How Many Calories Do You Burn When Cycling?

February 28, 2020 0 By Ewald Bahringer

– How many calories do we really burn when we’re out riding our bikes? Well we know it’s a great
way of losing weight, so the short answer is,
probably quite a lot. But how do we really calculate it? How do we know how many
carbs we need to consume while out riding, so we
don’t run out of energy, and hit the wall? – Yeah. Put simply, a
calorie is a unit of energy. So the more calories in the piece of food, the more energy that it contains. And to put simply again, we can work out exactly how much energy it takes to ride at a certain pace. (funky music) – Pedalling a bike requires power. Which is measured in watts. You can roughly assume that
producing one watt of power for an hour will burn four calories. It doesn’t sound like much, but so, if you get 10 miles
per hour on a flat road, requires about 40 watts. 15 mph about 100. And 20 mph on a flat
road, about 210 watts. So riding 10 miles in an hour requires 140 calories. 15 mph 350 calories, and 20 mph about 700. Knowing exactly how many
calories you’re burning is going to require some
fairly specific technology. Which normally means a power meter, such as the one that Matt and
I are using on today’s ride. However, they are quite
a significant investment, so an alternative is to use a flat road to give you a rough
idea of calories burned. However, as soon as you start
going uphill or downhill, or you have a big tail wind or head wind, that’s going to vary quite considerably. Instead then, you could get a rough idea from your heart rate. – Yeah, that’s a really
long established method that takes into account
your age, your weight, and how long you’ve actually
been exercising for. Throw into the mixture average heart rate, and you can get a really good idea of how many calories you’ve burned. – So, to give you an example, I am 36 years old, I weigh 70 kilogrammes, and to average around 20
miles per hour or 210 watts on a pan flat road, it only requires an average heart rate for me personally of about 140 beats per minute. Crunching those numbers
in the calorie calculator, and it comes out at 770 calories per hour. – So it’s pretty clear then, there’s some inaccuracy here. In fact, there’s quite a lot of inaccuracy across the board with
all of these methods. But, in particular, heart rate. Take for example, comparing
one person to the next. Some people have a really low heart rate, compared somebody else, but that would have no bearing
on their fitness whatsoever. And then you’ve got to look
at your own heart rate. It could be changed alone depending on your level of fatigue, or even, the temperature of your body. But what about power? Surely that is actually
measuring an output. Well yes, it is, but in order to calculate calories from power, there is an assumption about
the efficiency of your body. Meaning, how many calories are wasted when producing that power. And the reason that
it’s only an assumption, is because people’s efficiency varies, by up to 30 percent. – To put that into context,
that’s the difference between needing 850 calories to cycle at 200 watts for an hour, or just 600 calories. That’s the difference
in needing three extra of these energy gels, every hour. Now there’s one last element
to complicate things. You don’t stop burning calories when you climb off your bike. You burn calories just
to stay alive of course, but certain types of exercise raise your metabolic rate, effectively making your
body burn more calories, even when you’re resting in bed. That’s because high-intensity exercise causes muscle damage, and
that takes energy to repair. – So, whilst you might burn 700 calories by riding 20 miles in one hour, you might find that this effort
makes you burn more calories for the subsequent 24 hours as well. And if this is really what you want, high intensity intervals
are what you need. If you ever want to measure exactly the amount of calories that
you burn while cycling, you’re gonna need to know the quantity and the types of gases
that you breathe out, and the relationship between
oxygen and carbon dioxide. And as you can imagine, that would take some pretty specialist type of equipment, most likely taken place in a lab. And let’s face it. Do you really need to be that accurate? – Probably not, but knowing roughly how many calories you’re
expending whilst you’re out riding is going to allow you to know
how much you need to eat, or how much energy drink
you need to consume, in order not to run out of energy whilst you’re out on your ride. And actually any ride over 90 minutes is going to require some kind
of carbohydrate consumption, even if your main aim is to lose weight. And if that’s the case,
it’s restricting calories off the bike, that’s going
to be more beneficial. – So you should go and have some cake? – Yeah. Anyway. – If you haven’t already subscribed to Global Cycling Network, please do so, then you won’t miss anymore of our videos And you can do that by
clicking on the globe. – Yeah, and if you would like to do some high-intensity indoors,
on your indoor trainer, we’ve got the perfect video
for you just down there. On the other hand, if you’d like to know where is the best place to consume food whilst you’re out on the bike, you can find that just down there. – And tip, it’s probably a cafe. – No, actually on the bike. – Oh. – Alright.