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I started cycling more to get fitter and lose a little bit of weight. I started taking a longer route to work and upped my daily ride from 6 miles to 16.

After 2 months of this and consuming less biscuits I've lost almost a stone and am now really happy with my weight. My main aims now are just to be healthier, to improve my indurance a little bit and mainly just to have fun. I really enjoy my longer ride and would like to keep doing it.

I thought I would find a new ideal weight for my new higher level of activity, but this hasn't happened yet. I am losing weight slower so should I wait for this to happen or should I eat a little bit more? And, if I do need to eat a bit more what sort of foods would be good?

Update: As some people have asked for it my BMI has gone from 23.7 to 21.9. So I've always been in the normal weight BMI category (18.5 – 24.9), but I was getting towards the top end of it.

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All great answers. I've marked heltonbiker's answer as accepted because of the extra detail. –  Richard Oct 19 '11 at 14:10
    
I like to keep mine up by drinking my favorite IPA's after every ride. Works for me! –  user2633 Oct 19 '11 at 15:59
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3 Answers

up vote 11 down vote accepted

I worked as a physician (not anymore nowadays, got into medical systems design), and I can guarantee you that either people and health professinals overemphasize the importance of the weight as if it was a single "magic number" regarding health, and it is not.

Body fat percentage, cardiovascular endurance, muscle and joint flexibility, dietary habits and psychological stress level are much more important.

Besides that, two things you must consider:

  1. When one increases pedalling distances and speeds, fat is lost and muscle is gained. Muscle is much more dense, so even if you look lean, you do not lose so much weight, but you exchange a very risk-related tissue (fat) by a much more healty one (muscle). And even while at rest, muscle burns calories much more than the same amount of fat, so the very existence of more muscle implies a higher methabolic rate;
  2. When you commute by bike, you get REALLY HUNGRY. You must eat, because food is your gasoline. Actually, wanting to lose weight by eating less then necessary is dangerous for bike commuters, because you might get weak during a ride, which greatly increases discomfort and accident risk.

What I do is to eat just enough, take a lot of salad and vegetables when possible (helps to provide anti-oxydants for the body, much useful for us who breathe pollution, etc.), and try NEVER to ride "out of fuel".

EDIT: (from wikipedia) Some common body fat percentages (not a recommendation!)

            Women   Men
Minimal     10–13%  2–5%
Athletes    14–20%  6–13%
Fitness     21–24%  14–18%
Average     25–31%  18–24%
Obese       32%+    25%+

"The bioelectrical impedance analysis (BIA) method is a more affordable but less accurate way to estimate body fat percentage. The general principle behind BIA: two conductors are attached to a person's body and a small electric current is sent through the body. The resistance between the conductors will provide a measure of body fat, since the resistance to electricity varies between adipose, muscular and skeletal tissue."

I am not a native english speaker, so some words might not be correct.

Hope it helps!

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My friend has scales that measure body fat percentage. What is a good body fat percentage? –  Richard Oct 19 '11 at 13:18
    
@Richard : take a look at my edit! –  heltonbiker Oct 19 '11 at 13:49
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If you're talking about a standard bathroom scale that tries to estimate body fat percentage, it's mostly just smoke and mirrors. The cheapest and most reliable thing you can do is buy a set of body-fat calipers for around $6. amazon.com/AccuFitness-Accu-Measure-Body-Fat-Caliper/dp/… –  Stephen Touset Oct 19 '11 at 15:21
    
@StephenTouset : agreed! –  heltonbiker Oct 19 '11 at 15:46
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Everyone's different. You don't give a hint as to what your body weight or BMI is, so we don't know if you're overweight or anorexic or "just right".

Do note that, in some people, intense exercise can cause you to "lose interest" in eating for a period of time, but usually after about 2 months this effect abates and your appetite returns.

Unless you feel that you have "issues" with your weight and appetite (eg, a tendency towards anorexia nervosa) you should just let your body decide what it wants to weigh. And simply eat a balanced, varied diet, with moderate amounts of fat and high-quality protein. Stay away from most "supplements", and don't be misled into believing that you need a "high protein diet" or something else super-special.

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I've updated my answer to include my BMI. –  Richard Oct 19 '11 at 12:27
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At 21.9 you certainly don't need to lose additional weight, but it won't hurt you, within reason. Probably if you get down to a BMI around 19 you should begin to worry about it a tiny bit and consciously seek to eat more, but until then let your body tell you how much to eat. –  Daniel R Hicks Oct 19 '11 at 15:51
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You will find that your body will probably stabilize at a healthy weight, the weight you are losing is fat, as you cycle more you will likely build up muscle weight as well.

Unless there is something really wrong with your diet or you want to remain chubby then you don't have much to worry about.

If you want to build more muscle weight you should probably try some Anaerobic exercise (Lifting weights etc), you can supplement this with eating protein either as meat or taking protein supplements.

Of course everyone's body/metabolism is difficult, if you think that you are losing too much weight too quickly then you should probably consult a doctor, for a normal healthy person though cycling more shouldn't put you in any danger of losing an unhealthy amount of weight.

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