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Calorie intake, racing and weight loss
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angela_lee
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 Posted: Tue Mar 24th, 2009 05:19 pm

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Ladies.....help!

Okay, not really knowing where to start here. I was 10lbs down at the end of last race season (like everyone else on here, I'm sure), but find myself fighting the weight again. I am definitely phobic about my weight because of some issues with it in the past, so I try to focus on performance.

But...there's always the weight spector.

I'm having trouble finding calorie requirements for active females. Things are just all over the map online. This is affecting my goal setting.

So...a few questions...

Is it unrealistic to aim for weight loss in a race season?

Does alcohol, fat intake, or protein affect diet and fat burning? Or is it just calories in/calories out?

What kind of a diet do you eat? What do you avoid?

Are there sites with sensible calorie calculators for active females?

Know of a good nutritionist?

I'm just trying to keep this conversation going to avoid bad habits, i.e. starving myself. Thanks!

Cathy Boland
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 Posted: Tue Mar 24th, 2009 09:43 pm

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Well, I'm no expert but I can tell you what has worked for me.

>Is it unrealistic to aim for weight loss in a race season?


Not at all, but your rate of weight loss should be very slow to prevent an impact to your performance.  My goal is no more than 1 lb per week.


>Does alcohol, fat intake, or protein affect diet and fat burning? Or is it just calories >in/calories out?

The only thing that really works for me is the calories in/calories out equation.  Alcohol makes me retain water, but that is about it.   I tried a lo carb diet once during the spring training season.  I thought I was going to pass out on my bike.

>What kind of a diet do you eat? What do you avoid?


I just try to eat a sensible, low fat diet with plenty of protein and fresh fruits, vegetables and complex carbohydrates.  A sensible diet for me usually ends up being about 40% carbs,  30% fat and 30% protein.   I avoid alcohol as much as I can due to the high calorie and water retention factor.  I'm usually not too successful with that though. 


>Are there sites with sensible calorie calculators for active females?

I use a program called Diet Power (http://www.dietpower.com/).  It helps me set up a daily calorie requirement based on my height, weight and weight loss goal.  You can enter the number of calories you burn every day during exercise and that gets added to your allowed calorie allotment for the day.  I use a Polar Heart Rate monitor that calculates calories burned to help me with that one.  Seems to be pretty accurate.  I try to eat all of the calories I burn, particularly if I'm doing hard workouts.

The program will adjust your daily calorie allotment based on your actual weight loss and calories eaten.  That way if you are too generous with your measurements or your have a super fast or slow metabolism, that gradually is accounted for.

In 2006 I managed to lose 15 lbs counting my calories with this program and had the best season in 10 years.  It works if you really are honest and log everything you eat.    These days I'm just trying to lose all the weight I've gained since my daughter was born.  It still works if I bother to log my food intake.  That drinking thing though - that is still a problem. 


SlowPoke2320
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 Posted: Tue Mar 24th, 2009 09:57 pm

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I agree with everything Cathy said, although I haven't actively counted calories for quite some time.  I find that if I just focus on avoiding sugar and white flour, and eating more fruits, veggies, protein, and fiber, that my occasional caloric "spot checks" are pretty low, probably around 2,000 calories a day.  I guess that isn't low by normal people standards, but it's still enough to net some weight loss if you're riding a lot. 

I have this theory that your actual leaness (which matters more than weight) is effected way more by the volume and intensity of your training, rather than your calories intake.  Not that you can eat a bunch of crap and just ride a lot to make up for it, but I just think the reason that elite cyclists are leaner than non-elites is because of their training, not because of some unbelievably perfect secret elite-girl diet. 

If anyone else agree/disagrees with that theory, let me know.

Cathy Boland
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 Posted: Wed Mar 25th, 2009 12:46 am

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I only count calories cause it keeps me honest.  "oh, this little bit won't hurt"  Those little bits add up.  I'm just not very good at regulating myself without keeping track of what I eat.  That is particularly true now that I'm older and less active. 

