Yes, Cycling Can Help With Weight Loss and Burn Belly Fat—Here's What to Know Before You Start Your Next Peloton Ride

A group of adults are indoors in a fitness center. They are riding exercise bikes. One woman is smiling in the foreground.

If you’re looking for a way to lose weight and are wondering if cycling is the key, we have some good news for you: It absolutely can’t hurt. Of course, deciding to start cycling comes with some decisions. Indoor or outdoor? Forty-five minutes on the Peloton or long endurance rides? The type of cycling you choose will inform decisions such as what gear you’ll need and when (and where) you’ll be able to ride.

No matter the choice, the good news is that bicycling for weight loss can help you reach your goals. Read on to find out how.

Related: Worried About the Peloton Price Tag?

What Are the Differences Between Indoor and Outdoor Cycling?

While there are a lot of differences between indoor and outdoor cycling—such as gear, for example—one isn’t necessarily better than the other. If you aren’t sure which to choose, it is helpful to look at what you want to get out of the experience. If you are looking to develop your skills, outdoor may be the better choice for you, whereas indoor cycling allows for more control of your workout.

“Cycling indoors is a great option if you’re looking to mix in some high-intensity interval training (HIIT),” shares Cat Kom, CEO and Founder of Studio SWEAT onDemand. “You can do that with any indoor spin bike, because you can easily vary and control the bike’s resistance at your own will. You’re just less dependent on the outdoor environment.”

You can simulate an outdoor ride during indoor cycling with a trainer, explains Erin Truslow, a certified triathlon and cycling coach based in Austin, Texas, who recommends a smart trainer like the Wahoo Kickr or Wahoo Snap. These trainers work to simulate a road-cycling feel, though, of course, outdoor cycling is an experience all its own. Not only is it ideal for longer rides—and it does come with challenges of weather, road conditions, and motorists—you can develop technical skills you wouldn’t face indoors.

The best form of cycling for you is the one you are going to enjoy. It shouldn't be a chore! When trying to choose, remember this: “Creating a space where you are comfortable and inspired to put in miles in one place is ideal,” emphasizes Truslow.

Related: 50 Cycling Quotes to Inspire You to Ride

Is Cycling Good for Losing Belly Fat? 

If you are looking to start cycling with the goal of just losing belly fat, the simple answer is that you can’t pick and choose where the body fat loss occurs. However, cycling is good for overall fat loss, which, in turn, can also reduce belly fat.

“Cycling definitely helps you lose belly fat,” notes Kom. “It burns so many calories and makes it easy to get into that crucial fat-burning zone. But it also requires a good deal of core strength, meaning it builds muscle to help keep the weight off.”

Not only is cycling good for losing belly fat, but it also comes with a number of health benefits, too. Research has found cycling can also lower your blood pressure and your low-density lipoproteins (LDL) cholesterol levels, which can lead to heart disease or stroke.

Related: 30 Ways to Burn Belly Fat

How Many Calories Do You Burn From Cycling?

If you are looking for the exact number of calories that you’ll burn from cycling, the answer is that it will vary from person to person. “Each person burns calories at a different rate according to sex, weight and age,” notes Truslow.

There are additional factors at play—Truslow says this includes speed, terrain, and weather, for example—that all make a difference. In the case of a spin class, Kom notes that you can expect to burn somewhere between 400-600 calories in a 60-minute class. Research widens the gap a bit, noting 300-600 calories as the typical burn from a spin class.

Related: 19 Fat-Burning Foods to Help You Lose Weight

Is Cycling Good for Weight Loss? 

Yes, cycling is good for weight loss. In fact, research has found that cycling is more effective for weight loss than walking or swimming. Even further, the study made no changes to the participants’ diets.

“Cycling is first and foremost a cardio workout,” notes Kom. “It will burn fat, get your heart rate up, and build lean body mass at the same time, helping you shed pounds and tone your core.”

Of course, there are things you can do off the bike to support weight loss, such as fueling your body with proper nutrition and staying hydrated. If you are looking to lose weight, finding the balance between both diet and exercise programs will help you get the most success.

“Eating smart and healthy, hydrating well and exercise is the only way to lose weight,” reveals Truslow. “Calories in versus calories out—that’s really all there is to it. It’s just hard because we tend to overestimate how many calories we burn in a workout and underestimate how many calories we are taking in daily. That’s when the pounds start to add up.”

Next, 25 Best Bikes for Women