If you are seeking a fun and effective way to lose weight, then cycling is your best option.
Not only does it challenge your whole body, but it is also a low impact way to burn fat consistently and healthily.
My assumption about weight loss when I began biking
Under normal circumstances, the body first burns carbohydrates as a source of energy.
You can say that carbohydrates provide “quick” energy whereas fat stores are your body’s “plan b” for fuel.
Depending on the intensity of your cycling, your body will burn carbohydrates at a much higher rate.
When the amount of carbohydrates is inadequate for fuel, your body will opt to take from your fat stores.
I am not going go into how much you should eat and exercise per week to lose x pounds (or kilograms, whichever you prefer), but I will advocate that cycling has allowed me to lose 10 pounds in the last 3 months.
Pretty healthy and likely, right?
See below for some of my tips.
The benefits of cycling for weight loss
Studies have shown that cycling improves happiness levels in most people.
When you are pedaling, your brain is releasing “chemicals” like dopamine that increase happiness and lowers stress levels.
Your brain also releases these “feel-good hormones” that boost your mood, reduces anxiety, and “clears your mind” if you are ever stuck on a problem at work or at school.
As for me, I personally enjoy the adrenaline rush that cycling gives me during my commute and daycations on weekends!
Increased muscle strength
It is without question that cycling can be a low-impact, but intense exercise.
With enough resistance and duration, cycling strengthens your hamstrings, glutes, calves, and quadriceps muscles.
When cycling at high intensity, your abdominal (core) muscles also become stronger–yes, you can potentially burn the nuisance that is belly fat away!
One word of caution, be sure to adjust and get a bike with proper gears that can accommodate various terrains.
I like the sixthreezero EVRYjourney bikes for women because they are sufficient in giving me a casual to intense cycling experience.
Better cardiovascular health
Cycling is good for your heart.
If you have ever taken a gym or HIIT class, you surely have heard your coaches screaming “Keep that heart rate up, folks!”
Whether you are in a spin class or cycling out on the trails, you should keep your heart rate up when you are cycling for fitness.
A higher heart rate increases blood and oxygen flow to the body, ultimately also boosting your metabolism.
At the same time, as you maintain these regular cycling habits, you also reduce the risk of obesity and cardiovascular diseases.
Low impact sport
Cycling is a low impact sport, which makes it ideal for individuals with joint and knee problems.
I remember when I was in physical therapy, the first and foremost way to warm my body up would be 5-10 minutes on a low-resistance stationary bicycle.
This is definitely a great way to get your heart rate up and your body warm and ready for action.
For those who are more injury-prone, be sure to adjust your bike’s position so that you are protecting both your knees and lower back from strain while cycling.
The bike saddle should be adjusted at a height where your leg is vertically straight when you have pushed the pedal at a 6 ‘o’clock position.
Hybrid bikes for comfortable weight loss
Like I said before, a versatile bike like a hybrid bike will allow you to take your cycling journey to various environments.
Regardless if you plan to bike your commute or just to hit intense fitness goals on the weekends, a hybrid bike is a great choice because it ensures that you stay comfortable while putting your “pedal to the metal” even during intense workouts.
Hybrid bikes are versatile and customizable to fit various individuals and terrains.
They have thicker and bigger tires that provide extended comfort for the rider on various terrain, as well as flat handlebars that allow the rider to bike at an upright position.
If you are considered with finding an ergonomic biking position, be sure to pay attention to the bike size guide that usually comes with hybrid bikes.
Choosing the right bike that fits your height and biking position will make or break the sustainability of cycling as your regular fitness regime.
Hybrid bikes are also good if you are concerned with cycling safety.
The suspension and the frame are two features I considered when choosing my hybrid bike.
Because I suffer from sensitive lower back pain, I made sure the suspension was good at absorbing shock if I frequent bumpy roads.
Since cycling is also my way of commute to work, I also made sure that my bike was lightweight and easy to carry in and out of the building.
Fret not, most hybrid bikes come built with lightweight aluminum frames that can support tall and heavy body types.
Budget and Brand
With a mid-sized budget in mind, I found the best hybrid bikes under 500 that matched my cycling fitness needs.
Out of all bikes in the list, I definitely like the Schwinn Discover and sixthreezero hybrid bike models.
Apart from being inexpensive, hybrid bikes like these feature a lightweight aluminum frame, built-in fenders, rack, and a quick-release seat adjuster.
Both brands sell hybrid bikes that are customizable to fit any cyclist who is looking to use it for commuting or casual exercise.
Tips to incorporate into your cycling weight loss plan
Make it a habit
Habits are key to making sure you’re on track to meeting your cycling goals.
Make cycling a part of your everyday routine. Cycle to work, to school and to the grocery store.
It is extremely easy to lose discipline and hit that “request ride” button on the Uber app rather than biking (I’ve done it before).
However, once the habit sticks, you are good to go.
By making cycling a daily habit, it becomes a passive activity as opposed to disciplining yourself to squeeze in 90 minutes of workout into your already full schedule.
Set realistic goals
Our bodies differ in the amount of fat they burn during a given activity.
Our BMI (body mass index) ratios influence the amount of weight the body burns.
It is important to get to know your body and set realistic goals, rather than setting hard-to-attain stretch goals and feeling disappointed later.
A good tip I followed is to set the first goal to be so easy that is it hard to fail. After you feel comfortable with that easy goal, compound it and build up to be more difficult, but attainable.
Take it slow
Overexerting the body to lose more weight is counterproductive.
Have you ever exercised so much that you end up eating a ton because you were just so exhausted?
I definitely have.
It is crucial to building your endurance slowly. Increase and decrease the intensity of your exercise during the week and on a specific ride. Set the riding time and intensity to a level you are comfortable with and follow through with your weight loss routine.
Incorporate high-intensity sessions
Funny enough, my “high-intensity sessions” were on some mornings when I thought I was late for work.
However, this is not always safe because you have to be mindful of your surroundings (cars, pedestrians, pets, garbage, etc.) However, I do encourage you to give yourself high-intensity sessions on a mountain trail or a local park to get that heart rate up and sweat through your workout.
A few intense sessions will really build your cardiovascular strength and increase the calories your body burns.
Eat regular meals
Do not bike hungry! Once I biked to work on an empty stomach and it was terrible.
I felt the need to overeat when I got to work and ended up feeling sluggish for the rest of the day.
Healthy weight loss while cycling includes maintaining healthy dietary habits.
Do not skip meals and do not put yourself in exhausting situations that will cause you to overeat.
Eating three daily meals reduces the chances of snaking or binge eating after your intense workout sessions.
It is an ideal way of establishing control over your body and reduce cravings for certain unhealthy foods and beverages.
The brain interprets dehydration as hunger.
This may result in excessive eating. Instead, keep your body hydrated by always having water with you during the day.
Make sure that your bike also has a holder for your water bottle for easy access during your exercise.
Again, I personally like the six three zero hybrid bicycles because they give you the flexibility to mount a holder on your handlebars for easy access to your water bottle.
After I purchased my hybrid bike for commuting and fitness, I never looked back.
Believe me, I have tried CrossFit, jogging, and various (expensive) gym classes, but I never could commit to one without complaining about chronic muscle pain.
When I started, I was about 158 pounds with a pretty regular, non-restrictive diet.
Today, I am checking in at around 145 pounds and still enjoying my occasional bag of Cheetos at home. Most importantly, I have no muscle pain!
Cycling for weight loss is a great exercise option if you are not comfortable with constant running or doing heavy exercises like squats and lifting.
I hope this article helped motivate you to get started on your cycling journey and thinking about what kind of bike will fit yours the best. Good luck!