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5 Offseason Weight-Loss Tips

As the end of winter nears, you may be wondering how you've managed to pack on all those extra pounds in a few short months. Losing weight—and keeping it off—will make your transition into cycling season this spring that much easier.

Instead of trying crazy gimmicks to lose weight before the warmer months arrive, there are a few simple changes you can make in the offseason to get trimmer.

TIP #1—Eat Breakfast

If you want to lose weight, don't make the mistake of not eating breakfast. Individuals who skip breakfast (and/or lunch) are more likely to overeat and end up consuming more calories throughout the day. Instead of "saving" calories by skipping breakfast or lunch, you're better off eating three meals a day. The National Weight Control Registry tracks people who have maintained a 30-pound weight loss diet for at least one year and found that 78 percent of participants ate breakfast daily and 90 percent ate breakfast at least five days a week.

More: Make Your Own Homemade Energy Gel

TIP #2—Hydrate

Due to a weak thirst mechanism in the body, hunger is often mistaken for thirst. Symptoms of dehydration such as feeling light headed and cranky mimic symptoms of hunger, which can further add to the confusion. An easy weight loss tip is to drink 12 to 16 ounces of water before eating a snack or meal. This will help hydration levels and will result in fewer calories consumed at the next meal or snack.

TIP #3—Know When to Cut Calories

Many athletes diet during training sessions hoping to cut calories. Unfortunately, this method tends to leave athletes tired, hungry and deprived of the calories needed to fuel their workout. When you're trying to lose weight, don't skimp on calories during or immediately after workouts. Choose a carbohydrate or protein snack post workout such as chocolate milk, fruit and cheese, or a peanut butter sandwich to aid in recovery. This will pay big dividends for tomorrow's workout, which you'll need to be ready for if you want to keep the weight off.

More: What Pro Cyclists Eat for Success

TIP #4—Strike a Balance

One pound equals 3,500 calories. To lose one pound a week, a 500-calorie deficit a day would need to be created (500 calories a day x 7 days a week = 3,500 calories a week). Aiming for one pound of weight loss per week is a good weight loss goal for most. On the other side, a 500-calorie deficit a day can negatively impact workouts and harm your performance. A more prudent strategy would be to aim for a 150- to 300-calorie deficit a day instead. This more moderate approach will allow you to get the most out of your workouts lose weight safely without a drop in performance.

TIP #5—Get Plenty of Sleep

Something as simple as getting enough sleep can make a big difference when losing weight. When you're sleep deprived, an increase in ghrelin levels are triggered in the body, causing you to be hungrier than you should. When you're well rested, there are increased levels of leptin in the body, which helps you regulate feelings of fullness. Not getting enough sleep can lead to overeating and eventually weight gain. Lack of sleep can also reduce the ability of fat cells to respond to insulin, which is another hormone that can contribute to fat storage. Aim for 7 to 8 hours of sleep a night.

More: 7 Tips for Fueling on the Bike

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