Each of us has weight loss goals. And if you are struggling to achieve yours, know that you are not alone. Is cycling good for weight loss? The short answer is yes! But cycling alone is not enough. According to Dr. Lesli Bonci, a nutritionist based in Pittsburgh, “ just adding exercise does not equal automatic weight loss.” Weight loss, after all, is a matter of burning more calories than what you are putting in.
Depending on the intensity of your ride and your weight, cycling for an hour can burn between 400 to 1000 calories. However, this is not enough. The quality of your sleep, how frequently and how much you eat, and whether or not you enjoy cycling will have a significant impact on your weight loss.
Simply put, if you enjoy cycling and you are eating right and getting enough sleep, you will lose weight in no time.
Reasons why cycling is good for weight loss
1. Cycling improves your mental health
It all begins in the mind. Remember that most obese and overweight individuals are emotional eaters. Cycling, like any other exercise, boosts your mental health by releasing chemicals like endorphin and adrenaline. It also makes you feel good about yourself — increasing your confidence. Cycling also brings you outdoors, giving you more time to commune with nature and ponder on your concerns (if you are riding solo). Lastly, cycling can be a fun, social activity.
2. Cycling build muscles
Yes, you read that right. Cycling doesn’t only burn fat. It also builds muscles, especially in the calves, hamstrings, quads, and glutes. Muscles burn more calories than fat —- increasing your chances of losing more weight even when you are sedentary.
3. Cycling improves your sleep
Lack of sleep hurts your metabolism. Studies have shown that when you do not get enough sleep, the level of hunger hormones called ghrelin in your body increases — consequently decreasing the levels of leptin which is responsible for satiety or fulness. This causes you to eat more and gain weight.
Cycling improves your cardiorespiratory fitness, enabling you to sleep better and more peacefully at night.
Things you should know when you are cycling for weight loss
Cycling is a low-impact activity that allows you to burn lots of calories even at moderate intensity. Does this mean I can hop on to my bike and lose weight right away? Hmmm, not quite. Here are a couple of things you should know when you are cycling for weight loss.
1. Cycling should be fun and enjoyable
If you don’t enjoy being on the road, then you are more likely to quit cycling before it has a significant impact on your weight. Remember that weight loss is all about consistency. So, it is important to make your rides as comfortable and fun as ever. Here are some tips on how to do this:
- Bike with friends
- Join a biking club
- If you are biking indoors, consider signing up for a virtual biking program
- Pick a scenic route
2. Don’t forget to eat regularly
Skipping a meal to lose weight when cycling is not a good idea. Remember: it’s all about consistency. If you continue to battle with hunger pains every day, how long do you think you can keep up? So, if you normally eat three meals a day, stick to this routine so you don’t end up over-snacking. The secret to losing weight while eating regularly is by consuming fewer calories. Here are some tips:
- Eat smaller portions
- Cut back on sugary foods and drinks
- Eat lean proteins like fish and chicken
- Keep yourself hydrated
3. Get the right gear
Having the right biking equipment is important if you want to make cycling a part of your lifestyle. Bike gears are not just for show. They all serve a purpose like making your ride more comfortable and safer. The more comfortable you are on your bike, the longer and more intense you can ride. This translates to more calories burned and more pounds off the scale. Below are some must-have gears:
4. Get a training partner
It’s not all fun and high. There are also days when you feel less motivated to hop on a bike. This is where your training partner comes in. Your partner can help you stick to the habit of cycling for weight loss by holding you accountable and keeping you motivated when you are down. Get a training partner who loves biking and can help you learn a couple of tips and tricks.
If you can’t find a training partner, consider joining a cycling group in your area and find someone who has the same goals as you.
5. Always have a plan
Cycling for weight loss is not just all about hopping on your bike and putting in the miles. You need to have a plan if you want to stay consistent and see progress. A good exercise plan mixes up the intensity of your workout to achieve better results. For example, you can incorporate high-intensity short interval workout sessions that burn more fat and improve your overall fitness a couple of times a week. These sessions should be fun and not too hard to complete while pushing you towards your limits.
Cycling is not just a fun leisure activity. Done right and coupled with a proper diet, cycling for weight loss is an effective way to burn fat and shed off some pounds. Just make sure to follow the tips we’ve discussed above.