The first months of 2019 are flying past, which means that it’s finally the eve of the racing season. This is the time when professional riders start striving towards being in top form. But not only the pros do this: we amateur riders also have to start considering how we’re going to fit into the pro-cut clothing we have bought, without looking like an over-stuffed sausage. Some of us are still carrying a bit of Christmas along with us, and riders without an indoor trainer may have had precious few opportunities to get that fat percentage down a bit. We’ve put some tips together to look at how you can train efficiently and burn fat. Time to shed those kilos!

Skip breakfast

It doesn’t sound very attractive: ride to work on your bike without eating breakfast beforehand. But regular so-called fasted rides can be quite effective. Proceed with caution, however. We don’t mean ride to work five days a week without ever eating breakfast—once, twice or max three times a week should be more than enough. It’s also very important not to set out too fast. Oh, and a ‘fasted’ ride should never last more than two hours.

See it as a long, slow, distance training. It isn’t the idea that you arrive at work totally exhausted, just to burn a little fat. And due to the fact that you haven’t eaten anything all night, your carbohydrate stores will be quite low. Your body will therefore automatically switch to using fat reserves. Your body does have to work harder for this type of combustion, so take it easy during your commute, and don’t chase down every e-bike that passes you…

Cycling Morning Ride

Start your day with a “fasted” morning ride for a maximum of three times a week. Photograph: Getty Images.

Interval training

If a longer morning ride is not an option, you can also opt for time-efficient interval training. Research has clearly shown that high-intensity intervals are a good framework for burning off midriff fat. Not only that, but they’re good for your anaerobic muscle capacity. But be warned, you would be well-advised not to go overboard with anaerobic interval training, as it can be counter-productive if you overdo it.

A general rule of thumb is the 80–20 rule, which is a good rough guide for one training session, but also a good plan for intensity levels across your training as a whole. Spend 80% of your training in low-intensity zones and 20% in high-intensity zones. This is generally seen to be the ideal combination in order to improve your general cycling fitness.

Balanced diet

A balanced diet serves as the foundation for a healthy and strong body. In an earlier interview with Team Sunweb’s nutritionist Titia van der Stelt, we learned how important diet can be, also for us amateur athletes. This factor is often underestimated, but you must make sure you have a healthy balance in your diet. Are you really serious about this? Then it might well be worth keeping track of what you eat by using one of the many apps available for this purpose. It’s also important to know how many calories you burn up during a day. Only then is it possible to optimise the balance between input and output. Is this too much to ask? Understandable.

We would therefore like to pass on one golden tip: stop making exceptions to routine. How often do you buy a little snack at the train or petrol station, or reach for an evening bite while watching TV? Exactly, most likely the answer is more than zero. Wilfully looking more carefully at your diet and ruling out unscheduled calorie bombs is a start. You can win more than you might think just by ruling out these dietary exceptions.


You can go a long way with a balance diet!

Interested in other ways to influence your sports performance? See also: How does coffee impact our sports performance? and How both glucose and fructose can benefit faster cycling recovery