My Thoughts on Cycling and Weight Loss Aug 31, 2014


Over the past few years – since moving to Austin in 2010 – I’ve been struggling with weight loss. Look, we’re all cyclists. We probably all ride with skinny, fit dudes and as a bigger guy, it’s frustrating. Even now, at the peak of my fitness, I still get dropped by “climbers”. What I found was to take these experiences and use them as part of my motivation. There was one defining moment however. A majority of it came from a ride I did in Australia a few years back…


Granted, this ride was really tough. Two, 100-120 mile days with over 15,000′ elevation a day in the Australian summer. I didn’t bonk, but it took me forever to climb, then I laid down and rested for 3-5 minutes. No big deal. It did however lend itself as an opportunity for Andy to make some sort of comment along the lines of “you’ve got big lungs and long legs, if you got in shape, you’d be a strong rider.”

From there, something burned inside me and I’m not talking about a hot pizza slice. I wanted to be able to enjoy tough rides and be fit enough to carry camera gear with me, or sprint up ahead to set up a photo. I wanted to up my game.

I began thinking about what I was eating. Instead of getting BBQ after a ride, I ate lean protein and salads. Instead of drinking beer, I switched solely to bourbon and instead of riding at a comfortable pace solo, I began pushing myself.

It took over two years before people began to see a noticeable difference in my fitness.


Here I am in 2012, racing cross. I probably weighed around 215 here, down from 225.


2013, around 210.


2013, opening weekend of cross season, right at 190lbs.


Now, in 2014 I fluctuate between 175 and 185, depending on what I’m riding, how often and hydration levels. “Race weight” is 175, sitting on my ass driving a pickup truck down the PCH and traveling to see family for a month weight is 185.

That’s over four years of steady, slow weight loss. Any doctor I’ve talked to has told me that is the key. Weight loss should come from a lifestyle change, from diet, to physical exercise and it should happen over time. If you rush it, you’ll do your body more harm than good.

That said, here are the main changes I made with my lifestyle. Granted, you shouldn’t try to go all in here. Just make small changes. Cutting yourself off from your favorite foods sucks. Instead, treat them as a reward. Really love burgers? Reward yourself after a tough ride with a burger. Just don’t keep eating burgers every single day!


Here we go. Healthy helps. These are my normal meals:

Breakfast: a 1/2 – 1 cup of oatmeal with blueberries, toasted almonds, cinnamon and water. Simple. Or quinoa with a fried egg. Yolk and all.

Lunch: I have two lunches, the post-ride lunch and busy day lunch.
-Post-ride: fish tacos (grilled) or a salad with fish on top.
-Busy day, no ride: Fresh soup and tortilla chips. Even canned soup is good, just watch the sodium.

Dinner: I love the shit out of greens. Bok Choy, kale, chard spinach. Sauteed, steamed, whatever. I eat a good portion of greens every day. That’s a given. Fresh fish from the market, cooked on a skillet. Sweet potatoes, squash, brown rice, quinoa. Whatever. If you like Whole Foods, look into the “Health Starts Here” food items. Hell, try to go vegetarian.

Photo by Margus Riga

Ride a lot, often. The shorter, sweeter rides are better than always doing 60+ rides. I’ll go out on the road bike in the morning for 20 miles and then the mountain bike at night sometimes for the same. Mix your riding up. Mountain bikes rule because they wipe out your entire body. Give yourself time to recover. If your legs are sore, do a recovery spin. Don’t go out hammering away.

Don’t overdo it. You can literally ride yourself into trouble.

That said, big rides help in weight loss for sure. I still do one or two big rides a month. Eat on the bike, but avoid mass-produced bars. Instead, go for foods like avocado, almonds, mangos, almond butter, etc. Sweets are ok on the bike, so relish them! Just remember, if you eat foods high in cholesterol, you’re not helping your body.



Fuck beer. Seriously. It’s the worst. If you’re trying to lose weight, stop drinking beer! It’s tough, but that stuff is like drinking dead calories. You might as well be eating pizza every night.

Bourbon has the least amount of calories than any other liquor. It has no additives, no flavoring, it’s a mash in a charred oak barrel and that’s where it gets its flavoring. Vodka is also good. Drink it on the rocks, or neat. Mixing with ginger ale or ginger beer is horrible for you. Look at how much sugar is in ginger ale!

If you’re going to drink beer, drink shitty, “light” beer.


Snacking. Buy almonds, salted is fine. They’re great for you. Just don’t eat an entire bag. I usually snack on a handful if I’m hungry. Or eat a banana. If I am craving something sweet, I literally drink a thing of Skratch.


