Cycling for Weight Loss: Does it work?

cycling to lose weight does it work

The journey to losing weight is never an easy one. There are so many books, articles and other sources from every side that bombard you with information and advice; it is overwhelming.

Do you go for the slow-but-steady weight loss methods or the lose-weight-quick ones so you can get it over with?

You may decide to try each of the available ones and see which one works or you can just settle for a proven one—cycling.

The U.S Department of Health and Human Services recommends 30 minutes of physical activity daily for adults.

People have been cycling their bikes for the longest time, either for leisure or competition.

cycling together to lose weight

However, cycling can help you lose those extra pounds if done correctly. Cycling not only helps you lose weight, but it also leaves you fit, well-toned and with a whole new found confidence.

Moreover, it is a great family activity, not just for those who want to lose weight.

The U.S Department of Health and Human Services recommends 30 minutes of physical activity daily for adults, not less than five days every week and 60 minutes for kids.

Cycling is a wise way to ensure that your entire family stays healthy.

Back to cycling for weight loss.

Key Takeaways

  • Cycling is a proven and healthy way to lose weight by creating a calorie deficit.
  • Cycling not only helps you burn calories and fat but it also improves your fitness, muscle tone, confidence, and overall health.
  • Cycling for weight loss requires a plan, a goal, discipline, and determination. You should also combine cycling with a balanced diet and adequate sleep.
  • Cycling is suitable for people of all ages and sizes, unlike running which can be hard on the body and cause injuries.
  • Cycling can be done indoors or outdoors, depending on the weather and your preference. You can use a trainer and a cycling app to simulate real roads and make it more fun

Does It Really Work?

cycling is a great way to lose weight

Yes. Cycling is a great way to lose weight.

To shed off some kilos and stay fit you need to be physically active. This activity should speed up your heart rate and get you breathing hard. It is in this process that you burn calories and, consequently, lose weight. Depending on how your cycling schedule is set, you may start seeing the results soon or it may take some time.

There are stories all over of people who managed to hit their weight goals through cycling.

One man proudly attributes his weight loss to cycling. He says he lost about 55 lbs in 5 months and his tummy reduced by 9”, all thanks to cycling. This progress may seem slow to someone who wants quick results, but remember that this is a slow-but-steady method with no negative side effects. In addition to losing weight, your muscles and bones will be made stronger and your overall health will improve.

Another one shares a story of how he struggled with his weight for a long time. At some point, he decided that the extra weight had to go, one way or another. So he took up cycling. According to his story, he lost 40 pounds in 12 weeks; impressive, right?

These two examples above are real-life examples. You could also lose weight through cycling. However, you cannot just hop on a bike, start pedaling and expect the weight to shed off. You need a plan and discipline. How do you go about it?

You may also like: How many Miles should I Bike a day?

How Does Cycling for Weight Loss Work?

First, you need to create a calorie deficit (for any weight loss plan to work).

This means that your calorie output should be more than your calorie input—burn more calories than you consume every day.

Your calorie deficit goal depends on how much weight you want to lose.

Before going into details about calories, be warned that it is easy to become obsessed with calories. When you focus too much on the numbers, you might end up with an eating disorder. In that case, this guide will barely go into details on the whole calorie math.

The idea is to help you lose weight in a healthy way through cycling, not make you crazy over calories.

You need to determine how many calories you need per day for your body to function properly. The standard recommended calorie intake for women is 1,200 to 1,500 per day while for men it is 1,500 to 2,000. The number may vary depending on your size and age; try doing your own calculation. Once you know your caloric needs, you can work on creating a deficit. This will force it to burn the fat that is stored in different parts to cover that deficit.

Take the example of someone who requires 2000 calories to function. He has to take 2000 calories every day for his body to function. For him to lose weight, he will have to burn 500 calories (assuming he wants to lose one pound per week) in cycling to create a deficit of 500 per day.

If you create a calorie deficit of 7000 a week, you will lose about 2 pounds per week. If you create a deficit of 3500 per week (recommended), then you will be shedding one pound every week.

This deficit can be created by cycling alone or by combining cycling with a diet. An hour of cycling can see you burn 400 – 600 calories.  This translates to 2800 to 4200 calories burnt per week.

If you hate math and all these numbers are making your head spin, do not worry. Just follow these tips below.

Tips to Help You Lose Weight Through Cycling

a. Eat Well

eat healthy to lose weight

This cannot be emphasized enough. Never skip breakfast.

It may not be easy when your day starts very early and you are feeling too lazy to make something healthy. However, if you skip this very important meal you will end up binge eating during the day.

