Just the other day, Saturday to be exact, a friend and I had a discussion about exercising and weight loss. It went something like this:
Me: Dude, check this out. I’ve been riding this bike for a couple of years now but haven’t really lost any weight and I’m the same size as before.
Dude: Yeah, me too. I’ve got the same gut I’ve always had.
Me: It doesn’t make sense, but I think it’s because every time I ride, I eat like a horse afterwards. The more I exercise, the more I eat.
Dude: Makes sense to me. After we get done, you want Zesto’s fried chicken or Mexican?
Me: Probably both.
And now that I think about it, I actually did end up at a Mexican restaurant that night eating more food than any one person should be able to hold. And while I’m being honest here, I went to Sandy’s and got ice cream too –but just a little. I felt horrible after eating so much food, but I didn’t have any regrets because of the amount of exercise I just did.
On average, from all the information I’ve read and been told, I will burn roughly 600-800 calories and hour by cycling. And that number goes up when it is hot outside, because your body has to work extra hard regulating your body heat. So, Saturday I rode for roughly 3 1/2 hours in 90 degree heat. If I do the math, I burnt roughly 2000-2800 calories, not taking into account the humidity and heat.
Saturday night, I went to Jalisco Mexican Restaurante. And, for the record, it was excelente. But, again, from what I’ve read and been told, the meal I inhaled had roughly 2000 calories in it.
Mexican Meal that contains Fajitas (1000 calories), Rice (200 calories), Beans & Cheese (250 calories) , Basket of Warm Tortilla Chips (450 calories) = 2000 calories total
As you can see, from a nutritional, weight loss perspective, the day was a wash. I basically rode a bike just long enough to burnt off the meal I ate that night. This doesn’t take into account breakfast and lunch. My overall calorie intake was much higher than what I burnt off. Also, the next day I was still hungry. And if I ride a bike for 5 hours or more, I’ll be hungry for even longer.
It is simple, and I was right, the more I exercise the more I eat. The reason I haven’t been losing all that much weight –I have lost some— is because I’ve used my exercising as an excuse to indulge my appetite. I am getting healthier, from the standpoint of endurance and aerobic ability, but my waist size body mass hasn’t gone down much at all.
Now, again, this is my unscientific research that I’ve thrown together, but today I read an article that, unfortunately, backed up my unscientific research.
I have to stop eating everything I find after I finish exercising. Also, when I do eat, it has to be something other than a 2000+ calorie Mexican meal. If you know my wife, as she is reading this, she is screaming at the top of her lungs, “THIS IS WHAT I’VE BEEN TELLING YOU FOR YEARS!”
But I know I’m not alone. I have friends and/or family members who will eat doughnuts after they finish running or walking on the track. It’s like a reward they give themselves for exercising. But of course, then they wonder why the weight isn’t just falling off.
I was under the impression that if you want to lose weight, or get healthy, just exercise. That was the magic. Unfortunately, for me at least, it isn’t. I have to learn to go against everything my body is telling me and not engorge myself on anything with sugar and transfats in it.
While exercising, especially for anything lasting longer than an hour, you and I must make sure we are taking in carbs as we go. The body uses carbs to fuel itself as it goes. Whether you are eating gels or whatever, just be sure that you are refueling as you go or you will get sick and your body will shut down, because it is out of gas.
My rule of thumb when riding (A friend of mine, a bike shop owner and avid cyclist, taught me this) is to drink a bottle of water every hour and eat two-three gels an hour when the temperature is normal. When it is unbearably hot I’ll drink a bottle every 45 minutes and at least 3 gels an hour.