Finally, recovery! I used to do nothing for recovery, aside from trying to eat in 30 minutes of finishing a ride. Now, when I finish a ride, I take a plant-based protein mix. Doing so has really helped me build lean, healthy muscle.

Normal protein has so much added shit in it, makes you feel bloated, swells your muscles and it always made me gassy. This stuff is amazing. Vanilla is my favorite.

Photo by Kyle Kelley

I know that didn’t read much as a guide book to losing weight, it’s more of an explanation as to how I lost weight. Look, it’s not easy, don’t be fooled. There’s a lot of times that I want to gorge on pizza, or eat nonstop. You will be hungry, a lot. It’s tough, but you’ve really just got to ‘shrink your stomach’ and your appetite.

Like training on the bike, you’ve got to train yourself to eat well, in order to be well. Yes, I still eat breakfast tacos, or pizza, or burgers, but a lot less than I did. Remember, it’s about a happy medium.

I’m happier when I’m healthy and hydrated. It’s like, there’s a science to fitness or something…

Questions? Comments? Queue them up in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer them.

  • John Roche

    I feel the pain, and have been wondering about how you accomplished your weight loss. Thanks for the write up. Damn, giving up beer would be tough – but crawling up climbs ain’t fun either. Time to get thinking on this.

  • Justin

    You know what’s tough? Telling myself that I can’t always justify eating whatever I want just because I can bike it off later. Time to get thinking on this.

  • Nick

    John – this is fantastic. I’ve struggled my entire life with the same thing and just gave up drinking for a bit and started mixing up my rides to help get my body back to square 1 – move more, eat better. These are great tips and I’m going to slowly incorporate them into my everyday. Thanks for sharing, man!

  • Samuel Lopez

    I’ve come to cope w/ my largeness…. but it does suck when you know your legs are stronger but your endurance is shit and you can’t beat the skinny dudes.

    • David

      Right there with you. My watts are useless if they equal out to 2.5w/kg and everyone else is doing 3. (sorry to go all HOT BOYZ of racing on you)

  • Kent Fackenthall

    Great post, Prolly. I’ve sort of ‘followed’ your training/weight loss over the years (in a non-stalker kind of way) and have been encouraged and inspired by it. I’ve implemented and have come to understand a lot of what you discuss here. I have lost some, but not as much as I want to yet, but the one thing I’ve come to accept is if you have a bad day and eat a whole pizza, don’t let it derail the whole goal. Get back on the horse.

    Someone once said to me “One sundae doesn’t make you fat like one salad won’t make you skinny.” I’ve learned it’s about lifestyle change on the whole, and the benefit is that if you stick to it, you feel so much better and THAT is the reward.

  • DopePedaler

    Been hovering around 195-200, but will use these guidelines to drop weight! I like tequila!

  • IR

    Great post, I’ve been more serious lately about getting rid of the dreaded beer belly on an otherwise skinny body. Upped the riding and cut out a lot of things from my diet. I know its a long game so its great to see your actions and results.

  • Michael Ott

    Could you give more detail on the types of food you are taking with you on rides, how often you eat on rides, etc? Seems like the rice cakes are a pretty strong choice from the Team Sky “Little Things” videos and the Skratch Labs cook books.

  • Matt Rumora

    I watched my beer guzzling father slowly give up beer, switch to scotch, then rum, then nothing – said “it took too much effort” … I’m still stuck in the beer phase of life. “Fuck beer” takes a lot of courage – kudos! Everything else sound on par with what I started doing about 15 years ago – the closer food is to the “earth” the better. All good stuff, ’cause being on the bike matters most! Excellent post – thanks.

  • Brian Cottrell-Thompson

    I have been on the slow grind weight loss program, too. I don’t have the opportunity to ride as much as I like because of my child rearing duties but I try to make the most of even short 20 mile rides “around the block”. I was pushing 235 and being warned of diabetes by my doctor a few years ago. Today, I am around 190 or so and putting in the base miles to do my first fixed century. I am a vegetarian and I quit drinking completely. All hail the two wheeled passion.

    • Danny B

      I’m in the same boat as you. With two under three there’s precious few opportunities to get away from the house for more than a couple of hours at a time. I am, however, lucky to have a partner who is very supportive of me and my cycling. She allows me the time to do cross races in winter and MTBing when there’s time for it (and naturally I do the same for her in return). Still its not the same as before and my indoor trainer and TdF, Vuelta and UCI MTB world cup vids are really what keeps me sane. When my first boy was born I was weighing in at 167, last year I was back to 160 and now I’m at 154. It feels good! Like Prolly, I put this down to exercise, good eating and drinking very infrequently (one bottle of nice beer every week or so). I’m hoping to get down to 150 by Christmas and if so that will be the first time I’ve been at that weight since high school. Better be fit by then – I got a 1100km bikepacking trip set for the start of Febuary (in New Zealand, so will be summer). Booyah!

