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How To Lose Weight And Get Fit With Road Bike Cycling: A Beginner’s Guide

Are you ready to shed some pounds and have a blast doing it? Road bike cycling might just be the solution you've been looking for!

First things first: before you start any new exercise routine, and if you’ve any doubts about it negatively impacting existing physical conditions you have, it's important to consult with your healthcare specialist to make sure it's safe for you. Once you have the green light, it's time to don the lycra (more on that in a moment) and start pedalling.

Road cycling is an excellent way to lose weight because it combines both cardiovascular and strength training exercises. The cardiovascular aspect of cycling helps to increase your heart rate, which in turn can help you burn calories and fat. Depending on the intensity of your ride and your weight, you can burn hundreds of calories in just one hour of riding. In fact, a 150-pound person can burn over 500 calories in just one hour of moderate-intensity cycling. And the more intense the cycling, the more calories you'll burn. So if you really want to kick it into high gear (every pun intended), you can turn up the intensity and see even greater results.

In addition to burning calories, cycling can also help to build muscle in your legs, back, and core. This muscle development can help to boost your metabolism, which is the rate at which your body burns calories even when you're not exercising. As your muscle mass increases, your body will be more efficient at burning calories, which can help you continue to lose weight over time.

Another cool thing about road cycling when it comes to muscle development is that it's a low-impact exercise, which means it's easier on your joints. That's especially important if you're carrying around extra weight, as the increased stress on your joints can be tough on your body. But don't let the "low-impact" label fool you. Road cycling can be as challenging or easy as you want it to be. Don’t be surprised if, soon into your first climb up a 5% gradient hill, your legs start screaming at you; your lungs feel like they’re bursting through your chest; and tears and snot start running down your face like a slimy Niagara Falls (I’m not really selling this now, am I?!)

But road biking isn't just about the physical benefits – it's also a great way to clear your mind and reduce stress and /or anxiety. As you pedal away, you'll have the chance to enjoy the great outdoors, take in some fresh air, and simply escape from the BS of everyday life. When you’re on the road you find that you focus 100% on what you’re doing. Whether a great view on a rolling bit of countryside tarmac, or generally keeping your wits about you to ensure you’re safe. Being in the saddle means your mind has no choice but to focus on something else as opposed to anything that might be causing you stress.

So how do you get started? Here are a few tips:

  • Invest in a good road bike. While it's possible to get by with a less expensive bike, investing in a high-quality road bike will pay off in the long run. It'll be more comfortable to ride and will likely be more efficient, which means you'll be able to go faster and farther with less effort.

  • Start slow and gradually increase your intensity. Don't try to jump in with both feet and ride for hours on end right off the bat. Start with shorter. fallter rides and gradually increase your distance, elevation (the number and steepness of hills on your route) and intensity as your fitness improves.

  • Wear the right gear. Make sure you have a helmet, of course, but also invest in padded cycling shorts and gloves. These will help make your rides more comfortable and prevent painful chafing. Chamois cream might be a wise investment, too. Especially when starting out and your ‘sensitive’ areas acclimatise. Or for when you become a bit more seasoned and start experimenting with longer distances.

  • Find a cycling buddy. Not only is it more fun to ride with a friend, but having a mate can also help keep you accountable and motivated. A dose of healthy competition can go a long way, also. If you both connect to Strava then it won’t be long before you’re trying to beat each other’s distances, average speeds, and segment personal bests.

  • Don't forget to fuel up. Before and after your rides, make sure you're fuelling your body with the right nutrients. A balanced diet with plenty of protein, complex carbs, and healthy fats will help you recover from your rides and support your weight loss goals.

It's important to note that while road bike cycling can be an effective way to lose weight, it's not a magic solution. To see the best results, it's important to combine regular cycling with a healthy diet and other forms of exercise. This can help you create a balanced and sustainable weight loss plan that works for you.

Proper nutrition is an important factor in any exercise program, and road bike cycling is no exception. To get the most out of your rides and support your weight loss goals, it's important to fuel your body with the right nutrients.

Here are a few tips for eating for road cycling if you follow a balanced, calorie dependant eating style. I’ve been doing Keto for several months (I’ve adapted my body to burn fat for its primary source of fuel. Not carbs /glucose) so not all the below applies if you do a similar low carb /high fat (LCHF) diet. Most people don’t so below should be relevant for most folks reading this:

  • Focus on whole, unprocessed foods: These types of foods are generally more nutrient-dense and can help support your overall health and performance. Choose whole grains, fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, and healthy fats.

  • Stay hydrated: Make sure you're drinking enough water before, during, and after your rides. Dehydration can negatively impact your performance and make it harder to recover. On hotter rides, where you’ll lose much more sweat, pop some electrolyte tablets or powder into your water bottle. This helps replenish salts and other minerals which will make you feel less shitty during recovery.

  • Eat enough carbohydrates: Carbohydrates are your body's primary source of fuel during exercise, so it's important to make sure you're getting enough of them. Choose complex carbs like whole grains, fruits, and vegetables rather than simple carbs like sugar. If you know you’ve got a big ride coming up you might want to ‘carb load’. This is where you increase the volume of carbs you eat in the days leading up to your ride. Although consuming a massive bowl of pasta and pizza the night before going out will be too late. Your body won’t process it in time for when you hit the road. Instead ensure you’ve consumed your carbs approx. 24 hours before you plan to set off. E.g., if you’re riding on Saturday, finish your 2 – 3 days of carb loading by Thursday lunch /dinner time at the latest.

  • Don't forget about protein: Protein is important for repairing and rebuilding muscle tissue after exercise. Aim for about 0.5-0.75 grams of protein per pound of body weight per day. Good sources of protein include lean meats, dairy products, beans, and nuts.

  • Consider a sports drink or snack during longer rides: If you're going on a long ride, it can be helpful to have a sports drink or snack to help replenish your energy. Just be sure to choose a product that's low in sugar and calories. Personally, I’m a fan of SiS products for their texture and flavour. They’re gentle on my stomach, too. Be careful with the carb gels though. Yes, they can give you a quick boost of energy, but I can sometimes find they make me feel a bit crappy afterwards. It’s like your body pays you back for pushing yourself more than normal when the gel kicks in, but then makes you suffer a little bit once the effect of the gel burns away. This might not be the same for everyone so experiment with them and see how you go.

Remember, the key to good nutrition for road cycling (or any exercise) is to focus on whole, unprocessed foods and to listen to your body's needs. Eating a balanced diet that includes a variety of nutrients will help you feel your best and support your weight loss goals.

So go ahead and give road cycling a try – you might just find that it's the perfect way to lose weight, get fit, improve your mental wellbeing, and have a blast doing it.

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This bite-sized beginner's guide doesn't take itself too seriously and, whilst written in an amusing way, includes excellent advice that provides everything you need to know, to get the most enjoyment out of your new road cycling hobby from day one.

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