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Are you using calorie restriction as part of your preparation for racing? What are your thoughts and what sort of diet are your following?

The following is an article abstract with interesting implications.
Effects of caloric restriction and overnight fasting on cycling endurance performance. - ResearchGate

In addition, most "pro" cyclists seem to be almost prisoner or war thin.

My focus for this year is endurance oriented events. I am seeking to maximize is my performance for NUE 100 mile type, six hour races, and other endurance xc events.

This year, I my focus has been to cut weight via calorie restriction two days a week. The remaining five days of the week I try to eat a normal healthy diet. My weight is 20 pounds down vs. 2013. I am currently 5'11" and 153 pounds for a BMI of 21.3.

How much lower can I for weight and how should I get there?

What do you guys thing about calorie restriction type diets and/or fasting?
 

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I've always found that when I restricted calories too much, my performance took a major dive. And I became a real b*&#$ to be around. And no matter how hungry I still was when I went to bed, I always had those extra folds around my middle and my hips...

Now I eat reasonably, I eat vegan and real food only. I eat whenever I'm hungry, don't count calories, and eat until I'm satisfied (not sick stuffed). In my mind, I feel I am eating way more than I did when I was starving myself, but it is quality food, and nutrient-dense instead of calorie-dense. And guess what? I'm 6 lbs lighter (5'5, 115 lb female) without trying. And I'm pretty nice to be around now. And I'm fast.

I do miss bacon and cheeseburgers though.....
 

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You can't compare one persons weight and height to another because people builds vary so much. I'm 5' 10" and 155 lbs but for some reason I have big legs so there's literally like 10 extra lbs on my legs then a lot of other people I run or ride against. It's not like I weight lift or anything it's just genetics I guess, to bad they don't make me faster then the guys with forearms for calves.

Dieting for me get about as complicated as "stop buying ****ing cookies at the market" if I can get that done I naturally like health foods so then it's just a matter of saving half of dinner for lunch the next day instead of being a pig and eating what was supposed to feed three people in one sitting.

I don't like the sound of Calorie restriction during training because it just doesn't seem fun and only makes you experience that zone where you didn't eat enough in the race. I'm more of a 24hr solo guy so through experience I've had plenty of time to practice what to do when I get low on calories so I don't really need to practice it anymore. I prefer to practice sticking to a regular intake without fail so I don't have to go into calories debt.

It sounds like your just way more serious about this be as light as possible thing then I so I doubt our practices will coincide much. Best of luck in pushing your limits.
 

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... most "pro" cyclists seem to be almost prisoner or war thin...
I think that's probably more about the pure volume of exercise. I know they carefully meter calories and try to bulk down, but I'm sure they do it very carefully. Not enough calories during recovery can cause muscle tissue loss, and makes you very vulnerable to getting colds.

I remember hearing a quote from a pro roadie's wife: "You can tell when it's the middle of the stage race season because you can see his internal organs."

My body likes to hold fat. I've had to work at it my whole life. Training for endurance taught me what I need to do, and if I stick to the plan I can slide weight off pretty easily.

On the diet side, as RojoRacing53 says, don't buy the fuggin' cookies and ice cream! That is a big help. Try not to eat exceedingly high-calorie foods and keep portion sizes reasonable, but don't go hungry.

The real trick for me to sliding the weight off is to do long exercise sessions. At least one 8+ hour ride/week, and pushing the others to be as long as possible. Rather than taking an hour or 90 minute ride every day, pack the time you have into longer rides (if you can afford to ride a little every day great, but the long efforts burn away the fat stores so work on getting bigger blocks of time).

I start out my long efforts with blood sugar. For sure, the first 40-60 minutes your body should have what it needs on board. An old friend and race veteran told me "build a fat-burning fire." Keep feeding and hydrating through the whole effort, just not excessive calories. Maybe go with 70% of the calories/hour that you'd consume normally, and keep the pace at a level you can maintain comfortably.

And keep moving. If you can ride 6+ hours without stopping for more than 3-4 minutes at a time (like to pee), and stopping rarely, you're getting better weight loss benefit. Not starving yourself, just reasonable. Eat a decent meal after, but maybe skip having a half a cheesecake for dessert.

There's my $.02

(Now I need to follow my own damned advice)
 

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Much of what TomP resonates with me as well. I don't have any science or facts to back up CR training, but I can say that it is effective at influencing body weight.

