It’s no secret cycling is a great way to torch calories. Unfortunately, losing weight the right way can be a little more complicated than simply jumping on your bike and heading out for a ride. To continue pushing toward your weight-loss goals or keep the pounds from coming back, steer clear of these five mistakes cyclists make on their weight-loss journey:
1. NOT EATING ENOUGH
Most of us only think about calorie restriction as an effective tool to lose weight, but sometimes not consuming enough calories can be a problem, too. While you’re training, consuming enough calories pre- and post-ride is essential for performance and recovery.
Starving yourself after a ride can negatively impact how well your muscles bounce back between rides. While this doesn’t mean stuffing yourself with empty calories like pizza and potato chips, consuming lean protein, vegetables and some carbs aids your recovery and makes it possible to get back on the bike without needing to take off multiple days between rides.
2. DOING THE SAME WORKOUT
Like any other form of exercise, if you do the same cycling workout over and over, your body eventually adapts. As your body becomes more efficient, it burns fewer calories.
Instead of always doing the same loop, riding on a variety of terrains such as rolling hills, long climbs or even on dirt trails challenges your body in different ways and burns calories more effectively. Switching your routes is also important to avoid mental burnout, which can make it easier to get back on the bike day after day.
Like terrain, riding at the same pace every workout eventually limits your fitness gains and the number of calories you burn. By including interval training or short, high-intensity workouts on an indoor trainer once or twice per week, you’ll shock your body and burn more calories on and off the bike. Post-exercise oxygen consumption following interval training forces the body to consume more oxygen and burn more calories in the hours following your workout than you would with lower-intensity efforts.
3. ATTEMPTING TO LOSE WEIGHT TOO QUICKLY
When you begin to lose weight, it’s normal to see minimal gains when you step on the scale because, even though you may be losing fat, you may also be gaining muscle. If you’re looking only at your pounds, this could become discouraging and lead you to resort to fad diets or other gimmicks to get results faster. However, keep in mind that most rapid weight loss is rarely maintained. Make your weight-loss plan a lifestyle change instead. Set realistic goals, such as working out one hour per day, avoiding processed foods and eating out less.
4. ONLY BIKING
Because it’s low-impact and you can burn a ton calories, cycling can be a great way to lose weight. But that doesn’t mean it’s all you should do — especially if you’re new to the sport. The hunched-over position of a road bike adds stress on your neck and lower back that takes time to get used to, and because you primarily work the legs, it’s also a good idea to include cross-training activities in your weekly workouts.
Swimming, walking, hiking or the occasional run are other ways you can burn calories and mix up your training regimen to keep shedding pounds. Yoga, core strength and weight training can also help prevent injury as you ramp up your training and build more muscle. This is important because the more muscle mass you have, the more efficient your body will be at burning calories during your workouts.
5. NEGLECTING SLEEP
With busy work schedules, the additional effort it takes to cook healthier meals and all the extra time it takes to exercise, finding time in the day to fit in all in can be a challenge. It’s easy to dip into your sleep hours to make it happen.
When you’re losing weight, getting 6–8 hours of sleep each night is essential. Studies have shown that getting sufficient sleep can aid you in losing weight, keep you from gaining weight after you lose it and help you feel fuller following a meal. Sleep also helps you build more muscle, recover quickly and reduce your overall stress.
Because of this, getting quality sleep each night should be just as important as your daily workouts and diet. While it takes some sacrifice, try to make it a habit to get to bed early instead of staying up late to watch TV. Chances are you’ll be surprised by just how much better a full night’s sleep makes you feel and the positive effects it’ll have toward your overall health.