Does Cycling Burn Fat? We Answer All Questions and Myths


Carrying too much weight increases your risk for heart disease, high blood sugar, diabetes, and high blood pressure. With proper exercise, however, you can burn extra fat and eliminate the risk of these health complications. 

If you own a good bike and you are wondering does cycling burn fat, you should know that you already own a good weight loss tool. When it comes to losing weight, you simply need to burn more calories than you consume. 

On average, biking at a moderate speed of 12 to 16 miles per hour can help a 155-pound person burn between 298 and 372 calories every 30 minutes. Coupled with a good diet, this rate of burning calories will help you lose weight. In this guide, we will share the best tips you can use to lose weight through cycling. 

Tips on How to Burn Fat Through Cycling 

1. Focus on High-Intensity Rides 

For riders whose primary goal is shedding extra weight, exercise intensity matters more than cycling speed. A high-intensity ride will torch more calories compared to a low-intensity biking trip.

The type of bike you ride and your chosen bikepacking trail can affect both your ride intensity (how hard you work) and your riding speed (how fast you travel). To give you an example, if you are riding a heavy mountain bike on an off-road, muddy trail, you will probably work very hard. On the other hand, if you are on a budget road bike, pedaling downhill, you will reach a high speed with almost zero effort. 

To maintain a good exertion rate for burning fat, you may need to use a heart rate monitor. With this device, you can get an accurate measurement of how hard your body is working. To burn fat, aim to work at 70 – 75% of the maximum heart rate on most rides. 

If you are on a budget and can’t afford the heart rate monitor, you can use a perceived exertion scale. On an exertion scale of 1 – 10, with 10 being maximum exertion, you will need to feel like you are riding at a level 7. You should be breathing deeply, but not out of breath or too exhausted. 

2. Duration Matters More Than Traveled Distance 

If you are looking for an answer to does biking burn fat, you probably don’t understand the relationship between traveled distance and ride duration. The time you spend biking is more important than the distance you cover. This means that you do not need to ride the entire Appalachian trail to shed a few pounds. 

This should bring a lot of relief to cyclists who are still trying to understand how does cycling burn fat. However, it doesn’t mean that you should put away your bike computer

When trying to figure out does biking burn fat, you can start your biking workout with a test. Use your bike computer or odometer to see how far you can travel in half an hour. Jot down this number in a workout journal and set a goal to reduce the amount of time it takes to ride the same distance on the same route. 

As your level of fitness improves, you should be able to log more miles in less time. You will end up burning more fat in the process. 

As you get comfortable with spending extra time on the bike seat, consider scheduling longer rides during the week. For example, if you often do 3 cycling workouts per week, complete 1 short ride (approximately 30 minutes), 1 moderate duration ride (45 minutes), and 1 long tour (60 to 120 minutes). 

3. Focus on Pedaling Consistently 

Riders who haven’t found an answer to “how does cycling burn fat?” usually choose to ride courses that do not offer maximum benefits. You want to choose a route/course that allows you to pedal your touring bike consistently without taking too many breaks at intersections or spotlights. Breaks will take up too much workout time, cause the heart rate to drop, and decrease the calorie-burning potential of the biking trip. 

Most cities feature dedicated, continuous biking trails. When you are getting started with biking, use these safe routes rather than riding on roads featuring traffic. If you live in a location where bike paths are inexistent, use a mountain bike rack to carry your ride to a location where a long stretch of safe and quiet biking trail is available.  

4. Use Your Bike for Commutes 

Cyclists who are trying to figure out does biking burn fat are often extremely busy. If your work is making it impossible for you to ride a bike, consider investing in a commuter bike and using it to get to work. 

Over time, even small bike trips can deliver fat-burning benefits. Hence, you do not have to live too far from your workplace to shed those extra pounds through cycling. 

For example, if you commute by bike for as little as ten minutes to and from, you should be able to shed a couple of pounds and improve your BMI (Body Mass Index) over 2 years. If your commutes are at least thirty minutes each way, you should be able to see significant BMI and weight improvements– you can loose up to 15 pounds and reduce your BMI by an average of 2.25 points – over 2 years. 

5. Add Flexibility and Cross-Training Work to Your Routine 

The largest group of people looking for an answer to does cycling burn fat are beginners. This means they may not understand that cycling puts strain and stress on the body in the process of helping it burn fat. 

Cross-training helps cyclists balance out the leg-heavy workout they get from pedaling. Flexibility work, on the other hand, will stretch out the tendons and muscles, preventing pains, aches, and injuries. 

If you are dealing with pains and aches resulting from cycling, you will probably give up on cycling before you even realize its fat-burning benefits. For this reason, taking on all the necessary precautions can help you keep going. 

