Does cycling burn belly fat? Causes and how to lose belly fat from biking

Cycling can effectively burn belly fat as a cardio-intensive exercise. There are two main types of belly fat: visceral and subcutaneous fat. Visceral fat is deeper abdominal obesity surrounding vital organs and poses greater health risks, while subcutaneous fat lies just under the skin, often referred to as FUPA(Fat Upper Pelvic Area) or tummy fat.

The causes of belly fat in both males and females can include poor diet, lack of exercise, stress, and hormonal imbalances, with genetics playing a role. Visceral fat is particularly dangerous because visceral fat is metabolically active, increasing the risk of serious health issues such as cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, dementia, asthma, breast cancer for women and colorectal cancer.

Dr. Stephen Boutcher in his book Belly Fat Breakthrough shared the same thought about visceral fat health risks in the body. Based on their research in the School of Medical Science at the University of New South Wales, an interval sprinting program combined with a healthy Mediterranean eating plan is the most effective way to reduce dangerous belly fat. Cycling is one of the best interval sprinting programs for burning belly fat.

In this article, we will explain each type of belly fat, what causes belly fat in women and men, why belly fat is dangerous, the benefits of cycling to burn belly fat, if cycling is a good exercise for belly fat, and how to lose belly fat efficiently with cycling by combing workout and diet programs.

Table of Contents

What are the types of belly fat?

The two types of belly fat are visceral fat and subcutaneous fat.

  • Visceral Fat: This type of fat is located deep within the abdominal cavity, surrounding internal organs like the liver and intestines. It’s considered harmful due to its active nature, producing inflammatory markers and hormones that can negatively impact the body’s normal functions. High levels of visceral fat are associated with increased risks of serious health conditions, including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and certain cancers, making it a significant concern for overall health.
  • Subcutaneous Fat: Located just beneath the skin, subcutaneous fat is the layer of fat that you can pinch or feel externally. While it serves as insulation and a source of energy for the body, excessive subcutaneous fat, especially in the abdominal area, can be a health concern. However, compared to visceral fat, it’s less directly linked with chronic health issues but can still contribute to metabolic disturbances and cardiovascular diseases when present in large amounts.

What are the types of belly fat

What are the 5 types of tummies?

The 5 types of tummies are alcohol belly, mommy belly, stressed belly, hormonal belly, and bloated belly. Each type of tummy is influenced by different factors, including lifestyle choices, physiological changes, and health conditions.

  1. Alcohol Belly: Often attributed to excessive alcohol consumption, this type of belly is characterized by fat accumulation around the abdomen due to the high-calorie content in alcoholic beverages.
  2. Mommy Belly: Commonly seen post-pregnancy, this belly type involves a combination of stretched skin, fat, and weakened abdominal muscles, which contribute to a protruding abdomen.
  3. Stressed Belly: Caused by high levels of cortisol due to stress, this belly type typically features fat accumulation around the midsection.
  4. Hormonal Belly: Linked to hormonal imbalances, such as those experienced during menopause, this belly can appear due to changes in fat distribution in the body.
  5. Bloated Belly: Often a result of digestive issues rather than fat accumulation, this belly type is characterized by a temporary distention of the stomach area, leading to a feeling of fullness and swelling.

5 types of tummies

What causes belly fat?

Belly fat can be caused by various factors including poor diet choices, excessive alcohol consumption, high-stress levels, lack of physical exercise, hereditary factors, hormonal imbalances, aging, gender differences, and pregnancy-related changes. Each of these factors can contribute to the development of belly fat, and addressing them through lifestyle changes can help in managing and reducing it.

  • Poor Diet Choices: Consuming high-calorie, processed foods and sugary beverages contributes significantly to the accumulation of abdominal fat.
  • Excessive Alcohol Consumption: Regular and excessive intake of alcohol can lead to an increase in belly fat, often referred to as an “alcohol belly.”
  • High Stress Levels: Chronic stress can lead to increased cortisol levels, which may promote fat storage around the midsection.
  • Lack of Physical Exercise: A sedentary lifestyle with little to no exercise can result in the accumulation of abdominal fat.
  • Heredity: Genetic predisposition plays a role in where the body stores fat, making some individuals more prone to gaining belly fat.
  • Hormonal Imbalances: Hormones, particularly in women during menopause, can affect fat distribution, leading to increased abdominal fat.
  • Aging: As we age, metabolic changes can lead to the redistribution of fat to the abdominal area.
  • Gender Differences: Men are more likely to accumulate fat in the abdominal area, whereas women may store fat in the hips and thighs until menopause.
  • Pregnancy-Related Changes: Post-pregnancy, women may experience a change in belly shape and size due to stretched skin, weakened muscles, and residual body fat.

