Weight loss is the main goal of millions of Americans every year.
With over 73% of the US population being overweight or obese, there has been an impetus on the nation to become healthier.
The main ways to lose weight naturally are to eat a healthy balanced diet and get regular exercise. But, what about biking? Is this a good method of shredding those extra lockdown pounds?
Well, pedal power is a great way to lose weight and it’s great fun too. Biking is suitable for everyone, whatever age or fitness level you are at.
Unlike a long walk which can take a lot of time out of your day and put a strain on certain joints, biking can be more enjoyable.
Yes, you can also put a strain on your joints and muscles when biking but for overall fun, not much can beat it.
Cycling helps weight loss as it is very good at helping you burn calories. It improves your health, both physically and mentally, and has the added bonus of getting you out and about into the open air.
You may have noticed that more and more cycle paths are being opened around the country. This is due to the popularity of cycling as a comfortable and enjoyable way to lose weight.
It is hard to imagine a more freeing, more enjoyable way of enjoying nature while burning fat!
Does slow cycling burn fat?
Whatever type of cycling you do is generally advantageous to your health and wellbeing. They say “slow and steady wins the race” but does it win the race against belly fat?
As we said, just getting on your bike and going for a short ride will benefit you. While a very short ride to the end of your street and back may not do much to aid your weight loss journey, it’s still better than sitting down and doing nothing.
It is important to remember that losing weight in one specific body area has been scientifically disproved. Known as “spot reduction”, this is when you target one area of your body to lose weight such as your lower belly.
Many people believe cycling will help them lose weight on their legs or belly but, if you want to lose weight, you will have to lose it all over your body.
When it comes to speed, you should keep a steady pace during your rides.
Even though your stomach muscles are not working as hard as your glutes or quads, you will still be burning fat.
Cycling is an aerobic exercise so your heart rate will rise leading to calories being burnt off.
You shouldn’t cycle too slow. To successfully lose weight while cycling, you should ride at a moderately intensive pace. As long as you can make conversation, this is a good rate.
This won’t be easy at first but soon enough, you will be able to ride at this pace effortlessly. You should cycle at less than 80-percent of your maximum heart rate about three times a week for two hours.
How can I lose weight on a road bike?
Any bicycling will burn more calories than sitting on your couch. As soon as you start cycling, you have begun your weight loss journey. (Just don’t ride straight to the ice cream stand and home again!)
To lose weight effectively on a road bike, you should consider having a more committed program of cycling.
This program should promote calorie use through the duration of your bike, the distance you ride, and the intensity of your cycling effort.
If you have more time and cycle for longer periods over longer distances, you should be rewarded with some weight loss after some time.
Furthermore, cycling into the wind or over hilly terrain will demand more of you. This will result in greater calorie use than just free-riding down a level road with the wind on your back.
You should aim to ride with some sort of intensity around three times a week if you want to notice any slimming benefits.
Interval training is another great option! If you’re relatively fit, these short, sharp bursts of intensive cycling can really push your calorie burn.
Interval training is best done after a long ride or if you have a busy schedule and only have enough time for short periods of exercise.
Whichever suits you best, you should do six sets of all-out intervals. Each set should last two minutes with 30 seconds of rest in between. The more you do this, the more you will improve and be able to go for longer.
The main benefit of interval training is that you will burn plenty of calories in a short amount of time.
Your metabolism will also be on overdrive for the next 12 hours meaning you will be burning extra calories over the course of the day and night. The weight will soon be dropping off!
How many miles should I cycle a day to lose weight?
Cycling for weight loss is fun. Whether it’s a long day out or an hour or two, it’s a sociable and enjoyable way of losing some unwanted pounds.
When we consider how many miles is best to lose weight, there is no magic number. Instead, it’s all about balancing your diet with physical activity.
This way, you will burn more calories than you take in so your body will use up stored fat as fuel.
To burn calories, speed and duration matter more than distance on a bike. However, 10 to 12 miles is a good place to start as this will certainly burn calories, whatever speed you are cycling.
The American College of Sports Medicine recommends that you get between 150 and 250 minutes of moderate exercise every week to lose weight. This adds up to about 22 - 36 minutes every day. But cycling for longer durations will help you burn fat much faster.
Harvard Health Publishing calculated the average calories burned after 30 minutes of moderate cycling:
- Weight: 125 lbs - Average calories burned when cycling for 30 minutes: 210 calories
- Weight: 155 lbs - Average calories burned when cycling for 30 minutes: 260 calories
- Weight: 185 lbs - Average calories burned when cycling for 30 minutes: 311 calories
The general rule of thumb is that you need to burn approximately 3,500 calories to lose just 1 lb.
Therefore, the chart above shows that you should be able to lose at least 1 lb a week if you cycled for 30 to 40 minutes every day.
Is cycling enough exercise?
This entirely depends on the amount of cycling you do each week. As we have mentioned, the longer you cycle, the more calories you will burn.
There is no doubt that cycling is a great way to get physically active and lose weight. If you don’t have a lot of free time, cycling can be extremely effective at keeping you fit and healthy, even if it's your only form of exercise.
Chances are, if you cycle every day, you will do some form of walking on other days.
You should get at least half an hour of moderate exercise every day to lose weight so if you only cycle two or three times a week for half an hour at a time, then you should mix this up with other exercises on the days in between.
So, mix up your week with some walking, running, Crossfit, or light weights and the calories should soon start to drop off.