Weight Loss and Heart Rate: What You Need to Know for a Bicycle Diet

Posted at: Feb 13, 2022

If you want to lose weight by cycling, it is important to know not only how many calories you burn, but also what you consume. In this article, we will look at heart rate, which determines what you consume when cycling.

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What are the calories consumed in exercise?

A “calorie” consumed in exercise is a unit of energy content. Energy requires raw materials. In a car, it is gasoline, but in the human body, energy is made from the following three sources

  • Protein (1g=4kcal)
  • Fat (1g=9kcal)
  • Carbohydrates (1g=4kcal)

In general, if calorie intake < calorie consumption, weight will decrease, but it is the heart rate zone that determines which energy source is consumed.

Use the heart rate zone to lose weight in an ideal way!

When it comes to “bicycle dieting,” people may have different ideas about where and how they want to lose weight, such as “I want to lose fat around my stomach” or “I want to be slimmer overall.

With bicycle dieting, it is difficult to control “part slimming (where to lose weight)” such as leg or arm slimming, but you can control what to reduce. The way to do this is to use heart rate zones.

What you consume depends on your heart rate zone

The “heart rate zones” are calculated based on how much load you put on your heart in relation to your maximum heart rate.

Each zone is shown below.

Zone Heart rate (% of max heart rate) Objective State Nutrient consumption
1(Low Intensity) 50-60% for beginners no trouble with conversation -
2(weight control) 60-70% weight control breathe a little deeper 60% of calories burned are fat
3(Aerobic) 70-80% weight control difficult to keep conversation going 50% of calories burned are fat and 50% are carbs
4(anaerobic) 80-90% improve basic fitness can’t hold a conversation
5(max) 90-100% improved athletic performance all-out effort that cannot be sustained for long periods of time -

Some people believe that the maximum heart rate can be calculated as “220 - age,” but there is no point in getting hung up on this, so let’s let the heart rate monitor do the work. Modern heart rate monitors do all the work of maximum heart rate and heart rate zoning, so there is no need to know the details.

What is important are the following two points

  • Pick the best zone based on how much weight you want to lose.
  • Find a way to run that will keep you in that zone.

As you can see from the table, if you want to lose fat, “weight management” is the best choice; if you want to lose weight and increase your athletic performance, “aerobic” is the best choice, as it consumes fat and carbohydrates in a balanced manner.

For example, if you do an aerobic exercise that consumes 400 kcal, the calorie breakdown is said to be “50% fat and 50% carbohydrate” and can be calculated as follows

  • Fat (200kcal/9kcal = 22g)
  • Carbohydrates (200kcal/4kcal = 50g)

By controlling these factors, you can lose weight according to your constitution.

Is it true that rowing with light gears is better than rowing with heavy gears?

Cycling while relaxing and talking can be a great aerobic exercise.

One of the most common theories on the Internet is that “if you’re on a bicycle diet, you’ll lose more weight by spinning it around in light gears than by pedaling it in heavy gears. This is both true and false.

Heart rate depends on the basic fitness of the exerciser. For those who are somewhat familiar with cycling, spinning in a light gear may be just right for the heart rate zone (aerobic exercise = easy), but for those who are not exercising enough, it may be in the anaerobic zone (breathless and painful).

The number of revolutions on a bicycle is called the “cadence,” but the cadence and heart rate vary depending on the person riding.

For example, if your aerobic zone is 20km/h in 3rd gear (48T-21T), your cadence is around 70rpm, so “cruising a little faster in middle gear is the aerobic zone for you and your bike.

On the other hand, if your aerobic zone is 20km/h in 5th gear (48T-15T), your cadence is around 50 rpm, so your aerobic zone is to ride slowly.

The important thing is not whether you ride slowly or slowly, or in a heavy or light gear, but to know your aerobic zone and maintain it during exercise.

Take measurements while actually cycling to find the right setting for you.

If you want to lose weight efficiently, get a heart rate monitor + speedometer!

Heart rate monitor is a must, Apple Watch or smart band is fine

Smartwatches can easily measure your heart rate in real time.

As we have seen, in order to lose weight, it is essential to manage your heart rate during exercise. However, it is impossible to check your heart rate by yourself while cycling.

This is where a heart rate monitor comes in.

You don’t need a dedicated heart rate monitor. Recently, there are smartwatches such as the Apple Watch that can measure your heart rate, and even smart bands costing around $20 can measure your heart rate. However, make sure it is one that can be recorded by an app on your phone.

Speedometer is useful to have

A speedometer is not essential, but it is useful for “maintaining the heart rate zone.

As in the previous example, if you know that “20km/h in 3rd gear (48T-21T) is the aerobic zone,” then with a speedometer, you can maintain the target zone by cycling at the same speed and gear.

If you don’t have a speedometer, you’ll be thinking, “Cruisy? Heavy? Light?” Without a speedometer, you will be maintaining your exercise based on your own preconceived notions of “cruising?

The best speedometer is a cycle computer. You can buy a cheap cycle computer from a famous manufacturer for around $15, so it is very convenient to start with a cheap one, and it will increase your training intensity.

There are also high-performance cycle computers that work with a heart rate monitor to display your current heart rate zone. This allows you to adjust your heart rate zone perfectly as you ride, but unfortunately, it is an expensive item, so you may want to wait until you start doing more serious training before installing it.

If you don’t want to buy a new one, you can also use a GPS-equipped smartphone with a speed measurement app.

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