Every endurance athlete knows that being lean and light is beneficial for racing performance. Unfortunately, however, it is not possible to maximize weight loss and fitness gain simultaneously. Maximizing weight loss requires a level of calorie restriction that will sabotage training performance and recovery. Therefore it’s important to for endurance athlete to keep their weight-loss focus periods separate from periods of race-focused training.

The ideal time to make weight loss your top priority is during the several weeks immediately preceding the start of a race-focused training cycle. Racing Weight author Matt Fitzgerald refers to such periods as “quick starts”. Your quick starts should not look like the weight-loss diets that most non-athletes follow. As a cyclist you need to approach weight loss in a way that keeps you ultimate performance goals in sight, even when maximizing race fitness is not your immediate priority.

There are five key dietary and training components of a quick start. The first is a moderate energy deficit of 300 to 500 calories per day, which is enough to stimulate fairly quick fat loss but not so much that you can’t train effectively. The next is strength training, which, when combine with the third measure, increased protein intake, will ensure you lose fat and not muscle. Components four and five are “fasting” workouts (no calories before or during) to promote fat loss and sprint intervals to elevate metabolism. 

Do these things for 4-8 weeks and you’re ready to go.