no surprise that caffeine is a key ingredient in almost every diet pill on the market. Caffeine was found to be so effective the governing body in cycling, The UCI, placed it on it's banned substances list. This resulted in an uproar of professional cyclists every where who were now forced to give up their pre-race espresso routine. The ban was eventually released but the amount of caffeine an athlete can consume is still limited to 5 micrograms per milliliter.
One of the benefits of caffeine is its effect on fat mobilization within the body. When caffeine is consumed before exercise it increases lipolysis and delays the consumption of glycogen. It can delay the consumption of muscle glycogen by up to 15 mins. Given that you have 90 mins worth of glycogen stored within your muscles, thats a 16% increase in performance benefit. As once you run out of muscle sugar you bonk and bonking is terrible.
Caffeine will also increase your EPOC effect. That's right drinking your favorite coffee before your ride will help you burn more fat post workout. The European Journal of Applied Physiology, found that in each study participant that consumed caffeine prior to exercise had free fatty acid levels significantly higher than resting levels. This means that compared to the participants that had performed the same exercise their free fatty acid levels were lower post exercise vs those whom had consumed caffeine post ride. We know that in order to burn fat we have to induce lipolysis, this is the act of breaking free fatty acids off the fatty adipose tissue and get them circulating through the blood stream. Caffeine helps to start this important step.
During the Ride
Many people will claim that eating during shorter rides, any ride shorter than 1.5 hrs, will inhibit fat burn. In fact research shows that eating during your ride will slow down or inhibit lipolysis. This is the release of FA's from the adipose tissue. While we may think this is a bad thing, if we look at how the body works it may not be so bad after all. For most of us when we exercise we release more FA's into the bloodstream than we can burn, especially if we are over weight. (35% body fat or higher) Thus at the end of the workout all those FA's that were not burned get stored back into the adipose tissue. In the American Journal of Physiology, they tested this theory and found.
“In summary, carbohydrate ingestion and the resultant insulin response during exercise suppressed lipolysis. However, the lipolytic rate remained in excess of fat oxidation after carbohydrate ingestion during both low- and moderate-intensity exercise, indicating that this suppression in lipolysis was not responsible for reducing fat oxidation.”
Therefor ingestion of carbohydrate during exercise will not affect your fat burning potential. The reason they don't mention High-intensity exercise? Well during high-intensity exercise the mitochondria release an enzyme that prevents the entry of FA's. Essentially at high intensities our mitochondria stop burning fat and rely purely on glycogen to produce ATP.
There is another reason to eat to maximize your fat burn. In general you will want to consume 20 grams of carbohydrate every 45 mins during your ride. Not only will this help to prevent you from 'bonking' but it will also help in one other aspect of weight loss. Over eating. One of the downsides to exercise is the increase in appetite. After a bout of physical activity our bodies are not excited that it just burnt 1000 calories, its freaked out! However we can prevent this natural freak out by eating during our workouts. Matt Fitzgerald in his book Racing Weight indicates that this is one of his secret weapons to helping athletes drop weight. By eating a small amount during your ride it will help to keep you from over eating after your workout.
You've just finished up your ride. Should you eat or should you abstain to burn more fat?
This depends largely on the length of your ride, assuming you're reaching your Ride to 75 heart rate. If you ride for at least an hour, then you should eat. But what you eat post ride can make a big difference in your fat loss goals.
1 Simple Rule: 3 to 1 ratio of carbohydrate to protein within 30 mins of completing exercise.
After you get off the bike you have a 30 min window where your muscles are like a sponge soaking up every nutrient that you ingest. The faster you can get these nutrients to your muscles, the faster your body can get to work at making you faster and stronger.
During a hard workout your body uses the glycogen (sugar stored in your muscles) and glucose (sugar in the bloodstream) along with fat to fuel your workout. Once these sugar stores become low your body will release cortisol. Cortisol is a stress hormone that eats up muscle tissue to convert it to glucose. Eating post ride will prevent it's cortisol's release. Eating will also cause your body to release insulin. Insulin is one of your body's anabolic hormones. Yes, just like the common steroid of testosterone, insulin is also an anabolic hormone. Anabolic hormones play a key role in muscle development. Thus eating within 30 mins of a workout can be a key component in reaching your fat loss goals through increased muscle development. The more muscle cells you contain the more mitochondria you have. The more mitochondria you have the more fat you can burn. That's why the fast digesting shake of whey protein and sugar is a staple amongst the bodybuilding community.
How to balance all this eating
It seems as though in order to lose weight we need to eat a lot and that doesn't seem to make any sense. Because we know the key component of weight loss is the first law of thermodynamics.
The energy added to the system – work done by the system = Change in the amount of stored energy.
In order to maximize our weight loss we need to eat at the right times and in the right amounts. You need to determine your daily caloric needs and then factor all meals into that number. Ideally you want to have a net calorie loss of 500 calories a day to lose 1lb per week. Lets look at an example of how we can make this work.
Lets say my daily caloric need to maintain my weight is 2500 Calories. Thus I need to consume 2000 Calories per day to lose 1lb per week.
6:00 am Pre- Ride: Homemade protein bar containing 35gs of carbs
7:00 am During Ride – 100 cal simple sugar drink
8:00 am Post Ride – 10g whey protein, 30g sugar
1130 am Lunch – Chicken w/ rice and vegetables & Pear
2:30 pm Snack – Baby Carrots and Grapes
5:30 pm Dinner – Homemade burger with salad
At the end of the day if we eat more Calories than what we burn we will gain weight, no matter how much we ride. It also doesn't matter if your calories all come from fast food or from clean whole foods. If you eat less than what you burn you will lose weight. Your health may be another question but you will lose weight. If we work with our body to maximize our fat burn this will help us to feel strong, ride fast and burn fat.