Last update:

Cycling for weight loss – The Ultimate Guide To Burn Fat While Cycling

Regular cycling plays an important role in my weight maintenance, as I have noticed that I tend to gain abdominal fat when I do not exercise regularly. As a busy individual, I understand that fitting exercise into your daily routine can be difficult, but from my personal experience, I know that this does not have to be the case.

Cycling is an ideal way to make exercise part of your daily rhythm, since it can be done from home or used for commuting and running errands.

After days of researching the internet and talking to my trainer friends about this topic, I wrote this article about how to lose weight by cycling.

Can you use cycling for weight loss?

Sure! Regular riding can boost your activity level and help you burn calories, but without changing your diet too, achieving major weight loss will be difficult in the long term. So if you’re looking to lose some weight, remember that it’s not just about how much you ride – your diet has to change too.

What advantages does cycling offer for weight loss?

  • Cycling is an effective form of exercise for burning calories and aiding in weight loss, especially at a higher intensity.
  • It’s a low-impact activity that reduces the risk of injury and strain on the joints, making it a suitable option for individuals who may have difficulty with high-impact exercises.
  • It’s an enjoyable activity that can become part of your daily routine.
  • You don’t need any special equipment or training.

What are the disadvantages of cycling for weight loss?

  • You might get bored doing the same route over and over again. To keep things interesting, you might need to switch up your cycling route and explore different paths and trails in your area.
  • While cycling is mainly lower-body focused, running and hiking,are weight-bearing exercises that actively engage upper body and core muscles, which could lead to a higher calorie burn.
  • You need to have a comfortable bike that fits you properly to get the most out of your rides.
  • The weather can be a huge factor – rain, wind, and cold temperatures can make cycling unpleasant or even dangerous.

How much cycling do you need to do to lose 1kg?

Depending on your current fitness level, body type, body weight, and intensity of the workout, calories burned during a 30-minute cycling session can range from 225 to 550.

One kilogram of fat is roughly equal to 7700 calories, so creating a weekly deficit of 3850 calories (which equals to a daily deficit of 550) through a healthy diet and regular exercise will take you about two weeks to lose one kilogram of body weight.

Can you lose belly fat by cycling?

Yes, cycling can help you reduce the amount of fat stored around your waist. But keep in mind that it’s not possible to pick where you want to lose weight; you have to lose it all over your body. 

Keys to Long-term Weight Loss Success

Aim for consistency

Losing weight healthily requires patience and a willingness to change. Consistency is key to achieving success, as it allows you to assess what is effective and what isn’t, enabling you to develop positive habits. Rather than simply committing to weight loss, it’s important to dedicate yourself to a new way of life for the long term.

Define reasonable milestones

It’s important to set realistic expectations and milestones because it’s easy to become discouraged when results don’t appear immediately. Start by setting smaller goals that are achievable in shorter periods of time. This can help you stay motivated and committed to your journey while gradually working towards reaching your ultimate goal. Celebrate each milestone as you approach it and don’t be too hard on yourself if you face any setbacks.

Track your progress

Tracking your progress will help you stay on track. It allows you to identify areas of improvement and become aware of any bad habits that are holding you back from achieving your goals. Keep a food journal and monitor how many calories you’re consuming each day, as well as making note of any changes in body composition (weight or body measurements).

Stay conservative 

It may be tempting to resort to extreme methods, such as crash diets or excessive exercise. However, these approaches can be unsustainable and ineffective in the long term. Rushing the process is not only discouraging but also increases the risk of injury.

Get enough sleep

Getting enough sleep is essential for overall health and weight loss. Lack of sleep can cause an increase in stress hormones, which leads to increased appetite and insulin resistance. Aim for at least 7-8 hours of quality sleep each night to ensure that your body has enough time to rest and recharge.

Be patient

It is important to remain patient when trying to lose weight. Results will not appear overnight, and there may be plateaus along the journey. But with dedication and consistency, you can healthily reach your ideal weight goal over time.

Get support

It’s challenging to stay motivated and dedicated to a weight loss journey. That’s why having the right support is essential for success. Surround yourself with friends and family who will encourage you throughout your journey, join online communities, or find an accountability partner who will help keep you on track.

Don’t let stress take over your life

Stress can increase cortisol levels in the body, which can lead to weight gain. Therefore, it is important to take time for yourself and manage stress with relaxation techniques, such as yoga or meditation.

Focus on balanced nutrition

While many trendy diets may suggest eliminating a macronutrient from your diet, it is generally not a good idea, unless there is a medical reason for doing so. In general, a balanced and healthy diet should include all three macronutrients: carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. A common macro ratio for weight loss is the “40-30-30” rule, where 40% of daily calories come from carbohydrates, 30% from protein, and 30% from healthy fats.