    • It’s interesting reading the experiences of people who were active younger but regained their fitness through cycling. I never really did anything at all active until a couple of years ago when I dropped from 300 to around 185, mostly through gym work and lifestyle changes. I picked up cycling after, and fell in love with it. I wonder, though, if I’d have stayed reasonably fit if it wasn’t for cycling; I suspect probably not.

      I wish I’d been riding my whole life. I’m damn sure gonna use the rest of it for that purpose.

  • David

    I am really, really, really glad you posted this. Thanks, John.

  • John Arthur

    Do you use a drink mix (like Skratch) for shorter rides or just water?

    • Yep. One bottle of water, one with Skratch.

  • Andrew Bryan

    Everything in moderation, even moderation itself. That’s what’s worked for me.

  • Spiff

    Great article! The lifestyle change is key, but also (and this sounds cheesy) being compassionate with yourself: I was in a rut regarding my weight and would try to change my diet and “fail” (eat pizza or whatever) and abandon. Now I take it in stride and the next days is back to the normal, healthy diet. One more area in which I also changed my stance: if I’m going to eat a croissant (or chocolate), it has to be great croissant (or chocolate), worth every calorie.

  • Spencer Olinek

    This rocks. I’m the “skinny fit dude” with the metabolism that hasn’t slowed down yet, but, that doesn’t mean this isn’t all great for everyone and I love you sharing this.

    On the protein side of things, how are you consuming it/what are you mixing it with?

    • I mix it with water, in a hand held shaker.

  • Tyler Johnson

    Great write up John. I don’t struggle with the weight issue, but I do eat like shit and it’s helpful to hear someone whom I’ve watched get into great shape over the years talk about it. Hoping to get healthier and develop stronger endurance as well. Good on ya!

  • Wade Stevens

    John, I’ve been looking forward to this post for a long time. Bravo.

  • stefanrohner

    love beer! iam not a pro, neither want to be one. big panzer.. ;) that’s it… that’s live . ;) good post! but don’t be a slave of your sport. xx

  • James Stewart

    Yes, yes John! Very nice. I agree with the slow weight loss. I think so many people get in to trouble with the quick-fixes and the weight comes back too easily. I’ve never struggled with weight but always looking to be leaner and starting this spring I swapped the bus for the 20-mile/520 ft. ride in to Manhattan from NJ, single speed, 3-4 days/week. It’s amazing how the human body can respond and adapt. Out of curiosity how tall are you?

  • Laith Azzam

    Perfection. Thanks for taking the time to write this, great addition to the world wide webs-

  • Hell yeah, good write up man. One thing I have found with kicking beer too is how much money I save. I would spend so much on good beer. Now I buy myself a nice bottle of bourbon, savor it and not drunkenly barrel through my whole reserve in a couple of days (or one sitting) the way I would with beer. Yeah it is kind of tough after a long ride – sometimes you just want to grab a pint or two.. but shit, just drink some water, cool off, and have some whiskey. Its just been a good way to trim those empty calories off my diet.

  • Jay Nalbach

    fantastic post John. i too am in exactly the same boat as you, got it up to 235 and was able to bring it all down to 170. now hovering at 185 due to a similar diet but not enough riding. I find that simply drinking water all day long has a huge positive effect on weight loss as well as helping me stay away from bad stuff, and always being hydrated for an impromptu spin. I’m getting onto Bourbon tonight..bye bye beer..

  • Liam Griffin

    Great post. As a skinny dude, I’ve actually put on weight since I got more into cycling (mostly muscle mass in my legs) but I still don’t always eat as well as I could (or should). Thanks for the info, it is rad to see other people trying to figure all this stuff out.

  • boomforeal

    great piece john

  • Beautiful. I’m a reasonably fit person but I still struggle to get the right nutrition in my diet. Your post is very helpful. Thanks John.

  • Jonathan McCurdy

    The hardest parts for me are probably dropping beer and not being too lazy to cook good meals or too cheap keep good ingredients on hand. I truly love yeasty Belgian beers, but often find myself drinking anything brown. Perhaps I’ll stop stocking the fridge with XX and keep buying bulleit for starters.

    As far as food goes, what kind of simple ingredients to keep on hand to make every day meals?

