I’ve been trying to figure out how to write this post for five years…. Reading a post written by a friend of mine provided just the push I needed. Enjoy, I hope.
Every person who overeats wants to know what it takes to get that magic Dwayne Johnson/Michael Phelps diet: Eat a ton of s#!+, whenever I want! Woohoo! First of all, it’s just the Michael Phelps diet. Look at The Rock’s diet. It’s boring. Chicken, broccoli and rice. Repeat. A LOT. Phelps eats like heavy people want to, but only when he’s training to crush a$$ in the pool eight hours a day.
Well, I can tell you how that works for cycling. Now, we’ve all heard the crap that you can’t outrun a bad diet, right? Well you can’t, so stop daydreaming. You can outride a decent diet though, depending on what your definition of “decent” is. If you’re looking for that “Double Quarter-Pounder with Cheese, Fries and a Diet Coke” for every lunch and dinner diet, you will die of heart disease so forget about it – that’s not “decent” by any stretch of the imagination. Not even cycling can keep the lines clean if you’re going to eat like that – and that’s really the problem. The Fast Food diet isn’t just bad, it’s bad.
Let’s just say you just want to enjoy eating like a heavy person, without the “being heavy” part, though. How much do you have to ride to lose weight, or even maintain a decent weight once you’ve hit your goal? I can help, but I have a feeling you’re not going to like this…
- 5 miles in 50 minutes or more per day, on any type of bike, 5-6 days a week: These calories don’t count for weight loss or maintaining weight. Don’t be discouraged though – the exercise will do wonders to transform your body and health. Any weight loss will be due to improvements in diet though. Seriously. No, I don’t care that this exceeds the government minimum. The government minimum is for sissies – and if you didn’t know that… ooh, sorry for breaking it to you the hard way. [Ed. I should add that we all have to start somewhere – everyone, including me, is slow and can only manage a few miles at a crack to begin with…. You have to start somewhere, and you’re not a sissy for starting. The idea is progress though. If you stay at five miles for more than a couple of months, well…. (it took me a week or two to start increasing mileage)]
- 10 miles in 50 minutes a day, on any type of bike, 5-6 days a week (50-60 miles a week). Now we are getting somewhere! Just not far enough to eat more than your average 2,000 calorie a day diet for a man, 1,600 calorie diet for a woman. This will do exceptional things for your health though. Keep it up! If you’re trying to lose weight, you should drop 200-400 calories from your normal daily intake and the weight will fall off well. If you’re skinny and want to gain, eat like santa for six months. If you want to maintain, stick to the recommended 2000/1600 calorie a day diet. Keep in mind, a footlong Subway sub is between 750 and 1,200 calories. That’s no drink and no chips. Beware. 2,000/1,600 calories isn’t much.
- 15 to 20 miles a day in 45 minutes to an hour-twenty a day, six days a week. 90-120 miles a week. Hey, it’s time to celebrate! You get one fast-food lunch or dinner and one Coke – per week to celebrate your hard work. I know, not exactly sexy. You’re doing great though! Keep it up.
- Now we’re going to switch to just “miles per week” because if you’re riding this much, you’re putting some serious effort into it. 150-210 miles per week! This will take anywhere from 10 to 15 hours a week. Using a decent diet, you’re going to be losing weight like you mean it. If you’re looking for that extra food, guilt-free, well we’re not quite there yet. Your portions can increase a little bit and you don’t have to worry about the occasional small ice cream cone. Homemade burgers (not the Food Network 5,000 calorie burgers, we’re talking the stripped down burgers, are acceptable fare now and again). Ice cream enters the fray once a week, but only the small or “baby” size. Just enough to get you a taste.
- 200-250 miles per week! See number 4. You get to go from 1 burger a week to two (not at the same sitting). You also get a second baby-sized ice cream, also not in the same sitting.
- 250+ miles a week. Don’t be silly, you’re still not there yet. You just figured out that you’re riding so much you don’t want to eat enough to gain weight. You want to stay fast now, so you decide to eat sensibly because you feel like a Million Dollars compared to when you were heavy.
So there you have it. I wish I could give you better news, but I can’t. I ride a thousand miles a month and with a decent diet, maintain my weight. If I were to eat like a heavy person, I’d weigh three hundred pounds.
P.S. I’d get used to feeling hungry. It kind of goes with being lean and mean. Chin up, though! It beats the $#!+ out of doctors and medication!
UPDATE: I did want to mention one thing: The trick is, with a lot of exercise my understanding of the word “amount” has changed over the last fifteen years. I eat quite a bit to fuel my cycling habit, or more precisely stated, my understanding of how much I eat has changed. When I was a skinny fella back in the day, I used to eat like a bird. Today, throwing down a half a large pizza is relatively normal for a Wednesday…. but therein lies the rub – it’s only a half of a pizza. How many people chow down an entire large, or even a medium? Folks, normal people can’t ride enough to fix that. The only thing that can fix that is cutting back the consumption.