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We all remember the low-carb diet craze, which demonized carbohydrates in favor of high protein intake. Now, carb cycling, a diet that alternates between high and low carb days, promises similar results, without depriving the body of any macronutrients. Believe it or not, the concept of carb cycling actually came from the bodybuilding industry, says personal trainer Heidi Powell, of ABC’s Extreme Weight Loss. After seeing how well it seemed to work, Powell started putting all her weight loss clients on carb cycling programs. When a person pulls carbs from their diet for an extended period of time, they lose fat as well as a lot of water weight, explains Powell.
With carb cycling, the body is never deprived of carbs long enough to slow the metabolism, and is able to get into a catabolic fat burning state on the low carb days. The “Classic Cycle,” a straightforward plan designed by Powell’s husband Chris (and featured in his book Choose to Lose: The 7-Day Carb Cycle Solution), alternates between low-carb and high-carb days, with the seventh day as a reward day. On this and other cycles, individuals will feel results in about a week, and start to see them in two weeks, says Powell. While no specific types of carbs are technically off-limits, the carbs should ideally come from unprocessed, whole foods such as rice, oats, potatoes, whole grains and breads, Lawson says.
Unlike their sugary counterparts, research suggests that healthy starches (or resistant starches) like grains, beans and legumes can help with weight loss by boosting metabolism. Another important thing to keep in mind is that carb cycling shouldn’t be a carb or junk food free-for-all, proponents advise. Over the years I’ve met dozens of people who have been traveling by bike in an attempt to lose weight. 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. 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.
My personal experience with weight loss over the past ten years of long-distance cycling is that I always lose weight.
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.
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!

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? It is likely that the increase in muscle mass from riding a bicycle will negate the fat weight loss. Get my FREE bicycle touring starter guideEnter your email in the box below to download my free starter guide and learn how to travel the world on a bicycle. They would bulk up while building muscle, then carb cycle to reduce their final layer of fat. Essentially, the high carb days act as “boost” days, increasing metabolism, and the low carb days act as “burn” days, when the body is an optimal state to burn fat.
The more intense a workout, the more carbohydrates will need to be ingested to fuel a session. She recommends a 12-week cycle for the best physical and mental results, but says the principles of carb cycling can be followed for any phase of life, including weight loss, maintenance, fitness and performance.
In one Australian study, rats that ate a diet low in resistant starch gained fat and lost muscle mass, while those that ate a diet higher in resistant starch preserved their muscle mass despite the higher carb intake. And with the most current research having been done on mice, it might be a while before carb cycling can be recommended as a science-backed weight loss technique. 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.
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! The food you eat and the amount of food you consume plays a huge role in the outcome of your tour. 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. 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. 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. Last year before and after having an accident (broke my wrist) I continued riding my bicycle. 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. 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. With a community of readers in just about every country across the globe, Bicycle Touring Pro is the leading international resource for cycle touring information across the globe. Some research suggested lower-carb diets could increase the risk of heart disease, and dieters often gained the weight right back after reintroducing carbs.
Trainers caught on, and experimented to see if everyday people could manipulate their carb intake and get similar results.
Some research backs it too, including one British study that found that women who eliminated carbohydrate-rich foods twice a week (and ate their normal diet the rest of the time) lost an average of nine pounds over four months.
Reintroducing carbs causes the body to rebound, holding onto every bit of carbs, sugar and water it can.

Psychologically speaking, Powell says including rewards is part of what makes some people so successful on the plan. But for healthy individuals willing and able to adjust their carb consumption according to fairly regimented guidelines, some experts suggest carb cycling can lead to positive body composition changes while still letting you enjoy dessert and a glass of wine from time to time. Set a diet for yourself before you leave home – and stick to it once you get out on the road. The information you will find here has helped thousands of people just like you plan, prepare for, and execute their very own bicycle touring adventures. Women on a 1,500-calorie Mediterranean diet, on the other hand, lost only five pounds in that time. But on my bike trips, I typically drop between 10 and 15 pounds and gain it back quickly once I return home.
If you donate $10 USD or more I will mail you a postcard from wherever I happen to be in the world as a little thank you gift.
Think of cycling as fun and not as a weight loss program.The more you love cycling, the more you will do it! Do whatever it takes to make it fun… pretend you are on the tour, race cars off the line or put a bell and tassels on your bike whatever will make you happy to turn those cranks!3.
You will find other people that are passionate about cycling, find out why they love it, why they are out there and what they are doing…4. Find a partner!It is easy to plan a ride and cancel if it is only yourself; however, if someone else is depending on you to be there… you will show up! Download Strava!Track your progress, watch yourself improve, see how far you went or how long you were out there. Get extreme or creative.I did not renew my car insurance for a month so I was forced to ride my bike to get in better shape! Sign up for a big event. Again, doing whatever it takes to make it fun and part of your routine.Cycling is an amazing way to help with weight loss as it is a low impact sport that you can do for a lifetime.
And love it bike onReply Andy saysFebruary 7, 2016 at 2:52 pm Theres no need to spend money directly on devices such as garmin to monitor your progress, most people own a smart phone and many of these are good enough to run the Strava app.
Then put on a bit of weight after 20 and remained stable until around 35 – 40 yrs old. All this happens gradually and you do not notice any changes until it starts to make inroads. The losing the weight is very gradual and is done by not eating to much and healthy eating.
If you want to be a better Cyclist then you know you have to get rid of the Flab and so you will stop eating so much. The more you like Cycling the more you want to take care of yourself.Reply Jeff saysNovember 24, 2014 at 10:08 pm Could not agree more! Its low impact and if you start with a gradual program by setting realistic goals the benefits will come.

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