Is Cycling Good for Weight Loss?

cycling is good for weight loss
Photo by KBO Bike on Unsplash

If you’re looking for a fun, effective way to lose a few pounds and get some much-needed exercise, cycling may be the perfect activity. Going for a bike ride can be a great way to add cardio exercise to your day and burn off extra calories. If you want to incorporate cycling into your weight loss routine, you’ll need to create a plan that is right for your body type and activity level. Here are some tips to help you get started on losing weight and adding more activity to your daily routine.

Understanding Weight Loss

Obesity is a big problem in the country, with more than 42% of the population now classified as obese. The extra weight can lead to a higher risk of serious health problems, such as diabetes, heart disease, stroke, or cancer. A sedentary lifestyle and a dependence on electronic devices, such as computers, tablets, and smartphones, have made the obesity problem much worse.

As people age, they tend to become less active and gain weight. One way to combat this is to add more activity to the day and make better dietary choices. Today, many people have the desire to lose weight but aren’t sure how to get started. Instead of understanding how weight loss really works, many consumers are bombarded with quick-fix weight loss products that don’t actually work. The real key to losing weight is creating a calorie deficit.

Creating a Caloric Deficit

The most effective method to lose weight is to consume fewer calories than you need. There are different strategies for doing this. One method is to significantly cut back on your daily calories in your food intake and to create a deficit of about 3,500 calories per week to lose one pound of fat. This translates to cutting back 500 calories per day.

The next way to cut out your calories is to burn more than you need. If you don’t change your diet at all, you can aim to burn an extra 500 calories each day to achieve the same deficit. Probably the most efficient way to get the calorie deficit is to combine the two methods and get faster results. Cut back on calories in your diet and add more activity to your day to ignite your metabolism and create a caloric deficit quickly.

Eating Right

Start your weight loss journey with an eating plan that can help you get closer to a consistent caloric deficit. The key is to avoid cutting back too much, which could have you feeling hungry or sluggish throughout the day. An optimal diet for weight loss includes plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy, and lean cuts of meat. Additionally, dieters should avoid adding extra calories to each meal with a drink and have water instead.

It’s also important to create a diet that you can stick with for life. Cutting back an entire food group, avoiding all carbohydrates, or skipping meals may cause bingeing or other unhealthy eating habits. Instead, aim to eat filling, low-calorie foods, such as eggs, salmon, beans, nuts, and yogurt.

Making a Plan 

Next, you should create a plan to lose weight. Calculate your body’s caloric needs using your height, weight, and activity level to get an idea about how much food and exercise you should be adding to your day. Then, start planning your exercise routine with a cardio activity that gets your heart rate up and has you sweating for at least 30 minutes. For best results, you will have to choose something that you enjoy and can do consistently five or six days per week.

It’s also important to add resistance training to your exercise routine. Weight training or some other resistance activity may help you build more lean muscle and burn calories more effectively. For your cardio exercise, cycling is one of the most effective activities that can get your heart rate up. Riding a bike for exercise also gets you outside in the fresh air exploring the gorgeous trails and bike paths in your neighborhood.

Adding More Miles

Next, you have to ride your bike more strategically to help you burn more calories and lose weight faster. Taking a slow, leisurely ride for a few minutes is a great way to get some activity added to your day, but it isn’t enough to get the pounds off. If you want to add more calorie-burning power to your bike workout, consider extending the amount of time you ride. Add more time and miles to your daily bike ride to boost your calorie burning.

If you already ride for about 30 minutes each day, you can add more power to your workout by adding more time in five-minute increments each week. Beginners may want to start off by riding three or five times a week to get used to the pace. Once you feel more comfortable, you can try going for an hour or two on your bike and start logging more miles each day. With consistent effort, you could increase your speed and improve your endurance.

Incorporating Hills and Rough Terrain

Another way to boost your exercise routine on your bike ride is to make it more challenging. If you’re used to riding on flat terrain and smooth bike paths, you can incorporate more difficult routes to increase the effectiveness of your routine. When you put in more energy and effort into your bike ride, that translates to more calories being burned. This can also be a great way to add more difficulty to your bike ride without extending the time if you have a busy schedule.

You can instantly add more difficulty to a bike ride if you choose a route that has hills or other types of steep inclines. Riding up a big hill on your bike takes lots of energy and requires more muscle power to make it up to the top. Start slowly with smaller hills to train yourself and increase your cardio workout potential. Consider also taking a ride on a rougher path, such as a mountain bike trail in the woods with different types of terrain. This type of ride may also give you more of a caloric deficit.

Riding Every Day

Burning calories more effectively also means you need to be consistent with your exercise routine. Biking a few days a month is not enough to get much of a caloric deficit to help you lose weight. In the best circumstances, you will be riding your bike every day or almost every day. For some people, this can be a challenge to fit within a busy schedule.  

If you don’t have a lot of time to devote to exercise after work, school, or family responsibilities, consider using your bike for your daily commute if you live close to your workplace. Biking to and from work or school each day is a simple way to add exercise to your lifestyle. If your work or school is too far for a bike commute, use your bike for running errands instead if your destination is a few miles away.

Using High-Intensity Interval Training

Busy adults without a lot of free time can also maximize their exercise minutes by using high-intensity interval training, or HIIT. HIIT incorporates the concept of interval training into a workout and uses less time than traditional marathon bike riding. Switching back and forth to different intensity levels may also add more to the calorie burn. For cycling, this can be a great way to train your cardiovascular system, have fun, and lose weight.  

There are many benefits of HIIT training, not least that your body will continue to burn calories for around two hours post-exercise and your body can remain in fat-burning mode for up to 24 hours afterwards. HIIT works by using a combination of short intervals of intense exercise with longer periods of active recovery and rest activities. Bike riders can use HIIT by alternating one or two-minute bursts of fast riding or hill climbs with slower, flat stretches of road that don’t require as much effort. Going back and forth between different intensity levels offers benefits to the cardiovascular system.

Cross-Training Your Body

If you don’t want to overdo it with biking and riding every day, there are ways you can still get the benefits of a cycling workout in your routine. A popular fitness technique is to try cross-training, which is incorporating several different types of activities into your weekly schedule. Cross-training is designed to help combat exercise boredom and give the body a complete workout.

If you enjoy many different active pursuits, rotate your exercise method with something different each day. Go biking on Monday, swimming on Tuesday, weight training on Wednesday, running on Thursday, and hiking on Friday. Mixing up your routine allows you to have more flexibility with your fitness journey and keep your interest level and enthusiasm for biking high. You can also alternate your days between bike riding and weight training to add more muscle and strength to your workout.

Ready to start losing weight and get the body you’ve always wanted? Find the right bike for your riding style and goals at Bike LVR. Get access to expert advice and bike riding tips to improve your fitness and stamina.

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