And yes, I do agree that elite cyclists tend to be lean due to the intensity and volume of their training.  More miles and higher intensity = more calories burned.  And the fitter you are (ie. less body fat), the higher your base calorie burning rate.

marjamison
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 Posted: Wed Mar 25th, 2009 01:10 am

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I'm a nutritional science student, so definitely not an expert yet, but it's certainly my field of interest.  Here's some things I've picked up:

It is calories in, calories out.  3500 calories = 1 lb of fat, so simple math.  The reason why fat and alcohol are tough on the diet is because they contribute more calories per gram than do carbohydrates and protein.  Specifically, fat is 9 cal/g, alcohol is 7 cal/g, and protein and carbs are only 4 cal/g.  We were taught to recommend cutting about 200 cal/day out of a diet to lose weight.  It might take a little while at that rate, but you'll be certain to not be risking your health while racing and riding.  And definitely don't skimp on the calories before, during, and post training or racing (but you knew that  :)).

Mypyramid.gov has great resources for calculating your calorie needs and recommended diet, and it's free, and put together by the USDA, so not trying to sell you anything.  And it lets you input your activity level, and uses it in the same equation that a registered dietician would. 

I find personally if I could just cut out the ice cream and cookies (and, okay, maybe the wine) I'd be 5 pounds leaner within a month.  But what fun is that?   ;)

Nevada (Marian)

 

velobella
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 Posted: Wed Mar 25th, 2009 05:51 am

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I am a huge fan of keeping a food diary. Its amazing what you will learn about your diet, nutritional balance, and caloric needs.

Based on my age, weight and lifestyle, without exercise, I need about 1700 calories per day. I know this from my diary keeping, but its pretty close to most online calculators. Exercise adds to that number. A heart rate monitor is best way to tell, but there are online calculators for those things as well. However, most online calculators will waaaay overestimate how many calories you burn on the bike (because our training has made us so efficient)

A typical moderate intensity ride for me will burn about 400 calories. If you want to lose a pound a week, you need to eat a 500 calorie deficit. So in my example, that would be 1600 calories. I like Marian's recommendation of only shooting for a 200 deficit. It is very hard to race or hit high repeated efforts while in a prolonged calorie deficit. I usually prefer to not race while i am dieting.

Be sure to adjust your daily caloric needs as you lose weight as it does go down too.

I use myfooddiary.com to log everything. They charge a monthly fee, but there are lots of cool online sites that don't (such as fitday.com)

Other than a need for more calories, I think female athletes should also look for at least meeting the RDA for iron and calcium. Otherwise, the same nutritional needs generally apply. And I am a fan of the fat/carb/protein ratios recommended by nutritionists, as opposed to those zone/atkins thingies...

sacwheelgirl
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 Posted: Wed Mar 25th, 2009 05:51 pm

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Boy, I'm glad this thread was started.

Back in 2001, I reached my goal weight with Weight Watchers (70lbs lost). I was a big momma. It's slowly crept up 10lbs., mostly due to the fact that I eat a lot when I train!

This is a great read: Nancy Clark's Sports Nutrition Guidebook http://www.amazon.com/Nancy-Clarks-Sports-Nutrition-Guidebook/dp/0736074155/ref=pd_bbs_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1237998921&sr=8-1.

Katie

 

 

 

 

velobella
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 Posted: Wed Mar 25th, 2009 06:14 pm

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I am going to have to check out that book, thanks Katie!

And I also lost 70 pounds, but that was 20 years ago now! Since then, I've lost the same 15 pounds over and over again. I have come to realize it will always be a bit of a "battle" with me. Left untended, I creep up quite quickly. I am currently in the middle of a 25pound loss (only 10 more to go!) and I am still learning new things. As opposed to years past, where I would lose 2-3 pounds per week, I am shooting for no more than 1 pound per week. I am hoping that it makes the loss more permanent and teaches me how to eat for maintenance.

Also, this time, in addition to just worrying about calories, I am trying to hit at last 30 grams of fiber, and lower my saturated fats to about 9%, and make my iron and calcium recommendations. And quess what, it involves eating a crapload of vegetables and legumes.

And I haven't felt as good as I do now, in a long long time.

Eat your veggies.

SlowPoke2320
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 Posted: Wed Mar 25th, 2009 06:57 pm

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This slightly off-topic, but it's something that I've been wondering about lately.  When you are working at a small calorie deficit, how does your body prioritize the use of the carbohydrates in your diet?