However, it is also advisable to seek guidance from a healthcare professional or registered dietitian to tailor your macronutrient intake according to your individual needs and goals.

Nine healthy eating habits you can integrate into your daily routine rapidly

Increase your protein intake [1]

A high protein intake is crucial when you want to lose weight. It not only keeps you full, but it can also help compensate for potential muscle loss caused by a calorie deficit. If you want to reduce your caloric intake, consider consuming fewer carbohydrates and fats while increasing your protein intake. Try to aim for 1.5-2.0 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day.

Avoid extreme energy restriction

You may be tempted to significantly decrease your energy intake to achieve fast weight loss. However, we don’t recommend this, as it can lead to drastic muscle loss and nutritional deficiencies. Extreme energy restriction can lead to a decrease in muscle glycogen stores too, which can impair the quality of workouts. What’s more, such restrictions can disrupt sleep, increase irritability, and decrease motivation. The right approach is to reduce your average daily energy intake by 500-800 calories from your current baseline. This way you can slowly, but surely, reach your desired body weight.

Stay hydrated [2]

Staying hydrated throughout the day is key for general health and can help with weight loss too. It helps regulate your metabolism, which is responsible for breaking down food and converting it into energy. When you are dehydrated, your metabolism slows down, making it more difficult to burn calories and lose weight. Drinking enough water can also help you feel full and reduce your appetite, which can prevent overeating.

Choose high-fiber foods [3]

High-fiber foods are great if you’re trying to lose weight. They make you feel full and satisfied for a long time, so you’re less likely to overeat. Even though they fill you up, they’re not packed with tons of calories, so you can eat a good amount without worrying about gaining weight. Plus, they help keep your blood sugar levels stable, which means fewer cravings and more steady energy. They’re also good for your gut health, which is important for digestion and overall health.

Cut out added sugar

Added sugar is one of the major contributors to weight gain and obesity. It’s important to limit your intake of added sugar, as it provides no nutritional value other than calories. Eating too much added sugar can lead to an increase in fat storage and an energy crash, which will make it harder to maintain a calorie deficit for long-term weight loss. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, but try to limit your intake of sugary snacks and drinks.

Consume healthy fat and avoid unhealthy fat

Fat has been demonized for years, but it’s actually an essential nutrient that your body needs. Eating healthy fats in moderation can help you feel fuller longer and reduce cravings. Some great sources of healthy fats include nuts, seeds, avocados, olive oil, and fatty fish like salmon or mackerel. Just make sure to avoid unhealthy trans-fats, which are often found in processed snacks and fried foods.

Stay away from sugary drinks

Aside from added sugar, sugary drinks are one of the worst culprits when it comes to weight gain. They have no nutritional value and can add hundreds of calories to your daily intake without making you feel any fuller. Switch to water or unsweetened tea instead if you’re looking for a healthier alternative.

Limit your consumption of refined carbs.

Refined carbs can be found in white bread, pastries, and other processed foods. They are quickly broken down and digested by the body, leading to rapid spikes in blood sugar levels. This can cause energy crashes throughout the day and stimulate cravings for more unhealthy snacks. Try to limit your intake of refined carbs as much as possible and opt for whole grain alternatives instead.

Add extra veggies to your plate.

Vegetables are incredibly nutrient dense and packed with fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. They are also low in calories and can help you feel full without adding too many extra calories to your diet. Aim to add an extra serving of veggies to each meal or snack throughout the day for a nutritional boost.

Possible reasons you’re not losing weight

You rely too much on individual weigh-ins

If you’re tracking your fat loss progress by weighing yourself regularly, it’s important to keep in mind that weight is not always an accurate measurement. Your body weight can fluctuate a lot, especially due to water retention, which may mask your true progress. To make sure you’re getting the most accurate readings, weigh yourself with minimal clothing, on an empty stomach, and after using the bathroom.

However, don’t rely too much on individual weigh-ins, as daily fluctuations can affect your results. Instead, aim to focus on weekly averages. We suggest weighing yourself at least 2-4 times per week and comparing each weekly average against the next to get a better picture of your progress.

It’s important to keep in mind that there are factors beyond just food and exercise that can influence weight, such as stress and sleep quality. Therefore, consistent weigh-ins and tracking over time are key to understanding your progress.

You’re making tracking mistakes

If you’re new to tracking your food intake, it’s common to make mistakes without realizing it. However, it can be problematic if these errors go unnoticed and hinder your progress.