What causes belly fat in females?

Belly fat in females can be caused by factors such as hormonal changes (especially during menopause), hereditary predisposition, a diet high in processed foods and sugars, stress leading to increased cortisol levels, lack of physical activity, and post-pregnancy changes in the body’s structure and metabolism.

What causes belly fat in males?

Belly fat in males is often caused by factors including poor dietary habits, high alcohol consumption, stress leading to elevated cortisol levels, genetic predisposition, a sedentary lifestyle, and age-related metabolic changes that favor fat accumulation in the abdominal area.

Why belly fat is dangerous for health?

Belly fat is dangerous for health when it primarily consists of visceral fat, which is located deep within the abdomen and surrounds vital organs, as opposed to subcutaneous fat that lies just under the skin.

Visceral fat is metabolically active, secreting hormones and substances that can lead to inflammation and insulin resistance. It’s closely linked to serious health risks, including heart disease like cardiovascular disease, Type 2 Diabetes(T2D), Dementia, Asthma, Breast cancer and colorectal cancer.

  • Cardiovascular Disease: Visceral fat contributes to atherosclerosis and increases the risk of heart attacks and strokes. According to Ph.D. Jean-Pierre Després from the Québec Heart Institute, the risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease is heightened in individuals with abdominal obesity and metabolic syndrome, as excess visceral abdominal tissue (VAT) contributes to adverse metabolic changes like elevated triglycerides, altered cholesterol levels, high blood pressure, and increased plasma concentration of small, dense LDL particles, underlining the critical health impact of visceral fat.
  • Type 2 Diabetes: By promoting insulin resistance, visceral fat significantly raises the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
  • Dementia: There’s evidence suggesting a link between excess visceral fat and a higher risk of dementia and cognitive decline. Professor Rachel Whitmer’s research at the University of California Davis, USA, reveals that central obesity, specifically high sagittal abdominal diameter (SAD), significantly increases the risk of dementia in later life.
  • Asthma: The inflammatory substances released by visceral fat can affect lung function and exacerbate or contribute to asthma. The 2018 study led by MD and PhD Houman Goudarzi from the Department of Respiratory Medicine, Hokkaido University, Japan, concludes that abdominal visceral fat negatively impacts asthma quality of life, regardless of sex, due to its association with reduced lung function, higher risk of gastroesophageal reflux disease, and depression, suggesting that visceral adiposity may be a more significant factor in asthma symptoms than other obesity indices.
  • Breast Cancer (for Women): The hormonal imbalances caused by visceral fat can increase the risk of breast cancer in women. The 2019 research by Myeong Seong Kim from the Department of Public Health Administration at Namseoul University, South Korea, indicates a clear association between breast cancer and the distribution of abdominal fat, suggesting that the abdominal fat ratio serves as a useful indicator for assessing breast cancer risk and malignancy.
  • Colorectal Cancer: Visceral fat’s inflammatory effects are associated with a higher risk of colorectal cancer. The 2018 research led by Dr. André Goulart from Hospital de Braga, Portugal, found that in patients with colorectal cancer (CRC), there is a direct relationship between visceral fat (VF) and increased risks of postoperative complications, anastomotic leakage, and the need for re-operation.

Visceral fat healthy risks

How does fat loss work in the body?

Fat loss in the body works through a process called lipolysis, where stored fat is broken down into usable energy, a mechanism initiated when the body is in a calorie deficit – consuming fewer calories than it expends. 

During this calorie deficit, the body turns to stored fat for energy, leading to a reduction in fat cells’ size throughout the body. This process is influenced by various factors, including diet, exercise, hormonal balance, and metabolic rate. Unlike weight loss, which can involve losing water weight or muscle mass, fat loss specifically refers to the reduction of stored fat. 

