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Question
Posted by: Lizelle | 2010/11/18

Cycling and diet

My husband and I cycle four times a week - about 170 km per week. I wanted to lose 2 to 3 kg a while back and started cutting back on what I ate but I got so weak and actually got sick and could not continue with cutting back on what I ate. I try to eat healthy, but am concerned that I''m eating too much carbs - carbs they say are good for energy when cycling. I usually eat the following per day: 1 x bowl of oats with skim milk and 2 teaspoons of sugar/or muesli, mid-morning - 1 or 2 bananas/1 banana and 1 naartjie, lunch - sandwich - 2 slices of bread (white or brown or wholewheat) with lettuce, cheese and sometimes chicken, mid-afternoon snack - peanuts and raisins -(small packet) and a yogurt. (The order sometimes vary, but what I eat stays the same) At night I usualy eat whatever I make. If this is not balanced, please can you tell me which eating plan on your website I should follow so that I still eat enough and have enougth energy to cycle. I would still like to lose 2kg - I am 34, weigh 58 and am 1.64m tall. Many thanks

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Our expert says:
Expert ImageDietDoc

Dear Lizelle
You and your husband are indeed dedicated and must be extremely fit if you cycle 170 km per week. I don't know why the whole world always thinks that one needs to cut down on carbs to lose weight. If you consider that carbs provide 16 kJ of energy per gram, compared to 37 kJ of energy per gram provided by fat, then it is logical to reduce your fat intake and not your carb intake. In addition you know that anyone who does as much exercise as you do, urgently needs a very high carb intake. The Tour de France cyclists who are probably among the fittest and leanest athletes in the world, obtain up to 70% of their energy from carbs. You have experienced how bad it is to reduce your carb intake and still expect to preform in sport. Then there is your present BMI of 21,6 which is already below the ideal of 22 for adult women. Your body does not want to lose more weight and it could be highly detrimental if you do. The food intake you describe, is balanced except that you need an additional serving of low-fat milk or cottage cheese or yoghurt a day. Adult women must have at least 3 cups of milk/yoghurt a day to provide the 1200 mg of calcium we need to prevent brittle bones in the present (this is important for athletes!) and osteoporosis in future. I would recommend that you stick to your menu and do your cycling and over time you will gradually lose a kg or so. Stressing about your weight combined with the stress of intense physical exercise can cause the body to produce high levels of cortisol which not only reduces your immunity, but also can cause water retention which will make you weigh more, even if your fat mass is being reduced. Research has shown that athletes can prevent the drop in immunity caused by the release of cortisol by making sure that they have a high carb intake! So be sensible, stick to your eating plan plus an extra cup of milk and stop stressing and you will lose a bit of weight over time.
Enjoy the cycling
DietDoc

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Our users say:
Posted by: DietDoc | 2010/11/19

Dear Lizelle
You and your husband are indeed dedicated and must be extremely fit if you cycle 170 km per week. I don't know why the whole world always thinks that one needs to cut down on carbs to lose weight. If you consider that carbs provide 16 kJ of energy per gram, compared to 37 kJ of energy per gram provided by fat, then it is logical to reduce your fat intake and not your carb intake. In addition you know that anyone who does as much exercise as you do, urgently needs a very high carb intake. The Tour de France cyclists who are probably among the fittest and leanest athletes in the world, obtain up to 70% of their energy from carbs. You have experienced how bad it is to reduce your carb intake and still expect to preform in sport. Then there is your present BMI of 21,6 which is already below the ideal of 22 for adult women. Your body does not want to lose more weight and it could be highly detrimental if you do. The food intake you describe, is balanced except that you need an additional serving of low-fat milk or cottage cheese or yoghurt a day. Adult women must have at least 3 cups of milk/yoghurt a day to provide the 1200 mg of calcium we need to prevent brittle bones in the present (this is important for athletes!) and osteoporosis in future. I would recommend that you stick to your menu and do your cycling and over time you will gradually lose a kg or so. Stressing about your weight combined with the stress of intense physical exercise can cause the body to produce high levels of cortisol which not only reduces your immunity, but also can cause water retention which will make you weigh more, even if your fat mass is being reduced. Research has shown that athletes can prevent the drop in immunity caused by the release of cortisol by making sure that they have a high carb intake! So be sensible, stick to your eating plan plus an extra cup of milk and stop stressing and you will lose a bit of weight over time.
Enjoy the cycling
DietDoc

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