Cycling is one of the ideal activities to help losing weight. But what is the science behind this and how to maximize the benefits it could bring? This article will simplify everything you should know about this topic!
No, cycling is not just for fun!
In 2013, researchers have studied a weight loss camp for adolescents and their behavioral patterns. One of the conclusions drawn from that was “[…] participants become more sedentary as they de-select activities like bike riding” with reasonings that they are not as effective as going to the gym (or formalized activity). This belief is not true at all!
In an article called Walking and Cycling for Healthy Cities, researchers have point out the correlation between countries with high rate of active transport and obesity, saying that countries with more people cycling and walking daily have lower risk of obesity.
It has been shown that just by commuting on bike, chances are you can lose your mass weight just as good as working out in fitness centres.
Intensive cycling with methods like HIIT or SIT even shows clearer results as they are designed to achieve great body compositions in a short amount of time. Cyling also helps boosting the metabolic, meaning even after finishing your route, your body will still burn fat.
Optimizing cycling for weight loss
Now that we have gotten the most common excuse out of the way, here are some aspects you should focus on in order to have an idea about what you want to do next.
Aspect 1: Motivation
This is a very interesting point made in the podcast Ask a Cycling Coach. According to Chad Timmerman, Head Coach & Co-Founder at TrainerRoad, it is required for everyone to ask themselves the question “Why?” before getting into training. Are you doing this because you really need to lose some pounds or because everybody does it?
Is this a performance thing or there’s something about body image that you are concerned about? Having a clear, positive and realistic mindset will make your goal less of a “work” and more of a challenge. This should be about you, not anyone else.
Aspect 2: HIIT
In the aforementioned paragraph, we have explained briefly about the possible effects that intensive training can have on your weight. Choosing high-intensity interval training (HIIT) is one of the preferable ways, which consisted of bursts of intensive exercises in between low-intensive ones.
Comparing to moderate exercise, HIIT can reduce an amount of 25.8% more in fat loss. However, as they can be quite damaging, especially to muscle fibres, a suggested routine by Adam Carey, CEO of corperformance.co.uk, is to only apply this twice a week on an empty stomach, along with long rides.
Aspect 3: Duration
Another helpful suggestion would be to build your endurance by increasing the time and length of the route. Say, you start riding for 15 minutes per day around your block, after two days you can slowly increase to 30 minutes around two blocks and so on.
Set yourself some goals or destinations to reach – it would make the trip more exciting. This deals more with mentality – some days it will be hard to keep pushing yourself further, but the result will be very satisfying.
Aspect 4: Healthy diet and eating habits
Cycling alone will not be enough – you also have to maintain a good diet along the way. It is best for you to consult your nutritionist for a good plan that’s suitable for your own body. If you want to lessen your intake, you can drink water before every meal – this helps filling your stomach and decrease your appetize.
You should be aware of the amount of snacks you eat after cycling – binging after a tiring route is not the most ideal thing to do. You can also control calories by tracking on applications and break big meals into smaller ones.
Aspect 5: Cross-training
Is cycling alone too boring? Try cross-training! This can help you develop at more than one area, which is more beneficial for your body. You can either do two or more activities in one session or do them seperately on different days.
A normally seen combo would be endurance and heavy resistant training, like cycling and running. You can begin by cycling for half an hour, then run for 20 minutes.
A note on body image
According to a research published on Health Sociology Review, people with obesity are on a spectrum from being hopeful that they can achieve a “normal” size to striving for a change in public’s mental image about weight. That means, they are very self-concious and are all struggling to fit in while coping with the self-realization progress and constant fatphobia.
The society, erspecially media, has played a very important part in depicting our illusion upon body image, especially the plus-size community. If you are also sharing the same difficulty, please be reminded that there is more to cycling than just improving your looks and fitting into social stereotypes. It can contribute a lot to your overall condition, thus should be labelled as an activity to keep you healthy and happy.
Cycling is a very time-efficient and accessible physical activity, especially for those of us with busy schedule or are not very keen of going to to fitness facilities. By putting your effort into training and being mindful about a healthier lifestyle, lower the number on your scale will not seem like such an impossible task anymore.