This the scenario I have in mind:  From what I understand, athletes have around 2000 calories of glycogen stored in the muscles and liver under good nutritional circumstances.  Assuming this is true, after work I go out on a two-hour ride with intervals and burn around 1200 calories.  Of those 1200 calories burned, part of that will be fat (from diet or fat stores), part will be carbodrates that I ate earlier in the afternoon, part will come from the 200 calories of carbohydrate gel that I ate during the ride and part will come from my glycogen stores.  When I get home, I have a glass of chocolate milk (180 calories) and then a 300-400 calorie dinner and go to bed.  When it's all over, we'll pretend that I've eaten fewer calories than I burned that day.

Here is my question, will my body do with the carbohydrates from dinner while I sleep?  Will top it replace the muscle glycogen that I lost during training first and use my body fact stores to fuel my basic body functions while I sleep?  Or will it take the calories I need while I'm sleeping first and leave my glycogen stores partly empty?

Basically, does body deplete the glycogen stores before it lets go of fat or does fat go first?  I know it partly depends on intensity level, so that's I why chose sleeping as the key activity.

sacwheelgirl
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 Posted: Thu Mar 26th, 2009 02:37 am

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Great job Sabine!! :D I'm re-inspired. I've been in a weight loss slump lately. 

One thing I wanted to add to our discussion which relates to the last entry is fueling up and recovery.  From research and personal experience, I think it's better to load up early on calories on the days you are going to go hard. I used to eat lightly, train hard, then be starved when I got home and have a huge dinner (not too smart).  The other element is getting those carbohydrates when you are done within 30-60 minutes (the glycogen window), when your body reabsorbs glycogen more readily. I'm  curious about the sleep question also. 

Have you read Chris Carmichael's Food for Fitness? It's not as user friendly as the Nancy Clarke Book, but it does have some good information (albeit dry, scientific reading). 

nrjetik1
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 Posted: Fri Mar 27th, 2009 04:54 am

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Congrats Sabine! Being patient is the key...another book besides Nancy Clarks that I recommend to busy clients is Eating in the run by Evelyn Tribole MS RD. Great tips/suggestions for those who are BUSY!

I've included sea veggies (seaweed, kelp, khumbu, hizikki, kelp etc.) with my land veggies as they are high in minerals, calcium and iron and are touted to promote thyroid function too.

http://www.kelpnoodles.com

I find in my advancing age (48) it takes longer to lose weight and can't eat the kcals I like too!  even though I am extremely active and have a great deal of LBM, it's  the peri menopausal hormonal shifting that's adding to the mix.. Working on the winter excess now......

so beware gals, enjoy the ice cream and sweets while you can :)


beth h
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 Posted: Sun Mar 29th, 2009 08:30 pm

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Helpful thread, great responses.

Because I have Crohn's, some of this stuff goes right out the window for me.
Foods that my body cannot break down (especially raw veggies and leafy greens in any form) must be substituted through complex-carb combinations of foods I CAN eat and a little through supplements. Alcohol has become more and more problematic for me as I get older (now 46) -- it really exacerbates the Crohn's symptoms -- and I tend to avoid it almost entirely these days. (I do miss having a pint of Stumptown Porter after a long ride...)

I kept a food journal while doctors were trying to diagnose me fifteen years ago. It got really sad to note the foods that aggravated my symptoms. By the time docs dx'd me it was clear what to avoid so I stopped keeping the journal. Now I just maintain a written list of foods to stay away from, posted on the fridge and given in advance to friends who invite me over for dinner.

I find that riding my bike, even short distances, is some of the best medicine both physically and mentally. Riding almost every day has helped me to maintain the same weight (with 2 to 3-lb fluctuations either way) for nearly a decade now. I could stand to lose a little more I suppose, but I'm mostly pretty happy with my body these days.

Really the biggest deal is that I would just about kill to be able to eat fresh spinach salad again. But that's a relatively minor complaint. Most days I manage to get what I need in order to ride my bike and do everything else.

velolist
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 Posted: Wed Aug 12th, 2015 05:58 pm

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The accurate way to gauge the number of calories needed per day is to test your Resting Metabolic Rate. The UC Davis Sports Medicine clinic offers the test. A person with a slow metabolism has a lower caloric intake than one with high metabolism.


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