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Can Cycling Help You To Loose Weight

Since Covid-19 has disrupted the world everyone started to get a few things in common. Lack of the big outdoors, socialising and a lot more eating especially from the boredom. This ultimately resulted in quite a few of us gaining a few extra pounds. Can Cycling help you to loose weight ? Yes it can, I am not saying that I am a rippling Mr Universe but it has helped to burn those calories and keep the weight steady.

Cycling for weight loss is one of the most common reasons people get into biking community . You can either just take it up as a hobby or you could take the plunge and start commuting to work. Just think of all the money that you would save on petrol and parking.  You may still be wondering if cycling is good for weight loss on the stomach, and will it reduce belly fat. Yes you do mainly use your legs for cycling but when it comes to the burn and peddling as hard as you can you naturally tense your core. So not only are you burning the calories you are actually toning your stomach muscles as you tense them.

Things To Consider Before Commuting To Work

Bike Riding For Weight Loss

Riding the bike is a good exercise for weight loss, which also involves weight loss on the stomach. However, there is no such thing as targeted weight loss, which means it isn’t possible to only directly burn belly fat cycling, the calories are burnt up everywhere. 

  • Cycling  will speed up your weight loss
  • Some advanced strategies you can use to make this process even faster
  • How fast can you expect to lose weight
  • The only two pieces of advice you will need to keep your momentum

Cycling is a good cardio exercise. Your muscles need energy to function. When you pedal you move your muscles and to get the necessary nutrients your heart rate is elevated so the increased blood flow can deliver these nutrients. The harder you pedal the the more energy you will need and the higher your heart rate will be. The average person burns between 450 to 750 calories per hour while cycling. Cycling is one of the top sports for burning calories and loosing weight along with, jogging, swimming and rowing. Should you wear a mask for cycling.

Burning Calories And Weight Loss

Depending on the duration and intensity of exercise, your body burns available blood sugar, glycogen stored in the muscles and liver, fat and, if required, even begins to burn muscle protein. Of course you never wan to go that far and burn muscle protein. That would be some serious long distance biking so the average cyclist has nothing to worry about.

If you want to burn body fat, aim to exercise at 60% to 70% of your maximum heart rate for at least 45 minutes. In that fat-burning zone, 85% of the calories you burn are from fat. But you must first expend the more easily available energy sources (blood sugar and glycogen) before your body turns to the fat stores. So if you only ride for 20 mins then you haven’t hit the magic number and you will not be burning the fat calories. If you are commuting to work and it s only a short distance I would suggest going the long way and extending the time to get the full benefit.

Accelerate weight loss on stomach

The key to losing weight on the stomach is the same as the key to any weight loss. There is no magic diet to loose weight its just a simple formula.  Burn more calories than you consume, thats it. If you do this consistently then you will loose weight and cycling will certainly help burn calories with this. Any sporting effort can be ruined with bad eating habits. However, with proper nutrition bicycling is effective tool in speeding up the process of fat burning. Here are a three concrete tips to burn as much fat as possible.

Ride before breakfast

Pedaling on an empty stomach, also known as fasted cardio, is a very effective way of forcing your body to use the energy stored in the form of fat, which means that cycling to work can be such a powerful tool in accelerating the fat burning process. Bike commuters riding for 40 minutes in the morning 5 times a day, then back home thats around 666 calories burnt in a day. That around 3,300 calories burnt in the week. Imagine how many calories you would burn off in a year, on an average working year that would be over 150,000 calories  That would be the equivalent of burning over 38 pounds of pure fat.

