It’s a well known fact that the way you lose weight is to eat less and move more. Cycling for weight loss works because it makes it easy to do both!
One pound of fat contains 3,500 Kcals (Calories) of energy. Put another way, if you consume 3,500 calories less than you need you will lose 1lb of body fat.
It’s a little more complicated than that, but this is a good rule of thumb to get you started.
We all need to calories in order for our bodies to operate. They are the fuel we use to create energy. These calories come from the food and drink you consume and if there is an energy deficit then your body burns it’s fat reserves to produce the extra energy needed.
Interestingly your Brain uses a huge amount of energy which it ideally gets from carbohydrates.
How many Calories do we need just to stay alive
For an adult middle aged male with a slightly active lifestyle, the number of calories needed every day is around 2,500
For an adult middle aged female with a slightly active lifestyle, the number of calories needed every day is around 2,000
Here’s a useful calorie requirement calculator you can try.
You can dramatically increase the number of calories you use by exercising. The increase varies by exercise type and intensity, as well as your age, gender and weight. Cycling is the most effective exercise there is in terms of burning calories.
A middle aged man or woman, slightly overweight, cycling at 22Km per hour could expect to burn around 700 calories an hour.
Many training apps have a calorie burn calculator but these are very rough estimates, if you train with a heart rate sensor you can get a more accurate figure but it is still just an estimate.
Here’s a good cycling calorie burn calculator that seems more accurate than many I have tried.
Cycling makes it easier to cut down how much you eat and drink
Given the above you can see how effective cycling for weight loss can be especially if you also cut your calorie intake.
I mentioned previously that one of the other benefits of cycling for weight loss is that it helps you consume fewer calories for two reasons
- It’s quiet hard to eat on a bike (though much easier than running or swimming).
- You tend to ride for a long time (1 or 2 hours a day is not uncommon). This means you have less time to get bored and head for the fridge
It’s easy to stay motivated when Cycling for weight loss
Cycling is all about your power to weight ratios and this is never more apparent than when riding up hills, (Grades or gradients as we cyclists call them)
When you start cycling anything other than a flat road will have you puffing and panting. Even the slightest incline will see you getting off your bike to do the “walk of shame”.
Luckily the best views are often at the top of hills! (and you have the descent to look forward to)
As you get fitter gradients become less intimidating until one day you find you can climb any mountain and ride anywhere you want.
This is such a great moment in your cycling journey that you will never want to go back to being a “Flat Road” cyclist and you know that any increase in weight will be a big set back that you want to avoid at any cost.
Cycling for weight loss has other benefits beyond reducing your body fat as it will also improve your cardio fitness and build your muscle strength and tone.
These tips will boost the effectiveness of Cycling for weight loss
There are two popular ways to boost the effectiveness of Cycling for weight loss even further:
Fasting Rides – The idea of a fasting ride is to start with as little glucose in your system as possible as a way to train your body to use fat as it’s preferred energy source
Triggering your Metabolism – Your metabolism plays a large part in your weight, people with a fast metabolism tend to be leaner than people with a slow metabolism (one characteristic of a fast metabolism is that these people tend to fidget more which burns energy, when you fast your body slows down your metabolism and you fidget less which conserves energy).
You are born with a certain type of metabolism and can’t do much to change it but there are cycling techniques that can be used to increase your metabolic rate for up to 24 hours.