  • Kyle Kelley

    You did a really good job with this. Had it been a guide book, I probably would have given you shit. Everyone is so different, the only way to do something like this, is to explain how you got fit. Good work John, someday I hope to have you pedal away from me. ;)

  • Javi

    I try to keep in mind “food as fuel”… of course I’m not perfect and it’s not always easy, but it gets easier. I’m not the quiet “fat kid” I was when I was young. I ride everyday, I hit the gym 4-5 week, I swim when I can, and I eat right… It’s always in the back of my mind, “What can I do to help me feel better on my bike?” I’m about 25-30 lbs. down from my worst weight over a few years time, and I’ve put on more muscle. About 5 years ago I was told I was Type 2 Diabetic… my last A1C (2 weeks or so ago) revealed I wasn’t even borderline. Personal victories. No finish lines. Awesome post, John. Keep it up!

  • asdfsky

    John, thanks for a great post. Have you ever hit the stage that your weight didn’t go down, not matter how hard you tried?. What is your advice? Thank you.

  • Justin Evans

    Great read! I’m not trying to lose weight as I am fairly slim, but there are many areas in which I can improve as far as eating. Also, the not always doing big rides is absolutely key. I love cycling but recently took two weeks off because I had burned myself out doing big rides but they were my only rides. I was only riding once a week but it was long and big climbing rides. Thanks for posting this!

  • Ion Feldman

    But, but, but……I love beer!

  • Dina Bernadel

    You’re such a babe ;)

  • stu

    Personally, I jumped on the Paleo bandwagon and never looked back. Switched from being a ‘sugar burner’ to a ‘fat burner’. I eat no grains, sugar, or anything processed. It works – riding better than ever.

    • Ugaitz Etxebarria

      Are you Ketogenic? I would like to go really low carb, but dammit, cheap carbs are SO handy to throw on the jersey pockets on long rides.

      • stu

        For the most part, yes. BUT, if I end up going beyond 4 hours I will take in some sweet potato with almond butter. But honestly, most of my rides are 2-3 hours max so I can get by with very little.

  • Great article. I’ve always struggled with weight, ballooning up to 240 a few years ago. Been at ~200 for two years and feel a bit stuck. I can keep the weight off easy enough, but losing more is difficult. I think more exercise and being a bit more strict with my eating is going to be the ticket. Good luck on continuing to keep svelte. Hope to join you on a ride sometime!

  • Anna

    I have been using a cookbook lately for “on the bike” nutrition called Power Hungry. It has a lot of really great easy recipes for complete nutrition bars. I imagine most readers aren’t too interested in investing the time to make this stuff, but it is a great alternative to commercial products – insanely cheaper, better tasting, and much better ingredients. Great post John.

  • Nice article! I’m in the same process. It’s really good! I use a lot the two books made bit the owners of Skratch, The Feed Zone and The Portables. They are very good, you have great food and very tasty

  • Peter Pottinger

    Great read!

  • Adam McAnulty

    Great write up. Im going to share this. This article is great inspiration for any person struggling with weight loss or just a trying to get in better shape. Great job John.

  • David Willingham

    Love reading about your travels and stories. Thanks!!!

    I know I’m in the minority here as a vegan Rich Roll and Brendan Brazier are my gotos on fitness and nutrition. At 45 I’m just now really getting serious about riding and my health. I was an awful vegetarian and vegan when I first started. Yes everyone is different. What works for some won’t work for others. But you just can’t go wrong with good, real, clean food!!! Anything processed is shit!!

  • Hubert d’Autremont

    Sweet post John!
    I’ve been reading a sweet book I’d highly recommend called Eating on the Wild Side, it’s not actually about foraging and stuff, but rather selecting fruits and veggies that are more nutritious than others. It’s full of really good basic tips and tricks. Check it out for sure!

  • Ryan Combdon

    This was awesome! I’m happy to see such a positive comments section too. Great work John.

  • Ryan Combdon

    What’s the Chickpea side in that photo?

  • dan chabanov

    Kudos John.

  • A Jacob Salazar

    I remember when I was racing a lot I never worried about weight. But since I’ve stopped I’ve put in a few lbs….my kits are all tight..and the hills are killer. I really felt like everything I worked for was for nothing. But now I’m back on the bike doing 7am rides in the Texas panhandle..with the goal of getting lean again. I like this post ya did, you were such a fat ass but now you’re looking lean and mean! I’ll keep this inspiring post in mind when I ride in Austin this weekend. Cheers, and where can I pick up that bourbon you drink?


  • Dale Austin

    Nice article. Nice layout. Nice pics. Enjoyed the read and hope to apply to my riding. Thanks for this dude!

