As cyclists, we have a love-hate relationship with fat. On the one hand, we love fat as fuel, because that gives us the power to pedal longer with a better cadence, and on the other, we want to accumulate as little fat as possible in our bodies. And it is here that this enchanting feeling of love-hate is born because we do not want too much fat in our body, since cycling is also a sport that punishes excess fat and overweight, especially when the kilometers to travel are many or, the pavement begins to erect in a steep ascent.
Riding a bike to lose weight?
Of course, it is tempting to think that urban cycling –transporting by bicycle- to lose weight is a practice that, by itself, will make you lose weight quickly and simply: “You make more trips by bike and you are on the right track”, true? Well no, unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way.
Although everyone recommends that you ride a bike to lose weight, especially if you are a beginner or are driving this purpose for the first time, the truth is that it is not that simple. And that is because when we begin to use the bicycle more frequently, our body begins to ask us for higher calorie intake and that is when we begin to put the leg and not precisely on the pedal. Especially after a few good kilometers pedaled, cyclists can “screw up” and eat some extra calories.
And making that mistake is normal if we do not have a specific eating plan that responds to our physical activity, because remember that your body is such an effective machine that, it will always seek to save reserves and use the lowest possible fuel for those moments in which You demand more activity.
It is then that in many cases, urban cyclists initially, instead of losing weight, the opposite happens to them and they begin to gain weight. And it’s all because we consume more calories than we spend riding a bicycle.
It is also not necessary that we try to eliminate all the calories we consume while riding a bicycle, but we would not have to ride a bike all day or exercise all our life, but the easiest way to take care of our body is knowing the relationship between calories burned and the physical activity that we develop.
Because let’s be honest, many of us can suddenly see how many calories a given food gives us, only very few understand or base their diet on exact caloric intake. However, if we associate the number of calories we consume with the exact way to burn them, we would have better control in our diet, and therefore better use of them.
Or are you not interested in how many minutes of pedaling you should use to burn that piece of chocolate that you crave so much? I think we all want to know how many calories we burn while riding a bike, but while it’s easy to estimate, it’s hard to get an accurate figure.
You can find quick and easy equations to apply to the number of calories burned by bike – I share one of the most common formulas so you can make your own personalized calculations: 0.049 x (Your weight x 2.2) x Total minutes of practice = Calories burned – but, unfortunately, life is rarely so simple. You even have to be aware that GPS devices and applications, although useful, cannot guarantee an exact figure.
How many calories to consume?
But before we begin with the times that we need to pedal to consume those calories ingested during the day, it will be good to first know how many are the calories that are recommended to be ingested each day: for women, the calories should be around 2,000 a day, to Men recommended calories increase up to 2,500 or 3,000 a day. If you want to lose weight, it is important that you carry out a hypocaloric diet to reduce the number of daily calories and thus lose weight. But please always keep in mind that no text or the most scholarly advice of your cycling friends can replace the analysis and recommendations of a doctor or in this case of a nutritionist.
How long should I pedal to burn more calories?
You should know that the minimum exercise time with the bicycle (and with any other aerobic activity) is 20 minutes, that is the basic time to start burning the fat that we have stored. However, the advisable time is at least 30 minutes a day, to notice some type of result and lose weight progressively.
As I mentioned, there are different formulas and calculators online that can help you assess how many calories you burn by bicycle, however, the actual caloric expenditure depends not only on the time you are pedaling but also on the intensity with what you do. If you pedal at a low intensity, that is about 16 km/hour, you can calculate the calories you burn following the formula that I shared lines above.
In general terms and always taking into account that the intensity is low, the expenditure of calories according to time could be summarized as well – taking into account that the calculation I have done by putting a physiognomy with the following weight as an example -: a person with a weight 63 kg, which would be equivalent to a burning of 6.4 calories every minute (approximately).
In 20 minutes riding a bike, you get to burn 128 calories
In 30 minutes by bike, you can burn 192 calories
In 40 minutes by bike, you burn 256 calories
In 1 hour riding a bike, you can burn about 384 calories
You must keep in mind that in order to lose 1 kilo of weight, the calories that must be burned are 7700 kcal, which we can translate into two or three days of feeding.
To exemplify better I will use more specific cases.
5 tacos al pastor with small tortilla (approximately 463 calories) we can burn them with about 110 minutes of riding a bike at an average speed of 16km / h.
1 can of beer with 354ml of content (approximately 150 calories) we can burn it with about 40 minutes of riding a bike at an average speed of 16km / h.
1 cheeseburger and potatoes (approximately 750 calories) we can burn it with about 180 minutes of cycling at an average speed of 16km / h.
1 bar with 45g. of chocolate (approximately 250 calories) we can burn it with about 55 minutes of riding a bicycle at an average speed of 16km / h.
1 glazed donut or a large piece of sweet bread (approximately 465 calories) we can burn them with about 111 minutes of riding a bicycle at an average speed of 16km / h.
The above can be nothing encouraging, because who has so much time to ride a bicycle – of course, unless you work on the bicycle or simply have all the time in the world to ride it – but hey, remember that our body even uses energy even to sleep, so as you see, all is not lost. Now, do you want to use more energy and consume more calories? Very simple, increase your cadence.
The faster you pedal, you will get your body to burn more fuel (fat) and activate more muscles; The frequency of your beats increases and your body requires more energy and more oxygen. This process makes your body go to saturated fat reserves and use them to provide the energy needed to ride a bike at a faster speed.
Taking into account that high intensity of the physical exercise by bicycle is considered to be developed at least 20 km / h. constants, the caloric expenditure achieved with this intensity can be calculated with this formula that you already know but changing the value of some variables as in this example: 0.071 x (Your weight x 2.2) X Total minutes of exercise = Calories burned.
How important is calorie counting?
The question of whether all calories are equal has been hotly debated by scientists for many years and has proven to be a controversial issue. Some believe that a calorie is a calorie no matter where it comes from, and to lose weight people simply need to eat less and move more. Others believe that there are no equal calories and that whenever you choose the source of calories carefully, you can lose weight without having to count your consumption. “There is no doubt that energy balance (calories), represented as calories versus calories, matters when it comes to losing weight,” explains Dr. James Betts, associate professor of nutrition and metabolism at the University of Bath. “Long-term changes in mass are generally proportional in time to the net balance between energy input and output.”
In fact, studies that use rigorous standards have consistently shown that when people create a calorie deficit, they lose weight. On the contrary, when people eat more calories than they need, they gain weight. “To lose weight, you must be in a state of negative energy balance,” says Betts, which means you consume fewer calories than you use.