For the normal functioning of the body and to keep yourself fit and healthy being physically active is very important. Regular physical activity keeps diseases such as obesity, diabetes, arthritis, cardiac diseases, mental illness and even cancer at bay.
Daily 30 minutes of moderate to intense exercise is enough to achieve long-term health goals but this does not mean that you have to go to the gym and sweat yourself. Exercising can be fun, enjoyable and simple.
One such example is cycling. There has been a consistent increase in the popularity of the cycling as a hobby and as a means to weight loss.
The primary reason for its popularity is the nature of exercise – cycling is an aerobic exercise, a kind of exercise that burns more amount of fat and has a lesser likelihood of injury, and therefore it can be enjoyed by all age groups – adults, children, and elderly.
Another big reason has been an increase in leisure cum fitness activities such as cycling to scenic places and weekend gateways generally, with friends and family.
Why choose cycling to lose weight
First, on an average, depending on the level of exertion and your body weight, you burn about 300-800 calories in a half hour cycle ride session. If your weight is around 80 kg and you take a leisurely pace for cycling you will burn about 400-500 calories in an hour. At moderate intensity, you will burn about 500 to 570 calories and at high intensity, you will lose around 800 calories.
Second, although you burn a significant amount of calories by cycling, your leg muscles are not too tired, and you can continue this exercise for a long time period.
These two qualities – significant calorie burn and less tiredness – make cycling a favoured activity for weight loss.
Further, cycling is not focused on any specific area such as thighs or waist. In facts, it is a heart-rate increasing exercise and thus tones up your waist, bum, and thighs. Your lungs and heart also receive a solid workout. Thus, cardiovascular health also improves along with weight loss. As lungs and heart, health improves oxygen transport throughout the body becomes efficient and you achieve the high level of fitness.
However, you will not be able to build muscles through cycling. Thus, it’s not recommended if your primary goal is to gain muscle.
One big reason, why you should cycling for weight loss is – it’s a low impact exercise does not put pressure on the joints, so even the individual who cannot do high impact sports or have a high disposition towards injury can choose it.
The best part of cycling for weight loss is that you do not need any special training for it. Most of us learn to ride bikes during childhood. Once learned you need to forget it. You may go for cycling alone or make it a sociable event. You can choose bicycling outdoor and get some fresh air (preferred) or do so in the gym on a stationary bike (stationary bike burn fewer calories in comparison to a real bike, however, the difference is very less).
Tips on how to effectively use Cycling for weight loss
1. Follow a diet plan for effective weight loss by Cycling
Pedal power will give its results only in the combination of a healthy diet. You need to cut on calories, but don’t be too restrictive with your diet, as cutting too much carb will reduce the glycogen store.
Do not starve yourself or the body metabolism rate will decrease in order to conserve calories. Inadequate fueling or food intake results in muscle loss and impairs your workout performance and cycling ability.
Here are few tips for you:
- Eat small meals.
- Chose smart slow burning carbs.
- Focus more on filling foods such as fresh vegetables, fruits, lean meat and whole grains.
- Avoid high-calorie food, processed foods, sugary snacks, saturated fats, and sweetened drinks.
- Cut down the consumption of alcohol.
Getting a balanced diet is little tricky. Dietician and health coach at Fitso will be glad to guide you with your diet regime along with cycling routine.
2. Cycle against Low to Medium Resistance
Like other exercises, cycling also builds specific muscle that can increase your weight. That’s why, for weight loss, it is preferable that you cycle at low to medium resistance for long period of time rather than cycling at high intensity for short periods. This will keep your heart rate elevated at the level of fat burning and you will burn calories to lose weight without adding bulk to muscles.
3. Regularity Matters more than Intensity
A single session will never help you reach your targeted goal. What you need is to be steady with this routine.
There is no defined right number of miles you should ride a bike in order to lose weight. Instead, weight loss depends on a frequency of pedal power routine, an intensity of cycling, your starting weight, and diet.
If you weight around 125 pounds and you cycle for 30 minutes 5 days in a week at a speed of 15 miles an hour then you lose approximately 1500 calories. If your speed is about 12 miles per hour you lose about 1200 calories.
Better ride at moderately intensive pace. Do not take it easy. Ride for 3 times in a week for 2 hours. This way you will burn more fat than a high-intensity workout.
4. Interval training
Adding interval training will push calorie burn. After a long ride add about 6 sets of all-out effort, each lasting for only 2 minutes with rest of 30 seconds. Go longer as you improve. This way your body metabolism will rise and you will burn extra calories over the next 12 hours.
Combining strength training with cycling gives you a full body workout and improves core strength. It reduces belly fat, gives you a toned stomach and also improves your posture.
5. Eat a healthy meal before cycling
Have a pre-workout meal about 30 minutes to an hour before starting your bike ride.
A pre-workout meal will kick-start your metabolism. If you skip it you won’t have enough fuel for the pedal workout. Your metabolism will be slow and body will hold fat stores for later use.
Go for Low-mid GI (glycemic index) foods – foods that lead to a steady rise in blood glucose levels- such as Porridge, Muesli, Scrambled Eggs or Whole Wheat Pasta.
6. Limit the post-ride food frenzy
The post-ride meal is important for recovery, but make sure you don’t go overboard with a post-ride snack as you do after a high-intensity workout session because you burn less overall calorie by cycling compared to high-intensity exercise.
Eat 10-20g of protein and 20-50g of carbohydrate as soon as possible after training. This is the most effective and important nutrition process you need to follow. This will maximize recovery, refuel the body and ultimately support the adaptation process.
What to eat: Skimmed milk, steam chicken, eggs or any protein shake for muscle recovery. Additionally, flavoured chocolate milk is also good to fulfil carbs and protein limitations.
You can check out more about cycling meals here.
7. Avoid on-bike fueling if it isn’t needed
Riding less than an hour does not require you to drink or eat in between. As an average person can process just 1 gram of carbohydrate a minute, stuffing more carbohydrate doesn’t speed up the absorption but rather increases your risk to upset stomach. Just carry a bottle of water with yourself.
However, for bike rides more than an hour, you should consume 60-90g of carbs per hour, as staying hungry during the ride leads to overeating at home.
8. Do not overdress
While overdressing will make you sweat more and dehydrate, losing weight through dehydration is not at all healthy.
Our suggestion is that you dress in layers. Generally, after five minutes of cycling, you may start feeling warmer. In this case, you can pull out the top layers to feel better.
9. Post cycling rest
A sound 6-7 hours of sound sleep at night is very important for the post-exercise recovery and prevention of injury. Apart from this, once in a while you can go for a massage.
10. Don’t neglect your safety
Safety should be your utmost concern, especially for Indian roads. In case of complication, do consult a doctor. Here are few pointers to keep in mind:
- Wear safety helmets
- Follow the highway code and basic traffic rules
- Carry a spare inner tube and a basic toolkit
- Keep bike well-maintained
- Wear visible and bright clothing
- Use lights
I hope this article has made you all pumped up. Just grab your bike, venture out, and achieve your target weight.
#ProTips – If you have a hectic work schedule and cannot spare time for an exercise, start riding to work 🙂