While most people start cycling for different reasons, two common benefits to taking part in the sport are increased fitness and staying trim. But just because you ride your bike a few times a week doesn't mean you can eat whatever you want to. In fact, most beginning cyclists make the mistake of overeating because they feel good about the exercise that they've done, making the workout counterproductive to weight loss.
Even once you stop cycling, you continue to burn more calories throughout the day, because your body uses calories to repair your muscles. And the exercise will push up your basal metabolic rate (BMR). Your BMR is the number of calories you burn while you’re just sitting on the couch, or even sleeping! After cycling, your BMR will stay up for hours. If you do 45 minutes or more of cycling, you are likely to keep your BMR raised all day long.
Exercise science shows that high-intensity interval training (HIIT) is a fast way to boost your fitness, rev your metabolism, and stimulate human growth hormone, all of which help you ultimately burn more fat. There’s no better place to push those max intervals than on a bike because there’s zero impact, just effort. Just find a quiet stretch of road or path, especially if it’s on a bit of an incline and go. Push as hard as you can for 10 to 20 seconds, go easy for double that time (20 to 40 seconds), and repeat eight times. Rest for four or five minutes, then do it again.
• Pancreatic insufficiency — Pancreatic insufficiency is a condition where your pancreas does not produce enough enzymes to help break down and absorb nutrients in your digestive tract. If you have an enzyme deficiency, I suggest having it treated first before embarking on a ketogenic diet, because your digestive system will have a hard time absorbing dietary fats.
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Most surprising to me, though, is that if you're upping your fiber intake but not also regularly filling up your water bottle, things tend to get a wee bit, er, backed up. "It's important to add fiber gradually and increase water intake at the same time. Otherwise, instead of helping with digestion, fiber may actually lead to constipation," notes Anna-Lisa Finger, R.D., a certified personal trainer and dietitian. Turns out, I often consume nearly double the recommended 25 grams of fiber daily. Gulp. (Related: Is it Possible to Consume Too Much Fiber?)
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If you can't stand the thought of running, or just want to work out without a ton of pounding on your joints, do a few laps in the pool. It's a low-impact exercise that will work all of your major muscle groups. As with most workouts, it helps to go in with a plan. Try this one, from Rosante: Tread water for as long as possible by standing upright in the deep end and using your arms and legs to stay afloat. Then rest for two minutes. Now swim 10 sets of 100 meters (that's back-and-forth lap in an Olympic-sized pool), resting for one minute in between sets. By the time you climb out of the pool, your muscles will be pleasantly worn out.
Wide-grip pullups target your latissimus dorsi, middle back and biceps. Grab a pullup bar with your palms facing out and your hands shoulder-width apart. Exhale through your mouth, and pull your torso up until your chest touches the bar. Keep your body directly underneath the bar throughout the exercise. Inhale through your nose, and slowly lower your torso back to the starting position until your lats are fully stretched. Perform four sets of eight repetitions. If you can't perform each rep with perfect form, enlist help from a partner or use an assisted pullup machine. Rest one minute between each set.
• Reducing appetite — Constant hunger can cause you to consume more calories than you can burn, which can eventually lead to weight gain. A ketogenic diet can help you avoid this problem because reducing carbohydrate consumption can reduce hunger symptoms. In one study, participants who were given a low-carbohydrate diet had reduced appetites, helping them lose weight easier.2
Combined with a healthy diet, swimming is an ideal exercise for individuals who have excess body weight and cannot do weight-bearing exercise such as walking, jogging or running. Since swimming combines both your lower body and upper body at the same time, it equals a total body workout. While in the water, you not only get a good cardio workout, but you will also gain benefits from the resistance of the water to help target those problem areas.
The Merck Manual explains that swimming may not be the best way to lose weight due to the cooling effects of being in the water: while you do use a lot of calories swimming, once you get out of the swimming pool much of that calorie burning stops. When you are in the pool, you don't heat up as much as you do on land, and your body does not have to work to cool you down as much once the exercise session concludes.
Insulin is a hormone that lets your body use or store sugar as fuel. Ketogenic diets make you burn through this fuel quickly, so you don’t need to store it. This means your body needs -- and makes -- less insulin. Those lower levels may help protect you against some kinds of cancer or even slow the growth of cancer cells. More research is needed on this, though.
Cycling, by contrast, is low impact. As well as being a cardiovascular exercise that burns calories, it also strengthens your muscles – particularly your hamstrings, glutes and quads without too much risk of injury. The stronger your muscles are (by the way – your thighs WILL NOT become massive if you cycle – that sort of physique is gained by time in the gym and a lot of protein) the more calories your body burns just existing.
It’s not always about how much you eat, but the nutritional balance of carbohydrates, fats, and protein in what you’re eating. Endurance athletes need extra carbs to fuel their rides, fat to feel satiated, and protein to repair your muscles post-workout. It usually isn’t necessary to make radical adjustments to achieve this balance—small changes work best. For instance, don’t eat a whole bowl of chili with meat. Instead, fill half the bowl with brown rice, then ladle a small amount of chili on top. You can also try substituting fat-free yogurt for sour cream and fruit for sweets.