Calories burned while cycling: How many calories do you burn while cycling?

Kalorienverbrauch beim Radfahren: Wie viele Kalorien verbrennen Sie beim Radfahren?

Calories burned while cycling: How many calories do you burn while cycling?

Cycling not only gets your cardiovascular system going, but also helps you burn calories

Cycling is not only an endurance sport, but also stimulates calorie consumption. Just a few minutes of cycling can increase your heart rate and stimulate blood circulation. Cycling is therefore a gentle and sustainable method for weight loss. How many calories you burn while cycling depends on various factors such as intensity, distance and body weight. A balanced diet and regular exercise are the key to losing weight. The immune system also benefits from regular cycling. To promote fat burning, it is important to achieve the correct heart rate. The calorie consumption when riding an e-bike is lower than when riding a normal bike. The calorie consumption also differs between racing bikes, City bikes and MTBs.

Here we go: Regular calorie consumption by bike

Cycling is a sport that can be easily integrated into everyday life to increase calorie consumption. Regular cycling can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and high blood pressure by over 60 percent. When cycling, the heart pumps up to 1.5 liters more blood per minute through the body and organs, which uses energy and helps you lose weight.

By cycling to work, school or university every day, you not only experience cycling fun, but also stimulate fat burning. Racing bikes, gravel bikes or city bikes are particularly effective aids for losing weight. Even larger purchases can be done on the bike thanks to sturdy luggage racks (depending on the type of bike) and burn a few more calories in the process.

How many calories you burn while cycling depends on various factors such as weight, speed and incline. A bike computer can help measure calorie consumption. The average calorie burn while cycling is 400 to 500 calories per hour.

How many calories do you burn while cycling?

Cycling is an effective way to burn calories and improve your fitness. It is one of the most popular endurance sports that is suitable not only for professionals but also for beginners. In this section you will learn how many calories you can burn while cycling and what factors influence calorie consumption.

Why is cycling so healthy?

Cycling is an excellent way to improve your fitness and lose weight effectively. It helps you strengthen your cardiovascular system and train small and large muscle groups. Compared to other sports, the strain on the body is lower because around 80 percent of the body weight rests on the saddle. People who are overweight, recovering from injuries, or have other health problems can exercise and lose weight gently this way. The gentle movement sequences when pedaling protect your back, cartilage and joints. At the same time, the leg and buttocks muscles in particular are trained.

How fast do you have to cycle to burn a lot of calories?

How many calories you burn in an hour of cycling depends on your speed and other factors. As a rule of thumb, you can remember the following guidelines for calorie consumption during 60 minutes of cycling:


Calorie consumption

about 15 km/h

≈ 300 kcal

approx. 18 km/h

≈ 420 kcal

approx. 22 km/h

≈ 600 kcal

approx. 28 km/h

≈ 850 kcal

over 28 km/h

≈ 1,000 kcal

Half an hour of cycling at 18 km/h burns around 210 kcal. If you want to burn 1,000 calories at the same speed, you would have to drive for about 2.5 hours.

How many calories do you burn per kilometer cycled?

The route alone doesn't say much about the calorie consumption - what matters is how quickly and with what effort you overcome it. Factors such as the route profile and the headwind are crucial. For example, you burn fewer calories over 10 km at full throttle on a long-distance racing bike than when you cover 40 km on a trekking bike at a relaxed 15 km/h. The following average values ​​for calorie consumption at medium driving speeds will give you some guidance:


Calorie consumption

1 km

≈ 23 kcal


≈ 230 kcal


≈ 460 kcal


≈ 575 kcal


≈ 690 kcal


≈ 920 kcal


≈ 1840 kcal

Depending on your riding style, you burn between 100 and 650 calories per hour while cycling. Professionals can achieve the most intensive calorie consumption when cycling in demanding cycling races. On long journeys at top speed, your metabolism burns several thousand kilocalories.

What affects calorie consumption when cycling?

Many factors influence calorie consumption when cycling. Some of the most important factors are:

  • Intensity: The amount of calories burned when cycling depends on the intensity. If you pedal faster and harder, your cadence increases and thus your calorie consumption.

