It’s no great secret that losing weight is a balance between diet and exercise, with diets having the general target of using up more energy each day than you eat. Thousands of diets exist, in every shape and colour, but all will follow this general rule.
Cycling is a very efficient form of exercise, because it uses a great deal of energy while allowing you to continue cycling for quite a long period of time, and usually without causing impact injuries or excessive fatigue. A couple of hours of active cycling will typically use 1200 calories.
The great thing is, it isn’t necessary to be Lance Armstrong or Alberto Contador cycling through the Alps to lose weight through cycling – we can all do it simply by going out on our bikes and enjoying the local countryside. No need to make an enormous effort, but it is best if you push yourself just a little, so long as you still feel happy and comfortable (cycling at little more than walking speed won’t bring so many benefits…)
If you are currently overweight and a non-cyclist you will find it hard work when you first get back on a bike, and should only cycle a few miles if that is all you feel comfortable with. Each week try and make your route a little longer and in a month or two you will easily be cycling 25 miles, then later 30 miles…40 miles!
Our goal here isn’t to cycle at top speed or win the Tour de France, it is simply to be able to cycle for a couple of hours at a time, a couple of times a week. Do more if your work commitments allow it, but this should be enough to see a big change in your weight.
For city dwellers or those trying to fit cycling in a busy schedule it is possible to use a home trainer bike or the bikes in the local gym, but I recommend that if at all possible you go out on a ‘real’ bike, for a few reasons:
1) You see better scenery!
2) It is difficult to stay motivated sat in a gym. If you are out on the open road and there is a hill in front of you you have little choice but to cycle up it. In the gym it is much easier to give up on the ‘hill’.
3) A real ride can easily last two or three hours without ever losing interest, whereas a gym or home bike can become very boring after an hour or so – and if you find it boring you won’t bother to keep doing it!
4) The most important of all – when you are cycling for real, you are very aware that it is your weight that is slowing you down, and how much better you could ride if you weighed less. You don’t get this same sensation on a stay-at-home bike.
One important thing is not to over-do it. If you find you really enjoy cycling, only do an amount that keeps you looking forward to your next ride. if you get over-enthusiastic and set off every day to ride great distances it won’t be long before your body gets over-tired, and suddenly you will find you can’t stand it any longer. It’s better to do less and stay motivated.
I haven’t mentioned the other side of dieting – that is, what you eat. I hopefully don’t need to, because you will enjoy cycling so much that the weight will come off anyway. In any case, if you do a cycle ride that uses 1500 calories who is to say you can’t have a snack with 250 calories when you finish? You have still eaten much less calories than you used, so don’t even need to feel guilty, and will still lose weight!
If you are new to cycling see lots more cycling articles to help you get started, in our site dedicated to road bike cycling, and particularly to helping make cycling a great pleasure and not an ordeal to be faced.