How Much Fat Can You Burn When Riding a Bike?

25th February 2020
If you're considering cycling as a way to reduce the amount of fat on your body, you can't skip this important article.

Riding a bike has been one of the most popular forms of exercise for a long time. Many of you may use cycling as your daily transportation, for entertainment, or just as something to do in your free time.

Surely, too, you’ve asked yourself how many calories you can burn just by riding a bike? Even though counting consumed calories isn’t a precise system to measure weight loss, it can at least help you to make estimates compared to other activities.

Riding a bike as a tool to burn calories

Riding a bike doesn’t strain any particular joint, nor do you need a special place to do it. It’s a great choice for exercising.

As a reference, let’s look at the following example: a person who rides a bike once a week–at a speed of 12 miles per hour–could be burning around 120-150 calories every 15 minutes. However, several factors will determine how accurate this actually is.

Factors to consider when burning fat on a bicycle:

  • Weight. The more you weigh, the more calories you’ll use…as long as you maintain that 12 miles per hour.
  • Type of surface. An irregular surface will make you use more calories than perfectly flat terrain.
  • Incline. The steeper the incline, the more calories used. This will obviously be more going uphill than down.
  • Wind and meteorological conditions. If the wind is blowing against you and want to maintain your speed, you’ll use more energy than if it were reversed.

Why do you burn fat when riding a bike?

Just so it’s clear, let’s look at four reasons why fat burns when you’re riding a bike:

  • The longer you’re on a bike, the more muscle you’ll develop. This allows your muscles, as when you use the HIIT method, to keep burning fat even when you’re resting.
  • Cycling requires a lot of time to practice. But, if your objective is to burn calories, then sessions of 40-50 minutes at a high intensity will be enough. Time is no longer an excuse!
A woman on a hill with her bike.

  • It’s best to maintain a diet that’s as healthy as possible. Even though riding a bike increases your appetite, it’s important to control how many calories you consume.
  • When you ride a bike, you’re using large sections of your body, which means you use more calories. Add to that the fact that your heart rate is lower than when you run. You’ll be able to exercise for more time and burn more calories.

So how many calories can you burn exactly?

When we talk about burning calories, you need to remember that it always depends on the individual’s specific characteristics. The physical constitution and the type of metabolism that each person has, among other factors, are variables to keep in mind.

The first and most important thing to do is to get checked out by a professional. In this way, you can diagram an eating plan and exercises perfectly suited to your needs and objectives.

Along more general lines, you can calculate (without too much scientific and professional rigor) that if you use up 17,000 calories a month by riding a bike and your eating habits are good, you can lose 2.5 kilos (about 5 pounds) in one month. Again, we recommend that you consult a professional before beginning a new exercise routine.

These numbers are based on a person at an intermediate level. They’d have some prior experience, as that experience would be a factor in burning more or less fat. The more polished the technique, the higher the resistance, and the more time spent exercising, your results will increase.

The importance of your fitness level when riding a bike

As we’ve already mentioned, one of the best ways to burn fat is to increase the intensity of your workout. With high intensity, more calories are burned. That said, you need to keep your fitness level in mind.

For those who aren’t well-trained, it’s a good idea to prioritize longer and more relaxed rides over short and intense ones at first. That way you can exercise at a low to medium intensity level with a heart rate and energy expenditure that lets you burn fat.

A woman riding a bike in stormy weather.

How can well-trained people increase their fat burning?

  • Go on rides that last as long as possible. You might start with three-hour rides, and then gradually increase those to four or five hours. This depends on how frequently you can cycle.
  • Changing disciplines always causes you to burn more calories. This is because you’re doing an exercise that you’re not used to. If you typically use a mountain bike, try switching to one for highways, or vice versa.
  • When you’re at a very advanced level, talk to a professional about training when fasting, changing the training method, or using dietary supplements.
  • If you only have a little bit of time to train, simulate a longer workout by increasing your fatigue. Do an intense workout that doesn’t last more than an hour, and then go for a short ride. This previous intense exercise will let you burn more calories when you’re riding your bike.

Conclusions

As you can see, burning calories through bike riding isn’t quite as simple as just getting on and pedaling. By following the above techniques, you’ll start burning fat with one of your favorite activities. Go for it!

  • Ellery, S. T., Keogh, J., & Sheerin, K. R. (2012). Does maximal strength training improve endurance performance in highly trained cyclists: A systematic review. European Journal of Sports and Exercise Science, 1(3), 90-102.
  • Rønnestad, B. R., & Mujika, I. (2014). Optimizing strength training for running and cycling endurance performance: A review. Scandinavian journal of medicine & science in sports, 24(4), 603-612.