  • Training status: A higher fitness level leads to a higher calorie burn when cycling. Regular cycling improves your fitness and strength. Increasing muscle mass leads to greater energy expenditure because muscle burns more calories than fat.

  • Type of route: The type of route influences calorie consumption. Routes with climbs are optimal compared to flat sections to increase calorie consumption. Riding uphill requires more effort and therefore burns more calories.

  • Wind conditions: Headwinds can be challenging, but they also increase resistance when pedaling. This means the body has to exert more force, which increases calorie consumption.

  • Constitution: Age, gender and weight influence calorie consumption when cycling. The calorie requirement depends on the proportion of muscle mass and fat tissue, hormone levels and other characteristics.

Cyclists have to adapt their tour to their physical requirements. If you are overweight or have joint problems, a joint-friendly driving style may be recommended. The route profile also plays a role: a route with many inclines requires more effort and therefore burns more calories. However, beginners should not start with a demanding route straight away to avoid overloading the muscles and joints.

Burn fat at the right heart rate

To optimize fat burning, it is important to train at the correct heart rate. It is recommended to keep your pulse at 60 to 70 percent of your maximum heart rate. The maximum heart rate can be determined using the formula (220 - age). For women the factor is 0.6 to 0.7 and for men it is 0.6 to 0.7.

For example, the ideal pulse for a 38-year-old woman should be between 113 and 132 beats per minute, while the range for a 38-year-old man is between 109 and 127 beats per minute.

In order to have full control over your training at all times, we recommend using a heart rate monitor or a cycle computer with a heart rate monitor. If you are unsure about the correct training pulse or have health problems, we recommend consulting a doctor or sports medicine specialist. A performance test, for example on an ergometer, can help to determine your fitness level and the optimal training heart rate.

Exercising at the correct heart rate improves blood circulation and oxygen supply, which has a positive effect on fat burning.

Cycling training in the aerobic or anaerobic range?

When you ride a bike, your body burns energy from carbohydrates and fat. In order to achieve lower but long-lasting exertion, the body is more dependent on burning fat, while it primarily uses carbohydrate burning for short-term energy production. Both types of energy provision work exclusively through the conversion of oxygen.

Aerobics area

If you train in the area of ​​aerobic metabolism, the body always has enough oxygen available. The muscles get the energy they need from the inhaled atmospheric oxygen and at the same time burn fat and the carbohydrate glycogen. The resulting CO2 is passed on through the blood and exhaled through the lungs. When you ride a bike at medium speeds, you breathe faster but don't feel out of breath and can still hold a conversation easily.

Aerobic threshold

If the body's stress level increases through more intensive cycling, more carbon dioxide is produced in the muscles. You can no longer breathe out through your lungs at the same time. This causes the CO2 content in the blood to rise. Glycogen is no longer completely burned in the muscle and lactate is released - a condition called aerobic threshold. The organism transports and breaks down the glycogen residues without any problems. As a result, the lactate level in the blood does not rise any further in this “steady state”.

The aerobic threshold depends on the fitness level of the cyclist. For inexperienced bikers, the aerobic threshold can be 60% of the maximum heart rate, while for professional bikers it only starts at 85%. The anaerobic threshold is reached when training is carried out at the highest intensity over a longer period of time without there being a significant increase in lactate concentration. The fitter you are, the later you will reach this limit. On average it is between 80 and 90% of the maximum heart rate.

Anaerobic area

Cycling in the anaerobic range is usually only designed for short periods of time because the body does not have enough oxygen to generate energy and the carbohydrate stores are exhausted after a short time. Although the process called glycolysis occurs twice as fast, a large amount of lactate accumulates in the bloodstream. The consequences can be a rapid decline in performance, muscle burning or exhaustion. In addition, muscle hardening is possible afterwards.

For effective cycling training, it is important to select the right training areas. Aerobic training is good for endurance training and fat burning, while anaerobic training is good for muscle building and interval training. Training in both areas can improve pedaling technique and strength.

Exercise and a balanced diet are the key to losing weight

If you want to lose weight permanently, you have to create a calorie deficit by eating more calories than you consume. However, too large a calorie deficit can cause the body to go into reserve mode and lose water and muscle mass. To counteract this, it is important to pay attention to a balanced diet and regular exercise.

