Q: I?m training hard and trying to lose some weight in preparation for some Alpine sportives. I?d like to lose a pound a week for the next seven weeks. I currently weigh 12st 12lb and am 6ft tall. I?m currently doing one hard day of intervals alternated with recovery or endurance rides.
Simon Francis, email


A: Firstly, your aim is fat loss, as opposed to weight loss. Fat loss is losing body fat while maintaining lean tissue, and this is your goal!

To lose fat, but maintain lean tissue and strength, aim to eat at least 2,500-3,000 ?quality? calories a day, every day. Try and spread this intake over the course of the day into five or six small meals/snacks. Athletes tend to eat more regularly anyway than non-active individuals, which in many ways helps them to stay lean! Regular eating helps ?fire up? the metabolic rate via the ?thermic? effect of eating food.

Another key to fat loss is effective blood sugar balancing, which is largely determined by our intake of carbohydrate and protein. Eating too many high glycaemic index (GI) or fast-releasing carbohydrates (white bread, potatoes etc) and not enough protein to ?counter-balance? glucose levels and burn fat, can result in a sharp rise in glucose and insulin, and fast conversion of blood glucose to fat ? if the glucose is not used for energy.

The solution is to firstly eat only complex, slow-releasing carbohydrates (such as brown rice, barley, rye bread, quinoa etc), and eat some protein with each meal. This will effectively lower the insulin response to food; balance blood sugar levels and encourage the burning of your own body fat stores. Good luck.

Lucy-Anne Prideaux
Certified nutrition consultant who runs simply-nutrition.co.uk and provides expert advice for individuals and sports groups