That's pretty discouraging news. The better news is that as an active cyclist, you're already one step ahead of the game. "People who maintain their activity levels have much better odds of staying at their lower weight," says Leslie Bonci, MPH, RD, at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, author of the Active Calorie Diet (If you're still wondering why that is, read 7 Sneaky Ways Cycling Takes Off Pounds).
The Basics1 of 14
The National Weight Control Registry reports that among people who successfully keep weight off, men burn an average of 3,293 calories a week and women an average of 2,545. That works out to about an hour of moderate riding every day. As activity levels slide, weight creeps back on.
You may also need to start eating a little less. Losing weight resets your metabolism. And the more you ride, the more efficient you become at burning calories. In short, the new, leaner you needs fewer calories to sustain your body both on and off your bike. The adjustments aren't huge. For each pound you lose, your total daily calorie requirements dip by about 10. So a rider who dropped 10 pounds needs 100 fewer calories each day. Keep following the plan until you hit your goal weight. Then stay with it for three months, allowing your metabolism to adjust.
Having a focused plan can also help. Here are four other strategies that researchers have linked to keeping weight off (For a complete nutrition and fitness guide to staying lean, read Find Your Ideal Weight).
Eat breakfast It keeps your energy level steady so you don't overeat later in the day.
Weigh In2 of 14
The vast majority of people who stay slim step on a scale at least once a week—those concrete numbers staring up at you are simply too hard to ignore.
Be Consistent3 of 14
Most folks who keep the pounds off do so by staying the course. They eat well most of the time without swinging between deprivation and bingeing.
Reward Yourself4 of 14
Giving yourself strategic incentives (a new jersey or gloves, for example, rather than, say, cake) for healthy behavior prevents backsliding.
Note: These formulas and plans are not a substitute for medical advice. Consult with a physician before embarking on any weight-loss program.
The GO FASTER Foods, Spelled Out5 of 14
No matter what you decide is your ideal cycling weight, the GO FASTER eating plan will help you reduce and maintain your weight. The program is based on 2,000 to 2,200 calories a day—an amount that, when combined with a metabolism-boosting riding regimen, will yield steady weight loss for most active cyclists. You'll dig into 500-calorie breakfasts, lunches, and dinners while stoking your engine between meals with energizing 250-calorie snacks.
What's more, it's designed to let you mix and match your meals and snacks so you'll never be tempted to cheat. For the complete meal plan, check out Bicycling's Go Faster Eating Plan. There you'll find a Go Faster recipe guide, pre-ride and on-bike nutrition advice, and all of your food options, plus an entire week of meals arranged in a calendar format to get you started.
"G" Greek Yogurt6 of 14
Greek yogurt provides protein for muscle repair and has lots of calcium for fat-burning.
"O" Oatmeal (and Other Fiber-Rich Whole Grains)7 of 14
Oatmeal delivers long-lasting muscle fuel.
"F" Fresh Fruits8 of 14
Fresh fruits include apples, oranges, bananas and berries and are loaded with antioxidants for muscle function and repair.
"A" Almonds9 of 14
Almonds and other nuts offer healthy fat for energy and immunity.
"S" Spinach10 of 14
Spinach (or carrots, broccoli, beans and other fresh vegetables) provide vitamins and minerals for optimum muscle health.
"T" Turkey11 of 14
Tuckey, as well as other proteins such as chicken, salmon, tofu, eggs and other lean meat, help you feel full for longer.
"E" Electrolyte Drinks12 of 14
Electrolyte drinks are essential for hydration during workouts.
"R" Raisins, Dates and Other Dried Fruits13 of 14
These dried foods are packed with antioxidants and fiber.