How to lose weight while cycling?

How to lose weight while cycling? How long does it take to ride a bike to lose excess body fat? There are many reasons for cycling, one of which is to gain a few pounds on the scale, or in other words: to lose weight.

Cycling takes effort, effort takes energy, and burning energy helps us lose fat. We agree that cycling performance and body weight go hand in hand, especially when the road rises.

It is estimated that a cyclist burns around 300 calories per hour in walk mode, around 600-700 at a good pace, and over 1000 calories in competition. These are approximate calculations, as the runner’s size, age, and physical level come into play here. But they serve as a reference.

Scientifically, it is estimated that to lose 1 kg of body fat, you need to burn about 7,700 calories. Based on these figures, you must pedal for about 11 hours to eliminate this weight.

Suppose you have all that time to cycle during the week; great! Otherwise, you can lose 500g of fat in seven days, which is okay. With 5.5 hours of cycling, you should be able to do this.

Again, this is theory.

What is clear is that cycling is one of the best ways to burn fat during a workout. It is also true that cyclists tend to overestimate the number of calories consumed. The better your physical condition, the more efficient you will be in your training and the fewer calories (or energy) you will consume at a given rate.

When is the best time to consider losing weight through training? Anytime, but early in the season, is the optimal time to change your habits, as performance demands are lower than in the middle of the season when changing your nutritional routines can be problematic.

Pay attention to your power data.

To understand the importance of weight loss in cycling, let’s talk about a crucial number: the power-to-weight ratio, also known as the watt-to-kilogram ratio. I’m sure you know him. It is the result of dividing the watts we can sustain (for 20 minutes) by our body weight (w/kg).

To climb faster there are only two ways to improve this ratio. You can either increase your power or decrease your weight. Ideally, it would help if you increased both.

Let’s take an example.

Imagine two cyclists pedaling side by side. The first cyclist weighs 70 kg and can generate 300 watts (w). It equals a power of 4.28 w/kg (the result of dividing 300 by 70).

The second cyclist weighs 65 kg. To pedal at par, it would only need to reach 279 watts (the result of multiplying 65 by 4.28). In other words, 21 w less than its partner to develop the same power per kilogram. It seems like a small difference, but the impact is quite considerable.

Those who use a potentiometer know that gaining 21 watts in a twenty-minute sustained effort takes months of practice. The alternative is, therefore, to lose weight in our example: 5 kg. It’s more complicated too. Losing weight slowly can lead to a loss of muscle mass and power. However, at these levels, it should be marginal.

Although this is an achievable goal, it is even more so if a healthy diet accompanies the effort.

A diet to improve your performance and lose weight

Studies have shown that it is relatively easy to lose weight without exercise but much more difficult with a healthy diet. Therefore, planning your cycling training must be accompanied by planning your diet.

Dieting doesn’t mean cutting out food groups or just counting calories. It is common to find cyclists who avoid eating before or after training on the pretext of burning fat.

It is counter-productive for performance. In addition, it is common to end up overeating at some point during the day to compensate for the lack of intake.

It is better to plan your meals and avoid the loss of energy necessary for your workouts. If, for example, you train at lunchtime, you can split your meal into two parts: eat half before you get on your bike and the other half after you’re done. You can do the same with breakfast instead of having a large breakfast in the morning.

Aim for three meals a day that are full enough to feel energized and relaxed between meals. Aim to get half of your calories from fruits and vegetables, a quarter from carbs, and a quarter from lean protein. You can enrich your diet with healthy fats, such as nuts, avocados, and olive oil.

Also, remember to eat right when cycling, especially on long journeys of several hours. Not only to avoid performance loss but also to avoid overeating at the end of your workout. Bars, bananas, or nuts are your allies in this task. As a guide, calculate an intake of 200 to 250 calories per hour. Don’t go to the opposite extreme, either. It’s important to only overindulge in unnecessary carbs if you need them.

When you’re done, grab something light to refuel: a glass of chocolate milk with a few nuts, for example. Then eat as usual for the rest of the day.

You will only need a bottle of water for short outings of less than an hour. Beyond that, plan 60 to 90 grams of carbohydrates every sixty minutes. Remember, of course, to drink plenty of water: before, during, and after your outings.

Train at high intensities

As your body metabolizes (or uses) triglycerides and burns fat, it expels waste products (carbon dioxide) with each breath. Too complex? No worries. Translation: when you breathe hard, you burn fat. It is what you need to remember.

Short, intense sessions (also known as high-intensity interval training, or HIIT) are scientifically proven fat burners. Performing 30-second bursts at full speed during a workout can help shed more body fat than 30-60 minute bursts at moderate aerobic intensity.

Short and intense workouts are real fat-burners.

Bottom Line: To burn more fat, incorporate HIIT workouts into your rides several times a week. You will feel the benefits.