Regular physical activity, especially cardiovascular like biking and strength-training exercises, accelerates this process by increasing the body’s energy demands and improving metabolic efficiency, while a balanced diet ensures the body receives fewer calories than it needs to maintain its current weight, thus encouraging the body to use stored fat as a fuel source.

How does belly fat loss work in the body?

Belly fat loss in the body works through a process where the body, under a calorie deficit, breaks down stored fat for energy, a mechanism applicable to all body fat, including abdominal fat. 

The body does not selectively target belly fat for energy; instead, fat reduction occurs uniformly across the body as a result of overall weight loss. When energy intake is less than energy expenditure, the body converts stored triglycerides from fat cells into usable energy, leading to a decrease in fat cell size, including those in the belly area. This process is influenced by factors like genetics, diet, exercise, and hormonal balance. Regular aerobic exercises like cycling, strength training, abs crunch, and a balanced diet contribute to creating a calorie deficit, thereby promoting the reduction of overall body fat including belly fat.

What are the benefits of cycling for belly fat?

The benefits of cycling for belly fat include its effectiveness as a cardiovascular exercise that burns a significant amount of calories, leading to overall fat loss, which includes the abdominal area. Cycling, especially at a moderate to high intensity, helps create a calorie deficit in the body, a key factor in fat reduction. 

During cycling, the body uses stored fat including visceral and subcutaneous fat around the belly as a source of energy, leading to a decrease in fat deposits. Additionally, cycling helps to build muscle, particularly in the lower body, which can boost metabolism and increase the rate at which the body burns calories, even at rest. While biking does not specifically target belly fat, consistent cycling as part of an overall fitness and healthy diet plan can contribute significantly to reducing overall body fat, including the stubborn fat around the abdomen.

What muscles does biking work to burn belly fat?

The muscles biking works to burn belly fat include the lower body muscles like the quadriceps, hamstrings, and calves, the core muscles for stability, and the upper body muscles such as the shoulders and arms.

  • Lower Body Muscles: Biking primarily engages the quadriceps, hamstrings, and calves, which are major muscle groups in the legs; their continuous use during cycling helps increase overall calorie burn and contributes to fat loss, including around the belly.
  • Core Muscles: While cycling, the core muscles, including the abdominals and lower back, are constantly engaged to maintain balance and posture, contributing indirectly to belly fat loss by improving muscle tone and supporting higher-intensity workouts.
  • Upper Body Muscles: The shoulders and arms, though less intensively worked, are involved in maintaining riding position and handling the bike, and their engagement helps in the overall calorie-burning process of cycling.
How does belly fat affect cycling performance?

Belly fat can affect cycling performance by increasing overall body weight, which can reduce speed and agility, lead to decreased balance and maneuverability on the bike, and potentially cause strain on the lower back and knees due to altered body mechanics.

Does cycling burn belly fat?

Yes, cycling burns belly fat by contributing to overall calorie expenditure and fat loss, but it’s important to note that it doesn’t target belly fat directly and significant results of belly fat loss with cycling require time and consistent effort, as part of a broader fitness and dietary regime.

Does cycling burn fat?

Yes, cycling burns fat by creating a calorie deficit and boosting metabolic rate, leading to overall body fat reduction when combined with a calorie-controlled diet. To be specific, 60 minutes of moderate-intensity cycling per day for a week burns around 3500 calories, which equals one pound of body weight loss(including body weight loss and fat loss).

Does cycling burn fat on stomach?

Yes, cycling can burn fat on the stomach by contributing to overall body fat reduction, which includes the abdominal area. Fat on the stomach consists of both subcutaneous fat, which lies just beneath the skin, and visceral fat, which surrounds internal organs. While cycling is an effective cardiovascular exercise that helps create a caloric deficit, essential for fat loss, it does not specifically target stomach fat. The reduction in belly fat as a result of cycling is part of a general decrease in body fat percentage

Does cycling burn women’s belly fat?

Yes, cycling can burn women’s belly fat by helping create a calorie deficit and promoting overall fat loss, which includes the abdominal area. Women’s belly fat can be harder to burn from cycling compared to men’s, partly due to hormonal differences and the body’s natural tendency to hold onto fat in the abdominal area for reproductive purposes, especially during childbearing years.

Does cycling burn men’s belly fat?

