If you have dreams of starting your weight loss journey on two wheels, you're headed in the right direction. To lose weight the healthy way, you should be combining a nutritious diet with a good dose of daily exercise -- and riding a road bike certainly qualifies. While you might want to know just how quickly this new journey is going to bear fruit, the answer is not so cut-and-dried. How much weight you'll lose depends on how much time you spend in the saddle, how hard you ride and what you do in between sessions on the bike.
Losing weight is all about creating a calorie deficit. When you hop on your road bike, you're working some of the largest muscles in your body, including your quadriceps and hamstrings in the legs and the gluteus muscles of the butt. While you won't burn as many calories as you would if you were running, cycling does burn a lot. When you ride your road bike at a rather leisurely pace of less than 10 miles per hour, a 200-person will burn about 364 calories in an hour. A 150-pound person, meanwhile, will burn about 292 calories per hour. The faster you go or the more hills you conquer, the more calories you'll burn.
To lose 1 pound, you have to burn 3,500 more calories than you consume. Assuming you make no changes to your diet and you ride for an hour every day, within about nine days that 200-pound person will lose 1 pound, while a 150-pound person will lose 1 pound within 12 days -- all while riding at that leisurely pace. As you get stronger and your body begins to adapt to exercise, you'll burn even more calories per hour. Since the number of calories you can burn depends on a number of factors including weight, age and gender, one way to get a better estimate of how many calories you're burning is to wear a heart rate monitor watch that also estimates calories. Choose one that allows you to enter data such as your weight and age, so you'll get a more accurate reading.
Naturally, you can lose weight even faster if you make changes to your diet. A healthy amount of weight to lose per week is between 1 and 2 pounds, advises MayoClinic.com. If you're burning about 300 calories on your bike each day, try cutting another 300 from your diet. Aim for a healthy, nourishing balance of foods by eating a diet that is 20 percent protein, 20 percent fat and about 60 percent carbohydrates. Cut out sweets, alcohol and high-fat foods, aiming to reduce about 300 calories from your normal intake. To do that, keep a diet diary for a week and track everything you eat. Then use an online calorie calculator to estimate your average intake, and try to cut some of those unnecessary calories. If you're cutting out 300 calories a day and riding to burn another 300, you'll be able to lose about a pound each week, if not more.
Even More Exercise
If you've managed to carve out an hour each day -- or maybe just five or six days of the week -- good for you. It's tough to manage the time commitment for exercise while you're managing a home and family too. If you aren't finding the time for an entire hour, try to get your family in on the action. Get a sturdy bike trailer and start taking the kids along -- that added intensity will make you burn even more calories. Also look for other ways to get in a few minutes on the bike; it all counts toward your daily calorie burn. Use your bike trailer to go get groceries, or plan a biking date night with your spouse. Not only will you be burning more calories, but you'll also be saving some money on transportation.