Cycling serves various purposes such as transportation, freedom, improved mental health, sport, competition, and enjoyment. In addition to these benefits, cycling can also effectively burn calories, making it an excellent low-impact exercise for those who want to shed some weight.
As a cardiovascular workout, cycling enhances heart health and builds muscles, which in turn improves metabolism, allowing the body to burn more calories even at rest.
However, if you’re cycling to lose weight but not seeing any changes on the scale, it can be frustrating. Aside from the possibility of malfunctioning scales (make sure to check!), several factors could hinder your progress on the path to a healthy weight. If you’re interested to know more, then just keep reading this article.
1. Not Getting Enough Sleep
When feeling fatigued, it’s common to seek additional energy by any means necessary. However, taking a nap at work isn’t typically an acceptable option, so the next alternative is often consuming more food.
Research has indicated that sleep deprivation can lead to increased snacking and the intake of extra calories, frequently from carbohydrates that trigger a rapid surge in insulin levels before causing a sudden drop, necessitating additional carbs!
Individual sleep requirements vary considerably, with optimal sleep duration ranging from 7 to 10 hours. If you’re not getting enough sleep, try to find a day where you can sleep as long as you wish without setting an alarm or any disturbance, including pets or children, and observe how many hours you naturally sleep. This will provide you with an indication of your ideal sleep duration.
2. Consuming More Calories Than You’re Burning
Realizing it now may not be pleasant, but it’s preferable to discovering it six months down the line after experiencing further frustration.
Assuming that all potential complications have been eliminated, the formula for weight loss is relatively simple: the number of calories consumed versus the number of calories burned. Weight loss is achieved by creating a calorie deficit, wherein you burn more calories than you consume.
The quantity of calories burned while cycling is dependent on your weight and the intensity of your workout, but the average is roughly 500 calories per hour. As a result, if you regularly consume 600 extra calories as a result of your cycling exercise, you may actually gain weight.
Maintain a record of your exercise routine and dietary intake for a few days or weeks to ensure that you aren’t consuming more calories than you realize. However, be cautious with your calorie deficit. A few hundred calories in the negative range are sufficient; exceeding a deficit of 500 calories may result in fatigue and poor recovery.
3. Not Eating Enough or Exercising Too Much
Excessive strain on the body can lead to an increase in Cortisol levels. Although this hormone is typically released when one experiences fear or anger, it can also surge during weightlifting or intense workouts. Persistently high levels of Cortisol signal to the body that it is in danger, resulting in symptoms like water retention and heightened carbohydrate and glycogen storage. Essentially, the body prepares itself for an extended period of famine.
If you suspect that this is the issue, take a break for a few days or even weeks. Focus on consuming nutritious, wholesome foods to “reset” your metabolism before gradually reintroducing a healthy exercise routine that doesn’t cause excessive strain.
4. Gaining Muscles
Congratulations if you can relate to this! When you lose 1kg of fat and gain 1kg of muscle, you may weigh the same but notice that your jeans fit looser. This scenario is quite plausible in cycling, as resistance from hills or headwinds engages key muscles like the glutes, hamstrings, and quads, as well as the stomach and lower back muscles.
To confirm if this is happening to you, the easiest way is to assess how your clothes fit. If you want quantifiable evidence, measure your waist or use a scale that provides body fat percentage and observe the numbers decrease!
5. Not Switching Routines
Athletes at every level may reach a ‘plateau’ where they get closer and closer to their goals, but progress eventually stalls and success seems elusive.
To break out of a plateau, it’s best to switch up your routine. If you’ve been doing long, slow rides to stay in the “fat-burning” zone, incorporate some super-fast, high-intensity sessions to challenge your body in new ways. On the other hand, if you’ve been doing high-intensity workouts consistently, consider adding some low-intensity, fast rides to give your body an extra boost.
The same principle applies to your overall training regimen. Although you should continue cycling, you may benefit from cross-training to engage different muscle groups. If you’re always using your hire exercise bike at home and not incorporating new routines, you can really struggle with weight loss. You can try using try kettlebell training or swimming for a full-body workout, for example.
How Much Distance of Cycling for Weight Loss is Required?
The amount of cycling distance required for weight loss varies depending on various factors, such as the intensity of the ride, the individual’s weight, and their diet. A general guideline for weight loss through cycling is to aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity cycling per week, which can be spread out over several days. This translates to approximately 20-30 minutes of cycling per day.
However, for more significant weight loss, longer and more intense rides may be necessary. It is also essential to incorporate a healthy and balanced diet alongside regular exercise for effective weight loss.
What is the Recommended Speed to Maintain While Cycling for Weight Loss?
When cycling outdoors, speed can be influenced by traffic flow, causing fluctuations in pace. To maintain a consistent speed, it’s recommended to alternate between faster and slower intervals. For example, cycling at a faster pace for one minute, then slowing down for the next minute.
Throughout the ride, it’s important to monitor your heart rate, aiming for a range of around 110 to 130 beats per minute, followed by a 10-second rest, and then maintaining a rate of 110 beats per minute. This technique helps train the heart during a cardio workout. If this approach seems too challenging, sticking to the one-minute fast pace and one-minute slow pace rule can still improve stamina.