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Cycling to Lose Weight: The Ultimate Guide

Med Coolman | Sunday, November 29, 2015 | | | |

Obese man and a bicycle

Using cycling to lose weight is one of the great weight loss ways. It's sociable, challenging and offers a great workout. Suitable for everyone, at any age, cycling helps weight loss as it burns calories and improves your health. A great way to get out in the clean air and help your weight loss goals!

Of all the workouts that can help you lose weight, cycling is one of the best. Riding a bike is a powerful way to improve cardiovascular health and lose weight. Spinning those pedals provides a fat-scorching workout that’s soft on the joints, and actually enjoyable to do, no matter how much you weigh.

Also, if you are shy about your weight, with sunglasses and a helmet, no one will recognize you on your bike anyway, so cycling to lose weight is ideal for you.

In this article, I will discuss why cycling for weight loss is  so special, what it can do for you and what are the benefits of cycling, what do you have to eat and what you must avoid, what cycling plan you need to follow, what do you need to get started and provide you with a list of helpful tips, hints and apps to help you in your "Cycling to Lose Weight" journey. 
So this is what you gonna learn:

1- The Benefits of Cycling
2- Useful Tips, Do's and Don'ts about Cycling
3- Nutrition Basics
4- Workout Plans
5- Best Apps for Cycling
6- Weight Loss Success Stories using Cycling

Cycling to Lose Weight: The Benefits

If you are looking to lose weight, there are many reasons for you to consider cycling as part of your everyday exercise regime. Cycling has many health benefits, especially for those who want cycling to lose weight such as in our case. Here are some of the great aspects of cycling and his benefits: [Tweet This]

1- One of the easiest aerobics workouts to start with because it gives a very wide range of training intensities, it helps you to improve your exercise intensity in a moderate and controlled manner.

2- Cycling is a non-weight bearing exercise so it is easy on the joints, tendons, and muscles. Pedal power is low impact and takes the weight of the body, so for people who cannot do high impact workouts because of the pressure it puts on their joints, such as running, cycling is an excellent option.

3- Burns a lot of calories: more than 500 calories per hour at a moderate speed for someone weighing 170 lbs, so it helps you burn calories as well as losing weight.

4- Cycling provides resistance training (leg muscles), aerobic training (heart and lungs),  and isometric resistance (arms and other upper body muscles).

5- An ideal cross-training exercise for swimming, running, etc and may add variety to any exercise program. Cycling for 30 minutes just two to three times a week, will help with all other aerobic workouts and decrease the chances of you having to stop your exercise to get your breath back.

6- Improves your cardio, as your heart and lungs get stronger, you will be capable to more efficiently transport Oxygen around the body. Your resting pulse rate will decrease as will your blood pressure and blood fat levels. All of these combined will help you avoid common obesity-related diseases such as heart diseases, high blood pressure, and diabetes.

7- Cycling exercises the major legs muscle: quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, and calves.

This is a good infographic from about 7 health benefits of cycling (I mentioned most of them above) 

7 Health Benefits of Cycling Infographic
7 Health Benefits of Cycling Infographic

Other benefits and good aspects of cycling:

- Can be done almost safely at almost any age and any weight.

- Helps you combine exercising in the fresh air with exploring new places in your city and enjoying new scenery.

- Helps you add variety to your current workout routine and reduce the stress.

- Can be a really social activity and is easily performed in a group with family or friends.

- Relatively inexpensive and cheap activity to engage in.

- Cycling is as simple as drinking water, you need no specific training. Most of us can already ride a bicycle and as the saying goes, once learned you never forget!
- Cycling makes you happy =D !  [Tweet This]

Why Cycling Makes you happy Infographic
Why Cycling Makes you happy Infographic

Cycling to Lose Weight: The Tips

These are some useful tips and hints to know what do you need, get the most out of cycling and make your cycling safe and effective: 

1- Begin slowly and keep distances short initially and gradually build up your distances and then speeds.

2- Combine your intensities and riding distances for maximum long-term weight loss.

3- Drink water frequently while riding, you should always take plenty of water with you when you cycle. While cycling consider drinking a small amount of water often and never go longer than 15 min or so without drinking water. Because it makes you sweat, cycling makes your body use and lose a great deal of water which must be replaced to avoid the dehydration of your body. If you are going on very long rides, consider buying a hydration pack that is essentially a backpack especially designed to carry water (between 1 to 3 liters).

Vbiger Hydration Pack with 3L Bladder Water Bag Great for Cycling Climbing Running and Hiking

4- Get the right sized bike for you and be sure your seat is at the right height. You know the correct height of your bike seat when your leg has a slight bend in it at the knee when the corresponding pedal is closest to the ground. If you buy your bike from a bike shop, ask them to adjust your seat height for you.

