Lifting weights and running are not the only ways to get in shape. Find out whether cycling is good for weight loss and what results you can get.
To lose weight, you need to make it so your body needs more energy than is coming in from food.
Cycling is good for weight loss in the sense that it helps in this process. The more intense movements make you use up more energy than usual.
In fact, while there are a few more effective options too, cycling is relatively good for burning calories compared to many activities.
Two of the additional benefits of cycling are that you may really enjoy doing it and that you can do it indoors with the right equipment.
One downside to keep in mind is that you typically need a nice time block to cycle. This could be challenging to find if you have a busy schedule.
This article will also go over what weight loss results you can expect from cycling, how it compares to other options, and what other benefits this type of exercise offers.
Can cycling help you lose weight?
If you want to lose weight, you need to make it so the things you do require more energy than is coming in from the things you eat.
When this happens, you start using energy stores like body fat to get the remaining needs.
That means cycling can help you lose weight in the sense that it can help you increase how much energy you use.
This is because the movements involved in cycling are more intense than typical daily activities. In turn, your body needs to expend more energy to make this happen.
That being said, the principles above should also make it clear that cycling is no guarantee for weight loss either. You still have to pay enough attention to other lifestyle habits like the things you eat.
It is possible to cycle a lot without seeing any weight loss results. Similarly, you can lose weight without exercising.
Calories burned with cycling vs other options
Whether or not cycling can help you lose weight is likely not the only question you have.
Because you only have so much time to exercise, you likely want to know how cycling compares to exercise alternatives in terms of weight loss effects.
To do this, you can look at estimations of how many calories these activities burn.
One thing you want to know about these first is that they are not the perfect representation of reality.
You will likely burn different amounts of calories due to differences in muscle mass, hormone levels, the weight of your bike, exact cycling intensity, etc.
At the same time, the numbers below can still help you understand how cycling compares to other options for losing weight.
A 155-pound (70 kg) person can burn more or less the following amounts of calories when doing the activities for 30 minutes (1).
- Bicycling 12-13.9 mph: 260 calories
- Bicycling 14-15.9 mph: 360 calories
- Water Aerobics: 144 calories
- Stretching (Hatha Yoga): 144 calories
- Walking 4 mph: 175 calories
- Stair Step Machine (general): 216 calories
- Rowing, Stationary (moderate): 252 calories
- Running 5 mph: 288 calories
- Elliptical Trainer (general): 324 calories
- Running 6 mph: 360 calories
If you want more in-depth estimations for different body weights, durations, and speeds you can check out the article on how many calories cycling burns.
That aside, while there are alternatives like running that can be better than cycling for burning calories, it is fair to say that cycling can help you burn a lot of energy.
Can you lose belly fat by cycling?
There is a common myth that you can do certain workouts or eat certain foods to burn the fat from around your stomach.
Unfortunately, it is typically not possible to choose from what areas you lose fat in significant amounts. This is not only the case for cycling but other workouts too.
At the same time, you want to know that it is still possible to burn the fat from around your stomach.
To do this, you have to lose enough weight overall. As you continue doing this, your body will use up more and more of the fat from around your stomach.
So in a way, you can say that you can lose belly fat by cycling with a few conditions.
First of all, your other lifestyle habits have to be good enough to keep losing weight. Additionally, you have to continue this process long enough to hit your belly fat loss goals.
How much weight can you lose by biking 30 minutes a day?
The estimations of how many calories cycling can burn from above may sound nice but you likely also want to know what weight loss results this offers.
From above, it should be clear that your exact weight loss results from biking 30 minutes a day will depend a lot on your habits in areas like nutrition.
That being said, if you assume you get to a point where all the calories you burn come from fat, you can get a few interesting estimations.
A 185-pound (83 kg) person can burn an extra 2016 calories or about 0.58 pounds (0.25 kg) of body fat by biking 30 minutes a day for a week.
If this same person bikes 30 minutes a day for a month (30 days), they can burn an extra 8640 calories or about 2.47 pounds (1.08 kg) of body fat.
One important thing to note is that this person (and you) will start burning fewer calories with cycling as they lose weight. This is because weight plays an important role in how many calories you burn.
Is cycling for weight loss at home just as good?
Discovering new areas by bike with sunshine on your face can be fun but there are days when cycling at home would be more convenient for your weight loss routine.
You may wonder whether cycling on your own stationary bike or one at the gym is just as effective.
The answer is that cycling at home tends to be about as good as cycling outdoors.
One thing to note is that getting enough sunshine, even if it is cloudy outside, can have some secondary positive effects on weight loss.
That being said, these are likely not enough to not consider indoor cycling.
Doing your cycling workout indoors can even benefit weight loss in the sense that you may find it easier to stick to your exercise routine on rainy days.
Is cycling a good workout choice for losing weight?
Because it can help you burn large amounts of calories, cycling can be a good workout choice when trying to lose weight for beginners and experts alike.
Especially if you really like cycling, 1 hour on your bike can fly by while still offering you the positive weight loss and health effects.
Additionally, cycling is low-impact which means it is relatively easy on your ankles, knees, and back compared to certain alternatives like running.
You could also use cycling as a weight-loss-friendly mode of transport.
One potential downside to keep in mind is that cycling is generally not a workout you do for only a few minutes. It could be challenging to set aside enough time to exercise consistently.
Additionally, if you cycle outside, you are somewhat dependent on the weather. On days with heavy rain or snow, it can be easy to skip your workout.
You can resolve this last challenge by also adding indoor cycling and/or other indoor workouts to your arsenal.
One important thing to keep in mind is that if you actually want cycling to change your body in terms of fat loss, you also need to have habits in areas like nutrition that are good enough.
Is cycling 20 minutes enough to lose weight?
Whether cycling for 20 minutes is enough to lose weight depends a lot on your other lifestyle habits. If you are currently in a weight loss plateau, 20 minutes of cycling could be enough to lose a tiny amount of weight.
How much cycling do I have to do to lose 1kg?
To burn the number of calories in 1 kg of body fat, a 155-pound (70 kg) person would have to do around 404 minutes of cycling at a speed of about 19.3-22.4 kmh (12-13.9 mph). Whether this calorie-burning comes from fat depends a lot on your other lifestyle habits.
Will I lose weight cycling 1 hour a day?
If you are currently in a weight loss plateau, you will likely lose a nice amount of weight by cycling 1 hour a day. That being said, over time you will see diminishing results. Additionally, your habits in other lifestyle areas may need improvement too.