It is no secret that cycling is an excellent workout for many reasons. But how many calories does cycling burn? It would be great if we could give you a quick answer for how many calories burned biking, but the answer isn’t so simple.
There are more factors than you may think that determine the number of calories burned biking. The variables include the type of bike you ride, how you ride, and what resistance you face.
But other things that can impact the number of calories burned biking are attributed to the rider. Keep reading, and all will be explained!
In this article, we’ll be covering:
- Our Calories Burned Biking Calculator
- How cycling burns calories
- How intensity determines the number of calories burned biking
- How Many Calories Does Cycling Burn on a stationary bike?
- The number of calories burned biking outdoors
- Calculating the number of calories burned biking
- How to burn more calories cycling: 8 Top Tips
Ready to get fitter and slimmer through cycling?
Let’s dive in!
Our Cycling Calories Calculator
How Cycling Burns Calories
Your muscles use the oxygen you breathe to turn fats, sugars, and proteins into ATP (adenosine triphosphate). ATP is the essential molecule that supplies energy to your cells.
You need ATP all the time, but the more exercise you do, the more ATP you need. However, the intensity of your ride will determine how your body makes ATP.
Muscles have ATP waiting in them, ready to be used. But once it has been used up, your body needs to make more.
Short bursts of exercise cause your body to use anaerobic metabolism to convert carbohydrates into ATP. But during longer, less intense rides, your body gets its ATP from aerobic metabolism, where most of the energy comes from carbohydrates.
How Intensity Determines The Number Of Calories Burned Biking
When you ride at a steady speed with moderate intensity, without much resistance, your body mainly uses your aerobic metabolism system. This type of exercise is excellent for your heart and lungs while efficiently helping your body use glucose.
During moderate rides, your body also improves its ability to mobilize fats stored in your muscles. But, when you ride with high intensity or with lots of resistance, you rely more on your anaerobic metabolism system.
Your anaerobic metabolism system isn’t one you can maintain for very long. However, cycling with higher intensity will help your muscle fibers learn how to adapt to demand.
The harder and faster you ride, the number of calories burned biking increases. This is because your body needs to use more energy to up the pace.
How Many Calories Does Cycling Burn On A Stationary Bike?
Riding a stationary bike is a great workout, especially if you join a spin class. You have control over the intensity of your workout, so you can pace yourself. Alternatively, your spin instructor will call out directions and use choreography to reach the goals of the workout.
According to Harvard University, the number of calories burned biking indoors at a “moderate” pace depends on your weight. Moderate pace relates to riding between 12 and 13.9mph. For 30 minutes, the following are calories burned by average weight:
• 57kg: 210 calories
• 70kg: 260 calories
The Number Of Calories Burned Biking Outdoors
Riding outside is a more dynamic workout than an indoor one, as you have to adapt to changes in the real world.
Riding outside requires you to deal with hills, headwinds, corners, and anything else you may encounter. This can increase the number of calories burned biking outside.
For example, riding at a moderate pace outdoors may burn the following number of calories over 30 minutes, based on their weight:
• 57kg: 240 calories
• 70kg: 298 calories
• 84kg: 355 calories
Mountain bikers tend to burn more calories in a shorter space of time, thanks to the nature of the discipline. Mountain biking requires quick bursts to climb hills, and it takes more effort to deal with technical and rough terrain.
According to Harvard University, a mountain biker burns the following number of calories when mountain biking for 30 minutes based on their weight:
• 57kg: 255 calories
• 70kg: 316 calories
• 84kg: 377 calories
Cycling Calories – How To Calculate
It’s all very well looking at tables to get a rough idea of how many calories cycling burns. But what if you want to calculate your calorie burn more accurately?
To calculate the number of calories burned biking, you need to understand METs (Metabolic Equivalents). One MET is roughly the energy cost of sitting down doing nothing. This can be considered to be 1 kcal/kg/hour.
You need to find the MET value of an activity to calculate the calories you can burn doing it. You can find the MET values of many activities on the Compendium website.
Cycling falls under category 1, and the website shows the MET values for a range of cycling disciplines and intensities. The MET values from the 2011 Compendium are the most up-to-date.
So to work out how many calories you burn in an hour, you need to use the following formula:
MET*weight in kg=calories/hour.
However, you need to remember that everyone has a different metabolic rate. The number of calories burned biking may significantly differ from your riding buddies.
The problem with the formula is that it doesn’t consider body mass, body fat, age, sex, and movement efficiency. Also, conditions like high altitude and the type of bike may impact the energy required for a ride.
In addition to this, the calculation only considers the time you are working. So, if you are mountain biking in a group and spend a lot of time stopping and starting, you need to use the time you are moving in your calculation.
How To Burn More Calories Cycling: 8 Top Tips
Here are our tricks for increasing the number of calories burned biking:
#1. Keep Pedalling
When you coast while riding, your heart rate lowers. This reduces how many calories you are burning.
If you keep your legs moving, you’ll see a significant difference in how many calories you burn.
#2. Ride Before Breakfast
When you wake up, your body is in a semi-fasted state. So going for a ride without any food in you encourages your body to burn more fat.
#3. Add Variety To Your Rides
Spinning your legs on the same old route can cause you to get stuck in a rut. This is especially the case if you ride at the same intensity, as it can cause your fitness to plateau. Therefore, the number of calories burned biking won’t increase.
The best thing to do is ride different routes with more hills. Alternatively, try a different discipline of riding. Heading out onto the mountain bike trails rather than smooth roads will shake up your riding. The short explosive bursts make the rides similar to interval training.
#4. Go For Longer Rides
If your goal is to maximize the number of calories burned biking each week. Therefore, you need to do a few moderate-intensity rides per week longer than two hours.
These rides will see your aerobic heart-rate zone sit at about 80% or less of your maximum heart rate. This will burn more fat and give you less risk of injury.
However, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t do high-intensity intervals. These burn lots of calories in a short space of time but should only be done a few times per week.
#5. Find Some Riding Buddies
Riding alone can reduce your motivation after a while, which is essential for burning calories. If you ride with some friends or join a cycling club, your motivation gets a boost.
You will ride harder and faster, thanks to the encouragement of others. Also, a little bit of friendly competition is healthy!
#6. Fuel Your Rides Properly
Energy bars and gels are great for giving you a bit of energy when riding. However, they have more calories than natural food.
If burning calories is a priority for you, stay away from these products. Instead, carry a banana or half a honey sandwich. These will give you energy, but you won’t have to burn off all the extra calories.
#7. Consistency Is Key
Going for a ride once a week will not burn off many calories. You need to have many regular calorie-burning sessions before you see a difference.
You would be better off riding four times a week for an hour than one slow ride lasting 4 hours. The more you ride, the more calories you will burn. When you combine this with variation, you’re on to a winner!
#8. Take The Long Way Home
If you use your bike to commute, you can burn off many calories. But, you need to mix your commute up to avoid plateauing.
It may be challenging to do in the morning, but having several alternative routes to work can benefit you. If possible, plan routes with different terrain and distances. This is often much more manageable for the ride home. If you commute with a mountain bike, you can find some inventive and fun routes.
Now You Know All About Burning Calories Biking
Remember, variety and consistency are key to burning calories biking!
By mixing it up and training regularly every week, you will see changes within a few weeks. However, if weight loss is your goal, you need to pay attention to following a healthy cycling diet too.
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