The best cycling for weight loss is one that you enjoy and will be motivated to do on a consistent basis.
At Calories Burned HQ, we believe that weight loss doesn’t have to be complicated. The best way to lose weight and to keep it off is to turn healthy eating and exercise into a lifestyle. If you enjoy cycling, then this can be a great option to help you on your weight loss journey.
In this article, we cover the top success tips for cycling for weight loss.
Does cycling help you lose weight?
Yes, cycling for weight loss can be effective and is an enjoyable way to increase your daily activity levels and improve your health.
However, it’s important to remember that you can’t out-cycle a bad diet or lose weight after one ride.
The best way to lose weight cycling is to do so in combination with a healthy diet that creates a calorie deficit and to cycle consistently.
Making cycling and healthy eating part of your lifestyle is key to losing weight and keeping it off.
Benefits of cycling for weight loss
Here are some of the key benefits of cycling for weight loss:
Cycling burns calories
The number of calories burned biking can be between 400 to 700 calories depending on the duration and the intensity of your ride.
What’s interesting is that the fitter you are, the more calories you’ll burn!
This graph shows the average hourly calorie burn, by fitness levels and intensity, for someone weighing 150 lbs. If you are heavier then that you’d expect to burn even more.
Regular cycling builds muscle and boosts your metabolism
When it comes to losing weight, muscles are your best friend as they burn more calories at rest than fat cells.
Cycling engages several muscle groups:
- Your legs including glutes and thighs.
- Your core (abs) and lower back
- Your shoulders and arms
Over time, this can lead to increased muscle mass which, in turn, can boost your resting metabolic rate so that even when you’re doing nothing, your body is burning more calories.
It improves your cardiovascular health and fitness
Cycling strengthens your heart and lungs and improves your cardiovascular health.
A healthy cardiovascular system not only helps weight loss but also enhances overall well-being.
It builds endurance
As you progress in your cycling journey, you’ll likely notice that you’ll be able to cycle for longer distances at a more intense effort.
Cycling builds your physical endurance so that you can cycle for longer. The longer your rides or the more intense, the more beneficial this will be for weight loss.
It reduces stress
Cycling is an excellent stress reliever. The rhythmic motion and fresh air can help reduce stress hormones in the body. This also makes it easier to manage stress-related eating, a common obstacle to weight loss.
It boosts your mood
Cycling triggers the release of endorphins, the body’s natural mood elevators. Regular cycling can combat feelings of depression and anxiety. This makes it easier to stay motivated and positive on your weight loss journey.
It's low impact and easy on your joints
Cycling is a low-impact exercise. This means it’s gentle on the joints which makes it suitable for all levels of fitness. It also reduces the risk of injury which allows you to be more consistent in your workouts.
It can be a social activity
Cycling can be a social activity when done in groups or with friends. Having your friends or some form of social support can be a powerful way to help you stay committed to your weight loss goals.
Best cycling for weight loss
The best cycling for weight loss is one that you’ll be able to do on a consistent basis and that you enjoy doing.
A key success factor to losing weight and keeping it off is to make regular exercise a part of your lifestyle. If you enjoy the activity, it will be so much easier to do it consistently.
Cycling for weight loss can be a good option and it’s as effective as running yet without the impact on the joints.
Here’s a graph that compares the calories burned for biking, running, walking, swimming and the elliptical.
Here are some of the best types of cycling for weight loss.
Cycling indoors offers a controlled and low-impact environment which is effective for weight loss.
Using the best exercise bike to lose weight allows you to adjust resistance levels and precisely monitor your workout intensity.
It’s a great choice for those who prefer a climate-controlled environment, and it also makes it easy to stay consistent in your cycling routine year-round.
You can also incorporate high-intensity interval training (HIIT) and other challenging workouts into your routine, which maximizes calorie burn and fat loss. If you are on the heavier side, then choosing one of the best exercise bikes for heavy people is a great safe way to start your cycling weight-loss journey from the comfort of home.
