Bicycle Touring For Weight Loss

Is it possible to use a bike tour as a means of losing weight?

Think about it! On a long-distance bike tour you spend day after day on your bicycle, pedaling for hours on end, climbing hills, battling the wind, and pushing your bike. Surely all of that exertion has to pay off in weight loss… right?

Over the years I’ve met dozens of people who have been traveling by bike in an attempt to lose weight. And personally, I think bike travel is a great way to go about it.

But recently, I asked readers here at to add their two cents to the issue and tell me whether or not they lost weight on their previous bike tours… and if so, how much weight they lost. The results of that survey are shown below.

This isn’t the greatest graph in the world, but what is shown here is that of those surveyed, most people who go on a bike trip actually gain weight – not lose it!

Of course, there were quite a few people who admitted to having lost anywhere from 5-20 lbs, but there were also a lot of people who said their weight did not change – even after a long distance trip by bike.

More interesting than the survey results, however, are some of the responses that were garnished via Bicycle Touring Pro’s Facebook page.

When I created the survey asking people about their experience losing weight while on a bike tour I was expecting a flood of individuals to tell me that they lost massive amounts of weight. But that doesn’t seem to be the case.

Some people said they were able to lose 50 pounds or more, but overall that seems to be pretty rare.

More common, it seems, is that the amount of energy required to ride a bike for long distances forces individuals traveling by bike to eat massive amounts of food. So much food in fact, that many of the people who set out on a trip by bike either come back home having lost no weight at all… or in some cases, having actually put on a few pounds!

My personal experience with weight loss over the past ten years of long-distance cycling is that I always lose weight. At home, I weight a constant 155-160 pounds. At 6 feet, 1 Inch, I am a lightweight. But on my bike trips, I typically drop between 10 and 15 pounds and gain it back quickly once I return home.

When it comes right down to it though, I think weight loss on a bike tour is entirely possible… and traveling by bike might be a great way for overweight individuals to get outside, do something fun, and lose weight in the process.

But if you are thinking about traveling by bike and using your trip as a means of losing weight, I think the food you eat while on the road is going to play a huge part in whether or not you end up losing any weight at all.

As you can see by some of the Facebook responses above, riding a bike for long hours doesn’t guarantee weight loss. The food you eat and the amount of food you consume plays a huge role in the outcome of your tour.

So my advice to you is this: If you are planning to use your trip by bike as a means of losing weight, watch what you eat! Bike touring can make you incredibly hungry and you’ll want to eat anything you can get your hands on, so you have to have some self-control. Set a diet for yourself before you leave home – and stick to it once you get out on the road. If you need to, consult a doctor before and/or during your trip to make sure you are eating the right kinds of foods and consuming enough food to keepĀ  you powered up during your cycling expedition. But if weight loss is your goal, don’t over eat! That seems to be the key!

What do you think about bike touring as a means of losing weight? Is it a good idea?

And if you’ve lost weight on your previous bicycle travels, what advice do you have for those who are wishing to use their bike trip as a means of losing weight? Let me know by leaving a comment below.

Photo by: Irish Church Lady


6 thoughts on “Bicycle Touring For Weight Loss

  1. Don Doornbos says:

    I have recently taken up cycling as an enjoyable cardio outlet with hopes of it also being a great way to drop and/or keep the pounds off. However, one thing I have found which works against me is that cycling revs up my appetite and it can be tough to stick with my usual healthy food choices.

    Looking forward to my first century ride next weekend!


  2. Blaine says:

    One detail I found in how much weight I lost depended on how much sugary foods I ate. Since sugar spikes insulin production, which plays a big part in fat storage, my fat loss results were better when I ate less pop tarts and candy bars. But definitely still enjoyed pasta, burgers, and other good tasting food with good results.

  3. Jim says:

    Actually, loosing a great deal of weight “IS” possible. Last year before and after having an accident (broke my wrist) I continued riding my bicycle. When I started I weight about 280 lbs. this morning (Jan. 8, 2011) I weighed just under 200 lbs at 198. According to my estimates I assume I had rode my bicycle over 2500 miles. during that time I had adjusted my diet where I can lose the weight. One will have to adjust his/her diet and ride a bike where he/she goes to lose the weight

  4. Tony says:

    It is likely that the increase in muscle mass from riding a bicycle will negate the fat weight loss. Working the two of the bodies largest muscle groups (legs and gluteals) means a positive shift in weight from fat to muscle, which weighs more per gram that fat.

  5. Ryan says:

    It’s not so much weight loss as a change in body composition. I’ve found after multiple 1000+ mile tours that the clothes always fit better after each tour but I might have only lost a few pounds. My riding partner and I call it the most fun fat camp evah. Eat whatever you want, pedal all day for 20-30-60 days and return home fit as a fiddle. Any veterans out there lose their appetites after x number of days on the road? We do, every time. Especially if it’s a hot climate ride.

  6. David says:

    No matter what you do if you can’t stick to a diet you’ll never lose weight. Have you seen fat professional cyclers?

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