 Correct bicycle fit and adjustment illustration
 Correct bicycle fit and adjustment

5- For your safety, you absolutely need a helmet, so make sure the helmet you wear fits your head properly and to be more comfortable get a very light helmet with superior ventilation properties.

6- Because you want cycling to lose weight, most of your riding will be in your city which means you will almost cycling on sealed roads and bike paths, as a result, I  recommend you using a hybrid bike with road tires for cycling. Hybrid bikes tend to have slightly wider wheels than pure road bikes and have a much more comfortable upright riding position.

hybrid bike
Hybrid Bike

7- Think about using speedometers if you can, because they are great at monitoring the speed and distance of each ride and even estimate the number of calories burned during your cycling. So, you can use this information to progressively increase your cycling distances and speeds as well as track your weight loss progress.

Wireless Bicycle Computer Waterproof Bike Speedometer

8- I highly recommend you to use a heart rate monitor while cycling even if it's an extra option, but it's a great tool to measure your exercise intensity. If you are thinking about getting one, these two are advised: 
Polar FT7 Heart Rate Monitor
Black Fitbit Charge HR Wireless Activity Wristband

You can also use some smartphone apps instead of using a speedometer or a heart rate monitor

9- Take a break if you need it during your ride.

10- Change your riding route for diversity and have fun.

Read: Best Vitamin for Weight Loss

Next: Nutrition Basics, you can also jump to a specific section: 

1- The Benefits of Cycling
2- Useful Tips, Do's and Don'ts about Cycling
3- Nutrition Basics
4- Workout Plans
5- Best Apps for Cycling
6- Weight Loss Success Stories using Cycling

Cycling to Lose Weight: The Nutrition Basics.

I would like to remember you about some nutrition basics and hints because it is very important to first understand a few basics before you go further. Your body produce energy from four sources: carbohydrate, fat, protein, and alcohol.

Energy balance compares the amount of energy you have eaten to the amount you have used. Energy balance is either negative (less taken than used), neutral (equal amounts) or positive (more taken energy than used).

In positive energy balance, you are eating more than you need. Excess fat is stored as body fat. Excess carbohydrate is stored in muscles and liver as glycogen. Overall a positive energy balance causes weight gain, negative energy balance leads to weight loss and a neutral energy balance a stable weight. So what you have to focus on is to have a negative energy balance while cycling to lose weight.

To lose weight, you must burn fat, and your body doesn’t get around to burning fat until it's used up its stored energy from the sugars and other carbs you have consumed. When you don’t burn enough calories to use up the sugars, the body converts them to fat to be used later.

 You will burn more calories than what you are taking in because of the cycling. This is how you can lose weight. So to be sure that you will not eat more calories than your daily recommended amount and will lose weight effectively, you have to follow these nutrition recommendations:

Read: Top 35 Weight Loss Smoothies And Their Recipes

- Eat breakfast daily and don’t skip meals: Getting your metabolism started first thing in the morning is essential and starving yourself will make you going on a crazy overeating later in the day.

- Have some small good snacks available: If you’re hungry between meals, eat something small and healthy as well.

- Drink a lot of water, at least 8 glasses per day, to avoid dehydration and keep your stomach feeling full and avoid all sugary/alcohol drinks.

- Keep your energy up for bike riding by consuming lean proteins, whole grains, and low-fat dairy.

- Take lots of vegetables and lean protein sources. Try to get your daily calories from these food groups, this will help you burn fat more effectively.

- Increase intake of fish (especially sardines, salmon, and mackerel), fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds, salads.

Read: Best Vegetables to Lose Weight

- Avoid all high fat processed foods and those containing hydrogenated fat/oils (that is, most ready meals, some low-fat spreads). Replace them with home-cooked meals.

- Get rid of all fried food. Replace with grilled, baked, steamed, boiled foods.


Don't lower your calorie intake brutally. Your body will consider that you are starving so it will preserve its fat stores so that it can last as long as possible. Your body will break down your muscle mass to provide energy. You will be lighter because muscle is much heavier than fat. There are two negative consequences of this crash-style dieting you should worry about:

1- Lower basal metabolic rate due to having less muscle, which means when you return to the normal eating you will gain fat faster.

2- Lower power output due to muscle loss because muscles are much heavier than fat and are high consumers of energy.

Next: Workout Plans, you can also jump to a specific section: 

1- The Benefits of Cycling
2- Useful Tips, Do's and Don'ts about Cycling
3- Nutrition Basics
4- Workout Plans
5- Best Apps for Cycling
6- Weight Loss Success Stories using Cycling

Cycling to Lose Weight: The Workout Plan

There are many plan ideas you can think about for using cycling to lose weight. I will talk to you about some plans you can follow but remember it's all about your own choice, so choose the right path for you.

