Are you looking for a way to help you lose weight, get fitter, trimmer, and healthier? You’re not alone, and it’s the same place I found myself before I discovered the joy of cycling.
It’s an enjoyable exercise, something you can do as a family, and easy to slip into your busy day. Plus, cycling comes with mental, physical, and emotional health benefits.
Whether you’re a cycling newbie or you’re a veteran whose bike is an old friend, find out how to maximize your fat-burning potential on your bike.
Can I Lose Weight by Cycling?
Yes, you can lose weight by cycling. It’s possible to burn a remarkable amount of calories, especially if you push yourself out of your comfort zone. That means that being a cyclist is an excellent way to drop a few inches, drop some of those extra pounds, and help you achieve your weight loss goals.
Cycling is a form of low-impact aerobic exercise that increases your heart rate and helps you burn calories. Compared with jogging or running, it’s also kinder on your ankles, knees, and many of your other joints.
Hop on your bike, and you’ll be amazed at how you feel, even after thirty minutes in the saddle. There are some fantastic cycling health benefits. While it might be tempting to go for a long, slow bike ride, there are things you can do to help speed up your weight loss.
That’s not to say you shouldn’t head out and spin those wheels at a leisurely pace every once in a while. However, if you’re looking to lose weight and want to gain maximum benefits from being a cyclist, you’ll need to push your limits.
I’m going to share some of my tried and tested tips. I found them extremely helpful, and I hope you will too.
How Fast to Ride to Lose Weight
According to research, losing weight is more to do with the intensity of your exercise rather than the speed. Aim for a high-intensity ride, and you’re likely to use up significantly more calories than if you take it slow.
How hard you exercise can be affected by several things: what bike you’re riding and the route you choose can affect the intensity and the pace of your exercise.
Cyclists have to work much harder, for example, if riding off-road compared to riding down a hill on the road.
You can check how hard you’re working by measuring the rate of your heart using a smartwatch. Another way to measure it is how deep you’re breathing. You don’t want to be out of breath or be winded to the point of being unable to breathe at all. Breathing hard is OK.
How Far to Ride to Lose Weight
It’s not so much how far you go if your goal is losing weight— the duration is more important.
For those of you who are new to cycling, consider starting with the following test. Measure how far you go if you’re training for half an hour. You can use a smartphone app, GPS watch, or odometer. Take note of the distance, and then set yourself a goal.
The ultimate aim is to reduce the time it takes to cover the same distance along the same route. The more you ride, the quicker you’ll log the same number of miles. Ultimately, you’ll burn more calories.
Where to Ride to Lose Weight
One of the most significant impacts you can make on the calories you use up, and your weight is your choice of where to go. If you want to achieve the top results when it comes to losing weight, look for a course that provides ample opportunities for consistent pedaling.
If you’re a beginner—or want to learn to ride a bike as an adult—and are wondering where to start, choose courses that have few intersections or stoplights. Taking a break allows your heartbeat to fall, wastes valuable cycling time, and decreases the potential for burning calories.
People who live in cities are lucky because there are often dedicated cycling trails. These tend to be much safer than riding on traffic-heavy streets. If there are no biking paths near where you live, it might be worth finding a road that is quiet.
10 Ways to Cycle Your Way to a Slimmer Body
It’s time for some of my top tips on how you can reduce your weight and cycle your way to a fitter and trimmer body.
#1. Ride Your Bike Whenever Possible
Cycling happens to be a superb way to get around. It’s far more environmentally friendly than your car and even beats bus and train journeys. There are plenty of opportunities if you want to switch your traveling to two wheels.
If you commute, for example. A study in 2015 found that commuters who swapped public transport or driving for cycling dropped around seven kilograms from their weight over twelve months. The people in the survey were cycling for half an hour each way.
Choosing to commute by bike is not the only way to shed those pounds. You can fit a surprising amount of shopping into a backpack if you decide to cycle to the grocery store rather than drive.
If you’re trying to lower your weight, take your bike out for a short spin before eating breakfast. Fasted training is a great way to kickstart a weight loss program. You have no food in your system, so your body has to use the fat it’s already got stored.