On weekends I generally plan a bigger block (at least 4 hrs) of riding that begins within 40 minutes of waking and I generally start things off with a little caffeine to get my body burning fat from the get-go (I don't have any science or facts to back this other than accelerated weight loss on my end. This could have been caused by other factors though). After about one hour into the ride I will resume fueling as normal (in my case usually a Pro Bar energy bar every 90 minutes or so).

I haven't noticed any negative effects from this, and in fact, I perceive that my body requires less fuel overall while riding since adopting this strategy.

I don't have access to the full study, however it looks like a 3 week testing period should be sufficient to identify trends. Always cool to see studies back up what you have found in practice!
 

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Mtbr.com: How about your weight? We've heard this is the time to get lean and mean.
Todd Wells: Yeah, I try to lose at much weight as possible for Leadville. The higher in elevation you go, the less power you have. So weight effects even more at high elevation.

Mtbr.com: So how much does your weight change?
Todd Wells: Well, in winter during the offseason, I'll get to 185-190. When I'm racing cross-country the whole time, that drops to 170-175. And for Leadville I try to be at 165.

It sucks, but there is only so much training you can do, and I know getting light works. I get my fastest and fittest. You feel like crap, you are tired all the time, you are hungry, irritable. But that is maybe good part of being holed up in Silverton. I don't have to deal with anyone and no one has to deal with me.
Leadville 100 Exclusive Interview: Race Favorite Todd Wells | Mountain Bike Review

Mtbr.com: How does you diet change?
Todd Wells: It's just less. I eat regular meals and that's it. No snacking. For me that is the hardest par. But you can only train so much. Even on the bike you feel like crap. But then a few days before race start you can start eating just a little bit more and start feeling better, and still be skinny for the race.
 

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I lost about 20 lbs last year and got down to 187 in about 8 months. I found riding tough trails for 60+ minutes and really attacking the hills made the biggest difference. Flat riding just does not do it, even if I go longer. Then when I got home I would eat a normal meal, no going back for seconds, and no over compensating for the the workout. No dessert. Alcohol was a rare treat. No front loading ahead of the workout either. Definitely would be hungry when going to bed. Running 2-3 times per week seemed to shake the fat off too, more so than adding more riding.

I was pretty cranky, and also felt pretty fragile as I was not doing any lifting or much to take care of my body, like yoga. Every couple of pounds lost did get me up the hills quicker though.

This year I am shooting for a more balanced approach. More stretching, lifting, and running. And, I will sacrifice a little speed to not be starving all the time.
 

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I agree that "weight" matters -- lots of evidence for that and everyone has their own anecdote of what works or doesn't when it comes to getting light. But beyond that, there's a burgeoning scientific literature that indicates benefits of "time restricted feeding" and/or "intermittent fasting" for a host of biomarkers in both normal and diseased states (put those keywords into a PubMed search). My favorite research article details a schedule for feeding mice such that they are not calorie restricted but rather have "time restricted feeding", eating the same number of calories in an 8 hour window (fasting for 16) as the control group, which ate the same number of calories per day but spread it out over the whole day. The "time restricted feeding" group were leaner and had all the standard biomarkers (blood glucose, insulin, glucagon, cholesterol, lippoproteins, ran more on a wheel) and molecular markers (e.g. - AMP Kinase activity) moving in the right direction. Similar, though necessarily less well controlled studies, seem to indicate similar benefits in humans. I find it amazingly easy to do "time restricted feeding" -- I don't eat till noon and quit eating at 8 PM and I can remain "social" with family and friends. I feel like it's taken off those few last pounds and despite getting kind of old, my race legs are holding up. I'm not ever hungry and do most of my training in the morning on an empty stomach. I think I've learned to burn fat really well and eat less during races than anyone I know. It works for me, but as always -- YMMV.

Here's a link to a recent review on the subject (probably need to access the complete article through a University that has a paid subscription to "Cell" journals):
Fasting: molecular mechanisms and clinical applic... [Cell Metab. 2014] - PubMed - NCBI
 

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High carb, low fat diet. 80/10/10 Google it.

Weight is important for cycling whether it be road or MTB but starving yourself to drop weight is counter productive. You body will do nasty things to try maintain its fat store when you start to deplete it of nutrients. Depleted glycogen stores and cycling is like mixing oil and water, it just won't work.
 

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I lost about 20 lbs last year and got down to 187 in about 8 months. I found riding tough trails for 60+ minutes and really attacking the hills made the biggest difference. Flat riding just does not do it, even if I go longer. Then when I got home I would eat a normal meal, no going back for seconds, and no over compensating for the the workout. No dessert. Alcohol was a rare treat. No front loading ahead of the workout either. Definitely would be hungry when going to bed. Running 2-3 times per week seemed to shake the fat off too, more so than adding more riding.