Cycling to Lose Weight: The classic beginner plan. [Tweet This]

Once you are ready to cycle for weight loss, start off slowly and build up. Try out short journeys initially such as taking rides around your local block. Remember Your "Cycling to lose weight"  journey will be more enjoyable if you start off gently.

You can then increase the distance and speed after every ride. Within few days or weeks riding for some miles will no longer be a hard mission and you could even consider cycling to work if it’s possible.

Then when you feel ready, consider to ride at least for 1 hour, four days per week.: Just ride for one hour and each new ride, try to ride a little faster and farther than the previous one. Try to compete against yourself and on every new ride go further and faster to improve more your weight loss.

Cycling to Lose Weight: The Destination plan.

I called it the destination plan because it means: Riding your bike while going to your destination, Cycle whenever you are going to work, shopping, visiting friends or family, etc. It can be the best deal for you, losing weight while cycling and going to your destination at the same time! and to make this path more effective and useful don't forget about Riding in intervals, which means riding hard for few minutes then slowing down for the equivalent amount of time. Riding hard during the whole ride will just tire you out; slowing down, lets you recover and then repeat again.

Cycling to Lose Weight: The Hunter Allen 2 weeks plan.

The following two-week plan from coach Hunter Allen will improve your weight loss by training your body to become a fat-burning machine. 
“It combines intense efforts with on-bike fueling strategies to teach your body to burn fat more effectively,” he says. “It’s not about drilling it every day. It’s about becoming a strong, well-rounded rider and an excellent fat burner.”
The program is about cycling four or more days a week.

Your 2-Week Plan:

Day 1:  Lengthen your planned ride by 30 minutes and add one to three 10-minute intervals at an effort close to what you could maintain in a 60-minute time trial, or a rate of perceived exertion (RPE) of 5 on a scale of 1 to 10. Pedal lightly for 5 minutes between each.

Day 2:  Include two to five 3-minute intervals in your planned ride, maintaining the hardest steady effort you can. Pedal lightly for 3 minutes between each.

Day 3: Lengthen your planned ride by adding 45 minutes, structured as one 8- to 10-second sprint every 2 minutes at 80 percent of your all-out effort (RPE 8), maintaining a moderate to a somewhat strong effort in between, or RPE 3 to 4.

Day 4: Include five to ten 1-minute intervals in your planned ride. Do these aggressively (RPE 7 to 8) and attack so that you’re fading (but still pushing) in the final 15 seconds. Pedal lightly for 2 minutes between each.

Day 5: Spin easy for an hour or take a rest day.

Day 6: Endurance ride. Aim for 2 hours at an easy to moderate effort (RPE 2 to 3). If you haven’t done a ride of this length recently, extend your longest recent ride by one-third.

Day 7: Endurance ride. Aim for 3 hours at an easy to moderate effort (RPE 2 to 3), or extend your longest recent ride by one-third.

Day 8: Spin easy for an hour or take a rest day.

Day 9: Include two to four 10-minute intervals in your regular ride at an effort close to what you could maintain in a 60-minute time trial (RPE 5). Push yourself hard during the last 2 minutes. Pedal lightly to recover for 5 minutes between each.

Day 10: Include five to ten 15-second all-out sprints (RPE 10) in your regular ride. Pedal lightly to recover for 4 minutes between each. Alternate between small- and big-ring sprints.

Day 11: Include the following anaerobic intervals in a regular ride: three 2-minute intervals at RPE 7 with 2 minutes of easy pedaling between each. Ride 5 minutes easy. Then do three 1-minute intervals at RPE 8 with 1 minute of recovery in between. Ride 5 minutes easy and finish with three 30-second intervals, going all-out, with 1 minute of easy pedaling in between.

Day 12: Lengthen your regular ride by 45 minutes today and pedal that final stretch at nearly your time-trial pace, or upper-tempo pace (RPE 4).

Day 13: Endurance ride. Aim for 2.5 to 3 hours, easy to moderate effort (RPE 2 to 3), or extend your longest recent ride by one-third.

Day 14: Long endurance ride. Plan to pedal for 3 to 4 hours at an easy to moderate effort (RPE 2 to 3), or extend your longest recent ride by one-third.

This will provide you with a healthy mix of low to high-intensity riding, that will get you fitter. As I said recently, remember to drink water well before, during, and after each bike ride, and refuel your body with proteins after each ride.

Next: Best Apps for Cycling, you can also jump to a specific section: 

1- The Benefits of Cycling
2- Useful Tips, Do's and Don'ts about Cycling
3- Nutrition Basics
4- Workout Plans
5- Best Apps for Cycling
6- Weight Loss Success Stories using Cycling

Cycling to Lose Weight: The Top 10 Cycling Apps.

