“Oh, so you are a cyclist…

… then your metabolism must be crazy

… you can eat whatever you want, wow

… so you burn 10000 calories a day, you’re so lucky”

We’ve heard these all before. Jealous friends that think they know all the stereotypes about cyclists. The question remains what is true and what is not. 

First, check out this great video by our friends from GCN. It shows how easily we can misjudge the amount of calories we take in.

Now, let’s get into the topic of your metabolism. We all know at least one person that can eat all the food they want and never seem to gain any weight. That is something to be jealous of, right? 

Let’s look at it from a different perspective. Imagine deciding between two cars. One takes 20L/100km (11mpg) – the other 5L/100km (47mpg). Most would agree, having a more efficient car is desirable.

So, calling a ‘fast’ metabolism a ‘good’ metabolism is maybe not right after all? A fast metabolism is inefficient and is converting a lot of your energy/kcal into heat instead of kinetic energy. (Remember, you can never lose energy, only convert it into a different kind of energy). 

The Hummingbird, the animal with the fastest metabolism in the world. Picture courtesy of: https://www.princeton.edu

What’s the reason for differences in metabolic rates? 

Our friends at Fitness Genes just released a new trait this week. By testing your DNA they now can look into your metabolic efficiency. They do this by investigating the UCP1 Protein, a protein that is responsible for converting long chain fatty acids into heat and therefore less resources can be used to produce ATP for kinetic energy. By analyzing the likeliness of a high number of UCP1 proteins in your body, they can conclude your metabolic rate. For a more detailed information of the process read this blog.

To understand why this is a big deal, remember that during high intensity (endurance) training some parts of your body can get up to 39°C. Fun fact: “Only 23 per cent of the metabolic energy is used for muscle work, the rest is converted to heat.” (https://doi.org/10.1098/rsta.2011.0166

What’s more desirable for an athlete- slow or fast metabolism? Can I change my metabolic speed? How does this affect my training?

These are all very difficult questions. An Ultra distance cyclist might benefit from a slow metabolism as he or she is burning thousands and thousands of calories a day. If you want to get up a hill quick and lose weight, then you probably would prefer to increase your metabolism rate. 

To a certain degree you can alternate your resting metabolism rate. Our coaches take this into account when creating your training plan according to your personal needs. This goes way beyond creating ideal workouts and balancing high intensity and aerobic work. For some, extra resistance training might be an option (muscle mass has a higher metabolic rate than fat) or even the timing of your workout may be a factor. Knowing that it’s not only about the performance side, we look into every little detail like sleep, vitamins, supplements, stress…. This is where DNA tests from our partner Fitness Genes help us connect the dots. 

Get in Contact:

If you’d like more information on how Spokes can tailor a training programme to your exact needs, why not check out our products and services. Need more info or would you like to speak to one of our coaches? Get in contact.


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