Skip your breakfast and have it at work and then your body will get to burn the body fat quicker as there will be less easily available energy sources (blood sugar and glycogen). What you need before cycling to work is a good cup of coffee, Or any physical activity if you want to increase the weight loss. The caffeine  works by blocking an inhibitory neurotransmitter called adenosine By blocking adenosine, caffeine increases the firing of neurons and release of neurotransmitters like dopamine and norepinephrine. This, in turn, makes you feel more energised and awake. Caffeine also stimulates the nervous system, which sends direct signals to the fat cells, telling them to break down fat

Pedal Hard or Pedal for HIIT

HIIT is a cardio session arranged as short bursts of very hard work. The whole point of high-intensity training is to kick up the intensity of your cardio. In order to qualify as true HIIT, you’ll need to push yourself to the max during every set. That’s why they’re short—anywhere from 20 to 90 seconds, typically. It’s the opposite of going for a long run where you ration your energy in order to sustain the activity for longer. Thats why cycling is perfect for the HIIT because after your maximum boost you can sit back in the saddle, coast and recover. 

Ideally you go flat out for short bursts of 30 to 90 seconds, followed by a 1-3 minute recovery period during which you gently pedal while recovering. Numerous studies have shown that working your hardest is key when it comes to boosting endurance, increasing metabolism, regulating insulin levels, and losing body fat.

Do  Complementary Training

Doing some weight training targeting your upper body can prove to be very helpful. While this will not make you lose fat on the stomach, it will increase your upper body muscle mass. It will make you look more proportional (cycling only targets your legs), and it can make your belly look flatter too.

Complimentary training doesn’t mean that you need to spend hours in the gym. In fact, you don’t even need to hit the gym at all. Body weight exercises work perfectly. Pull-ups, push-ups and dips work your arms and shoulders and can be done almost anywhere. Do them twice a week and just after 3 months you will be surprised and impressed.

Stretching And Cycling

Stretched muscles to become longer and increases the viscosity. Thus It helps reduce injuries like ligament tears, muscle tears, strains and sprains. It’s also worth noting, especially with an ‘ageing’ population, that the ‘Synovial fluid’ which basically ‘lubricates’ our joints, reducing friction and wear & tear of joints, could and will deteriorate, causing damage over time. More on stretching before exercise.

Eat Drink  Sensibly For Weight Loss

This not directly speaking exercise, but very closely linked to it, because as you increase your level of physical activity your hunger level will increase too. You can easily ruin your gains if you don’t watch what you eat. It doesn’t mean that you need to count every single calorie, but you need to understand how much energy is contained in various types of foods.

Fizzy pop, caffeine drinks, cream cakes in abundance are obviously not going to help with weight loss. The word diet is often misconstrued about its actual meaning. Everyone presumes or associate  it with losing weight. The first meaning of diet  just refers to the kind of foods that you eat on a regular basis. It does not mean eating crap foods to loose weight. Moderation is the key and remember that if you burn more calories than you eat you will loose weight.

Sweets and snacks get easily get into the way of your weight loss too. You don’t need to forget about goodies altogether, but you need to have a strategic approach to them. Portion control is your friend here. Don’t open big bags of chips or boxes of desserts. By the time you notice you’re full or don’t want to eat anymore it’s usually too late. Go small instead.

Reading the nutritional fact labels of the foods will help you understand how much energy is contained in them as a reference. The information contained there will empower you to make good decisions.

How fast can you expect to lose weight

You can burn the energy contained in 20lbs (9kg) of body fat with 1 hour of moderate cycling every weekday for 6 months. While this number can vary depending on a number of factors, it is very attainable.

Coupled with proper nutrition, your 20lbs weight loss can be accelerated: it can be as short as 10 weeks. If, on the other hand, if  you don’t watch what you eat, you can end up putting on weight instead of losing. Obviously with the increased activity your appetite will naturally increase wanting to replace the burned carbs. Eat sensibly with a varied diet, some inspiration  for cheap dinner ideas.

The science behind weight loss through exercise

“Assuming your commute is a fourteen kilometre round trip then you can expect to use approximately 720 kilocalories (kcal) of energy. The average daily intake that an adult requires is between 1800 and 2500 kcal. This certainly shows the potential to lose weight by regularly commuting. The caveat when trying to lose weight through exercise is that you cannot eat much more. Exercise leads to hunger and research has shown that compensatory eating limits the effectiveness of an exercise based weight loss program. To give greater meaning to the numbers, 720 kcal correlates to a sandwich, an apple and two slices of pizza.

