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How many calories does cycling actually burn?

miurasvmiurasv Posts: 345
Logged on to a website earlier that calculated calories burned for different activities and it said that for a man of my weight, 95kg, cycling at 15.5 mph for 80 minutes would burn about 1400 calories. I read somewhere else that cycling burns 300 cal/hour. Which is more like the truth? Thanks in advance to those that may know.
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  • InfamousInfamous Posts: 1,158
    This has come up a few times lately, basically the more power you produce the more calories you burn.

    As a very rough estimate it's probably around 400-800 calories per hour, again, depending on fitness and intensity.
  • PokerfacePokerface Posts: 8,640
    I'd say close to 800 cals an hour.
  • Homer JHomer J Posts: 932
    At least 3 Peanut butter kit kats :D
  • agent57agent57 Posts: 2,299
    My T6 estimates my 25 mile rides at 17.5mph average are roughly 900Kcal. So that's around 600 per hour.

    I reckon 300/hour is about right for recreational cyclists at a relatively slow pace, and 700-1000 a reasonable ball-park for anyone who puts some effort in.

    Disclaimer: I am not a boffin.
    MTB commuter / 531c commuter / CR1 Team 2009 / RockHopper Pro Disc / 10 mile PB: 25:52 (Jun 2014)
  • bompingtonbompington Posts: 7,304
    My diet plan is based on the assumption that every hour's cycling entitles me to an extra 2000 calories. Please do not reply to contradict this as I know I'm right. :?
  • LittleB0bLittleB0b Posts: 416
    So if i cycle for an hour i'm allowed a whole other days worth of food?
  • vorsprungvorsprung Posts: 1,953
    The most I've ever seen was one time on the turbo when I was doing some mad intervals it worked out at 800 calories per hour. That was a reading off the heart rate monitor. So probably slightly inaccurate

    For a brisk, hilly commute I assume 350 calories "extra" per hour. This is worth remembering with the numbers that it is the "extra" amount that's of interest. Sitting watching TV uses 50 calories per hour.
  • PokerfacePokerface Posts: 8,640
    vorsprung wrote:
    Sitting watching TV uses 50 calories per hour.

    As the 'average' male burns between 2000 and 2500 calories a day just by being alive, that translates into roughly 160-200 calories an hour. I say roughly....but I suspect sitting around watch TV burns off more than 50 calories an hour.


    By the same token - if you are burning off 200 cals an hour just by being awake, I would think that even recreational cycling will burn off more than 300 calories an hour.
  • fuzzynavelfuzzynavel Posts: 718
    I was 1600 calories here for 1 hour 45 at about 90% intensity (hill climb intervals with no rests)....that was taken from my Garmin so probably out by at least 30%....more likely around 1200 or so..
    17 Stone down to 12.5 now raring to get back on the bike!
  • I log my rides on map my ride. according to the workout calculator it has my 28 mile trip in 2 hours uses up roughly 1300 kcals on a hilly route.
    Bianchi. There are no alternatives only compromises!
    I RIDE A KONA CADABRA -would you like to come and have a play with my magic link?
  • r3 guyr3 guy Posts: 229
    for me according to my HRM its always between 800 and 1000 depending on how hard i push
  • miurasv wrote:
    Logged on to a website earlier that calculated calories burned for different activities and it said that for a man of my weight, 95kg, cycling at 15.5 mph for 80 minutes would burn about 1400 calories. I read somewhere else that cycling burns 300 cal/hour. Which is more like the truth? Thanks in advance to those that may know.
    Anywhere between 5 and 20 Calories per hour per kg of body mass, depending on whether you are cruising around or a pro doing a long TT.

    you estimator was most likely way wrong, unless you require ~ 290 watts to ride at 15.5 mph. which might be the case if going up a long climb of say ~ 2.5% for 80 minutes.
  • BhimaBhima Posts: 2,145
    Anywhere between 5 and 20 Calories per hour per kg of body mass, depending on whether you are cruising around or a pro doing a long TT.

    Is it linked to HR or Power? i.e. 20 = Max possible HR sustainable for 1hr, or 20 = Max power sustainable for 1hr?

    How would temperature affect these numbers? Regulating your body temperature uses quite a bit of energy - outside the sauna I go to, it says on the wall that you burn 10 Calories per minute in there! When climbing in hot weather, I can sometimes overheat like crazy!
  • 1000 calories is roughly an hour at 270watts average power. No recreational cyclist can do that. You need to train a lot to pull it off.
  • Bhima wrote:
    Anywhere between 5 and 20 Calories per hour per kg of body mass, depending on whether you are cruising around or a pro doing a long TT.

    Is it linked to HR or Power? i.e. 20 = Max possible HR sustainable for 1hr, or 20 = Max power sustainable for 1hr?

