We get it. Cycling during the winter can be complicated. Cold weather, fewer daylight hours, comfort-food cravings and a desire to hibernate can add up to weight gain.
The good news: To shed those holiday pounds, you don’t necessarily need to work harder.
By following these simple tips to train more efficiently, you can get rid of your excess baggage quicker than you might think. Here’s how:
1. Eat breakfast post-ride.
A study conducted by the Journal of Applied Physiology found that exercising in a semifasted state can help you burn more calories than you would if you ate beforehand. While we wouldn’t recommend this before intervals or your weekly long ride, skipping breakfast a few times per week on moderate rides of 60 minutes or less can help you lose weight quicker.
Just remember to eat a healthy, well-balanced meal as soon as your workout is over.
2. Don’t quit cold turkey.
After a holiday filled with splurges on the good stuff, it can be a mistake to cut out all sweets and treats completely. Intense cravings could lead to binging, which could lead to even more weight gain.
Instead, include occasional treats in your diet, but limit the portions. This will help fight off cravings without adding a huge sum of calories.
3. Use your bike to commute.
Yes, it’s still cold outside, but it’s not snowing all the time in every part of the country. And you also don’t need to ride in frigid temps for two hours to reap the benefits.
A study done by Health Behavior News Service shows that leaving your car at home may be the key to losing — and then maintaining — your weight. They recommend 150–250 minutes of physical activity a week; on the lower end, that equals a 30-minute ride five days a week. If you work fairly close to home, the overall time you’ll save by opting for the bike instead of the car probably won’t make much of a difference.
Just remember to dress appropriately for the conditions — it can make a big difference in your winter cycling experience.
4. Ride hard.
With limited daylight, long rides can be harder to come by. Lucky for you, hard efforts such as intervals burn fat more efficiently than steady-state efforts, according to this recent study. In fact, in just two weeks, it’s possible to increase your fat-burning efficiency by as much as 36%.
To make it happen, give this a try:
- Warm up for 20 minutes with easy spinning.
- Complete 6–10 repetitions of all-out sprinting for 30–60 seconds, depending on your level of fitness. Recover for 2–4 minutes between repetitions.
- Cool down for 10–15 minutes with easy spinning at a cadence above 100 revolutions per minute.
- Incorporate this workout into your routine 2–3 times per week for maximum fat burn.
5. Take advantage of your indoor trainer.
The winter months often mean more time spent indoors plopped on the couch in front of the television — perhaps while you munch on your favorite snacks. To avoid this becoming a frequently occurring habit, it might be a better idea to set up your indoor trainer in the living room.
This will allow you to ride for an hour or two while you watch your favorite TV shows or a movie. Instead of packing on the pounds, you’ll be shedding them.