  • TaylorSizemore

    Man, great write up. Super solid perspective, I’m into it.

  • Sean Curran

    Nice post John. Over the past too years I have dropped 45 lbs mostly down to riding a ton more, and simply monitoring my calorie intake periodically, as well as just eating better, simpler foods. I never considered myself big, but all of a sudden I realized it had been adding up. Oh, big thing for me, I stopped eating after 8:00PM, that really helped, in losing weight, sleeping better, and feeling better when I wake up. Dropping from 250 down to 205 ish where I am right now (I am 6′ 4″), sure made riding more enjoyable, and I generally feel better. I’d like to get down to under 200.

    If it wasn’t for cycling, I would be destined to be fat though. One thing that really helped was the motivation of not wanting to not look like a fool on a cyclocross course, although I’m sure I still did.

  • Sretsok

    Great article. I’ve been using cycling as an excuse for eating which is a big reason I’ve gained weight the last few years.

    It’s been really hard to find a good resource for what people who are using cycling to lose weight over time are eating and this is perfect. Cheers and congrats!

  • Jeffrey Robert Hammerstein

    This is an amazing post! I had struggled with my weight and almost gave up but then I decided to change up all the stupid stuff I was doing to my body. I researched, found what worked for me and stuck to it! Good stuff, John.

  • Feeling good is the best weight.

  • Lemontime

    #bodyposi #thinspiration #would

  • charlesojones

    Most of know that riding lighter is faster, and ultimately more fun. But it’s easier said than done, even the pros talk of going to bed hungry after insane days of training. Kudos to you for being able to discipline yourself and stick with it. Keep it up.

  • Super well done. Short, simple, good tips. Thanks!

  • Eric Richter

    Super rad of you to achieve this, and to share this story. I know you bust ass in everything you do, and your discipline and commitment are inspiring. Keep rolling! Let’s find some time to ride when you come to Cali… I might actually be able to make it next time. -e

  • Jamie McKeon

    mate bloody good on ya! you weigh less than me now.

  • One Eyed z

    Nicely written piece. I think we are roughly the same height and were the same weight… over 200… I always figured that was just how I was made. Then I cut way back on the beer, cut Dirty Ron’s and other fast food out completely and scaled back to 10 miles a day on the bike (commuting, a new job helped) compared to not riding many days and killing myself on others. I’m slowly making better food choices too and now average 195-200 lbs compared to the 220-235 I was just a couple years ago. Its hard but well worth it. I feel better and I feel like I look better too. Cheers!

  • Morgan Taylor

    Reading this just stopped me from eating another delicious homemade burger. I hear what you’re saying on the stomach shrinking but I’ve never been successful with it. How do you cope with being hungry all the time while you adjust?

    I hit a lifetime weight peak this summer after moving to a rad place on a lake, riding less for a variety of not-so-good reasons, eating amazing meals with my family, and drinking a ton of watery lager.

    I’ve already cut the beer and find running is an effective way for me to get in a quick half hour when I’m at school. And I’m going to have to hit some solo hammerfests.

    John, you looked really slim when we saw each other in March. Keep this conversation going, it’s good for all of us.

    • Yeah, it’s tough. For sure. Believe me. What I found works best is snacking on almonds. I know it’s weird but the oils, fats and proteins in almonds are great for you. Just 10 or so worked for me, that and I drink a lot of water.

      • Morgan Taylor

        I’ve got a bit of an almond problem. Like I take a bag with me and easily eat 30 in a row. I just have to get better at portioning them over the day and regulate how many I bring with me.

        • Guest

          Salted or unsaltied? It is usually a lot harder to stop eating something that is salted.

          • Morgan Taylor

            Oh always raw, unsalted. I should be OK with cutting back provided I don’t get into the “eat almonds, chug milk from the jug” positive feedback loop…

  • As a female, it was really interesting to hear a male voice open up about “body issues,” weight loss, and not being naturally thin and lean (and something comparing yourself to those who are). So thanks for your advice and honesty.

    The one thing I found surprising was: “You will be hungry, a lot.” Dieticians have told me that you should not have to be hungry when trying to lose weight. Like you can be hungry and ready for your meal that is coming up, but you should end each meal being full. Or if you are hungry and there are still hours until your next meal, you should eat a healthy snack. So curious what you think about that.


    • Spiff

      We are creatures of habit and our brains and stomachs are part of it. When I decided to work on my weight loss (close to 40lbs over 3 years; I am also a woman), I did it through portion control and the first couple of weeks I was hungry between meals. My body adjusted to the new meal sizes and I no longer have periods of hunger (unless I am skipping a meal due to work meetings). After allowing my body to adjust, I added some snacks every now and then (on days where I have or will have a hard workout), but do not rely on snacks as a crutch. I’d say the philosophy of ‘how to become rich without really trying’ is flawed. The hunger I had when I decided to change eating patterns made me aware of how much I wanted to lose the weight.

