Biking for Weight Loss

Woman mountain biker
Scott Markewitz/Photographers Choice - Getty

So, you’re thinking that it’s time to lose a few pounds, but not sure how to get started? How about dusting off that bike in the garage and taking it out for a spin? Bicycling is ideal for weight loss because it burns a lot of calories. An average size person riding at a moderate speed (12 – 14 mph) will burn approximately 235 calories per half hour.

Options for Bike Workouts

Consider cycling for weight loss in a variety of ways.

How about these options?

  • Try having a scheduled daily ride of about an hour.
  • Could you ride your bike to and from work or school? If you did this most days of the week and ate a healthy diet, you could easily expect to lose one pound a week. 
  • Another option is to plan family or group rides a few times a week. Make this a longer ride of a couple hours. Coupled with a healthy diet this would also bring a weight loss of about one pound a week.
  • Plan times throughout your week to fit in a bike ride, such as running errands or visiting a friend.

These activities will all add up to calories burned and pounds shed. Plus, they are also just a lot of fun and surprisingly easy way to fit in exercise.

Don't Go Wild After a Long Ride

After a long ride, the tendency might be to "go wild". You've earned a calorie blow-out, right? While post-ride refueling is necessary, it's important to be smart about it and not go overboard.

High-protein, relatively low-carb snacks are the ideal way to replenish energy and give our muscles the building blocks needed to repair and grow, making us even stronger for the next time out. 

When losing weight, this rate of shedding a pound a week or so is about right. Long term success is rarely achieved by crazy crash diets.

If you lose more than a pound per week, you are essentially starving yourself, and your body responds accordingly. It tries to save calories wherever possible, and your metabolism will slow and you risk losing muscle tissue. The best way to lose weight and keep it off is by exercising regularly and making healthy food choices.

Pace Yourself

Many people have found that a steady stream of healthy, low-calorie snacks or smaller meals paced throughout the day works well.  Eating a little bit every couple of hours keeps us from getting too hungry and helps regulate appetite and blood sugar, those things that drive us to the vending machine at 4 p.m, making poor choices that sabotage our diet. Starting with a healthy modest breakfast of perhaps some oatmeal and fruit, you can then follow with a mid-morning snack of yogurt or a handful of nuts. A healthy lunch and mid-afternoon snack - perhaps an apple or celery with peanut butter - will carry you to dinner.

Remember this: food is fuel for your body. To keep your body running at full speed, you need to plan your meals around whole foods with minimal processing. Things like whole grains, fruits, vegetables and lean meats and dairy. The fruits, vegetables and grains will provide needed carbohydrates to fuel your activity, while the lean meats and low-fat dairy products will encourage weight loss and provide protein for muscle development.

If you are new to healthy eating, search the Internet for healthy recipes or invest in a good cookbook.