Sure, you'll lose a few pounds just by getting on the bike and pedaling a few miles a couple times per week. Sooner or later, you'll hit a plateau and the results you're looking for will be harder to come by.
To keep shedding the pounds, you'll need to tweak what you eat and how you ride. Try these 10 tips to lose weight the right way and without any gimmicks.
Eat Breakfast1 of 11
Breakfast should be the biggest meals of the day. Eating early has proven to speed up metabolism, which will help you burn more fat. If you skip breakfast, your body will end up storing fat because of the long gap between meals.
If you ride in the morning, breakfast is necessary to provide the energy you'll need to fuel your workout. By eating a healthy, well-balanced meal, you'll be able to ride longer and burn more calories.
Do Intervals2 of 11
The majority of your training shouldn't be high-intensity. Still, you should include intervals into your workouts, even if you're not planning to sign up for a race.
Intervals, especially at the end of the workout, will increase post-exercise oxygen consumption, elevate your heart rate, and increase your breathing rate—all helpful in the quest to lose more weight. Intervals will also shock your muscles and keep you from becoming mentally fatigued from doing the same workout over and over.
Try One Long Ride a Week3 of 11
Most of your training should be in the fat-burning or aerobic heart rate zone. This isn't because you'll burn more fat than you would with a high-intensity workout. In fact, the opposite is true. However, the length of time you spend on the bike is also important to losing weight, and high intensity efforts can only be done for short amounts of time. By keeping your heart rate between 75 and 85 percent of your maximum heart rate (a conversational pace), you'll be able to exercise longer and burn more calories. One long ride over two hours on the weekend should do the trick.
Skip the Energy Drinks4 of 11
Energy drinks are loaded with sugar and calories that you don't really need. If you're trying to lose weight, only drink water unless you plan to exercise for more than two hours. Even then, it's probably a good idea to bring along a banana or other healthy snack instead of the sports drink.
Commute to Work5 of 11
Exercising in the morning is another good way to speed up your metabolism. Finding the time to do it is another story. While it's easier to get in your car to head to work, commuting by bike will keep you from sitting in traffic and let you get a workout in before you settle in at your desk. You'll also save money, reduce stress by avoiding traffic, and be a part of promoting a healthier environment.
Don't Rely on the Scale to See Progress6 of 11
Cycling will build lean muscle, and since muscle weighs more than fat, seeing results on a scale can be tricky. Concentrate instead on getting faster during interval sessions and increasing the distance and time of your long rides to judge progress. Eventually, you'll start to see results through the size of your waistline.
Get Plenty of Sleep7 of 11
Rest is critical to repair sore or fatigued muscles. When you increase your mileage or begin to include intervals, make sure you're getting at least eight hours of sleep. By giving your muscles the time they need to recover, you'll be able to ride more often and at a greater intensity, which will enable you to burn more calories.
Buy an Indoor Trainer8 of 11
Let's face it—there are days when you're not going to feel like putting your gear on and riding outside. Maybe it's because of the weather or a long day at the office. This doesn't mean you can't still ride your bike. So instead of sitting on the couch while you watch TV, put your trainer in the living room and go for a ride.
Prevent Injury With a Bike Fit9 of 11
One of the reasons cycling is such a good sport for losing weight is because it's a non-impact activity. Unlike running or hiking, there's no stress placed on the joints, which makes it easier to increase your mileage and intensity. But that doesn't mean you can't get injured. Because of the repetitive motion of pedaling, if you aren't properly positioned, an overuse injury can still occur.
As you increase your mileage or high-intensity efforts, ensure that you're as comfortable as possible by getting a professional bike fit. In the end, you'll end up riding more because of it.
Use the Feedzone Cookbook10 of 11
A big part of losing weight is changing your diet. The Feedzone Cookbook by Allen Lim provides plenty of quick, healthy recipe options when you're strapped for time. If you're looking for alternatives to processed energy bars, try the Feedzone Portables, which will give you dozens of options to make your own healthier alternatives when you need a snack on the bike.