  • Asklionheart

    good read. congrats on the progress. keep truckin.

  • Stuart Janssen

    I can really relate; I was 250 the day I started college, and 190 the day I graduated. Little steps. Or pedals?

  • Morgan Taylor

    1/2 to 1 cup cooked or uncooked oats? Steel cut I assume?

  • Michael Ousby


    • I saw a big redneck wearing that shirt the other day.

  • Keith Gibson

    Great write up on nutrition and fitness. There is so much competing information out there (paleo, HFLC, vegan, etc) that it can drive people mad. I like the K.I.S.S philosophy.

  • Justin Tipton

    This is exactly what I needed to read. I’ve been struggling with weight loss for a long time. The no beer thing is going to be a tough one for me though. Haha

  • Sam

    Thanks for this article. As a rider in my early 40 ‘s this is a struggle I’ve lived with all my life- and now more than ever. The past month I’ve been trying to live by this same philosophy and your words inspired me at moment when I’ve been feeling frustrated and impatient. I’ll bookmark this to come back to when I need a pep talk! Thanks!

  • Thanks for posting this dude. I’m a big chap who loves cycling. Great to have you run through what’s worked for you.

  • John, good read man. I too have been struggling with losing a bit of weight. It’s easy if you’re riding long days all the time. Much tougher if work life keeps you off the saddle. It’s encouraging to hear that it’s been a personal struggle for you and easier next time I’m huffing up some hill to know that others are dealing with the same shit at times and it’ll happen if I just stick to it.

  • SloRide

    Bit disappointed honestly. You preach moderation for everything but beer. “Really love burgers? Reward yourself after a tough ride with a burger. Just don’t keep eating burgers every single day!” Replace the word burger with beer. “If you’re going to drink beer, drink shitty, ‘light’ beer.” Definitely not rad. I’ve never seen you pimp anything but the best on this site. Can a Huffy review be far behind? How about drinking one delicious beer after a ride and calling it good?

    • Oh come on, that was supposed to be read in jest. Besides, who can drink just one, tasty beer? ;-)

    • Ian Stone

      Pretty sure he’s reviewed a few Huffy’s made by Jordan before :p

  • cannon fodder

    Congratulations on the weight loss.

    Big thumbs up on Plant Fusion. I have that as my morning meal with a banana,blueberries,and raspberries and use a blender/bullet and Im good to go. That and being vegan/and not drinking and booze helps too ;)
    cheer dude

  • henrydtho

    Great post man. I have been reading your blog for years and it has been incredibly inspiring to see the transition in your physical condition from when you started riding fixed gear freestyle to now. I am big guy who rides and to see someone like you drop the weight and keep it off is huge dude. Thank you so much for all that you contribute to the sport and your readers, your work is greatly appreciated. Now I just have to cut back on the pizza and get on the bike more!

  • Corey Dineen

    John, I’m a big fan of Sunwarrior protein powder as well. plant based super protein, made in america, super tasty (chocolate or vanilla), zero or low sugar (depending on the flavor) and works well with whatever liquid you choose. Looking great dude!!! Thanks for sharing!!!

  • Move to Utah where we have neither good food or beer and you’ll slim down to fighting weight in no time!

  • david__g

    What you’ve written sounds like my personal discovery/path over the last 3 years too. I focus on the good aspects of not drinking beer/eating pizza all the time – that is feeling alert and eager to ride and strong and healthy. CX season is close and for the first time in four years I feel like I’m prepared and at a decent weight to actually compete for a change. I only finally gave up beer around 6 months ago but I feel so much better for it. I treat myself to a nice Belgian brew once a month or two and it’s working out wonderfully. Good piece, John, dig it hard.

  • kooktruck

    props on gettin healthier prolls and you other dudes.

    just gonna put this out there for mega almond consumers…

  • Michael Cody

    Great piece! Hydration is a another thing to keep in mind. Your body will often feel hungry but you may just be dehydrated. We used to put down a lot of liquids after big rides first before food. If you haven’t done so, read Allen’s blog on hydration…

  • Christiaan2414

    I have had almost the same exact experience with my weight struggles as well John. When I ‘re discovered’ cycling and the child like passion I’ve always had for it, I was down 60lbs from 300lbs! I started just making conscious decisions with literally almost every meal (and drink). Finally about 8 months ago, I reached below 200lbs and never looked back. I’m now a healthy 180-185lbs and my endurance as well as my compassion to push my cycling harder has never been better!