To avoid this, make sure you understand how to accurately log and measure your food portions. It may also be helpful to use a food scale or measuring cups until you get the hang of it and can eyeball portion sizes more accurately.

If you’re unsure whether you’re making mistakes, don’t be afraid to seek help from a healthcare professional or registered dietitian. They can help you identify where you might be going wrong and offer guidance on how to improve your tracking efforts.

You’re Not Being Compliant

It is important to acknowledge that many people struggle to stick to their diet plan due to lack of compliance. This usually takes two forms: unaccounted snacks or eating off-plan.

Unaccounted snacks are tricky because they can easily go unnoticed, but even small snacks can add up and cancel out your calorie deficit. A good strategy for those who struggle with snacking is to avoid it altogether, but if you prefer to have snacks, it’s important to track their calorie content beforehand and log them before eating to ensure you don’t forget to include them later.

The second form of non-compliance is off-plan eating, which can take many forms, such as indulging in your favorite ice cream or eating an entire pizza by yourself. The most common way people fall off the wagon is by overeating on the weekends. Stick to your diet plan during the workweek and don’t let the weekend derail your progress. Remember that your average caloric intake matters more than individual daily fluctuations.

Health conditions

If you’re struggling to lose weight despite tracking your food intake accurately and following the plan consistently, it’s possible that there may be underlying medical conditions or medications interfering with your progress.

Certain health conditions and medications can make losing weight difficult, so it’s important to talk to your doctor if you suspect that this may be the case. They can help identify any potential roadblocks and offer advice on lifestyle interventions or medications that can help mitigate these obstacles.

5 Effective Cycling Workouts for Weight Loss and Improved Endurance

Before starting any new exercise program, it’s important to consult with your doctor to ensure it’s safe for you to engage in physical activity.

If you are new to training or have not trained for a while, it is also important to adhere to a gradual approach. Start with a casual half-hour cycling session per every other day, which you can gradually increase in duration or intensity as you build endurance and strength. Once you have established a solid fitness foundation, you can begin incorporating more challenging routines into your training regimen.

While some of these routines may require a stationary bike, all of them can be adapted for outdoor cycling. Incorporating interval training, hill climbing, long-distance endurance rides, fartlek training, and Tabata intervals into your routine can help you challenge your body and burn more calories.

Remember to always warm up before starting any workout routine, cool down afterwards, and stretch to prevent injury. 

Interval Training:

  • Warm up for 5-10 minutes with an easy-paced ride.
  • Increase your intensity to a challenging level and cycle at a high intensity for 1 minute.
  • Recover for 1-2 minutes with a slow-paced ride.
  • Repeat the high-intensity and recovery cycles for a total of 20-30 minutes.
  • Cool down with an easy-paced ride for 5-10 minutes.

Hill Climbing:

  • Find a route with a challenging incline or use a stationary bike with adjustable resistance.
  • Start with a 5-10 minute warm-up on flat terrain.
  • Begin climbing the hill, maintaining a steady pace that challenges you.
  • Aim to climb for 5-10 minutes.
  • Descend the hill and repeat the cycle 3-4 times.
  • Cool down with an easy-paced ride for 5-10 minutes.

Long-Distance Endurance Ride:

  • Choose a route or set up a stationary bike for a longer ride.
  • Aim for a steady pace that you can maintain for an extended period.
  • Start with a warm-up of 10-15 minutes at an easy pace.
  • Cycle for 45-60 minutes at a consistent intensity.
  • Cool down with an easy-paced ride for 5-10 minutes.

Fartlek Training:

  • Begin with a warm-up of 5-10 minutes at an easy pace.
  • Mix up your speed and intensity throughout the ride.
  • Incorporate periods of higher intensity efforts (e.g., sprints) for 30-60 seconds, followed by a recovery period at a slower pace.
  • Repeat the high-intensity and recovery cycles for a total of 20-30 minutes.
  • Cool down with an easy-paced ride for 5-10 minutes.

Tabata Intervals:

  • Warm up for 5-10 minutes at an easy pace.
  • Cycle at maximum effort for 20 seconds.
  • Rest for 10 seconds.
  • Repeat the cycle for a total of 8 rounds (4 minutes).
  • Take a 2-minute rest.
  • Repeat the entire sequence for a total of 3-4 sets.
  • Cool down with an easy-paced ride for 5-10 minutes.

What to do next?

If you enjoyed this article and would like to read more from us, check out our article about the 13 benefits of biking.

Photo of author


Mate is a passionate bikepacking enthusiast and the founder of this website. He loves exploring new destinations, admiring nature, and engaging in outdoor activities. He strongly believes that healthy living should be environmentally friendly too, which is why he prefers to use bicycles for his transport needs.