I was pretty cranky, and also felt pretty fragile as I was not doing any lifting or much to take care of my body, like yoga. Every couple of pounds lost did get me up the hills quicker though.

This year I am shooting for a more balanced approach. More stretching, lifting, and running. And, I will sacrifice a little speed to not be starving all the time.
I'll throw a little anecdote in here.

I have had two best-ever seasons, one was 2007 (the year I was 43) and the other was last year (49 obviously). In 2007 I got down to the low 180s maybe even high 170s (I wasn't weighing myself much). Last year at my very leanest I was maybe high 180s.

In 2007 I was working at a bike shop. I lived 5 miles out of town, about 800 ft higher than town (so I had a nice little climb every time I wanted to go home, and I rode my bike everywhere).

On days when I wasn't working, I was riding. I'm guessing that during the season, I was probably pedaling my bike on average about 20 hours/week. Work was very physical, on my feet all day, running around getting things, and it was hectic. I would often wind up into the middle of the afternoon before I could get a chance to eat lunch.

I had some really good results that year. I actually had over 2000 miles of JUST RACING. I was pretty toughened up (I won't say I was tough, because I'm never tough). I was feeling fatigue and hunger all the time. I didn't drink alcohol.

Last year I was working a desk job (as I am now) 32 hours / week. I was drinking beer. Rarely riding more than an hour or so Mon-Thurs during the work week. I didn't lose as much weight as I say, and I wasn't feeling tired or hungry other than right after a big effort.

Having 10 or more fewer pounds to haul around would have been great for my speed. But my ability to hang in there and not fade after 12 or more hours in the saddle was better. I finished almost everything I started. I never bonked all season. I didn't race nearly as much, probably about 1000 miles, but in many ways my 49-year-old self last year was stronger and more capable than my 12-pound lighter 43-year-old self.

I guess what I'm suggesting is that there's a limit to how much benefit you'll get from pushing yourself hard enough shave that last several pounds. 80:20 rule.
 

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High carb, low fat diet. 80/10/10 Google it.
you can be equally successful on other diets as long as you get carb intake timing right. no need for pasta after a multi hour base training ride. never skip your gel/honey drink/...(whatever) after an interval session. never miss your pasta the day before a race.

There are low-carb ironman winners.

Personally, I don't favor any diet form. I just try to get the carb timing right. Apart from that I eat everything.
 

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you can be equally successful on other diets as long as you get carb intake timing right. no need for pasta after a multi hour base training ride. never skip your gel/honey drink/...(whatever) after an interval session. never miss your pasta the day before a race.

There are low-carb ironman winners.

Personally, I don't favor any diet form. I just try to get the carb timing right. Apart from that I eat everything.
I think it would be interesting to see the ratio of 80/10/10 finishes to the paleo types athletes. 811 in triathletes is almost a cult following.

As far a pasta goes I hardly touch cooked or processed foods. I would say 90% of my intake is raw fruit. I have never been this light and shredded/lean (my 6-pack is amazing) in my life while having energy out the wazoo.

For me the paleo lowcarb diet failed. I was sleepy, crabby, and not motivated. I imagine it may work for other people, but I didn't respond well to it.
 

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Every year, on April 1, I start eating less and riding more (yes, winter is an absolute joy).

I continue this until the day my wife says "Too skinny!".

That usually happens in late June.

Then I go crush two 100 milers in July and August.

For me, it's that simple.
 

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I have discovered a few things over the years:

If I ride more than 7 hours per week I lose weight. If I ride less I don't. OP, you are pretty damn light in my book already. How much are you already riding? If it's less than 15 hours a week I would work on that rather than being lighter if you want to really compete in the NUE races.

System-wide eating changes are more effective for me than focused restriction or whatever. I went vegetarian and dairy free a few months back and have had really amazing results, over 10 lbs lost. I was eating a ton of cheese it turns out. I eat as much as I want, vegetables and grains mostly.

Quitting alcohol 2 years ago made a huge difference as well, in motivation to ride more and less calories. Any successful racer I have ever read about really limits the alcohol.

I am 5-11 and hit 217 3 years ago, and have lost 30 lbs and counting, weighing 187 this morning. The goal is 175 before my races in July. Get on the scale every morning no matter what and start a file in google docs to record the daily readings.
 
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