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Biking to Lose the Belly

Updated on July 15, 2009

Many of my Hubber colleagues know me as an avid bicyclist. I do really enjoy cycling, but for years now my knees hit my belly whenever I was "hammering down in the drops" - that is, whenever I am pedaling hard with my hands down in the lowest part of my drop handlebars.

But no more. Why? Because I changed my diet and added a very small amount of exercise to my existing regimen.

Unlike many people, I did not change my diet because I wanted to lose weight. I was looking for foods that made me stronger and gave me more energy because I wanted more endurance while cycling and I wanted not to feel so tired at 3pm every afternoon. Really, I felt like I was going to pass out every afternoon at my job around 2pm or 3pm.

Then I read an article in Bicycling Magazine about eating for more energy and endurance and less body fat at the same time. The basic rules of the diet are:

  • Avoid starches like potatoes, pizza crust, pasta and bread
  • Increase omega 3 fatty acids from foods like salmon, olives, dark chocolate and avocado
  • Increase non-fat protein intake (fish, soy protein, a little dairy protein, nuts)

The idea behind the diet that if you eat a lot of pasta and bread, these foods become sugar in your bloodstream. This teaches your body to burn sugar and store fat. If, on the other hand, you have little starch turning to sugar in your bloodstream and extra protein and omega 3 fatty acid, this encourages your body to burn fat and use the protein to build muscle. As you exercise your body is signaled to build more muscle and increase blood flow to your muscles, making you stronger and giving you more endurance.

The chief obstacle to success, I discovered, was maintaining adequate calorie intake. I start my day with unflavored plain oat meal and, of course coffee. When I get off the bike at work I clean up and then have a Think Thin energy bar because I like the protein/fat ratio and snack on dried fruit and/or nuts until lunch and lots of water. For lunch I have a pouch of Pillar Rock cooked salmon (1000mg of omega 3, 7g of fat and 13g of protein), with 1-2 oz. of dark chocolate for dessert. In the afternoon I have a fresh fruit like an apple, a non-fat or low-fat yogurt, and more dried fruit. I basically eat all day. For dinner I have whatever the fam is having less the bread.

One day there was nothing else in the house, so I had a sandwich and experienced a big boost in energy. So I surmise, though I am no expert, that a little bread is a good thing. Hopefully some of my fellow hubbers with real expertise in this area will chime in in comments below.

My experience with this program has been positive. Although I have exercised more rigorously in previous years, this is the first year I have been able to virtually eliminate my belly fat. I now have plenty of room when pedaling hard, bent over my handlebars. Not only that, but I can maintain a faster pace for a much longer period of time. Recently I have noticed my speed creeping up, too. I was averaging 14 to 15mph, now I am in the 16 to 17mph range constistently. This is interesting since I am actually training about ten percent less than I did last year!

Also I am no longer sleepy in the afternoon at work and can maintain a steady pace there, too.

Another source of positive reinforcement - now instead of one big ab I am starting to see six little abs. This is not such a big deal to me, but it is kinda fun. I feel encouraged to do some sit-ups, push-ups and pull-ups, maybe a little weights, and see what I can do with that. I'll let you know how it works out.


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    • Tom Rubenoff profile image

      Tom Rubenoff 6 years ago from United States

      Excellent. I'll have to wait a week or two. Just got that snow we've been managing to avoid all year :)

    • profile image

      Mr.Chef 6 years ago

      Great post, just got my bike back on the road and looking forward to summer 2012.

    • Tom Rubenoff profile image

      Tom Rubenoff 6 years ago from United States

      Thank you, Pops! I'm with you. Cycling is one of life's great pleasures.

    • wanderingpops profile image

      wanderingpops 6 years ago

      Tom, enjoyed the hub. Several years ago now a good friend of mine introduced me to biking. Mountain biking for several years but recently I have gotten into road as well. My first year of riding, from April to October, I rode 1400 miles and lost over 60 pounds. As you said I didn't not diet to lose weight, I dieted and exercised so I would enjoy the exercise more. Nothing much beats two wheels and I can't imagine much of anything being better for you.

    • Tom Rubenoff profile image

      Tom Rubenoff 6 years ago from United States

      Just got off a biking binge, feel great! I find if I pivot my pelvis up slightly, I have more power, my butt feels better and my knees don't hit my stomach. Everybody's built different tho. Thanks, CF!!!

    • CyclingFitness profile image

      Liam Hallam 6 years ago from Nottingham UK

      Well done chap, afraid my knees hit my stomach while i'm on the drops and I have no stomach either!. Hope you're keeping up the hard work

    • Tom Rubenoff profile image

      Tom Rubenoff 7 years ago from United States

      Don't forget to visualize, Jolmartyn! But either way, just feel good. That's the main thing.

    • jolmartyn profile image

      jolmartyn 7 years ago

      Hey, You mean you can reach the drops?

      I agree with everything you say, I have got stronger, and I can do more miles too - but the big roll just stays and stays. The weight stays too. I am kidding myself that its muscle! However I now have porridge for breakfast and my energy seems a lot more constant through the day.

    • Tom Rubenoff profile image

      Tom Rubenoff 8 years ago from United States

      I hope I am as cuddly. Someone will have to judge. :o)

    • G-Ma Johnson profile image

      Merle Ann Johnson 8 years ago from NW in the land of the Free

      awww...but are as cuddly???:O) Hugs

    • Tom Rubenoff profile image

      Tom Rubenoff 8 years ago from United States

      No shit, Candie, it was the truth until about a month ago. Glad to lose the flab.

    • Candie V profile image

      Candie V 8 years ago from Whereever there's wolves!! And Bikers!! Cummon Flash, We need an adventure!

      This is it Tom!! You did a great hub!! LOL, your knees hit your belly when you were in the drops!! Boy is that the truth!!

    • Tom Rubenoff profile image

      Tom Rubenoff 8 years ago from United States

      Thanks Dynamic. My toughest sacrifice is beer, but I still indulge once or twice a week. Personally I saw a bigger change in my late forties. It just means we have to get tougher. Thanks for your comment and your moral support!

    • DynamicS profile image

      Sandria Green-Stewart 8 years ago from Toronto, Canada

      Kudos to you Tom.  Keep up the regiment.  Thanks for sharing as I'm hoping to shed some belly fat myself.  I find that now that I'm 40, it is taking longer to see result from my work out.  I like your idea about reducing carbs and since returning home from my road trip, I have 5 lbs to loose, so this week i've cut out rice, pasta and bread and I've already seen some result. I'm a carboholic, so its difficult to eliminate all carbs...

      Great hub as usual...