Cycling is a fun, versatile workout that has always been popular, but in recent years, it's become somewhat of a phenomenon, especially with the adoption of at-home bikes like the Peloton. Everyone's goals are different, but if you've started cycling in hopes of losing weight — as so many people do — you may be wondering how long it will take to see results. POPSUGAR asked an expert.
Can Cycling Help You Lose Weight?
The short answer is yes. Andrew Realmuto, an NASM-certified personal trainer at Lifetime Fitness, explained that cycling is an incredibly effective workout because it combines cardio and resistance training, which are important for your overall health and essential for weight loss. "Cardio helps heart health and lung capacity, and resistance training helps you gain muscle and strength," Realmuto told POPSUGAR.
That added resistance will help you to burn more calories not only during your workout, but also at rest. It's well known that muscle burns more calories than fat, even when you're just going about your day. For that reason, experts generally recommend doing a combination of cardio and strength training in order to see results.
How Long Does It Take to Lose Weight Cycling?
"The length of time it takes to lose weight cycling is entirely based on the speed and intensity, combined with restriction of alcohol and unhealthy food," Realmuto said. "Your eating habits need to be consistent enough to lose weight. Cycling should be merely an addition." In other words, if you're not eating in a calorie deficit, you won't lose weight, no matter how much cycling you do.
It may take some time for you to get into a consistent routine, but once you've hit your stride, you can safely lose one to two pounds per week, Realmulto explained. To lose one pound of fat, you have to eliminate 3,500 calories through a combination of diet and exercise. That's about 500 calories per day over the course of a week. To put that into perspective, 30 minutes of cycling burns an average of 200 calories, though that number will vary depending on the person and the workout.
The bottom line? You can lose weight cycling, but only if you're committed to a healthy lifestyle on and off the bike. "Exercise is a supplement," Realmulto said — and if you want to stay fit long-term, it's important that you enjoy your workouts. "No matter what class you do, do them if they make you happy! If you're in pain and not recovering and feel bad every time you cycle, you should not be cycling." There are plenty of other forms of cardio that can help you reach your goals.