How Much Do You Need To Cycle To Lose 10kg: Distance, time and tips


People often look to cycling as a way to lose weight. Certainly, it helped me to lose 40kg when I was 18. Cycling is a great way of burning calories and allows people who are not able to do other forms of exercise, such as running, to get more physically fit. So if you are aiming to lose 10kg of weight, how much cycling are you going to need to do?

180 hours of cycling will burn enough calories to lose 10kg, provided you make no other lifestyle changes. If cycling at an average pace, this would equate to a distance of 3250 kilometers. If you plan to lose weight over a 20-week period, you would need to cycle for 9 hours or 160km per week.

As you can see, losing 10kg through cycling alone is a challenge. But if you still want to push through, what are the best ways to lose weight through cycling, and how did we get to this 180-hour number?

How much cycling should you do to lose 10kg?

When it comes to weight loss through cycling, it comes down to calories in and calories out (provided you are healthy and don’t have an underlying health condition).

In order to lose a kilogram of fat, you need to burn 7700 calories. This means that in order to lose 10kg, you will need to burn a total of 77,000 calories.

Harvard University has done some research into the number of calories you burn while cycling and found that there average cyclist riding at 10-12 mph will burn seven calories a minute.

If we look at this simply, this means that the average person will need to do 183 hours of cycling to lose 10kg. This is presuming that they are cycling at 10-12 mph and are changing nothing else about how they are eating or exercising.

In the table below you can see a couple of riding regimes that would equate to this 183-hour target. This would be difficult but possible.

Hours of cycling a dayNumber of days cycling per weekNumber of weeks of cycling
2 Hours330
1 Hour 30 Minutes430
1 Hour360
30 minutes490

While this is the literal amount of hours you would need to do to lose 10kg (provided nothing else is changing), there are some other factors you should look at when deciding how quickly to do this cycling and how quickly to lose weight.

How long does it take to lose 10kg cycling?

The speed at which you lose your 10kg will be very dependent on a number of other factors as well as your cycling.

We’ve established that weight loss is based on calories in being less than calories out. However, this does not mean you should look to lose weight quickly by dramatically reducing your calorie intake. Generally speaking, you should be aiming for a maximum of a 500-calorie deficit per day.

Aiming for this calorie deficit would result in you losing 0.5kg (1 pound) per week. The UK national health service advises that if you are overweight then you should aim to lose no more than 0.5-1kg per week (1-2 pounds).

An important factor to consider is that your starting weight will impact the speed at which you can lose weight. For example, if you currently weigh 60kg then losing 10kg will be much harder than if you weigh 120kg. The current advice is that if you are already a healthy weight, then you should be aiming to lose weight at a slower rate. When at a healthy BMI it is advised to aim for a target of 1kg weight loss per month.

All of this means that if you are overweight you should be aiming to lose 10kg over a 10-20 week period, and if you are already a healthy weight, then you should be aiming to lose this over a 40-week period.

Hours of cycling per weekNumber of weeks cycling
18 Hours10
9 Hours20
4 Hours 30 Minutes40

As you can see, losing weight through cycling alone will require many hours of cycling and so making other changes to your diet or lifestyle will make this much easier.

How many kilometers do you need to cycle a day to lose 10kg?

Using the information above we can calculate how many kilometers you need to be cycling each day in order to meet your 10kg weight loss goal.

Cycling for 183 hours at an average of 11mph (10-12mpg) is equivalent to 2000 miles.

2000 miles is the same as 3250km. If we use the suggested weeks of cycling we looked at above we can see how many kilometers you need to be cycling each day to lose this weight.

Number of weeksNumber of kilometers cycled each day if cycling for 3 days a weekNumber of kilometers cycled each day if cycling for 4 days a week
1011080
205540
402520

As you can see, aiming for your weight loss over a longer term such as 20 or 40 weeks makes riding each week much more feasible.

How to actually lose 10kg from cycling?

When looking to lose weight while cycling it is important to make sure you are doing it properly. There are a few key steps you need to be taking to optimize your weight loss and ensure you are doing it in a safe and effective way.

Riding Style

If you are looking to lose weight, then you need to be cycling in a certain way. Cyclists measure how hard they are cycling in “training zones“. This is a measure of how much of your total energy you are putting into your cycling.

Training ZoneHeart Rate (% of maximum)Activity
1Less than 68%Recovery
269% to 83%Endurance
384% to 94%Sprint

The best way to lose weight while cycling is to be cycling in zone 2. This is the area where you burn a good amount of calories and are also able to continue for a long period of time.

The best way to monitor this is to get a smartwatch, fitness tracker, or heart rate monitor and to monitor which speed you need to be cycling at to put yourself into this range. If you don’t have any of these, then aim for a speed at which you are able to keep up a conversation but one that makes you breathless.

Consistency

The old mantra that “consistency is key” still holds true in weight loss through cycling. As we’ve seen, you need to do a lot of cycling to lose 10kg. Missing a single day of your ride each week can have a huge impact on the amount of riding you need to do on your other days.

If you are looking to lose 10kg over 10 weeks, then you need to be cycling for 110 km per day, 3 days a week. Missing even one of these sessions will add 55km to your other 2 rides.

Diet

As we’ve established, losing weight through cycling alone is difficult. What’s just as, if not more important, than the exercise you are doing is your diet.

There is no point in cycling for 183 hours if you plan to eat your body weight in chocolate after each ride. It is especially important to focus on this at the beginning, strictly counting your calories in and out.

In response to your extra cycling, your body will look to replenish your energy stores and you will find that you have a larger appetite when you are cycling this much. Make sure that all your hard work isn’t being undone.

Rest and refuelling

It is important when doing this much exercise to ensure you are giving yourself enough time to rest and refuel your body.

Firstly make sure to build rest days into your exercise plans. If you don’t you are more likely to get an injury, which can stop you from cycling altogether. On top of this getting adequate rest, be that through rest days or sleep will allow you to cycle better and further.

Sleep is an important factor in its own right. In fact, studies have shown that getting adequate sleep (up to 8 hours per night) impacts how well you lose weight and how well you keep the weight off.

Given you will be cycling so much, it is key to get “on-bike nutrition” right from the beginning. While it seems counterintuitive, restricting your calories while you’re on the bike and cycling is bad for your weight loss.

When on these long rides you need to ensure you are fueling yourself with calories and only after the ride do you need to focus on your calorie intake. Obviously don’t go crazy, but aiming for a snack every 45 minutes of cycling is suggested by most cyclists to ensure you keep your energy up and don’t “Hit the wall”.

Overall

As you can see, losing weight through cycling alone is difficult but certainly possible. As long as you are aiming to lose 10kg over a reasonable and safe amount of time, then following the advice above is a good starting point.

Make sure if you are looking to lose weight you consult your medical practitioner first, especially if you have an underlying health condition.

Mark Holmes

30-year-old doctor with an interest in cycling, bikepacking, and statistics.

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