Eat and lose weight, easily


Burn off calories with a cycle ride – as gentle as you want. There’s no need to wear special clothes or build up a sweat – you’re not in the Tour de France.

Just get the cycling habit when the weather’s fit (it doesn’t rain all the time, you know, and there are such things as waterproofs) – you’ll soon be addicted to iwatt and can forget the diet.

And if you are an employee, take advantage of the UK’s Bike to Work scheme to get a discounted bicycle.

Check if you are a healthy weight
Why cycle?
Where to cycle?
When to cycle?
Worried about bike theft?
Calorie calculations

Check if you are a healthy weight

Want to check if you are a healthy weight? Then use the NHS’s simple online calculator.  If the results show you need to lose a few pounds, and you need some help and ideas, then see what slimming clubs there are in your area. In addition to clubs, there are meal services you can dip onto, to keep you on track, such as Weight Watchers’ Smart Kitchen which delivers recipes with all the ingredients you need.
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Why cycle?

Ordinary cycling uses around five times the calories of sitting around: 5 calories per minute is used up when cycling at a leisurely pace and 1 calorie per minute for sitting.  The calculations are at the end of this page.

  • 15 minutes pedalling = an extra 45 calories used.
  • 15 minutes every day = an extra 315 extra calories used up a week.

And that’s around one and a half ounces lost. Which adds up to 6 ounces in a month – nearly half a pound lost without going near that expensive gym for those time-consuming and boring exercises!

Speed up to around 12 miles (19 km) per hour, and you’re looking at an extra 100 calories used in 15 minutes (that’s 700 calories over a week, making it 12 ounces lost in a month).

Really start pushing those pedals to 16 miles (26 km) per hour, or puff up a few more hills, and you’ll be burning up 125 calories in those 15 minutes (do this every day and that’s 875 in a week, which means a pound lost in one month).

Want to lose a pound a week? Then you need to use 3,500 extra calories, which works out at 500 every day. So you’ll need to cycle fast for an hour a day – or cycle slower for longer. Your choice.

You could combine cycling with the tips in ‘I Can Make You Thin’ by Paul McKenna (book/CD) to be supereffective too.

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Where to cycle?

  • Explore a few back streets or quiet lanes around your home or workplace – be nosy – see what houses are for sale, whose garden is the best, find shortcuts to the shops, school or work.
  • Pick up a few things from the local shops (if you haven’t got panniers, put your shopping in a basket on the front or bungee a small rucksack to the rear rack).
  • Pop round to a friend’s, or meet at a cafe or pub.
  • Cycle to the swimming pool.
  • Nip to the library. While in the library, ask them about local cycle routes using quiet roads, ex-railway lines and so on.
  • Ask them about any local leisure/family cycling groups/events too. Or start your own. Or join the University of the Third Age‘s local cycling group.
  • Find cycle routes in your area, by looking at Sustran’s Get Cycling.
  • Look at maps of your area and devise your own routes that pass places that interest you.
  • Walk your children to school and wheel your bike, so you can ride home quickly.
  • Cycle to school with your children – there are child seats for bikes, kiddie trailers, towed child bikes (towed by the adult) and child-sized bicycles.
  • Cycle to work, school, college, university. Too far? Then cycle part-way to a bus stop and lock up the bike there.
  • Or cycle to the railway station and lock it up there, or put it on the train so you can ride at the other end.

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When to cycle?

Any day – there’s always an excuse to cycle. For short journeys, it’s usually much quicker and less stressful than waiting for a bus, or finding a place to park the car. And it’s much quicker than walking too.

Weekends – find somewhere near your home or a railway station to visit – a farmer’s market, a pub, a restuarant, somewhere that interests you and your companions. Then pedal off and make a day of it. Saturdays are best – everyone’s at the supermarket or watching a match on the the TV – so the roads are usually quieter.

Holidays – there are loads of cycle routes (on and off road) in every area, here and abroad.

Ask at the local library, cycle shop or tourist information centre.

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Worried about bike theft?

If you are worried about possible bike theft, or need to lock up your bike in a dodgy area, use an old unfashionable bikes that won’t attract thieves.  For commuting you could have two bikes – leave one at your bus stop/railway station and keep another locked up at your destination.  Or use a folding bike that’s easy to take with you on a bus or train, and keep at indoors at work and at home.  See our tips on bike security, and also consider consider bike insurance.

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Calorie calculations

A rule of thumb: Burn off 3,500 calories to lose a pound of fat.
Calories or kilocalories?: We should say kilocalories really, but most people don’t.
Guesstimation: Activities and intensity of effort are difficult to define, so it’s difficult to generalise. Also, age, gender, weight and proportion of body fat/muscle all affect an individual’s burn rate of calories. Unfairly, muscle uses more calories than fat – but that’s an incentive to get fitter to benefit even more from exercise.
Online calculators: We used these two sites to arrive at the calorie figures above, based on a female weighing 8 stone:

Health Status bases its calculations on the Healthier People self-assessment project by the Carter Center, Emory University, USA.

Calories per Hour bases its calculations on figures (i.e. METS, which are metabolic equivalents) quoted by Ainsworth BE, et al. Compendium of Physical Activities: An update of activity codes and MET intensities. Med Sci Sports Exerc 2000;32 (Suppl):S498-S516.

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1. Janis 06 May 2009
I am a bike enthusiast. I am biking 20 km a day and need to lose about 40 lbs. I am hoping to do this by October 1. Even if I reach half of my goal I will be happy

An online guide to cycling in Cheshire, and further afield