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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    Atlanta, GA
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    714

    Gaining weight after a long ride?

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    I think I am going crazy and I need to ask if this happens to anyone else. I am 56 years old and this is my second season of riding a road bike. I workout at the gym every day. Cardio + resistance training. I eat around 1500 calories a day - 50-60% carbs, 30% Protein - 20% fat. During the week, I do cardio at 65% of my maximum heart rate, which should be fat burning zone. On the weekends, I ride on the road and spend about 30% of every ride in a high heart rate - 90% of max.

    That's the background. Here's the problem - every weekend, I go into it weighing 2-3 pounds less than I come out of it. I don't over-eat or eat "bad" foods on the weekend. The main difference is that I ride my bike 50-60 miles each day of the weekend and workout really hard. I may go into the weekend weighing 140 pounds and come out of it weighing as much as 144 pounds!! Then I go to the gym all week long and slowly it comes back down... just in time for the weekend and then it goes back up!!

    My husband says it is water gain, but surely with the amount of exercise that I do and the sensible way that I eat, I should be losing weight, not gaining it!!!

    The irony of it is that if I stopped working out and stopped riding my bike, I would lose weight. Before I started riding, I lost 30 pounds. As soon as I started exercising, I became unable to lose anymore weight.

    And no, I am not losing inches either! So, it's not that I'm gaining muscle and losing fat.

    Holy cow... I am losing my sanity. I've been one year at the same weight even though I am more fit and eating better than I ever have in my life.

    Any ideas?
    ----------------------------------------------------
    "I never made "Who's Who"- but sure as hell I made "What's That??..."

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location
    Marin County CA
    Posts
    5,936
    Are you sure you are (1) fueling yourself enough while you are on the bike and (2) not over fueling yourself once the ride is over?

    In order to ride well and not go into a starvation mode, you need to be sure you are getting at least 250 - 300 calories per hour ON THE BIKE. While you are riding. When you are done, you need about 400 - 500 calories of a good quality recovery food.

    Beyond that, really watch what you are eating and be sure that you are not approaching your weekends as a free for all "because I'm doing these long rides". Be honest with what you are eating while you are off the bike.

    I used to have a very similar story to yours. Weekends/long rides would cause a bit of a weight gain. Then something finally clicked. I started eating MORE on the bike and LESS the evening after the ride, etc. I have lost 11 pounds of FAT (per body comp tests performed by the same guy) in 2 months. I have stopped (for the most part - no one's perfect) saying to myself "Oh it's OK. I can eat this entire pizza because I had a long ride this weekend."
    Sarah

    When it's easy, ride hard; when it's hard, ride easy.


    2011 Volagi Liscio
    2010 Pegoretti Love #3 "Manovelo"
    2011 Mercian Vincitore Special
    2003 Eddy Merckx Team SC - stolen
    2001 Colnago Ovalmaster Stars and Stripes

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    Atlanta, GA
    Posts
    714
    Hmmm... I do eat while riding, but definitely not 250-300 calories per hour. And I do eat quite a bit after the ride, although it's not junk food.

    It's certainly worth a try... at this point, I'm desperate to figure it out.

    I go to Lifetime Fitness gym and they have a philosophy of "eating your exercise calories". In other words, say 1200 calories is what you need to lose weight. And your workout burns 500 calories. They want you to eat 1700 calories on that day -- 1200 + your exercise.

    I tried that for about 6 months and didn't lose a pound. Now I'm trying to just stick with 1300-1500 calories a day. Except on long ride days when I eat more... but the "more" is definitely after the ride and not during the ride.

    I'll try it next weekend and see how it goes.
    ----------------------------------------------------
    "I never made "Who's Who"- but sure as hell I made "What's That??..."

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    northern Virginia
    Posts
    5,897
    How tall are you?

    I always gain weight after a long ride, but it's water, so it's gone within a day or so.

    My trainer told me to forget about the "fat burning zone" for cardio workouts. Interval training that gets you up to a higher heart rate is better. A lower percentage of the calories you burn might be fat, but you'll burn more calories overall, and as a result will burn a larger total number of fat calories.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Location
    Folsom CA
    Posts
    5,667
    MP's point is to get those calories in during or immediately after the ride.

    Eating those exercise calories is important - but the timing is important as well. If you wait until later to ingest those calories, the benefits from all that exercise are going to diminish. Those are the calories that wind up on your gut or on your butt.

    I'm in your same situation. I managed to gain about 6 pounds in the last few months but I've been falling into that "I burned thousands of calories today so I can eat whatever I want this evening" trap.

    But by not eating enough during and immediately after the ride, what I've been doing is effectively putting my body into a short-term starvation mode, so that when I did pig out later in the day my metabolism did not burn those calories but instead converted them into fat.

