Pedal Power: 5 Useful Tips on How to Lose Weight by Biking
Nowadays, more and more people are looking into purchasing a bicycle. While they might just be looking for a greener way to get around, surprisingly few people take full advantage of all the benefits of biking, especially when it comes to weight loss.
If you haven’t tapped into its benefits on your health yet, you’ll be delighted to know that the list is long: biking helps you burn that nasty excess fat at a steady clip, lowers your risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease, sharpens your memory, and gives you a deep, restful sleep, among many others. So how can you achieve this windfall of benefits biking has on your health and waistline? Here are five tips to help you lose weight by biking:
1. Have a hearty breakfast before biking
Nothing jumpstarts your metabolism like a healthy, hearty breakfast. While the idea of eating breakfast to lose weight may seem counterintuitive, skipping breakfast will actually make your body burn muscle and store fat instead. Skipping a single meal causes your metabolic process to hold on to what it might need later, and most of the time, this means storing excess fat—which is something you so dread.
2. Avoid on-bike fueling if it isn’t needed
Eating the right amount of the right food at the right times will help you ride strong and avoid stomach problems when biking. The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recommends an intake of 30 to 60 grams of carbs per hour of exercise. Unfortunately, only a few athletes understand the reason behind this. The average person can only process about 1 gram of carbohydrate a minute, regardless of how much of it is consumed. The bottleneck of it will be in your intestines, which can only carry glucose from what you eat into your bloodstream at a slower pace. Stuffing more carbohydrates into your gut doesn’t speed up the absorption rate, but rather increase your risk of an upset stomach, which is the last thing you would want to have, especially when you’re biking.
3. Don’t overdress for biking
You don’t have to be tempted to don fancy gear when biking because you don’t have to. What goes for skiing, ice skating, or walking the dog pretty much goes for biking as well. A good rule of thumb is to dress in layers—and bear in mind, cotton kills. Basically, after five minutes or so of biking, you will notice that you will feel much warmer than you expect. You may even begin to perspire, thus overdressing is a definite no-no. Dressing in layers will help you adapt in case you overestimated your clothing. Wool or synthetic fabric will keep you warm even when you’re sweaty.
4. Eat vegetables and lean protein
This is a no-brainer for anyone looking to lose weight by biking. Leafy green vegetables are great sources of folate, which aids in the production of red blood cells. This will boost your overall health, which will make biking much less of a grunt work. Nut butters, such as almond or peanut butter, are an excellent source of lean protein, and smearing a little on a slice of whole wheat bread is a great way to power you up before your bike ride. A serving of white meat, such as fish or chicken, is another good way to supply your body with the amount of protein it needs to fuel a long bike ride.
5. Save the hard efforts for last and make your commute count
Research has shown that post-exercise oxygen consumption can aid in getting rid of fat stores. The key to pushing your body into overdrive after a bike ride is to brush it with a few hard efforts before you cap off. This will prompt your body to keep consuming oxygen even after your routine. This will help your body burn more fat as well. As a reinforcement, exercise bikes help you to lose weight after a long ride.
Also, have you ever thought about riding your bike to work instead of taking the car? This helps you use your time wisely and you don’t have to worry about squeezing your workout into your busy day.
Jennifer O’Neal is a lifelong cyclist, enjoying the thrill of an outdoor ride as much as the one on her indoor cycling bike. She regularly contributes to allexercisebikes.net, a leading provider of exercise bike reviews and education.