How to Hit your ideal cycling weight: getting started

For years cycling has been my excuse to eat what I like, but now, with the help of One Pro nutritionist and CP regular Will Girling, I'm on a mission to shift the spare tyre by thinking more about what I eat

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It began in the office with my introduction by art ed Rob to the My Fitness Pal app and a decision to ‘casually’ tot up my ‘rough’ calorie intake each day. Actually, it began with a look in the mirror some time before that and the decision to change into a more ‘forgiving’ jersey, but the arrival on my phone of the calorie counting app was when ‘I should lose some weight at some undetermined point in the future’ became ‘I need to start losing weight now’.

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Everything is relative, of course, and a visit to the GP sees me positioned slap bang in the middle of the ideal BMI range for my height and sent on my merry way. Many people would be happy with that, and why not? But my problem is where the weight lies – in fat, around my waist. After initial progress, things stalled. This was no doubt due in part to the ever-ready office doughnut supply (some days we put the Twin Peaks Sheriff Department to shame) but what else was holding me back?

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I was running a calorie deficit most days and picking up my cycling commute but things weren’t moving along. At this point, regular CP columnist and head nutritionist for One Pro Cycling Will Girling stepped in with an offer I couldn’t refuse: come down to London and get yourself tested, find out what’s really going on and let us set you on the right path with the right information.

We met at Allianz Park, the home of Saracens rugby club and Middlesex University’s sport science department, for a series of tests, the first of which involved me having a quiet lie down in a darkened room (albeit wearing a mask) while my resting metabolic rate was measured. Then it was on to a full body scan on the DXA machine to determine my body composition (just how much fat is in there?), and finally it was time to get on the bike.

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After a warm-up we went through a ramp test, with Will increasing the resistance of the turbo in increments until I could pedal no more. The idea was to work out the point at which my body stopped using fat as its primary fuel source and switched to glycogen.

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The final test, at least, saw me pushed to my limits and between them the three tests threw up some interesting results that suggested my approach of capping calories without much regard to where those calories came from was as wide of the mark as it sounds. Agent Cooper might have “the metabolism of a bumble bee”, but I, it transpires, do not.

More on that, and what we’re doing about it, to come later this week. If you’re struggling to shift stubborn fat reserves and hit your ideal riding weight, it could make interesting reading…

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