Cyclists seem to always be fretting about their weight…

Maybe it’s the skin tight clothing. Or, maybe it’s watching as a rider half your size bombs past on an intense mountain climb–as if you were standing still.

Either way, if you’re reading this article you must be at least mildly interested in shedding a few pounds.

Here’s 10 ways to effectively lose weight through cycling:

1) Ride Before Breakfast

When you get up in the morning, your body is in a fasted state, having gone at least 8 hours without food. Hitting the road before eating will encourage your body to burn fat. Your ride doesn’t need to be particularly long…30-60 minutes is ideal. Just make sure you refuel after the ride with a healthy breakfast that includes both carbs and protein. Oatmeal and a couple scrambled eggs are a great choice. Never skip the post ride meal as you will do more harm than good.

2) Save the Energy Bars and Gels for Racing

Energy bars and gels are loaded with dense calories designed to deliver energy to your muscles very quickly, which is great when you are racing. But training rides don’t require the same level of sustained effort. Therefore it’s best to use natural snacks and foods when on training rides to keep the calorie intake down. Mini-PBJs or a couple small, boiled potatoes will do a lot for providing energy and may prove to be half the calories of an energy bar.  

3) Use Electrolyte Drinks, Not Energy Drinks

Energy drinks are designed to provide high glycemic carbohydrates to your muscles when you are in an extreme state. This means they are densely packed with a whole lot of simple and complex carbs, which are very caloric. If you’re trying to loose weight, try replacing your energy drink on training rides with an electrolyte drink (such as a Nuun supplement). Electrolyte drinks include all the necessary stuff to help you recover, but without all the carb-based calories.

Drink & eat while riding

4) Ride Often as Opposed to Just Farther

Five one hour rides help you get leaner faster that one five hour ride. That means you’d be far better off riding several short rides per week as opposed to waiting all week and heading out for a single endurance activity on the weekend. Make sure if you go for this approach you attempt to keep the intensity high on your short rides and continuously push yourself. Five one hour rides filled with coasting are just that…coasting.

5) Cut Out Sugar

Cutting sugar from you daily coffee, presuming you have 4 average size cups or 2 “grande” cups, could save 60 calories a day. Over the course of the entire year that adds up to 22,000 calories, which is like foregoing food for 9 whole days. Keep that in mind the next time you’re tempted to grab a soda, candy bar or add sugar to your coffee or tea.

6) Stay Away From High Calorie Drinks

We’ve already established that skipping the Starbucks Venti Carmel Macchiato and it’s 580 calories will save you a literal ton of empty calories over the course of the year, but what about other drinks? Well, the bad news is that alcohol is second only to fat in calorie density with 7 calories per gram. So, if you truly want to shed the pounds and get leaner, you’ll need to skip the post-ride beers and margaritas (or limit yourself to one).

7) Eat While Riding

Eating while riding means you’ll be less likely to indulge in the post-ride binge. We’ve all experienced this voracious state at least once. It’s that moment when you get home feeling so depleted and starving that an entire bag of Cheetos seems to disappear in a matter of minutes. Eating while on your bike not only keeps you properly fueled and in a position for a more healthy recovery, but it also keeps you from stuffing anything and everything in your mouth after your ride.

8) Increase Time in the Saddle

The best way to increase weight loss is to bump up your ride time, and the easiest way to do that is to commute to and from work, even if it’s one or two days a week. If you are already commuting, plan some alternate routes that add a few additional miles. The extra time in the saddle will pay off greatly when it comes to losing weight and getting fit.

9) Reduce Evening Calories

Ideally you should be stacking your calories with the majority coming earlier in the day. Many pro cyclists do exactly that…eating as much as they want for breakfast and then tapering as the day goes on with dinner being a small, almost snack-like meal. 

10) Don’t Deprive Yourself

Failing to allow yourself a few treats or indulgences will only set you up for failure in the future. Allow yourself some candy or a beer along the way and you’ll be more likely to stick with a program over time. Of course every ride doesn’t deserve a double scoop of ice cream or a half dozen beers as reward. Be judicious and selective on the treats. Similarly, don’t reduce your overall calories significantly if you are riding more. You may even need to eat more to actually fuel your weight loss. Measure your success by your mood. If you’re feeling grumpy and deprived, you are pushing too hard.

We hope you have found these tips useful. Please feel free to share any ideas you may have for losing weight while cycling. 

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MORE INFORMATION

When Post-Workout Fueling Matters Most
Cycling and Hydration

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About the Author

Tony KelseyTony Kelsey has nearly 20 years marketing experience, previously serving as global vice president of creative for an international, $1B IT solutions consultancy. Although a self-proclaimed “mediocre” racer in high school, his intense passion for cycling and bicycles in general has never waned. Today he is marketing director at Pactimo and frequently writes about cycling as a sport and hobby. @tonykelsey

 

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