To do this, adopt a pace corresponding to 70-90% of your maximum heart rate. Let’s say it’s an effort that prevents you from conversing while cycling. These sessions should be short, alternate bursts at an intense pace with low-intensity pedaling intervals. You can repeat this pattern for 20-30 minutes and continue as normal. Fortunately, it is optional to maintain this rhythm for the duration of the journey to be effective.

Diversify and make constant changes

Do you feel like even though you’re working out, you’re not progressing in your weight loss? It’s quite common. Our body adapts easily to any routine. If you always take the same routes, your body will not work as much as it would with another stimulus. For example, planning more varied routes with different profiles will be more beneficial.

It’s about cycling at different intensities. If you diversify your efforts, you will train all of your energy systems, forcing your body to readjust constantly. In this way, you will avoid stagnating in your preparation. Think of it as a way to trick your body into burning calories faster.

By alternating intervals of harder pedaling (i.e., faster cadence against greater resistance) with more comfortable paces, you’ll burn more fat than at a steady, moderate pace. Varying the pace and effort also results in higher post-exercise oxygen consumption, so you’ll continue to burn more calories for a few hours after you’re out.

Alternating between more intense pedaling intervals and more comfortable paces allows you to burn more fat than at a regular and moderate pace.

Most of us can’t afford endless workouts, so it’s especially important to make consistent changes in each of our workouts.

Cycling builds muscle. Especially the calves and quadriceps. However, this is not enough to compensate for the general muscle loss that the body experiences over time. Losing muscle hurts your metabolism, makes it harder to lose weight and limits the energy you can apply to the pedals (to burn even more calories and fat).

A good solution is to do weight training in the gym. You can train two or three times a week to build lean muscle tissue. It will make you faster and stronger on your bike and also rev up your metabolism, so you’ll burn more energy throughout the day.

Quick exercises to help you lose weight

Here are three workouts to help you lose weight on the bike. You can work outdoors or on the roller, and they have one thing in common: minimum time and maximum performance. These are three workouts (increasingly intense) that you can incorporate into your regular cycling routine. As you can see, the percentage of the maximum heart rate at which you need to work is defined in each case. It is why a heart rate monitor will always be useful for training.

Session 1: Double 8

The nature of this workout is designed to stimulate fat burning and increase metabolic rate for up to 24 hours after the workout ends. It means that the body will continue to burn calories from the effects of this workout.

  • Warm-up: 4 minutes (increasing the intensity up to 80%).
  • Series of 8 repetitions: 1-10 seconds at 90% intensity + 50 seconds at 50% intensity.
  • Recovery: 3 minutes at 50% intensity.
  • Series of 8 repetitions: 2-10 seconds at 90% intensity + 50 seconds at 50% intensity.
  • Cool down: 5 minutes at 50% intensity.

Session 2: High-Intensity Interval Training

This workout is a bit longer. It lasts 37 minutes and burns even more calories than the first session. It’s suitable for riders of all fitness levels, and you’re sure to break a sweat.

  • Warm-up: 10 minutes at 55% intensity.
  • Effort 1: 5 minutes at 85% intensity.
  • Recovery: 3 minutes at 40% intensity.
  • Effort 2: 5 minutes at 90% intensity.
  • Recovery: 3 minutes at 40% intensity.
  • Effort 3: 5 minutes at 95% intensity.
  • Cool down: 6 minutes at 30-40% intensity.

Session 3: Tabata Intervals

This last session is as short as it is demanding. It consists of eight repetitions of 20 seconds of effort at 100% of your capacity, followed by 10 seconds of recovery at 40%. The Tabata method is very explosive high-intensity interval training (HIIT), perfect for those who want to achieve results quickly and without investing too much time. It is a method created by scientist Izumi Tabata and is ideal for improving cycling disciplines such as sprinting.

This session activates the metabolism and burns maximum calories in a very short time, which is ideal if you exercise during your lunch break or before going to work, for example. The idea is to give your all during the effort to make sure that you reach 100% of your heart rate and don’t leave anything in the tank.

Repeat the whole workout after 5-10 minutes of full recovery if you want a longer session.

Conclusion

At first glance, weight loss is simple: eat less and work harder. But it is not easy because aspects such as mental strength come into play. Before you get down to business, you should ask yourself the following questions: what is the reason for your weight loss? What is the desired objective? Clear answers to these questions will be key to staying consistent and aware of the situation.

No matter how short, a cycling session increases your heart rate, accelerates blood circulation, and stimulates calorie consumption. It’s not just about losing weight; it’s about making the bike a tool contributes to a healthy lifestyle.

Whether you want to lose weight or achieve peak fitness for racing, the key is to keep having fun on the bike. And if it’s in a group, it’s even better. Getting involved and training as a group will give you the courage to pursue your goals.

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