  • Telecinese

    Excellent, inspirational article.

    One thing that stood out to me is how much of the approach that worked for you aligns with the more makes-sense (to me) flavors of Paleo/Primal/whatever.

    The focus on ‘real’ foods vs. cheap-ingredient industrial ones, a variety of nuts and meats and yolks and plants, seeing value in shorter but frequent rides instead of focusing on more epic fare, even the care taken in proper recovery: I can see guys like Mark Sisson and Robb Wolf thumbs-upping the whole time on general principle even though they might disagree on flour tortillas or the role of cholesterol or whatnot.

    Was that kind of thing on your radar at all, or simply what seemed effective in your self-experimentation simply happened to be similar to what worked for them?

  • La Belle Machine

    Thanks for the encouragement. I’m your size. I took up riding again 10 years after a serious motorcycle accident. I rode alot back in the day – I even did time as a messenger in London. Now I’m middle aged, and going through the slow process of losing weight from my original 110kg. It’s taken 2 years to get down to 100, but from your experience, I’m probably doing OK. Unfortunately a crash with a kangaroo 5 weeks ago means I’m off the bike again for a while…

  • Fantastic article, the only thing that I missed be reading is about stretching, is not dietary but very healthy and important point to recovering faster as much flexible. Regards

  • ninetubes

    Takeaway here is to drink more bourbon. Good post!

  • Eric Hancock

    The before and after photos are pretty powerful.

  • grosserpreis

    great fucking post man. you are a really good person

  • Julius

    Good post, good thoughts on nutrition, but why the extra protein? The diet you have outlined contains plenty of good proteins, so save your money and cut out the powder. Your muscles won’t feel the difference and you will be able to afford more and better bourbon.

    Just my two cents. Keep pedaling, that’s what counts. Greetings,


  • Ugaitz Etxebarria

    You’ve featured some Rivendells in the blog several times, maybe you could give a try at what Grant has to say about nutrition.
    Cyclists that dare to talk about how they actually feel better and get A LOT thinner on lowcarb diets get a lot of scoff from other fellow bikers, and hey, nobody wants to be the only outlier in the group that fuels on salami.
    There’s also the issue of hunger, no dietary intervention that results in permanent hunger is sustainable, sooner or later, wether you want it or not you are going to need to sate your hunger, what a lot of people say about your stomach getting adapted to eating less is downright baloney.
    On the other hand, beer does not have so many carbs, it depends on the brew, but on average it is under four grams of carbs per 100ml, a third of what your typical soda would have and a lot less than most sports drinks/protein shakes/supplements.

  • Jordan Reed

    Such great info! Thanks, John! I followed similar guidelines and lost 110 lbs by switching my diet, becoming more active (cycling/running), and, most importantly. using my commonsense when it comes to food/drink. I still struggle with weight/mental weight, right now I’m anywhere between 190-200 lbs, but it’s always refreshing to know that you’ve done a lot of healthy, no pun intended, mental/physical work for the better. Thanks for inspiring so many people, John, in more ways than one!

  • Val Blanchette

    This is a great article, especially because it highlights that to lose weight and keep at optimal health, you need to make an entire lifestyle change. Diets never work, you have to change your mindset about fueling your body. I have always been a health nut but wasn’t eating the right things at the right times, its easy to fall off your program and get out of peak health even if you ride all the time. Eating lean protein and veggies and limiting grains makes such a difference. Lugging even 5-10 extra pounds up hills really puts a hurt on you. The trick is to plan to eat healthy, you need to stay organized and think about your meals so you don’t go into Whole Foods and eat a whole bag of healthy junk food. Mix up exercise too, I used to only run and ride bikes, this year I hired a personal trainer and started doing core workouts and bootcamp and I am so much stronger and coordinated on my road and mountain bikes, even if it means a day or two off my bike to work on other areas. You don’t have to be a racer to be smart about nutrition, I just like to motor up the killer hills where I live to get to the good stuff and feel good about myself.

  • sauhsu

    it is extremely commendable that your mission to be healthier will help document radness on the next level.

  • Edsel Dilag

    Thanks for the inspiration!

  • Ultra_Orange

    Officer I’m not drunk, I’m training.

    In all seriousness great article, I think we are about the same build and I’ve gotten down from 225 to 205. I just need to make more time for riding and get over this horrible winter here.

  • mark montgomery

    Thanks John, you really inspire me.

  • btdubs

    So the basic bottom line is “Eat less shit, ride more”.