    As a result, I found out yesterday that my body fat percentage is 33.9. Gaaaahhhhhhhh.

    So I'm going to take mp's advice and load up on the calories right before, during, and within about 30 minutes after my rides, and go easy on the pigouts thereafter.

    Check out this article. While it's geared towards runners rather than cyclists, the concepts are similar.

    http://www.enduranceptc.com/images//weightlossmd.pdf
    Last edited by jobob; 03-08-2009 at 10:39 AM.

    2009 Lynskey R230 Houseblend - Brooks Team Pro
    2007 Rivendell Bleriot - Rivet Pearl

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location
    Marin County CA
    Posts
    5,936
    Ah - Dixon's article. That does put it really well. The idea of breaking it into the fueling and nutrition windows really simplifies things. sadly, my nutrition window really needs to lose some wine and beer.
    Sarah

    When it's easy, ride hard; when it's hard, ride easy.


    2011 Volagi Liscio
    2010 Pegoretti Love #3 "Manovelo"
    2011 Mercian Vincitore Special
    2003 Eddy Merckx Team SC - stolen
    2001 Colnago Ovalmaster Stars and Stripes

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    Atlanta, GA
    Posts
    714
    Thanks for the article! I'm reading it now. I had my body fat tested last week where you go into the tank of water -- it's the gold standard for calculating body fat. I'm 5'2" and 140 pounds. My doctor tells me I'm 26% body fat, but this test says that I'm 34.8%.... There's 50 pounds of fat on me and it's all in my torso! I have lean, muscular legs, almost no hips or butt, muscular arms and big everything else!! Maddening. This all happened in menopause when I found out I was apple shaped. I've been a normal weight all my life and I just don't know what to do with this fat!

    Anyway - just reading this makes perfect sense - I need to eat my calories closer to the actual exercise timeframe. I can't imagine this old body is burning fat for too long after exercise.

    I'll let you know how if it works!
    ----------------------------------------------------
    "I never made "Who's Who"- but sure as hell I made "What's That??..."

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Central Indiana
    Posts
    6,043
    Are you sure you're eating enough? I know that sounds counterintuitive, but if your're working out everyday and riding 120 miles a weekend, I have to wonder whether your 1300-1500 calories a day is enough. You may be unintentionally putting into "starvation" mode.
    Live with intention. Walk to the edge. Listen hard. Practice wellness. Play with abandon. Laugh. Choose with no regret. Continue to learn. Appreciate your friends. Do what you love. Live as if this is all there is.

    --Mary Anne Radmacher

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    Atlanta, GA
    Posts
    714
    Quote Originally Posted by indysteel View Post
    Are you sure you're eating enough?
    I've tried many combinations of daily caloric intake, exercise intensity, percentages of fat/carbs/protein... you name it, I've tried it. I've been pretty scientific about it keeping food and exercise daily journals. I tried 1600-1800 calories a day thinking I was in "starvation" mode. I gained about 8 pounds in 4 weeks. One think I've been strict about is keeping my daily fat intake at less than 25% of total calories.

    I've had my RMR tested twice. The first time was with a machine and it came out at 1325. They told me if I ate 1100-1325 per day I would lose weight and not to try to compensate/eat the calories that I exercise unless I exercised for more than 1 hour.

    The 2nd time I got my RMR was when I had my body fat water test. It came out at 1420. He basically said the same thing.

    My exercise calories average 500 per day not including road rides.

    So, is my body in starvation? Beats me. I am going to try the "fueling" suggestions just before/during/after exercise and restrict my calories more during the nutritional window and see how that works.
    ----------------------------------------------------
    "I never made "Who's Who"- but sure as hell I made "What's That??..."

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Location
    Houston, TX
    Posts
    303
    about 2 years ago I was in a similar situation... I am 5'3" and weighed about 150-155...was active, but then started really ramping up my workouts... at the gym 3-4 times/week and riding or running 2-3 times per week. I figured that I would lose weight, nothing. I was countinng calories and was trying to keep between 1300-1500 calories/day, which is what us took me to lose weight before. But nothing. I did an experiment and raised my calories to between 1700-1800/day (I didn't count what I ate while on the bike, that was what I needed to keep going on rides, but I did count what I ate afterwards). As soon as I upped my calories the weight melted off. I ended up losing almost 20 pounds this way. given the amount you are working out I wouldn't be surprised if you aren't getting enough calories. Spend a week journaling EVERYTHING you eat during the day, and how long you are working out. See where you sit, and then add ~200-300 calories a day (assuming you really are eating 1200-1500 calories/day) and see what happens.

    Good luck! I know how frustrating it is when you are working out like mad and aren't losing the weight!

    Ellen
    Support me in my fight against MS!
    http://main.nationalmssociety.org/goto/Ellen.Mallman

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    California
    Posts
    777
    This very question was posed in last week's www.roadbikerider.com newsletter:

    COACH FRED

    Why Does My Weight Rise After Long Rides?