Road cycling offers a range of intensities, from leisurely rides to high-speed, long-distance challenges. This makes them a popular choice for cycling for weight loss.
Riding on paved roads or bike paths can provide a great cardiovascular workout while allowing you to enjoy the beauty of your surroundings. The variety in terrain and elevations can also increase the number of calories burned by giving you a great workout.
Mountain biking is the ideal choice for those who want adventure while working out.
Riding on rough, uneven terrain and tackling steep inclines demands significant effort and engages various muscle groups, including your legs, core, and upper body. The intensity and thrill of mountain biking make it an ideal option for those who enjoy an adrenaline rush while shedding pounds.
Spinning classes, provide a structured and motivating group exercise experience. Usually led by certified instructors, these classes offer a dynamic and energetic atmosphere that can be fun and incredibly effective for weight loss.
Instructors guide participants through interval training, hill climbs, and sprints, ensuring a challenging and calorie-burning workout. The camaraderie of fellow participants can also boost motivation and commitment to your weight loss goals.
Ultimately, the best type of cycling for weight loss depends on your personal preferences, fitness level, and lifestyle.
Whether you choose stationary cycling for its convenience, road cycling for speed and scenery, mountain biking for an exhilarating challenge, or indoor cycling classes for a group dynamic, the key to successful weight loss is to be consistent.
Combining your chosen cycling style with a balanced diet and a gradual increase in workout intensity will help you achieve your weight loss goals while enjoying the physical and mental health benefits that cycling offers.
How to lose weight cycling
Cycling is a fantastic tool for weight loss. However, as with all things, it’s important to start off gradually and build up your fitness and endurance. Here are our top tips on how to lose weight cycling.
Set realistic goals
When you first start to lose weight, it can be hard not to set big or very challenging goals. However, a key to feeling a sense of achievement is to set more realistic goals over shorter periods so that you stay motivated.
For example, a realistic goal for a beginner might be simply to show up to cycle three times a week. After a month, you can then work on duration or intensity as you progress.
Mix up your workouts
The best cycling for weight loss aims for a combination of aerobic exercise, strength training, and interval training.
Aerobic exercise: Also known as endurance cycling, aerobic cycling is a steady, moderate-paced ride that raises the heart rate and keeps it there for an extended period.
Strength training: Incorporate strength training into your fitness routine as this will help build and maintain lean muscle mass.
Interval training: Interval training (HIIT) alternates between short bursts of high-intensity cycling and periods of lower intensity or rest. This approach is effective for weight loss, as it maximizes the calories burned in a short time frame. HIIT workouts can also help improve your cardiovascular fitness and increase the afterburn effect, where your body continues to burn calories post-exercise.
Find safe routes
If you own one of the many types of bikes out there, choosing the right cycling route is vital for both safety and enjoyment. Choose routes that are well-maintained, well-lit, and suited to your skill level.
Avoid busy roads, particularly if you’re a beginner. Exploring scenic and enjoyable routes can make cycling more pleasurable and encourage you to stay committed to your weight loss plan.
Wear appropriate clothing
Wearing suitable cycling gear not only makes you feel comfortable but also improves your performance. Invest in moisture-wicking, breathable clothing to stay cool and dry during rides.
Don’t forget to use one of the best bike helmets with lights for safety. Proper cycling shoes and padded cycling shorts can also make your rides more comfortable.
Fuel your body properly
Eating a healthy well-balanced diet will help you to fuel your body properly for rides plus make sure you’re getting enough nutrients to build and repair muscle.
Work out how many calories you burn per day and aim to eat 500 calories less per day. This will help you to be in a calorie deficit which will encourage your body to use fat as fuel. For more, read, How many calories should I eat to lose weight?
Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water before, during, and after your cycling sessions. Avoid excessive consumption of sugary or processed foods, as they can hinder your weight loss progress.
Listen to your body
While it’s important to push yourself to improve, it’s equally vital to listen to your body. Pay attention to signs of fatigue or overexertion.