Yes, cycling can burn men’s belly fat by promoting overall fat loss through aerobic exercise, contributing to a caloric deficit. Men’s belly fat often centered around the abdominal area, is generally easier to burn compared to women’s due to higher levels of testosterone and a lower propensity to store fat, making it somewhat more responsive to exercises like cycling.

Is cycling good for weight loss on stomach?

Yes, cycling is good for weight loss on the stomach because it helps create a calorie deficit, leading to overall fat reduction, which includes the abdominal area. Compared to other sports, cycling for weight loss is effective due to its high calorie-burning potential and the ability to maintain it over extended periods, making it a suitable choice for targeted fat loss including the stomach.

Does indoor cycling burn belly fat?

Yes, indoor cycling burns belly fat by providing a high-intensity cardiovascular workout that contributes to overall calorie burning and fat loss, including in the abdominal area. Specific features of indoor cycling, such as adjustable resistance and the ability to maintain a consistent workout intensity, make it highly effective for burning calories and reducing body fat including belly fat.

Can gym cycling reduce belly fat?

Yes, gym cycling can reduce belly fat just like indoor cycling by offering an intense cardiovascular workout that aids in overall fat loss, including abdominal fat. Different types of gym cycling including stationary bike workouts, spinning classes and recumbent cycling all contribute effectively to burning calories and reducing body fat.

Does outdoor cycling burn belly fat?

Yes, outdoor cycling burns belly fat as part of overall weight loss by providing an effective cardiovascular workout that increases calorie expenditure. The varying terrains and resistance encountered in outdoor cycling coupled with the potential for longer and more diverse rides can lead to a higher calorie burn, which aids in reducing body fat, including around the belly.

Road cycling vs. mountain cycling for burning belly fat, which is better?

For burning belly fat, neither road cycling nor mountain biking can be conclusively considered better as both offer unique benefits: road cycling often involves longer, steadier rides ideal for sustained fat burning, while mountain biking includes varied, intense terrain that can lead to higher calorie burn in shorter periods.

  • Road Cycling: Typically involves longer distances at a steady pace, which can help in burning calories over an extended period, contributing to overall fat loss, including belly fat.
  • Mountain Biking: Requires navigating challenging terrains and obstacles, often resulting in a high-intensity workout that can burn a significant amount of calories in a shorter time frame.
  • The effectiveness in burning belly fat ultimately depends on the intensity and duration of the workout, along with individual fitness levels and preferences.
Indoor cycling vs. outdoor cycling for burning belly fat, which is better?

For burning belly fat, neither indoor nor outdoor cycling can be definitively deemed better as both have unique advantages: indoor cycling offers controlled, high-intensity workouts, while outdoor cycling provides varied terrain and potentially longer rides. Both indoor and outdoor cycling are good for burning belly fat.

  • Indoor Cycling: Allows for focused, high-intensity interval training in a controlled environment, which can be highly effective for quick, intense calorie burning.
  • Outdoor Cycling: Offers the benefits of varied terrains and inclines, potentially leading to longer rides, which can contribute to sustained calorie burn and overall fat loss, including belly fat.

How much belly fat can cycling burn?

The amount of belly fat cycling can burn depends on various factors like workout intensity, frequency, and individual metabolic rate. For an individual weighing 150 lb, cycling moderately for 60 minutes each day can burn approximately 420-622 calories per session. In a week, this could lead to burning about 2,940-4,354 calories. Assuming a calorie deficit is maintained, this could translate to a weight loss of around 0.84 to 1.24 pounds per week, given that 3,500 calories roughly equal one pound of body weight.

Considering that not all weight loss is strictly fat loss, a portion of this would be body fat. In individuals with a normal BMI, a safe and realistic estimate is that around 25-30% of their weight loss could be from fat, and around 10% of the body fat is belly fat based on Cleveland Clinic. Therefore, if someone loses 1 pound from cycling, approximately 0.25-0.3 pounds (113.40-136.08 grams) could be full body fat, and 0.025-0.03 pounds (11.34-13.61 grams) will be belly fat, assuming fat loss is uniformly distributed across the body.

Meanwhile, Professor Greg Whyte form Liverpool John Moores University shares the similar opinion when he mentioned on Cyclist Magzane in 2021 that 1 kg of human body fat tissues equals to 7,800 calories based on 1 gram of fat contains 9 calories of energy.

Is cycling good for belly fat?

