Cycling for Weight Loss - How to lose weight riding your bike

Cycling for Weight Loss - How to lose weight riding your bike

If you are looking to lose weight but find the gym isn’t for you, then why not try cycling? Cycling for weight loss can be very effective, and not only benefit you physically but also mentally. What better way is there to lose weight than getting out and enjoying the countryside, or even simply commuting to work. We have put together some important tips to help you on your weight loss journey.

Cycling for Weight loss - Work commute

Commuting to work with a Litelok Gold Wearable

1. Eat a Balanced Diet

It may seem obvious but what you eat is very important when it comes to losing weight. Don’t think that you can just jump on your bike and the weight will fall off whilst you continue to indulge on treats. You really want to aim for a balanced diet, eating a wide variety of foods. Most people can fall into the trap of cutting out all the chocolate and pastries and replacing them with alternatives that, despite being healthier, can also be high in calories. 

Avocados feature in a lot of healthy dishes, but despite being delicious, they also high in fat. There are around 150kcal per half an avocado which is unusually high for fruits. Nuts are often eaten as a replacement for unhealthy snacks but are also high in fat. 


Now we’re not saying eliminate these foods completely as they have a lot of health benefits. Nuts are high in protein and fibre as well as containing vitamin E, Potassium and magnesium, while avocados are nutrient-dense food and contain 20 vitamins and minerals. By balancing your diet and eating a variety of foods, you will still get all the health benefits but you won’t be consuming too much fat. By eliminating all junk food and replacing it with one particular food you consider to be healthy, you may still struggle in shedding those pounds. 

2. Don’t eliminate all bad foods.

This may seem contradictory with the previous tip, but eliminating all bad food you love can potentially leave you to slip up and overindulge later on down the line. Former Cycling World Champion Alejandro Valverde once told Global Cycling Network that he eats a small tub of ice cream every day because it is his favourite food. Having a small amount every day is better than not having any for a while because when you do crack, you’ll end up eating gallons of the stuff and that’s not good.

Depriving yourself of food you love can also have a detrimental effect on your own well being and mental health and if you are feeling down, it is much harder to find the motivation to get up and cycle. Our advice would be to eliminate as much as you can whilst keeping that one food you love and consuming it in moderated small amounts. 

3. Track your calories

When it comes to losing weight it is very important to burn more calories than you consume, so keeping track is important. Also, research shows that people who keep track of the calories they consume are more likely to keep the weight off in the long run. So you’ll need a method to keep track of what you eat, and how much you exercise.

When you are riding, there are multiple different ways you can track the calories you burn. You can use a fitness app such as Strava (others are available) that will track your route and speed giving you a rough calculation of the calories you have burnt. If your fitness tracking app isn’t connected to any other external monitoring device then it can usually be between 20 and 60 percent off.

If you use a heart rate monitor then they are typically more accurate, leaving you with a 10 to 20 percent margin of accuracy. However, using a power meter on your bike while you ride is the most accurate method to determine just how many calories you burn. This is because they measure the amount of energy you produce to turn the cranks of your bike. These usually have an accuracy margin of around 5 percent.

Power Meter

You can burn a lot of calories whilst cycling, but it is important to know your basal metabolic rate. This is the number of calories your body requires to function at rest. Your body will burn these calories doing basic things like breathing, resting, sleeping, and moving. There are plenty of online calculators you can find that will work out this information for you as it tends to differ from person to person. 

As well as tracking the calories you burn there are also multiple apps that can track the calories you consume. Apps such as MyFitnessPal (others are available) has a database of over 5 million foods, allowing you to tell it what you ate and it'll tell you how many calories that dish contained. Keeping track of all this data should put you in a strong position to lose weight and develop habits that will help you keep the weight off.


4. Do not under-eat

It can be very easy to think, if I stop putting calories into my body then the calories I burn from cycling should make me lose weight even faster. Well, that isn’t the case. If you aren’t providing your body with energy then it is going to start sourcing it from elsewhere and instead of using the body fat you want to get rid of, it is easier for it to break down your lean muscle mass, converting it into glucose. 

If you restrict your body of carbohydrates then your body can go into something called relative energy deficiency. It can seriously compromise your long term health and physical performance, as it has the ability to lower bone density and suppress your immune system. If you deprive your body of calories then your body will go into what is referred to as “Starvation mode”. Your body will reduce the number of calories it will burn which can drastically slow weight loss.

5. Quick ride before breakfast

Throughout the day, your body is constantly storing and burning fat. If you wake up in the morning and skip breakfast then your body is forced to burn your stored fat. As soon as you eat at lunchtime, your body starts using the calories consumed from your lunch as energy.

So, if you wake up and go for a thirty-minute ride before breakfast, then the energy you are using is going to come from your body burning its supply of stored fat, rather than using the breakfast calories you would have consumed. 

Please note: If you do plan on going for early morning rides without eating, it is important to not overdo it and go no longer than an hour so as to not cause any negative effects.

Early Morning Bike Ride

6. Ride at a steady pace

It is quite common for people to be incredibly keen when beginning a workout program. They want to push themselves to the limit straight away, but this ultimately ends badly. It is very important to remember that you don’t have to go flat out on your bike to make progress. The best thing you can do is cycle at a steady pace.

Your fat-burning heart rate is about 70 percent of your maximum heart rate so that is the pace you want to be aiming for. This can be achieved by wearing heart rate monitors. As a rough guide you can calculate your max heart rate by subtracting your age by 220. 

If you push yourself too hard whilst riding, you can do damage to your body that will impede your weight loss progress. You can cause your muscles to become sore and your joints to ache which can put you on the shelf for a few days. You could even cause a more serious injury to your body that could have lasting effects. If you don’t give your body time to recover then you will find yourself not being able to ride as long or as fast as you once could. This can have a negative effect on your motivation which could lead to you throwing in the towel. Take it easy, don’t rush, and stay at a steady pace.

7. Stretch

Following on from the previous point, it is very important that you regularly stretch to avoid your body aching from the strain and stress that cycling can cause. By getting into a stretching routine before and after you jump on your bike, this will help your bodies flexibility. It will also help build muscle and the more muscle you have, the better your body will be at burning off calories.


8. Commute by bike

One of the best things about exercising through cycling is that you can do it as part of your daily commute. If you usually travel to work by driving then switching from 4 wheels to 2 can make that journey count. You don’t have to factor in time between work and home to workout as you are doing it whilst travelling a journey you would normally take anyway. If you are cycling twice a day for a short period of time then the weight will start to shift.

Do you have any additional tips? If so, get in touch with us through facebook or twitter and let us know.