When I am working with my clients and program members about how to lose weight biking, one of the first things they inevitably ask is “What should I eat?”
This is hardly surprising. One of the first things that I teach in my program is that weight loss has pretty much nothing to do with how hard you are working out in your bike rides.
Weight loss has everything to do with what you put in your mouth.
Now, that isn’t to say that biking helps with weight loss…it ABSOLUTELY does!
Riding your bike makes you feel GOOD. It makes you feel STRONG. It makes you WANT to take care of your body so that you can ride MORE!
Biking is a huge motivator for weight loss, but it is never about riding your bike to earn x amount of calories and focusing on calories in vs. calories out.
If you do this, biking becomes a chore. A punishment. Or, a way to earn your food.
That is NOT fun. And, ultimately, you are going to suck all of the joy out of riding and probably just stop riding altogether.
Then, if you’re anything like old Stacy, you will say eff it and eat all of the things and give up on losing weight because it is so HARD. This is NOT good.
Now, I can just year you saying, “OK Stacy. Fine. It’s not about burning calories on the bike. It’s about what I eat. So what on earth SHOULD I eat if I want to lose weight biking?”
In this article I will tell you exactly what to eat and what to avoid if you want to lose weight biking. Spoiler…it is likely NOT what you think.
Eat Foods You Like
I bet you weren’t expecting THIS to be my first piece of advice!
You were probably thinking that I was going to tell you that you had to restrict carbs, eat lots of protein, stay away from nightshades, or whatever the heck else is the thing of the moment to do.
This might work for some people some of the time, and you may have had success doing this in the past.
The problem is it doesn’t last. At some point most of us…well, we want a damn slice of pizza for crying out loud.
When I set out to lose my weight for the last time (and I did! Years ago now!), I knew there was no way that eating kale for breakfast, lunch, and dinner was ever going to work for me.
I don’t really HATE kale per se, but you best be hiding that kale in some soup or something with some really tasty stuff if you want me to eat it regularly!
Don’t eat anything you aren’t willing to eat for the rest of your life. We aren’t trying to lose a few pounds to look good in our bathing suits for the summer. We want to lose weight for GOOD.
The absolute ONLY way to do this is to eat foods that we actually like.
Don’t Eat Food Just Because You Think It’s Healthy
One of the biggest mistakes women make when trying to lose weight biking is labeling food as “good” or “bad”.
This is a problem because we think that we can only eat good foods, and we can’t eat any bad foods. Or that we have to restrict the bad foods and only have them on special occasions.
Then when we DO allow ourselves to eat the bad foods we say things like, “I normally never eat like this” or “I am being SO bad today” or “Welp! Guess this is a cheat day!”
This is seriously no way to lose weight for the last time.
I absolutely encourage you to eat good, healthy food that you actually like. Just don’t eat crap you don’t like.
I have finally come to terms with the fact that I hate a lot of 100% whole wheat bread. Most of it tastes like freaking cardboard after about a day of being opened.
Sometimes I find that unicorn brand or batch of whole wheat bread that doesn’t make me recoil, but that is a rarity.
So I don’t eat it. Or a myriad of other things that I find disgusting. Neither should you. I actually don’t eat a ton of bread.
Not because I want to avoid carbs or think they are bad, but because it doesn’t really feel that great in my body. At times the wheat even makes the roof of my mouth swell up. No bueno.
When I do eat bread? I eat the white fluffy stuff and I enjoy the crap out of it.
Another reason why you shouldn’t eat things just because they are healthy is that you can also absolutely overeat healthy food.
Sometimes we think that just because something is healthy it’s perfectly fine to shovel it all in. It’s not. At the end of the day we are overweight because we overeat, and we can still overeat healthy food.
Build Up Your Trust In Yourself Around Foods You Love
Restriction sucks. I mean…have you ever felt like you have to clear out your whole pantry of all of the things that are delicious because you can’t trust yourself around them?
Have you ever DONE this?
I have. OK, well I never emptied a whole pantry, but I have definitely thrown food in the trash that I love and covered it up with nasty other trash so I wouldn’t dig it OUT of the trash.
Basically, I didn’t trust myself not to go whole hog and eat the whole bag of Doritos, so I tried to eliminate them from my sight.
And what do you think happened when I saw them at a party?
My eyes lit up like I was seeing the Barbie Dream House under the tree on Christmas morning Which I never got by the way…clearly my parents didn’t love me. Ha! Just kidding, Mom!
Seriously though, I had no control and would shovel them in. I would feel guilty. THEN, I would wonder if other people noticed how many Doritos I was shoveling in. And, of course, I would wonder if THEY were thinking “no wonder she’s so fat, she has no control over Doritos.”
When I set out to lose weight for the last time I gave myself permission to eat what I love, including Doritos.
I ate them when I wanted them. I made them a regular guest in my pantry.
And you know what? I stopped shoveling them in like there was no tomorrow. They just became one of the foods that I love and enjoy.
They are in there right now, in fact. I had a few with my turkey and ham at lunch. They were delicious, and because I now trust myself around them there was literally zero shame involved. How great is that?
Look for Better Options of Foods You Love
Now, none of this is to say that you shouldn’t be on the lookout for healthier versions of the things you really like.
When I lost 50 pounds biking years ago I ate kielbasa every day for breakfast. It is probably not the healthiest thing to eat every day, but I was eating a reasonable quantity and it tasted wonderful.
My husband asked if I could please find something that didn’t make the house instantly smell like a diner every day, and I grudgingly obliged.
I now have nitrate free/antibiotic free chicken sausage every morning for breakfast which is a step up that still tastes good. It feels better in my body, it’s healthier, and I don’t have to listen to Chris complain about the smell.
I don’t particularly think he loves the smell of the chicken sausage either to be honest, but it must not be quite as offensive because he hasn’t said anything yet!
Additionally, I also switched to organic Doritos. I still get the great Dorito taste…but without the bright orange color that looks like it’s probably radioactive. Another win!
Focus More on How Much You are Eating Than What You Are Eating
Here’s the thing. We are overweight because we overeat. And we overeat not when we hit some sort of magical calorie threshold on some app.
Now, I am not telling you to measure crap or count calories. I don’t have time for that, and my guess is neither do you. All I want you to do is stop eating when you have had enough.
You see, we overeat when we are eating past satisfied. And, we do this because we are stressed, because we are sad, because we are angry, or because whatever we are eating just tastes so good.
We feel like we deserve a treat because we had a hard day. So we eat. We feel like losing weight is so much work, it’s so hard, we aren’t even going to succeed…so we eat.
I am not, in any way, suggesting you EVER count calories to lose weight.
What I am suggesting is that you learn how to eat when you are hungry. To enjoy your food. And, most importantly, to stop when you are satisfied.
Not when you are uncomfortable. Not when you have to break out the elastic pants or unbutton your jeans. When you are feeling like, “Ahhh yes. I am not hungry anymore. I have had enough.”
A Final Note
There is truly no magical combination or list of foods that we need to eat and need to avoid to lose weight.
We have to eat things that we like…when we are actually hungry.
Additionally, we have to find ways to incorporate the things we love into our diet and trust ourselves around them.
Finally, we need to stop when we are satisfied.
A lot of times we think that it can’t possibly be this easy, that weight loss has to be so complicated.
It doesn’t. It’s actually quite simple. The hard part is letting go of all of the past diet trauma that we hold that tells us we need to follow a particular formula of food an exercise in order to lose weight.
You can absolutely lose weight for the last time riding your bike and eating food you love. I promise. For crying out loud I did it. If I can do this? So, my friend, can you.