Don’t forget to include rest days when needed. Overtraining can lead to burnout and injury, which can derail your weight loss efforts.
Staying motivated is often the most difficult part of any weight loss journey. Here are a few points to help you stay motivated:
- Give yourself rewards for achieving your goals
- Track your progress in a journal
- Join a cycling group or club
- Vary your cycling routes to prevent boredom
- Use a fitness app or device to monitor your performance
Adding these tips to your cycling routine can help you make the most of this enjoyable and effective form of exercise for weight loss.
Remember that being consistent is key, and it’s essential to approach your weight loss journey with patience and a long-term perspective. As you build your cycling skills and fitness level, you’ll be better equipped to achieve and maintain your weight loss goals.
Cycling for weight loss - common mistakes
While the tips above will help you be successful in how to lose weight cycling, it’s also important to know what mistakes to avoid so that you are not derailed.
Not eating enough
One of the biggest mistakes people make when cycling for weight loss is not giving their bodies enough fuel. While it’s important to create a calorie deficit to lose weight, drastically cutting calories or skipping meals before a ride can lead to fatigue, decreased performance, and even muscle loss.
Focus on consuming a balanced meal or snack that includes carbohydrates, protein, and healthy fats before your ride to provide the energy needed for an effective workout.
Pushing yourself too hard, too fast, or too frequently can be counterproductive. Overtraining can lead to burnout, injury, and increased stress, which may hinder your weight loss goals. It’s crucial to build your cycling intensity gradually and allow for sufficient rest days to promote recovery and prevent overuse injuries.
Not warming up or cooling down
Neglecting warm-up and cool-down routines can increase your risk of injury and hinder your body’s ability to recover.
Spend a few minutes before your ride performing dynamic stretches and mobility exercises to prepare your muscles and joints. After your ride, take time to stretch and cool down to reduce muscle stiffness and promote flexibility.
Dehydration can significantly impact your cycling performance and hinder your weight loss progress. Make sure you stay adequately hydrated before, during, and after your rides, especially in hot or humid conditions.
Carry a water bottle and sip regularly to maintain proper fluid balance. Consider sports drinks for longer rides to replenish electrolytes lost through sweat.
Ignoring post-ride nutrition
After a challenging cycling session, your body needs proper nutrition for recovery. Skipping post-ride meals or snacks can leave you feeling fatigued and increase the temptation to overeat later in the day.
Choose a combination of carbohydrates and protein within the first hour after your ride to help replenish glycogen stores and repair muscle tissue.
Neglecting strength training
While cycling is an excellent cardiovascular exercise, it primarily works the lower body. Neglecting strength training can result in an imbalanced fitness routine and a slower metabolism.
Add strength training exercises that target your upper body and core to build lean muscle mass, boost metabolism, and support your weight loss efforts.
By avoiding these common mistakes and adopting a well-rounded approach to cycling for weight loss, you can increase your chances of success while enjoying the many health benefits of cycling.
A general guideline is to aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity cycling per week. This can be divided into shorter rides.
A typical session should be 30 minutes up to an hour but this depends on your fitness levels and goals.
The best time of day to cycle for weight loss is one that fits into your schedule and allows you to be consistent. Find a time that works best for you!
Yes, eating before cycling can provide the necessary energy for your ride. It’s recommended to have a balanced meal or snack containing carbohydrates, protein, and healthy fats about 1-2 hours before your ride. This can help improve performance and prevent fatigue.
While cycling can contribute to overall weight loss, spot reduction (losing fat from a specific area) is not usually effective. Cycling can help you reduce overall body fat, and over time, this may lead to a reduction in belly fat.
- The key to cycling for weight loss is to stay consistent and eat a healthy diet.
- Remember, you can’t out-cycle a bad diet. Aim for healthy whole foods with a calorie deficit of about 500 calories.
- Set realistic goals and start gradually.
- Don’t give up!