    Q: Last season I logged more than 5,000 miles to prepare for a big cross-state ride. However, as I added distance, my normal 156-lb. (71-kg) weight would increase as much as 8 lbs. (3.6 kg) in the 2-3 days following a hard, long ride. And to make matters worse, I was ravenous during those days. Is this normal? I'd like to prevent the same thing happening this season. -- Jeff R.

    Coach Fred Matheny Replies: I'll give you my take based on what nutritionists have told me as well as my own experience with long rides and multiday tours.

    Generally, you gain weight following such rides because they exhaust your glycogen supplies. Glycogen is your muscles' primary fuel. You've essentially done the depletion phase of the classic carbo-loading regimen.

    After the ride, as your body replenishes glycogen in the muscles, you gain weight for one simple reason: Glycogen is stored with a considerable amount of water.

    So, much of your sudden gain is water weight and will vanish during your next big ride. This water storage is one reason that glycogen-stocked athletes will say they feel "bloated" going into an event.

    As for your appetite, sure you're hungry -- you just did an enormous amount of work, your metabolism is elevated and your body is in caloric debt. It compensates (maybe overcompensates) for the deficit. This would be bad if you weren't right back into training. You'll burn the extra calories that result from this feasting. But make sure that what you're chowing on is wholesome and nutritious.

    If you rode a consistent amount each week -- say, 10 hours -- your weight would probably settle at some moderate figure. But as long as you're training hard and riding long, you can expect fluctuations. That's normal.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Davis
    Posts
    182
    Wow, I could have written this thread! I gained 2 pounds after a hard week-end of riding.

    I DO know I don't fuel sufficiently when I ride hard. Today, I did a 54 mile ride after eating a small bowl of cereal before I left, and I had 1 gu, 1 mini-clif bar, a banana and 6 sports beans during~ and my hrm said I burned 1950 calories

    I'm going to make a diligent effort in fueling while I ride. I know, at the very least, it won't feel like I'm riding on empty by the end!

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Central Indiana
    Posts
    6,043
    Post-ride weight gain could also be in indication that you're takign in to much water during a ride.

    It seems like the OPs question really poses two issues: (1) why does her weight go up a couple of pounds after a weekend of long rides and (2) why she can't seem to get the scale to go down anymore.

    With the respect to the first question, the explanation that it's water weight makes some sense, but that saide, it really makes me wonder if you're perhaps weighing yourself too frequently. Fluctuations of one or two pounds through the course of day or several days is pretty normal. There was a time in my life that I weighed myself at least once a day and found, in time, that my fixation on "the number" wasn't overly helpful. Have you thought about weighing yourself just once a week?

    With respect to the second question, I would again suggest that you're not eating enough. I realize menopause affects your caloric needs, but I think your activity level warrants more food. Combine that with a very targeted approach to when you eat those calories, and I think you might see some progress.
    Live with intention. Walk to the edge. Listen hard. Practice wellness. Play with abandon. Laugh. Choose with no regret. Continue to learn. Appreciate your friends. Do what you love. Live as if this is all there is.

    --Mary Anne Radmacher

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Location
    Folsom CA
    Posts
    5,667
    Quote Originally Posted by DrBadger View Post
    about 2 years ago I was in a similar situation... I am 5'3" and weighed about 150-155...was active, but then started really ramping up my workouts... at the gym 3-4 times/week and riding or running 2-3 times per week. I figured that I would lose weight, nothing. I was countinng calories and was trying to keep between 1300-1500 calories/day, which is what us took me to lose weight before. But nothing. I did an experiment and raised my calories to between 1700-1800/day (I didn't count what I ate while on the bike, that was what I needed to keep going on rides, but I did count what I ate afterwards). As soon as I upped my calories the weight melted off. I ended up losing almost 20 pounds this way. given the amount you are working out I wouldn't be surprised if you aren't getting enough calories. Spend a week journaling EVERYTHING you eat during the day, and how long you are working out. See where you sit, and then add ~200-300 calories a day (assuming you really are eating 1200-1500 calories/day) and see what happens.
    Wow Ellen, that's great. Thanks for the advice!

    2009 Lynskey R230 Houseblend - Brooks Team Pro
    2007 Rivendell Bleriot - Rivet Pearl

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Location
    N. California
    Posts
    440
    Quote Originally Posted by maillotpois View Post
    Ah - Dixon's article. That does put it really well. The idea of breaking it into the fueling and nutrition windows really simplifies things. sadly, my nutrition window really needs to lose some wine and beer.
    I feel your pain! My recovery meal on Saturday was leftover pizza and a beer. You are not alone.
    Be yourself, to the extreme!

 

 

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