Boxing, Zumba, swimming, pilates, and free weights are some of the best cross-training practices for people trying to burn fat through cycling. These will give you a stronger core that benefits your cycling. Cycling stretches and yoga, in general, are some of the best choices for flexibility work. 

Keep in mind that these exercises will also help you build muscles. And the more muscle you have on you, the more efficient your body will be at burning calories. 

6. Keep Track of Your Progress 

Monitoring your progress as you go is extremely important. This makes it possible for you to make the necessary improvements to your cycling workout plan. 

Keep in mind that things may not always change at the same rate. In some weeks, you will see a lot of progress while on other weeks you may end up plateauing. When training your body to be more efficient and fitter, the overall trend is what is extremely important. 

When tracking your progress using the body fat or weight percentage, you will need to measure yourself once per week – ideally, this should be done at the same time of day. First thing in the morning, after you visit the toilet, is a popular time. 

If you are using a route tracker, for example, Strava, you should be able to see your fitness improving as you progress. You are also likely to get faster along various segments, which should give you a great sense of achievement. 

Your cycling wear and other clothes are also an ideal way to check how you are doing. If you have favorite clothing that you would like to fit into or something you currently put on, check back every few weeks to see how it fits on you now. 

7. Sleep is Important 

When it comes to losing weight via cycling, sleep is the unsung hero. Studies show that individuals who get between 6 to 8 hours of sleep a night are much more successful at shedding the extra pounds and keeping the weight off their bodies. 

Research shows that people who do not get enough sleep at night are prone to feeling hungry and are also less likely to feel satiated when they eat. If you are consuming more calories than you are burning cycling, burning fat will not be possible. A good night’s sleep is also essential to help your body build and repair muscle after each day so that you are ready for the next biking trip. 

Getting enough sleep sounds simple. But you must aim for a quality sleep of approximately 7 hours per night to aid the process of burning fat by riding your hardtail mountain bike

8. Eat Right 

Most people who ask does biking burn fat are often doubting the exercise’s effectiveness. This is because they consume the wrong foods. If you are consuming more calories than you are burning through cycling, losing weight will not be possible. 

Fuel your cycling exercise with slow-burning carbs – for example, wholegrain bread – and lean proteins – for example, turkey. Avoid eating much of anything high in saturated fat – for example, sugary sweets, butter, and cheese. Be wary of foods labeled low-fat. Some of the low-fat foods feature very high levels of sugar, which contains a large number of calories that your body ends converting to fat during digestion. 

Do not be tempted to drastically reduced calorie intake. You will still need to get enough food to keep your body functioning healthily. 

If you are not fueling your body adequately in your cycling workouts, you won’t get the most from your sessions. In addition to lowering performance, you may end up dropping muscle mass instead of fat. 



Q: Can Cycling Help Lose Belly Fat?


Getting on your aluminum road bike can help you burn more calories, shift those extra pounds, and along the way lose belly fat. To speed up the rate at which you lose belly fat, you will need to invest your time in high-intensity biking trips.

Q: Can You Lose Weight from Cycling?


Cycling helps with burning between 400 and 1000 calories per hour depending on the rider’s weight and ride intensity. If you are burning more calories than you are consuming during your meals, losing weight through cycling should be possible.

Q: How Long Should I Cycle to Burn Fat?


To burn fat, you can schedule 3 cycling workouts per week. One short (30-minute) ride, one moderate (45-minute) ride, and one long (60- to 120-minute) ride.

Q: Does Cycling Burn Fat or Build Muscle?


Yes, cycling does burn fat and build muscle. However, when it comes to building muscle, cycling works more on the lower body – it will have more benefits on your glutes and quads than your arms and shoulders.

Q: Is Cycling Better Than Running?


Running helps you burn more calories than cycling since it uses more muscles. However, cycling is gentler on the body and you may be able to do it faster or longer than you can run. Keep in mind that the overall number of calories you burn in either exercise will depend on both the time you spend doing it and the intensity.

Q: Is 30 Minutes of Cycling A Day Enough?


Depending on the intensity and the number of days you ride your bike per week, 30 minutes may be enough. If you generally ride uphill for 30 minutes – and you make these 3 to 5 times per week – you should see significant benefits from your cycling.

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The answer to “does cycling burn fat?” is a big yes. The activity revs your metabolism and burns a large number of calories, leading to a leaner and healthier physique. Keep in mind that ride intensity is a key weight loss component. For this reason, instead of putting a lot of focus on easy downhill rides, focus on tough uphill trips that force you to use your mountain bike pedals consistently.

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My name is David Hamburg. I am an avid water sports fan who enjoys paddle boarding, surfing, scuba diving, and kite surfing. Anything with a board or chance I can get in the water I love! I am such a big fan I decided to start this website to review all my favorite products and some others. Hope you enjoy!