How to calculate your basal metabolic rate using the Harris-Benedict formula

In order to determine the individual calorie requirement, the basal metabolic rate must be calculated. This indicates how much energy the body needs when resting to maintain vital processes. The Harris-Benedict formula can be used to calculate the basal metabolic rate.

For women the formula applies: 655.1 + (9.6 * body weight in kg) + (1.8 * height in cm) – (4.7 * age)

For men the formula applies: 66.47 + (13.7 * body weight in kg) + (5 * height in cm) – (6.8 * age)

An example: A 33-year-old man with a height of 185 cm and a weight of 80 kg has a calculated basal metabolic rate of 1,863 kcal. For a 33-year-old woman of the same height and weight, the individual basal metabolic rate is 1,601 kcal.

How to calculate your total energy expenditure

In addition to the basal metabolic rate, there is the performance metabolic rate, i.e. the amount of energy that the body needs for each type of activity in addition to the basal metabolic rate. The total energy turnover results from the sum of the basal metabolic rate and the performance turnover. To determine the total energy expenditure, the basal metabolic rate is multiplied by an activity factor (PAL value).

The PAL value is between 1.2 (lying or sitting) and 2.4 (heavy physical work). A PAL value of 1.4 to 1.5 is assumed for office jobs. If you predominantly walk or stand, the PAL value is 1.8 to 1.9. Anyone who exercises for 30 to 60 minutes four to five times a week can increase the value by 0.3.

An example: The man from the previous example has an office job (1.5), but rides his bike to and from work every day (+0.3). To determine his total energy requirement, he multiplies his basal metabolic rate of 1,863 kcal per day by the PAL value of 1.8. That's 3,353 kcal per day.

How can you eat properly and healthily?

In order to supply the body with all the necessary nutrients, a balanced diet is recommended. Fruits and vegetables, good fats and foods rich in protein and fiber should be on the menu. However, sugary foods such as chocolate or soft drinks should be consumed rarely and in small quantities. The same applies to fatty, heavily salted foods such as fast food or chips.

Many sports experts consider the following to be the best nutritional composition:

  • 40 to 45% carbohydrates
  • 30% healthy fats
  • 25 to 30% proteins

A 3-point rule of thumb can help you eat healthily and reach your fitness goals quickly:

  • Breakfast replenishes your energy tank for the day. Foods rich in carbohydrates should be chosen as the basis for the metabolic rhythm.
  • At lunchtime, you can eat something rich in essential nutrients

How many calories do you burn while riding an e-bike?

When riding an E-Bike or Pedelec, the calorie consumption depends on the motor support selected. If the motor drive takes over half the power, you only have to pedal half as hard and burn 50% fewer calories. In one hour of cycling you burn around 250 kcal, while the average calorie burn without motor support is 500 kcal. If you have more support on your tour sections with the e-bike, your muscles will be put under less strain and your calorie consumption will be reduced accordingly.

When cycling without electric assistance, your calorie consumption is 100% the same as on bikes without a battery or motor. The more you let the e-bike support you on your tour sections, the fewer calories you burn.

For a more objective comparison, Bosch uses the weakest support level for e-bikes when it comes to calorie consumption. According to Bosch, the average rider burns around 300 to 600 calories per hour while riding an e-bike, depending on riding style and route.

You can find more information about calorie consumption when cycling in our guide.

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How does calorie consumption differ between racing bikes, city bikes and MTBs?

Comparison of bicycle types

Calorie consumption while cycling depends primarily on the intensity of the activity, not necessarily the type of bike. It is difficult to directly compare different types of bikes because they are designed for different types of terrain.

Road bike

Road bikes have low air and rolling resistance due to their aerodynamic geometry and narrow tires, resulting in lower calorie consumption on the road. These features make them a good choice for fast rides on flat roads.

Mountain bike (MTB)

MTBs are designed for demanding terrain and have wide, profiled tires that offer good grip. This creates more frictional resistance on the road and requires more effort, which can result in more calories burned. However, in difficult terrain, MTBs offer a more intense riding experience.

Additional tips

If you want to specifically increase your calorie consumption while cycling, you can use additional ballasting to increase the weight that has to be moved when pedaling. This can be achieved, for example, by transporting luggage with bicycle bags or backpacks.

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