There are also plenty of options when it comes to exercising on a bike. If you prefer indoor exercising, you could try a stationary bike in your home or at a gym, sign up for spin classes, or try hand cycling.
Perhaps you’re more of an outside person, in which case there’s mountain biking, road biking, or trail biking.
#2. Start with Slower, Longer Rides
If you’re new to cycling as a way of training, it’s always best to start easy. You shouldn’t try to do too much right away.
Begin your cycling program with longer and slower rides. Once you’re a little more accustomed to spending time in the saddle, try to cut the length of time it takes you to ride the same number of miles.
Before you head out, it’s also a good idea to start your training with a gentle warm-up. Pedal slowly for five to ten minutes before you turn up the speed and start clocking up those miles.
#3. Amp It Up With High-Intensity Sessions
Include high-intensity interval training sessions a few times a week, and your cardiovascular fitness will improve. I started my cycling journey at a very leisurely pace, but only until I’d found my feet, so to speak. I knew that taking it long and slow wouldn’t shift the weight. I needed to push myself harder and increase the intensity of my ride.
Generally, you can expect to expend more calories the faster you ride. Swap a couple of the regular rides you make for high-intensity rides or add them at the end of your typical exercise ride.
For this strategy to be effective, you need to reach close to your maximum capacity for most of the session. You know you’re pushing yourself enough if you’re breathing hard enough but not unable to keep a conversation going.
#4. Don’t Avoid Hills
Cycling downhill is a breeze, but to go down, you first have to go up. That’s when you’re putting your body through its paces because hills are, by their very nature, hard work.
You may feel slightly daunted by hills—to begin with. When you appreciate the benefits, you’ll be heading for the hills more often than cruising the flat routes.
Climbing hills on your bike means you’re taxing your body more, thereby improving your fitness. In addition, you can change the gearing of your bike and work on either your strength or cardiovascular fitness.
#5. Push Yourself with Speed Intervals
Using interval training, you can boost your fat-burning, fitness and have more fun. Rising at a steady pace for long stretches is fantastic for endurance building.
When you include periods of intense cycling at a fast pace, it increases the rate of your heart. Following the intense interval, there is a period of active recovery during which it decreases.
#6. Track How Many Calories You Burn
Tracking the numbers is a tedious yet vital as part of your weight loss program. The number is directly related to how much weight you’re thinking of losing. To reduce your weight, you have to expend more than your body takes in, thereby creating a deficit.
In order to do this, you first have to know how many you burn every day.
There’s an old-school way of working out how many and it’s called the Harris-Benedict Formula, but it does involve more math than many of you would probably like.
Thanks to technology, however, there’s a much easier way. You can access countless calorie counters online. You’ll also find many smartwatches, training and fitness bands that have this function. There are also numerous training apps you can use.
#7. Don’t Eat Heavy Meals Before You Ride
Cycling after eating food is an OK thing to do, but if your stomach is too full, it can lead to an upset stomach. I won’t go into specifics, but a troublesome tummy won’t be very pleasant if you’re out for a ride and far from home.
If you think you need a quick energy boost, find food that’s healthy and light to eat, such as a granola bar or a banana—just make sure your protein and calorie intake is low.
#8. Have Realistic Expectations
Having a goal is crucial because it holds you accountable, encourages you to keep pushing, and expands your definition of what’s possible. However, figuring out those goals and your workout expectations can be challenging.
You’re not going to lose 100 pounds and be triathlon-ready within a few weeks—or even a few months. If you think everything will happen at the speed of light, it can be incredibly discouraging when it doesn’t.
Realistic workout expectations ensure you’ll have some critical wins, and the more success you have, the more likely you are to stick with the program.
#9. Take Rest Days and Eat Healthily
Rest days are important because they allow muscle to rebuild. If you don’t give them this time, muscle won’t get stronger, and you may be more at risk of injury or burnout.
A rest day should also be just that—it’s vital to rest your body both mentally and physically.
When it comes to a healthy diet and the foods you put into your body, there are good and bad things for fueling the weight loss process
The usual healthy diet rules apply. You should eat plenty of vegetables, protein, and limit your intake of sugary and fatty foods.