Yes, cycling is good for belly fat because it offers a high-calorie burn and cardiovascular benefits that contribute to overall fat loss, including in the abdominal area. Compared to other exercises like walking, running, jogging, using an elliptical, or treadmill, cycling is effective for targeting belly fat as part of a comprehensive fitness and diet regimen, with the choice often depending on personal preference and joint impact considerations.

Below is a comparison table with approximate calories burned in 30 minutes of general workout for each type of exercise from our article” How many calories does cycling burn?”.

Body WeightBiking (MET: 6.8)Walking (MET: 3.3)Running (MET: 9.8)Jogging (MET: 7.0)Elliptical (MET: 5)Treadmill (MET: 2.3)
150 lb / 68.04 kg242.90117.88350.06250.04178.6082.16
175 lb / 79.38 kg283.38137.52408.40291.72208.3795.85
200 lb / 90.72 kg323.86157.17466.75333.39238.14109.54
225 lb / 102.06 kg364.35176.82525.09375.06267.90123.24

Is cycling good for belly fat

Cycling or walking for belly fat

Cycling for belly fat offers a more intense cardiovascular workout with higher calorie burn, while walking for belly fat is lower impact and more accessible, yet both activities contribute to overall fat reduction including the abdominal area.

  • Cycling: Provides a higher-intensity aerobic workout, effectively burning more calories in a shorter time, which can lead to more significant fat loss, including belly fat. It’s particularly beneficial for those looking for a low-impact exercise that still offers high energy expenditure.
  • Walking: A lower-intensity activity, walking is accessible to almost all fitness levels and can still contribute to fat loss, including belly fat, especially when practiced consistently and for longer durations. It is ideal for those who prefer a gentler form of exercise or are just beginning their fitness journey.

Does cycling burn more fat than walking?

Yes, cycling generally burns more fat than walking because it is a higher-intensity exercise that typically uses more calories per hour, contributing to greater overall fat loss. From the cycling burned calories comparison table we can see, a person who weighs 150 lb (68.04kg) burns 117.88 calories when walking moderately for 30 mins, while burns 242.90 calories when cycling moderately for 30 mins.

Cycling or running for belly fat

Cycling for belly fat offers a low-impact, calorie-burning workout suitable for longer durations while running for belly fat provides a high-impact, intensive workout that can burn calories more quickly, yet both are effective for overall fat reduction.

  • Cycling: As a low-impact exercise, it’s easier on the joints and allows for longer sessions, which can effectively burn calories and contribute to belly fat loss, particularly beneficial for those with joint issues or who prefer a gentler exercise.
  • Running: Offers a more intense workout with a higher calorie burn rate in a shorter time, making it effective for fat loss, including belly fat; however, it’s high-impact and may not be suitable for everyone, especially those with joint problems.

Does cycling burn more fat than running?

No, cycling typically burns less fat than running because running generally involves higher intensity over shorter durations, leading to greater calorie expenditure, but cycling can still be highly effective for fat burning, especially during longer and more intense rides.

Cycling or jogging for belly fat

Cycling for belly fat offers a lower-impact, yet effective calorie-burning workout suitable for longer durations, while jogging for belly fat provides a higher-impact cardiovascular workout that can effectively burn calories and reduce fat, including in the abdominal area.

  • Cycling: It’s a low-impact activity, reducing the risk of joint discomfort, and can be sustained for longer periods, making it effective for consistent, prolonged fat burning, including belly fat, especially suitable for people of various fitness levels and those with joint concerns.
  • Jogging: Provides a higher-impact workout, which can lead to a higher calorie burn in a shorter period compared to cycling, effectively aiding in overall fat reduction, including belly fat, but it may not be suitable for everyone, particularly those with joint issues.

Does cycling burn more fat than jogging?

No, cycling typically burns less fat than jogging because jogging generally has a higher intensity, leading to greater calorie burn in a shorter duration, but cycling can still be effective for fat burning, particularly during longer or more intense rides.

Cycling or elliptical for belly fat

Cycling for belly fat offers an effective outdoor or indoor workout that can be high-intensity, while the elliptical for belly fat provides a low-impact, full-body workout that can effectively burn calories and fat.

