Can commuting help you lose weight?

Discussion in 'Commuting' started by iwf, 29 Jan 2008.

  1. iwf

    iwf New Member

    I'm 2 1/2 weeks into commuting the 6 miles between home and work.

    So far I'm enjoying every moment ( though losing my bike lock key on the first day was a little embarrassing!)

    Anyhow I was expecting the kgs to fly off me but in truth haven't seen much reduction yet. My route is a gentle climb for 2/3 of the route, then flat the rest of the way. coming home is just so, so fast! By the top of the climb my thighs burn like hell and i can hardly breath, but it is getting easier.

    Of course I could make better use of my gears, but prefer to work hard (no pain, no gain). even on the flat i'm trying to go faster, rather than keeping to a regular cadence.

    So to the question.

    Can cycling, by itself, without cutting out too much food help you lose weight, or is cycling more likely to change fat into muscle, help the heart, environment etc.

    I should add I'm riding a new Hybrid not a road bike, getting fit being a bigger priority than get there quicker.

    I should add that this forum is proving to be a fantastic inspiration to me. At this rate I might even venture out at weekends!
  2. Kirst

    Kirst Well-Known Member

    First of all, fat can't change into muscle. They are entirely different cells. You can reduce fat and increase muscle but fat is fat and muscle is muscle.

    Cycling burns more calories than driving, so if you were driving before, you're burning more calories now. But you still have to make sure you're burning more calories than you're eating. There are 3500 calories in a pound of fat, so you need to eat 3500 calories less (say in a week) than you use/burn 3500 calories more than you eat to lose a pound.

    I've been commuting by bike since last June and have lost no weight at all, but everything is firmer and higher up and I'm fitter, so I'm not too bothered about still being a lardarse. My problem is I like my food too much, and also, cycling makes me hungry.

    If you are eating 2500 calories a day and previously you burned 2000 a day, you would gain a pound a week. If you are eating 2500 calories a day and with the cycling you are now burning 2500 calories a day, your weight will stay the same, or you might get heavier as more muscle develops. Muscle has a higher metabolic rate than fat, so developing more muscle ensures your body burns more calories anyway. If you decrease your calories to 2000 a day and burn 2500, or eat 2500 but burn 3000, you will lose a pound a week. If your weight is stable and you want to lose, you need to make sure you are burning more than you are eating. It's that simple.

    Simple, of course, does not necessarily mean easy.
  3. Keith Oates

    Keith Oates Janner

    Penarth, Wales
    A 6 mile commute is good but not overly long so don't expect the scales to change dramatically in a few weeks. Keep at it though and the weight, or at least the fat bulges, will reduce. Getting some extra miles in at the weekend will also help!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  4. Crackle

    Crackle Pah

    All things being equal, you should start to see some results. 2.5 weeks is not long yet and the old scales are not always a true indicator as you will put on some muscle - see whether that trouser belt gets a bit looser.

    I would say that this might be a good time to re-examine the old diet whilst the fitness motivation is high.

    Also you might want to think about the riding style and use the gears a bit more, keeping a steady cadence, preferrably a higher one, will work the CV system more and I suspect might just do a bit more on the calories used front. It will also preserve your knees and decrease lactic acid build up, all of which will help you ride faster and further with less pain.
  5. col

    col Veteran

    Good advice already,but what i would add,is to lenghthen the time on the bike,to up the loss,short bursts will help ,but you need to do longer stints to get things moving.Cycling on its own can help loose weight,but it depends what your eating,if its pastry choccy and other stuff like that,then its going to be difficult,knock the crap on the head,and go for healthy stuff,low fat and the weight will come off.
  6. Abitrary

    Abitrary New Member

    I actually think a short, not overly fast commute can even make you put on weight if you are not careful, because it increases your appetite disproportionately to the calories burned.

    I think when you get too hungry, you tend to introduce more crap, more than simply eating more good stuff. Also, I think it might be tempting to reward yourself for commuting.

    But like Col said, alternate faster bursts on the bike, and be a bit more disciplined with the food than you would normally.
  7. OP

    iwf New Member

    Thanks everyone for the prompt replies and the reminders of the basic maths.

    So cadence is better for CV then speed. I'll start tomorrow! The six miles takes me about 40 mins and I'm already looking for a longer route home. funny thing is that I really get annoyed when I have to leave the bike at home, to visit central London on business and i much prefer the commute to the work!

    I ditched the really crap food some time ago but do like a glass of wine on a night. I followed a low GI plan for a summer. that really helped.

    just read the thread about why people started riding. lots of good encouragement.

    thanks again
  8. It will help you lose weight, but not loads dead quick. As well as the calorie balance explained above, you should also bear in mind that cycling is a pretty efficient mode of transport. A 6 mile ride doesn't really take a long time and doesn't burn up a huge amount of calories.

    A quick google shows, for a 150lb person, that in 30 minutes...

    Cycling at 5mph burns 150 Calories
    Jogging at 5mph burns 322 Calories

    Cycling at 13mph still burns less than the slow jog (318 Cals) but obviously you go a LOT further.

    Your fitness will be getting better, so try boosting it by doing a bit of other cardio work, like jogging, spin classes or brisk walking (186 Cal / 30 mins), or longer weekend rides.
  9. Abitrary

    Abitrary New Member

    If you like it now, you will like it 20 times more in the summer mornings... nothing like it.

    Even in the winter though, I still look forward to getting on the bike after work, whatever the weather, which I never get in a car.
  10. Maz

    Maz Legendary Member

    I think you need to use the gears more effectively on the climbs. i.e. move down the gears so you can spin easier. I'm no expert on the subject, but I think this will make your respiration aerobic and help to burn your calories.
  11. Abitrary

    Abitrary New Member

    If the hills are short enough, I prefer to grind them in a higher gear just to get the power up that I can't always on the flats.
  12. col

    col Veteran

    I agree with SOT,about walking,you can push hard,power walking its called,and you will get a very good workout,with a very non injury prone exercise,running for me is injury prone,too heavy still,so walking is good,especailly if you can push it for a few miles.
  13. Crackle

    Crackle Pah

    Whoa steady. There are many permutations to CV, speed and cadence so it's not so simplistic. But for a given speed, then using a higher cadence will make your heart work harder than a lower one. Crazy as it sounds position makes a difference to HR as well. Sitting up will increase my HR by a few beats whilst going onto the drops will decrease it. You'll find most advocate a cadence of 80-90rpm but it might take you a good few months riding to achieve that, just don't be afraid to use the gears that's why you've got them. Also as you get faster, you'll burn more calories but a 40 minute ride is only the equivalent of burning off a kit-kat or at most a Mars bar when you get faster. If you get round to those weekend rides, then that might be a different kettle of fish. Long Steady Rides will do the most for calorie burn; something to aim for maybe. In the meantime check this site out for some info on what you're likely to be doing.
  14. OP

    iwf New Member

    I generally start early, around 6:30, so often have the quieter roads to myself.

    Riding down a terrace street, in the center of the road, is just pure joy. learning how to commute, road positioning etc is another matter.

    Touch wood I haven't seen too much bad driving, in fact SW London drivers seem fine to me. other cyclists, though are a crazy bunch. I've seen so much stupid riding i'm not surprised we get so much criticism.

    Having good gear helps. I so feel the part.
  15. snorri

    snorri Legendary Member

    I think cycling should be considered a bit like some of these magical slimming aids which bear the words "aids slimming as part of a calorie controlled diet" on the packaging.:smile:
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