The endurance athlete’s guide to fueling and weight loss introduction

Author’s note: I write these posts to further my own understanding and to answer some questions I’ve been asked. I’m not doing it to make money, but since I’ve been asked, if you want to buy me a coffee or an adult beverage, you can do that here.


I’ve always been interested in nutrition for athletes, and as a serious recreational cyclist – whatever that means – I’ve played around with a number of different approaches. And I’ve read a lot of books that explain how to do the “standard athlete diet”, and done my best to follow them.

But there were a couple of things that had me confused…

The first was my inability to come up with a nutrition strategy that worked for me on very long and hard rides. Invariably, if I got beyond about 7 hours, I felt sick and weak, and sometimes it happened earlier.

The second was just an observation at first; there were people I rode with who rode a *lot* more than I did but still carried a significant amount of extra weight – 30 or even 50 pounds. I knew from talking with them that they ate like I did, and they were already riding in excess of 5000 miles a year, so more exercise couldn’t be the answer. It was quite the puzzle, but it took getting into my 50s and finding that my weight was no longer easily controlled by cycling and that I was having energy issues in the afternoon to compel me to investigate a bit further.

That led to a period of two years where I learned a lot more about physiology and taught myself enough biochemistry to be moderately dangerous. And changed both my diet and fueling strategy significantly.

And, incidentally, I lost around 15 pounds. I was 178 pounds to start, and at 6’1”, that’s reasonably light, but at 163 pounds, I’m now “cycling light”, and that’s made a big difference on the rides I do.

This series is my attempt to put down the important things that I’ve learned in a coherent manner so that others can benefit from it, and I can get clear in my head what I think I know.

I’ll warn you at the outset; I’m going to be talking about biochemistry because that understanding is pretty critical when we get to talking about strategies and tactics. I have tried to make it “Just enough biochemistry”.

The following is a list of the various posts. I really recommend reading them in order as the later posts build on the earlier posts.

  1. Part 1: Macronutrient intake and storage
  2. Part 2: Energy systems
  3. Part 2.5: More on muscles and energy systems
  4. Part 3: Carbohydrate and fat use in actual athletes…
  5. Part 4: Better fat burning in actual athletes…
  6. Part 5: Hunger etc…
  7. Part 6: Recommendations


  • Reply Al |

    VERY cool! I landed here from a cyclist post on the reddit bicycle discussion. But now I find you are into all sorts of maker things that are also an interest of mine. Awesome to stumble upon you Eric…Now I have to catch up on multiple years of posts, great pastime for winter weather in the north.

  • Reply Melissa |

    I also saw this on a Reddit cycling discussion. I am starting biology and Physiology classes this summer, in part because of my interest in Sports Nutrition after losing a lot of weight and gaining a lot of muscle in my late forties. I look forward to reading what you have to say.

So, what do you think ?