  • Cycling: Whether outdoors or on a stationary bike, it engages primarily the lower body and can be adjusted in intensity, making it effective for fat burning, including belly fat, and it’s beneficial for those who enjoy outdoor activities or more varied workouts.
  • Elliptical: It offers a low-impact, full-body workout, engaging both the upper and lower body, which can be particularly effective for burning calories and losing fat, including belly fat, and is a good option for those seeking a joint-friendly exercise or those who prefer indoor workouts.

Does cycling burn more fat than elliptical?

Yes, cycling can burn more fat than using an elliptical because it often involves higher-intensity workouts and engages more muscle groups, particularly during outdoor rides with varied terrain, leading to higher overall calorie expenditure.

Cycling or treadmill for belly fat

Cycling for belly fat provides a low-impact, effective cardiovascular workout while using a treadmill for belly fat offers a higher-impact exercise that can be effective for fat burning, depending on intensity and duration.

  • Cycling: As a low-impact exercise, cycling is easier on the joints and can be maintained for longer periods, making it suitable for sustained fat burning, including belly fat, and is a good option for a wide range of fitness levels and ages.
  • Treadmill: Using a treadmill, especially for running or brisk walking, provides a high-impact workout that can lead to a higher calorie burn in a shorter amount of time, effectively contributing to overall fat loss, including belly fat, but it may not be suitable for everyone, especially those with joint issues.

Does cycling burn more fat than treadmill?

No, cycling burns more fat than treadmill walking but less than treadmill running, as running typically involves higher intensity, leading to greater calorie expenditure in a shorter duration.

What exercise burns the most belly fat?

Based on METs (Metabolic Equivalent of Task) values, the top exercises for burning belly fat include running (especially at a fast pace), cycling at a vigorous intensity, swimming laps, high-intensity interval training (HIIT), and rowing, all of which are high-intensity activities that significantly boost calorie expenditure.

How to lose belly fat with cycling?

To lose belly fat with cycling, focus on reaching your fat-burning zone, incorporate various cycling workouts like endurance training and HIIT, maintain a diet conducive to belly fat loss, and include complementary activities like cross-training and strength training. Ensure you’re patient, sleep well, manage stress, monitor your progress, and prioritize recovery. Combining these strategies with regular cycling can effectively target belly fat, leading to a healthier body composition.

  • Endurance Training: Engage in longer cycling sessions at a moderate pace to enhance cardiovascular health and burn calories over a sustained period.
  • HIIT Interval Training: Include high-intensity interval training in your cycling routine to boost metabolism and increase fat burning.
  • Fasted Riding: Try cycling before eating in the morning; this can encourage the body to burn stored fat for energy.
  • Cross-Training: Incorporate other forms of exercise like swimming or running to work different muscle groups and prevent fitness plateaus.
  • Strength Training: Add strength exercises to build muscle, improve cycling performance, and increase overall metabolic rate.
  • Diet: Maintain a balanced diet focused on nutrient-rich foods that support fat loss and provide the energy needed for cycling.
  • Be Patient: Understand that losing belly fat is a gradual process and requires consistent effort over time.
  • Sleep Well: Ensure adequate sleep as it helps in muscle recovery and maintaining a healthy metabolism.
  • Stress Less: Manage stress effectively, as high-stress levels can contribute to fat accumulation, particularly in the belly area.
  • Monitor the Impact: Regularly track your progress to understand the effectiveness of your workout routine.
  • Recovery: Allow adequate recovery time between intense cycling sessions to prevent injury and maintain consistent training.

How to lose belly fat with cycling

Cycling fat-burning zone

Cycling fat-burning zone refers to a specific intensity level (Zone 2) during exercise where the body primarily utilizes fat as its energy source. There are six heart rate zones in cycling: Zone 1 (Recovery), Zone 2 (Endurance), Zone 3 (Tempo), Zone 4 (Threshold), Zone 5 (VO2max) and Zone 6 (Anaerobic). 

