It will not be long before the Christmas shopping season gets underway. All across America, there will be people considering buying an indoor bike in anticipation of starting the new year on an aggressive weight loss campaign. Many will be asking themselves, “will indoor cycling help me lose weight?”
The answer is both yes and no. Or perhaps more accurately, maybe or maybe not. There is nothing inherently superior about indoor cycling that makes it an effective weight loss exercise. You could spend thousands of dollars on the most advanced indoor bike and still not lose weight.
At-home indoor cycling and spinning classes at a local studio are both good. Any form of exercise that elevates your heart rate and moves your muscles is good. But there is more to losing weight and keeping it off.
Weight Loss and Calorie Deficit
There are people who struggle with weight due to underlying medical conditions best addressed by professionals. But for most of us, our weight issues boil down to calorie issues. We are consuming more calories than our bodies need. Those extra calories and up being stored as body fat.
Losing weight is all about creating a calorie deficit. In other words, you want to burn more calories than you are consuming. Doing so is the only way to lose weight in the absence of an underlying medical condition.
You can create a calorie deficit by dieting. The problem with dieting is the temptation to resume your normal eating habits after you have lost weight. If you are consuming too many calories before you begin dieting, it is likely you will do so after your diet. Then you’re right back in the same boat.
So where does indoor cycling come in? As part of a combination program that includes dietary and lifestyle changes. Indoor cycling creates a calorie deficit. At the same time, changing the way you eat limits the amount of empty calories you consume.
Burning Calories with Exercise
Calories are not actually a tangible thing. They are a scientific measurement of energy defined within the sphere of chemistry. For the purposes of this post, we can use a simplistic definition. Calories are simply the amount of energy your body needs to power your activity. That energy comes from the food you eat.
Let’s say you go to a spinning class after work. It is 5 o’clock when you get on the bike; your last meal was at 1 o’clock. Exercise forces your body to burn the energy provided by your last meal. If your exercise requires more energy than the meal provided, the body has to look elsewhere. It will burn fat, converting it into energy. This is how exercise burns calories.
The Role Diet Plays
A general rule suggests that a moderate spinning class burns about 400 calories in a 60-minute session. This illustrates why exercise alone will not do it for most of us. We have to make dietary changes too. The goal is to reduce caloric intake without jeopardizing health.
A calculator might determine that your ideal caloric intake for weight loss, combined with moderate exercise, is 2000 calories daily. Now you begin paying attention to what you eat. You do not want to exceed those 2000 calories. Combining a reduced caloric intake with creating a calorie deficit during exercise will help you lose weight by burning fat.
Once you have lost the weight, don’t stop exercising. Do not go back to your old diet. Continue to eat healthy and manage caloric intake. At the same time, continue indoor cycling to maintain fitness. This is how it’s done.