Calories Used in Cycling

Cycling a good way to lose weight.

I was intrigued by these figures I found in a book Cycle for Life, by Nicole Cooke. According to these calculations the calories burned per hour in cycling varies considerably depending on effort / speed.

Calories Used Per Hour In Cycling

  • 10mph – 133
  • 15mph – 349
  • 20mph – 742
  • 25mph – 1374
  • 30mph – 2303

The calorie consumption really depends not on speed but on power output and it will vary for different people. But, it does show that if you want to burn alot of calories – don’t just plod along at 15mph.
15mph may be good for fat burning. But, if you like eating carbohydrates and you want to lose weight – what better way than a daily  1 hour time trial at 25+mph?

It also shows why procyclists riding the Tour can struggle to get enough calories to replace what they expend through racing 5 hours a day. Most pro cyclists will lose weight during the tour, even though they eat between 6,000 and 10,000 calories a day – the maximum that the body can absorb.

Energy Use in Cycling

Base Metabolic Rate BRM

This gives a rough guide to how much calories you use, if you live a sedentary life and then how many extra calories you consume depending on more consumption

Age – Men

  • 18-30 Weight *15.3 + 679
  • 31-60 Weight * 11.6 + 879

For me 70 kilos * 11.6 + 879 = 1691 calories

Though since I am 33 I might still be in the category 18-30

Physical Activity Quotients PAQ

  • Very light activity – using computer BMR  * 1.5
  • Light activity – slow walking BMR *25.
  • Moderate activity – brisk walking, BMR * 5.0
  • Heavy activity – slow running BMR * 7.0

7 Responses to Calories Used in Cycling

  1. Ben May 24, 2011 at 10:02 am #

    In my opinion the calorific figures given in this article are next to useless. The amount of calories burned during cycling will depend on the weight of the cyclist, the average speed and the type and quality of bike. No doubt many other factors will come into play as well (head wind?).

    There will be a massive difference between a 12 stone cyclist doing 15mph and a 20 stone cyclist doing 15mph. Also if I attempted to maintain 15mph on my steel frame city bike I would have a heart attack after 20 minutes.

    A quick search will show many cycling calorie calculators online, all of which ask the weight of the cyclist as the first question.

    • Peter Monk September 13, 2012 at 2:04 pm #

      I will be 63 in October and I am very overweight (very). I have been though periods in my life when I have been what I can only describe as extremely fit. I have used cycling, static rowing, hiking and weight training to achieve that fitness. Throughout those times I have tried to assess the calories burned during various activities and have never found a satisfactory answer. Of course there are many variables but I would have thought that there must be a useable average somewhere.
      I have now re-vamped my old CroMo frame mountain bike with solid forks and road tyres (Specialised Nimbus EX’s). However I haven’t ventured out on the road yet, I have it set up on a CycleOps Mag training rig which I found “in storage” at the back of my garage. It pains me to say that 10 minutes at an average of about 22 kph, in high gear and with the drag set at about 2/3 is enough right now. Consequently the suggested “1 hour time trial” as suggested above is a distant and possibly impossible target. Nonetheless I am very pleased to have returned to some kind of exercise regime and intend to keep it at 10 minutes, twice a day, until October 1st and then up it to 15 minutes. Watch this space. Nice site btw.


  2. botogol May 9, 2011 at 9:51 am #

    I’d like to know the difference between cycling at a steady 15mph for an hour, compared with a more usual stop/start commutting pattern varying between zero and over 20mph, but covering 15 miles in an hour.

  3. Chris at KarmaCycle October 5, 2009 at 12:07 pm #

    Very interesting article, thanks. My cycle journey through London means I vary between about 5 miles an hour (e.g. behind a pedestrian on the Regent’s Canal) and up to about 25 mph when going along the flat on a clear open road. I do about 10 miles each way – and I’m normally absolutely starving for most of the day. Your article has made me realise I probably don’t eat enough carbs, so … large quantities of pasta, bread, potatoes etc, here I go!

    There’s an interesting piece of work being done by an academic in this area which I’ve linked to in my little piece about muffins (!) here:

  4. tim October 2, 2009 at 3:24 pm #

    very interesting, thanks very much


  1. How To Get A Friend Cycling | Cycling UK - June 4, 2011

    [...] eat more at the same time. Cycling is an excellent way to burn off calories and stay in shape. (Calories used in cycling) This could well be the clinching [...]

  2. Cycling Facts | Cycling UK - August 11, 2010

    [...] 1374 calories per hour! At normal speed, average calorie consumption is around 700 per hour. Calories cycling Popularity of [...]

Leave a Reply

7 + = 8