#10. Set Mini-Goals to Keep It Fun
Mini-goals have extraordinary power because they’re easier to achieve regularly. This means you get to set them more often, build on them, and constantly feel a real sense of achievement and getting better.
Setting smaller goals also means you don’t push yourself too far and build confidence to do more workouts in the future.
What kind of goals can you set? Let me share a few examples that worked for me:
- Encourage a couple of friends to come out for a ride with you.
- Help a young family member learn to ride.
- Take part in a charity event for cyclists.
How to Choose a Bike for Weight Loss
If you want to lose weight, there are lots of bikes to choose from, but ultimately, the best is a bike that you want to ride regularly. There’s little point in finding one of the best bikes for heavy riders if it sits in the garage for most of the week.
If you’re a cycling newbie, here are some of your options if you’re looking for one of the best bikes for beginners.
- Lighter and require less effort if you want to ride fast.
- Better for cycling on paved surfaces and if the road is long and uninterrupted.
- Might feel a little unsteady to ride because you have to lean forward slightly.
- Not the best option if you’ve got back problems or are concerned about your safety.
Cross, Cruiser, or Mountain Bike
- Very comfortable to ride as they have thick, heavy tires, comfy cushioning, and suspension.
- The ride is more upright, so there is less stress on your back.
- More stable, thanks to the thicker tires.
- Beginners, in particular, tend to feel safer using this bike.
- Rides like a standard bike, but you get a boost if you need it.
- A pedal-assist system kicks in if you want a break or hit a hill.
- Less risk than road cycling.
- Great for building muscle.
- Enjoy a cycling workout any time of the year.
- Vary the resistance level of the bike.
- Recumbent versions allow you to sit against a backrest with your legs out in front.
There are several questions people commonly ask when deciding whether cycling is going to help them achieve their weight loss goals:
What Type of Cycle Is Best for Weight Loss?
If cycling is going to become a part of your daily lifestyle, it’s essential to have the right type of bike for your needs. It’ll make you feel more comfortable and encourage you to push yourself further, and increase the intensity of your workout.
There are plenty of things to consider when choosing a bike. However, one of the most important is where you plan to take your bike.
If you’re going to be riding on paved roads and bike paths, a road or electric bike may be a good choice. For trails that take you off-road, a better choice would be a sturdy mountain bike. For workouts that are indoors, a stationary bike is what you need.
Can You Lose Belly Fat by Cycling?
When you’re trying to lose weight and those extra inches around your middle workouts can be difficult, but yes cycling can definitely help, as long as you follow a few basic principles.
Cycling works your core out and you can burn plenty of calories, but the key to dropping a few sizes is to be consistent. Also, remember that the old adage of you can’t out-exercise a bad diet applies. Food plays an important role.
If you don’t have hours to dedicate to your workouts, up the tempo and you’ll see results. Include some high intensity interval training in your routine: it raises your heart rate and burns a significant number of calories.
Riding on an empty stomach can also bump up the amount of body fat you lose. The reason is that glycogen levels in your body are low, so your body has to use your fat reserves for energy during your workout.
How Long Should I Ride a Bike to Lose Belly Fat?
How many calories you burn and whether you’ll lose belly fat are determined by certain variables, like your weight and how hard you ride.
If you work out every day, push yourself and ride vigorously, and reduce your caloric intake. At least 30 minutes a day bike riding should help you lose belly fat and achieve your weight loss goals.
How Much Weight Will I Lose if I Cycle 30 Minutes a Day
The answer to this question kind of depends on how much effort you put into cycling.
Harvard reports that a person who weighs 155 pounds can mean around 260 calories burned when they ride an exercise bike for half an hour. If the person weighs only 125 pounds, they will burn 210. A 185-pound person, on the other hand, would burn as many as 311.
If you consume fewer calories and burn more through cycling, weight loss is achievable
Cycling can benefit your health in many ways—in fact, it’s an excellent form of aerobic exercise, cardio workout, improves your blood flow, boosts your lung and heart health, lowers stress levels, and builds muscle mass. Plus, there’s an excellent correlation between cycling and lower mortality risk in general.
If that wasn’t enough to get yourself some cycling gear and a bike, you now know that it's also fantastic for helping you burn more calories to lose fat and ultimately drop all those unwanted pounds.