Training ZoneZone FTP RangeHRmax RangeCycling Duration
Active RecoveryZone 11-55% of FTP50-60% of HRmaxAs long as you want
EnduranceZone 256-75% of FTP60-70% of HRmax3+ hours
Tempo/Sweet spotZone 376-90% of FTP70-80% of HRmax20-60 minutes
Lactate ThresholdZone 491-105% of FTP80-90% of HRmax10-30 minutes
VO2maxZone 5106-120% of FTP90-95% of HRmax3-8 minutes
Anaerobic capacityZone 6> 121%n/a30 seconds to 3 minutes

Cycling fat-burning zone

The fat-burning zone typically falls within Zone 2, where you are exercising at approximately 60-70% of your maximum heart rate or at about 56-75% of your Functional Threshold Power (FTP). It’s called the fat-burning zone because at this moderate level of intensity, the body’s metabolic pathways favor fat oxidation over carbohydrates or protein. The fat-burning zone is optimal for improving overall endurance and efficiently burning fat, making it a key focus in many training and weight loss programs.

What is the best heart rate to burn fat cycling?

The best heart rate to burn fat while cycling is typically within the fat-burning zone, known as Zone 2, which is around 60-70% of your maximum heart rate. This zone is considered ideal for fat oxidation, as the body tends to use stored fat as the primary energy source at this moderate intensity level. 

For example, if your maximum heart rate is approximately 180 beats per minute (a rough estimate can be calculated as 220 minus your age), then the ideal heart rate for fat burning would be between 108 to 126 beats per minute. Maintaining this heart rate during cycling helps in efficient fat burning while enhancing cardiovascular endurance, making it a popular strategy for both weight loss and fitness improvement in endurance sports like cycling.

What is the best time to burn fat with cycling?

The best time to burn fat with cycling is typically in the morning, especially before eating, because engaging in fasted riding can encourage the body to use stored fat for energy. During the morning, after an overnight fast, your body’s carbohydrate stores are lower, making it more likely to tap into fat reserves for fuel. This approach, known as fasted cardio, can be particularly effective for fat burning. However, it’s important to listen to your body and consider your overall health and fitness goals, a light meal before cycling might be necessary to maintain energy levels, especially during longer or more intense rides.

Workout to burn belly fat with cycling

Workout to burn belly fat with cycling includes endurance rides, HIIT intervals, fasted riding, cross-training, strength training, as well as stretching and recovery workouts.

  • Endurance Rides: Longer cycling sessions at a moderate pace help build stamina and burn calories over an extended period, contributing to overall fat loss including the belly area.
  • HIIT Intervals: High-intensity interval Training on the bike, involving short bursts of intense cycling followed by rest periods, effectively boosts metabolism and burns a significant amount of calories in a shorter time. The 2018 medical review led by Dietitian Florie Maillard from Université Clermont Auvergne concludes that High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is an efficient method for reducing overall fat mass, specifically targeting abdominal and visceral fat deposits.
  • Fasted Riding: Cycling before breakfast can encourage the body to use stored fat as fuel, potentially increasing fat burning, especially in the abdominal area. The 2022 study led by Tommy Slater from Nottingham Trent University, United Kingdom, found that exercising on an empty stomach resulted in approximately 70% more fat burned compared to exercising after eating, with fat burned during a 30-minute cycling session increasing from 4.5g to 7.7g.
  • Cross-Training: Incorporating other forms of exercise such as running, swimming, or aerobic workouts can enhance overall fitness and prevent plateauing in fat loss.
  • Strength Training: Building muscle through strength training exercises can increase resting metabolic rate, aiding in more effective fat burning, including belly fat. The clinical trial led by Professor Allan Geliebter from Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, concluded that while strength training significantly reduced the loss of Fat-Free Mass (FFM) during dieting, it did not prevent the decline in Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR).
  • Stretch and Recovery Workouts: Proper stretching and recovery routines are essential for maintaining muscle health, preventing injury, and ensuring consistent training, which supports sustained fat loss efforts.

Workout to burn belly fat with cycling

How to lose belly fat with outdoor cycling?

To lose belly fat with outdoor cycling, one can engage in endurance rides, incorporate HIIT intervals into their rides, try fasted riding in the morning, and stretch-recovery workouts.

How to lose belly fat with indoor cycling?

To lose belly fat with indoor cycling, focus on a combination of varied cycling workouts, including endurance rides, HIIT sessions fasting cycling, complemented by strength training, cross-training activities, and regular stretch and recovery workouts.

Does air cycling exercise burn belly fat?

Yes, air cycling exercise can burn belly fat because it engages the core and lower body muscles, contributing to overall calorie burn and fat reduction, including in the abdominal area.

What cycling posture can reduce belly fat faster?