Smartphones have improved cycling very well. With these apps, your Android will get you motivated and boost your cycling experience, allows you to easily plan routes, track and record rides,  keep on top of your training, and much more besides. 
The video below shows you a list of the top 10 cycling apps currently available. 
[Tweet This]

Next: Weight Loss Success Stories using Cycling, you can also jump to a specific section: 

1- The Benefits of Cycling
2- Useful Tips, Do's and Don'ts about Cycling
3- Nutrition Basics
4- Workout Plans
5- Best Apps for Cycling
6- Weight Loss Success Stories using Cycling

Cycling to Lose Weight: Success Stories.

Now, after been informed well about all what do you need to know to get all the power of cycling for weight loss, we will see some great success stories of people who were just like you, but because of cycling as well as good and healthy eating they have changed their life for a much more better one. If you didn't believe yet, that cycling is a good way to lose weight, these stories will prove you that. [Tweet This]

Gary Brennan's "cycling to lose weight"success story: 

Gary Brennan's - Before and After
Gary Brennan - Before and After
"My name is Gary Brennan, also known as The Amazing 39 Stone Cyclist. I used to weigh 39 stone and 13 pounds, but through the power of cycling to work I now weigh just 180 pounds. There was no magic bullet, no weight loss surgery, no pills to pop ... just blood, sweat and gears (OK, maybe some tears too)." 

Cycling to Lose Weight - Gary Brennan's success story - Before
Gary Brennan on a bicycle- After

You can also check his wonderful blog if you want more of this great man:

Giles Roadnight's "cycling to lose weight" success story:

Cycling to Lose Weight - Giles Roadnight's success story - Before
Cycling to Lose Weight - Giles Roadnight's success story - After

"For years – as long as I can remember in fact – I’ve struggled with my weight, I have always been “big boned”, like most of my father’s side of the family. After I left school and started living by myself, my diet got worse and I stopped exercising. In 2009, the scales reached 315 lb. That’s 22.5 stones in old money; 143 kg in new. I needed to do something about it. So I did. I made ONE change to my lifestyle, which resulted in me losing 105 lb (48 kg). I started cycling to work."

Check out his story: Giles Roadnight's "cycling to lose weight" success story

Also don't forget to visit his blog to get inspired by his "cycling weight loss" journey:

Toby Field's "cycling to lose weight" success story:

Cycling to Lose Weight -  Toby Field's success story - Before
Cycling to Lose Weight -  Toby Field's success story - After

"I wake up at 6 am and I’m out of the door by 7, come rain or shine.  It’s a way of life for me, but that wasn’t always the case. Two years ago I was a very different person. I was super morbidly obsessed, at 21 stone (294 lbs.) and at high risk of health problems. My dad died at the age of 55 as a result of obesity. I was following his footsteps. His death obviously didn’t have the impact on me at it should have at the time.  It took one cheap bike to spend quality time with my kids, to change things." [Tweet This]

You can know more about Toby if you check his blog:

To Conclude:

Of all the available workouts for weight loss, cycling is one of the best and easy ways.

Now you know why cycling is so great, what are his benefits and what it can do for you, what you will need to get started  and keep riding your bike effectively and safely for the rest of your life, you had read about some real success stories of people who have chosen cycling as the main way to lose weight, so, there's only one thing you have to do:

Give it a go and start your "cycling to lose weight" journey as soon as possible. If you have any other tips or information or want to share anything related to this post please feel free to comment :)

Have Fun! 
Wondering if you can lose weight by cycling? This Guide will explain all what do you need to know about [Tweet This]
Hey, this is a must read article to lose weight by using the power of cycling [Tweet This]
I highly recommend you to read this: Cycling to lose weight: The Ultimate Guide [Tweet This]
Related Tags: Cycling to Lose Weight, Cycling for Weight Loss, Cycling Weight Loss, Bicycling for Weight Loss, Bike Riding for Weight Loss, Bike Riding to Lose Weight, Cycling to Lose Weight Plan

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2 Replies so far - Leave a comment and join the conversation ;)

  1. Can look at my blog to see nutritional facts of food at grocery stores.

  2. I very much like the way you have provided some extremely useful information about cycling to lose weight. Thanks for sharing some extremely useful and effective information. By the way let me share my personal experience. There was a time when I gained almost 39 pounds of extra body weight and was desperately trying to reduce that. I took up different type of fat burning exercise but all that went in vein. Then I came across this pill: Lean Belly Breakthrough. I took this pill and lost almost 39 pounds within a few weeks. That’s really amazing isn’t it?