Commuting to and from work has another benefit, albeit harder to quantify. Exercise temporarily increases the bodies basal metabolic rate (BMR). The BMR is essentially the amount of energy the body needs to sustain life while at rest. BMR rises during exercise and it takes time for the body to return to its normal state as it works hard to settle body temperature and heart rate. This is known as exercise after-burn.

By exercising twice a day courtesy of commuting you get the benefits of this after-burn effect twice. There is mixed evidence in the literature when it comes to weight loss through the temporary increase of the BMR alone. Thankfully, there is no evidence of it being counterproductive. The inconclusive evidence of increasing BMR and the potential ineffectiveness of exercise programs for weight loss begs the question, why exercise? Exercise results in increased lean body mass, fat burning, muscle and ligament strengthening as well as reducing the risk of heart disease and cancer. All things being equal, if exercise has not resulted in weight loss, then it may be a matter of diet.” (source)

The cost of owning a cycle today

The best piece of advice to lose belly weight with cycling

The fitness industry is full of ads, and con-artists and various financial interests. It is hard to distinguish between genuine helpful information and scams. At the end of the day weight loss depends on you and your lifestyle.

As long as you rely on will-power to lose weight or to replicate a certain way of living, you’re bound to lose momentum and give up. This is true with everything in life, but here I’m referring to weight loss through bike commuting and nutrition.

The best piece of advice and the secret to something sustainable on the long run is to have a systematic approach and to build habits. This means don’t improvise the preparation for your commute and your meals. Changing the mindset overtime, in the beginning its might be a dread to get up and get on that bike. However with persistence it does change to acceptance that you need to get up and ride, the next stage is actually looking forward to riding the bike each morning and the freedom it brings.

Look Forward

Here are two things you can start doing today to start losing weight by bike commuting:

  • Prepare your clothes and gear the night before (backpack or pannier, computer, waterbottle, etc) You don’t have to start looking for your things in the morning, so you will be less likely to skip it.
  • Decide when, what and how much you will eat before you get hungry. This helps with portion control.

If you remove will-power from the equation by making these choices and building simple systems ahead of time, you transform your lifestyle and weigh-loss doesn’t become a goal, but a natural consequence of your newly acquired habits.

You didn’t gain your stomach fat overnight, so don’t expect to lose it overnight either. Play the long term game instead. Come to terms with the fact that you won’t be able to target your belly fat directly, and celebrate every small gain. Let your body decide where it reaches for energy. The most important thing is to commit to the process and not the outcome, and fall in love with it.

Ignore the ‘fat-burning zone’

A common mistake made by lots of cyclists and other endurance athletes who want to lose some weight is going out and riding for a long time at a low intensity in the fantastically named “fat burning zone”. Unfortunately for the sedate-paced it’s a myth. While working at lower intensities our bodies do predominately use fat reserves as fuel, but because the effort is low, the total calorie burn will also be low. This means that it won’t produce better results than other training methods and you’re better off using your cycling time more effectively.

If weight loss is your goal it doesn’t matter too much whether you are fuelled with fat, carbs or protein, as you’re in a calorie deficit you will lose weight. So, forget about the fat burning zone and focus more on high intensity, high effort cycling as you’ll get far better weight loss results through that. Sometimes you may need help from a nutritionist to loose weight.

Ride with others

Cycling with others has multiple benefits. You’ll likely push yourself further, and ride harder if you’re with other people. It’s much harder to quit when you are with others, and if you’ve arranged to ride with other people you are much less likely to cancel your ride due to excuses like the weather. When the restrictions are lifted why not try some of these Euro cycling destinations.

While it might initially seem like it’ll be damaging your morale, riding with people who are fitter/better than you will mean you’ll quickly adapt and catch up with them.

As well as that, riding with like minded people who are on the same weight loss journey as you will give you encouragement, advice and accountability – not to mention it’s often more fun, and if you’re enjoying it, you’re more likely to do more of it! Should you wear a mask while cycling.