The cycling posture that can reduce belly fat faster is an upright position with a slight forward lean, engaging the core muscles effectively, because maintaining this posture during intense rides increases overall calorie expenditure, contributing to faster fat loss including in the belly area.

Workout for competitive cyclists to lose belly fat

Workout for competitive cyclists to lose belly fat includes high-intensity interval training (HIIT), long endurance rides, strength training, focused core exercises, and cross-training activities such as swimming or running to enhance overall fitness and target fat loss.

Cycling workout to burn women’s belly fat

Cycling workout to burn women’s belly fat includes steady-state endurance rides, high-intensity interval training (HIIT), hill climbs for added resistance, and cycling sessions focused on varying intensities, specifically tailored to address women’s fat distribution and hormonal variations.

Cycling workout to burn men’s belly fat

Cycling workout to burn men’s belly fat includes high-intensity interval training (HIIT), sustained endurance rides, aggressive hill sprints and tempo rides, specifically designed to target the higher metabolic rate and muscle mass typically found in male cyclists.

Cycling diet for belly fat loss

Cycling diet for belly fat loss should focus on reducing saturated fats, incorporating protein-rich foods, and considering specialized approaches like carb cycling.

  • Avoid Saturated Fat: Minimizing intake of saturated fats like butter, red meat, cheese, coconut oil and processed meat, found in foods like fatty cuts of meat and high-fat dairy, can reduce overall calorie intake and aid in belly fat loss.
  • Add Protein-Rich Food: Including lean protein sources such as chicken, fish, legumes, and tofu can help in muscle repair and maintenance, especially after cycling workouts.
  • Carb Cycling: This approach involves alternating between high-carb and low-carb days, which can help manage calorie intake and may support fat burning, especially effective in combination with a regular cycling routine.

Cycling diet for belly fat loss

What to eat before cycling to burn belly fat?

Food to eat before cycling to burn belly fat should include complex carbohydrates and lean proteins, like whole grains, fruits, and yogurt, to provide sustained energy without weighing you down, promoting efficient fat-burning during the workout.

Carb cycling for fat loss

Carb cycling for belly fat loss involves alternating between high and low carbohydrate intake days, which can help to regulate calorie consumption, boost metabolism, and potentially enhance fat burning, including in the abdominal area, by varying the body’s fuel sources.

How to lose belly fat fast with cycling?

To lose belly fat fast with cycling, incorporate more high-intensity interval training (HIIT) and sustained endurance rides into your routine, while reducing lower-intensity, shorter rides; HIIT accelerates calorie burn and metabolism, and longer rides ensure sustained fat burning, both contributing to quicker fat loss including in the belly area.

How to measure belly fat loss from cycling?

To measure belly fat loss from cycling, regular body fat measurements such as the skinfold calipers test, DEXA (Dual Energy X-ray Absorptiometry) scan, and body fat scale can be used. Additionally, tracking changes in waist circumference and observing how clothing fits around the abdomen are practical ways to gauge reductions in belly fat specifically.

How much cycling to lose belly fat?

To lose belly fat from cycling, it typically requires 30-60 minutes of moderate-intensity cycling per day, five times a week, combined with other workouts and a balanced diet for effective results. 

How long does it take to lose belly fat with cycling?

It takes around 6 weeks of regular cycling to see noticeable changes in belly fat, but the exact amount of time significantly depends on several factors including body weight, BMI, cycling intensity and duration, and consistency.

What is the risk of cycling for belly fat burning?

The risk of cycling for belly fat burning includes potential overuse injuries, particularly in the knees and lower back, the possibility of increased anxiety and stress if no visible belly fat loss is observed, and the risk of neglecting other crucial aspects of fitness and health if focusing solely on cycling for fat reduction.

What are the benefits of cycling except for fat loss?

The benefits of cycling, except for fat loss, include increased muscle strength, flexibility, and stamina; enhanced balance, posture, and coordination; improved joint mobility and bone strength; better lung health; a boosted immune system; strengthened defense against cardiovascular disease and cancer; alleviated fatigue; elevated sexual well-being; pregnancy benefits; extended lifespan; boosted mental health and brainpower; relief from anxiety and depression; improved sleep quality; expanded social circles; heightened spatial awareness and creativity; time savings; quality family moments; the ability to indulge in guilt-free snacks post-ride; and a minimized carbon footprint.