When I was first getting into cycling I was 89kg, mostly muscle but a bit of fat too.
Being just under six feet tall, without realising it, I was much too heavy to enjoy climbing or even be able to go on any type of fast or medium paced group ride and enjoy it. I’d be trying to ride up hill at a decent pace and get dropped even by relative newcomers to the group - who of course all weighed far less than me.
And then a fortunate thing happened.
The alpha cyclist of the group, the leader and fastest climber, the one who everyone looked up to and wanted to be like saw I was struggling and frustrated and took me aside. (He was probably sick of waiting for me!)
Immediately he pointed out the obvious. I was too heavy.
Weight is the enemy of all cyclists - and yes that includes you sprinters. Last time I looked even Mark Cavendish and Andre Greipel were looking pretty lean to me.
So alpha cyclist explained 3 easy ways I could lose fat without sacrificing too much muscle and cutting out my gym workouts.
The first thing he said; drink more water.
At the time I couldn't see how drinking more water was going to anything but make me wee more.
But detailed research studies back up his claims in a big way.
Health Magazine says that the University of Illinois looked at the dietary habits of over 18,000 adults and found that participants reduced their total daily caloric intake when they increased the amount of water they drank each day by just one percent.
Those who increased their normal water consumption by one, two, or three cups, saved anywhere from 68 to 205 calories throughout the day. And that’s a big saving.
Put it this way, if your daily caloric consumption was in deficit by only 100 calories per day and you stuck to a moderate weekly exercise routine you’d shed weight fast, very freaking fast.
So why does this happen? Why do we lose weight when we drink more water?
At the most basic level, water helps fill you up and leaves less room for junk, says Keri Gans, R.D., author of The Small Diet Change. "Lots of times a person thinks they may be hungry but in reality, they are slightly dehydrated instead," Gans says.
So you might be reaching for a snack when all you really need is a glass of ‘fat free’ water.
Want results? Drink the water, leave the snack.
The second tip he have me was to drink a glass of water before you eat. And I can tell you from experience that this one was just as important, and effective, as the first tip.
Drinking before you eat, half an hour before you eat if you can, has huge effect on meal portion size. And we all know that lots of small meals spread out over the day speeds up your metabolism.
His third tip, replace sugary drinks, juices and coffee with water. And yes, that includes while you are riding and even to an extent after your ride.
While I found this tip hard to follow through on I did reduce the amount of Gatorade and other sugary drinks I drank during my cycling training, after it (post ride) and in general day to day life.
One year later I had lost 12 kilo’s and fortunately most of the muscle was still there.
There was two major differences that I noticed.
1. I could see my abs (and so could girls, a nice bonus if you ask me)
2. I was a hell of a lot faster cyclist. In fact, I’d gone from the back of the pack to competing at the front. I could ride over 100 kilometers easily and without feeling smashed at the end, and then do it all again the next day. The difference was simply incredible.
So if you’re serious about cycling, whether that means competitively or just for pure enjoyment, then start hitting the water today.
Good luck on your cycling journey, I hope you derive even a little of the magic from these tips that I did. I can tell you that if you follow them you certainly will.