You only want to eat as much as your body needs. Another thing, reduce carbs in your diet; you can replace them with lean meat and vegetables.

Do not eat large portions. Serve a reasonable amount of food and try not to skip meals.

If you get too hungry between meals, eat small, healthy snacks to get you through.

Finally, avoid eating just before bed.

b. Create a Cycling Plan

lose weight with a cycling plan

A plan will help keep you on track and you can easily fit it into your daily schedule. Ideally, you should try to cycle for one hour every day.

It is also important to know the kind of cycling exercises you will be doing. Some people prefer riding at moderate speed for an hour every day.

Nonetheless, it is advisable to fit in high-intensity sessions somewhere in there (twice a week would be okay).

High-intensity training is said to fight aging— a huge bonus.

Also read these bike trainer workouts that will give you legs of steel.

c. Set a Goal

set a goal to lose weight

Nothing beats a goal, a plan and determination. With these three, you are already half-way there. How many pounds do you want to lose?

You have seen above that burning 500 calories a day, seven days a week will leave you one-pound lighter. You can take it up a notch and aim at losing two pounds a week. Do not go above that as it may not be healthy.

You are the only who knows what you are capable of and how your schedule is set. Have a goal that is realistic and work on crashing it.

d. Get Enough Sleep

sleep well to lose weight

After a day of work, cycling and whatever else you do during the day, you owe your body six to eight hours of sleep. It needs it to repair muscles so you can face another probably brutal day.

Sleep is essential in your weight loss journey. People who sleep more are usually less stressed and have a better chance of losing weight.

Do away with nighttime distractions and start taking your sleep seriously.

e. Check Your Progress Often

This is one of the best ways to stay motivated. If possible, weigh yourself every day when you wake up. Some days you will notice a difference and it will make you happy.

The realization that your efforts are not in vain will make you want to do more. On other days, there will be no change (or you may add a little). Do not let this discourage you. It happens to more people than you think. Let it motivate you to push yourself a little harder.

f. There Are Bad Days

As you begin this journey, you will have a fantasy of how smooth it will be. You will picture yourself waking up motivated every day and maintaining discipline throughout the day.

However, life is life and there are days when things will just not go well. You may eat one too many doughnuts or skip breakfast and overeat during the day. Other days you may not get enough time to cycle or you will make an excuse and fail to train.

Be kind and extend grace to yourself. When you fall, get up with even more determination.

g. When the Weather is Bad, Do It Indoors

tacx vortex smart indoor bike trainer review

The whole cycling for weight loss idea seems awesome, but what do you do when the weather does not allow for riding?

Do you just pause and wait until it is favorable again? Of course not! Thanks to technology, cycling indoors has been made almost as fun as riding outside.

With a trainer and a cycling app, you will never get bored. The apps can simulate real roads and make you feel as though you are outside.

h. Adapt Other Healthy Habits

Living a healthy lifestyle goes a long way in helping you lose weight. Besides, it promotes your general well-being and you could dodge a lot of lifestyle diseases.

  • Drink lots of water and reduce your soda intake.
  • Do not be quick to resort to dietary supplements.
  • Take walks regularly.
  • Develop a healthy way of dealing with stress.
  • Try aerobic dancing, yoga or Pilates.

What Makes Cycling Better Than Running (and Other Exercises)?

Many people think of running as a better way to lose weight than cycling. You will burn more calories running than you will burn cycling. However, running is anything but gentle on your body. When you opt to run every day to lose weight, you are more likely to hurt your ankles and joints. For this reason, cycling is better.

Cycling is suitable for all kinds of people. As long as you invest in the right gear, you are good to go.

Because running is hard on the body, people with conditions such as arthritis can barely practice it for weight loss. Cycling, on the other hand, is suitable for all kinds of people. As long as you invest in the right gear, you are good to go.

healthy and fit cyclist

Cycling is a fantastic way to lose weight in a healthy manner. All you need are a bike, a plan and a goal.

Losing those extra pounds is never easy if you want a permanent solution.

You have to put in the work and remain focused. When you are starting out, your backside will hurt from sitting on the saddle, you will feel too tired sometimes and other times, you will be tempted to give up.

Keep going.

It helps to have a cycling partner who could also act as your accountability partner.

In the long run, you will be happy you persevered. You will be proud of yourself as you share your success story and inspire other people.

Do not put this off any longer, start as soon as today.

If you have any questions, suggestions or stories to share, please leave a comment below.

2 thoughts on “Cycling for Weight Loss: Does it work?”

  1. It has been a hassle to keep up with fitness during the pandemic, I think cycling is definitely going to be my saving grace. Thank you for sharing this well-written article.


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