    Nothing mind blowing about that, but it’s mind blowing how much you changed your lifestyle and habits and stuck with it. Kudos, man!!

  • Andy Zielinski

    John, I have a random question-
    While you have been losing weight, how did you eventually decide that 175 was ‘race weight’ for you? I am training for a marathon, and have been trying to keep ‘race weight’ in mind, yet i don’t want my number to be arbitrary. Can you speak to that for you?
    Great job btw!

    • Yeah, 175 seemed like the healthiest I could be. Any more weight and I’d look emaciated. That target is when I’m eating healthy, not drinking and riding a lot. 180-185 is where my body wants to be, naturally and comfortably.

  • Joss Dakin

    Really interesting. I always feel so much better when I eat healthy but shit is it harder work.
    I definitely think that if i went veggie a lot of my temptations would be taken away.

    Thanks for this though, really encouraging.

  • recurrecur

    obviously you never did the 9W, Bear Mountain, Captain Lawrence Brewery day tour while you were in NYC.
    Beer & bikes are like peanut butter & jelly.

    Jest aside, nice article.

    • I did 9W at least three times a week and Bear “Hill” is a good one too.

      • Andy Moore

        New Yorkers are less generous with their “mountain” distinctions than Oklahomans (and Texans), anyway. ;]

  • showlowitsqueentlee

    IMO – Ashtanga. It’s serious yoga. Lose weight, calm down, become more flexible and abolish aches and pains. Every morning if you can. Best compliment to cycling there is. I went for m 205 to 170 in about 12 months.

  • The best part about this is I’m a skinny dude who hasn’t passed 155 on the scales in my life, but I got so much out of this. I drink beer. I eat burgers. I can happily spend a night in with the girl and put away my large pizza and half of hers, and after all of that, not tip the scales. Sounds great? Maybe…

    Moderation, and you preach that. It’s so true. If I’m eating too much, yeah, I may not be getting bigger, but I’m sure as shit not getting fitter, and I know plenty of skinny kids who don’t get that.

    Good lessons in this for all body types. Good luck Prolly, keep it up.

    • How old are you? Everyone’s metabolism slows down at some point… ;-)

      • Hahaha, old enough to know I’m already on borrowed time in that department! :)

  • Kenners

    Beer, fuck beer! You need it to keep alive so never miss a pint. Sometimes after a wild sprint up a 7.4% IPA along some of the most remote sections of the famous black beer glasses of L’alpes D’HUez.

    I always keep some strong ale in my water bottle for those seconds that you need the extra boost, steer away from the mass produced cans they make you greasy. On tour I always stick to my controlled diet of several pints throughout the day, sometimes not even making it to the saddle! That’s what its all about, finding a decent local bar and not really moving on.

  • I think you have it nailed. Back in the day, before kids, I’d run 1000 miles a year, ride 2500 miles, ski, rock climb, walk everywhere. Not these days. Removing beer from the diet is all I need since I got back some decent level of fitness but I already picked kale as my favorite green food. Keep the diet, keep writing.

  • alexroseinnes

    really great post, chapeau.

  • Dave Noakes

    great piece, this inspired me to write something about having cancer.

  • dano

    I really enjoyed this post – what about fruit – do you eat a lot of fruit?

    • I do. Mostly bananas during rides and fresh berries in my oatmeal.

  • Pyotr Caudillo

    I was overweight and tried so many things. Different things work for different people and I was lucky enough to find one that worked for me. I lost 22 pounds in one month without any exercise and it has been a life changer. I’m a little embarrased to post my before and after photos here but if anyone actually cares to hear what I’ve been doing then I’d be happy to help in any way. Just shoot me an email at [email protected] and I’ll show you my before and after photos, and tell you about how things are going for me with the stuff I’ve tried. I wish someone would have helped me out when I was struggling to find a solution so if I can help you then it would make my day

  • jtbadge

    Great information here. I have lost about 20 pounds since March of last year (down from 240) mostly through riding and not drinking soda, but that plateaued a while back. Going to try and work on a couple of these. Not drinking beer will definitely be the hardest.

  • Owen Cunningham

    John, just curious about how tall you are. That looks like 20+ cm head tube on your cross bike

  • Brecon Thomas Welton

    You’ve definitely got it in my head to cut the beer out…even though it’s hard to pass up on the occassional trail beer! That being said, I’m doing a week long hut-to-hut mtb and want to bring a bottle of bourbon along since we can’t pack a weeks worth of beer. Any advice on what to buy, other than Bulleit? Cheers on the article and the advice!

    • Word! Anything from Buffalo Trace’s distillery is readily-available and accessible.