    How would temperature affect these numbers? Regulating your body temperature uses quite a bit of energy - outside the sauna I go to, it says on the wall that you burn 10 Calories per minute in there! When climbing in hot weather, I can sometimes overheat like crazy!
    Your sauna sign is a load of tripe. Heart rate has nothing to do with it.

    It is a measure of mechanical work done (power x time) divided by our efficiency level (typically 19-24% - with the rest being dissipated as heat) to get the total energy metabolised, multiplied by the conversion factor of joules to kcal.

    The very top pros can do close to 6 watts/kg for about an hour.

    6 watts for an hour = 6 x 3600 seconds = 21.6kJ/hour (per kg)

    Efficiency and the conversion to calories happen to nearly cancel each other out, so that equates to roughly the same number of calories per hour.

    Hence suggesting 20 Cal/hour/kg is about an upper limit and attainable only by a Pro for about a hour, or for the rest of us mere mortal riders, for a few minutes if we are lucky or somewhat less than a minute if we are untrained recreational riders.
  • PokerfacePokerface Posts: 8,640
    Sorry Alex - but calories burned IS related to heart rate. The higher your HR - the harder your heart has to work and the more energy your body has to expend.
  • jibberjimjibberjim Posts: 2,810
    Pokerface wrote:
    Sorry Alex - but calories burned IS related to heart rate. The higher your HR - the harder your heart has to work and the more energy your body has to expend.

    But your Heart pumps in anticipation of work being required, and doesn't immediately drop back to rest when work is no longer required. So calories used is not a simple relation to Heart Rate.

    Yes, making your body work to cool yourself will burn calories, you'll burn more calories making your body actively warm itself, so sitting in a freezer would do more. However more than either of them would be doing some exercise.
    Jibbering Sports Stuff: http://jibbering.com/sports/
  • Pokerface wrote:
    Sorry Alex - but calories burned IS related to heart rate. The higher your HR - the harder your heart has to work and the more energy your body has to expend.
    1. An elevated HR may suggest you are working harder relative to yourself but it doesn't tell you how much work you are doing.

    2. There are a number of things that can elevate HR without burning a lot of calories, for example a ride that is highly variable in intensity can make for a relatively high overall HR but have a relatively low average power and hence work performed (kJ burned).
  • PokerfacePokerface Posts: 8,640
    You can argue all you want that power produced is the only important factor in determining calories burned, but you can't deny that HR (and especially an elevated HR) is also a factor.


    It may not be as accurate, but pumping blood burns calories. And to pontificate that HR is completely irrelevant to caloric consumption is just plain wrong.
  • nasahapleynasahapley Posts: 717
    Pokerface wrote:
    You can argue all you want that power produced is the only important factor in determining calories burned, but you can't deny that HR (and especially an elevated HR) is also a factor.

    If I may butt in...

    It's a bit misleading to suggest that power produced is a 'factor' in determining calories burned; since a calorie is a unit of energy, calories burned per hour (or whatever unit of time you care to use) is exactly the same thing as power.

    As you were.
  • Homer JHomer J Posts: 932
    So if a pro rode for an hour say at 150 watts with ave heart rate at 110bpm and i did the same ride but my heart rate would be 140bpm, would that mean i've burnt more cals?? :?
  • fuzzynavelfuzzynavel Posts: 718
    Pokerface wrote:
    You can argue all you want that power produced is the only important factor in determining calories burned, but you can't deny that HR (and especially an elevated HR) is also a factor.


    It may not be as accurate, but pumping blood burns calories. And to pontificate that HR is completely irrelevant to caloric consumption is just plain wrong.

    From my somewhat limited understanding...The heart rate is an indication that you are working harder but the actual calories burned by the heart in doing this is negligible to the work performed by the rest of your body in moving your bike.
    This seems logical in my head at the moment.
    17 Stone down to 12.5 now raring to get back on the bike!
  • Pokerface wrote:
    You can argue all you want that power produced is the only important factor in determining calories burned, but you can't deny that HR (and especially an elevated HR) is also a factor.


    It may not be as accurate, but pumping blood burns calories. And to pontificate that HR is completely irrelevant to caloric consumption is just plain wrong.
    I can argue that because it is all that matters. Suggesting otherwise is plain folly.

    If it weren't then you could answer this question:

    Two riders who both weigh 70kg and with a Max HR of 180bpm ride an hour with an average of 160 bpm. How many calories are they burning per hour?

    A: you can't tell me because you have to know how much power they are producing. Their HR is irrelevant.
  • PokerfacePokerface Posts: 8,640
    Pokerface wrote:
    You can argue all you want that power produced is the only important factor in determining calories burned, but you can't deny that HR (and especially an elevated HR) is also a factor.


    It may not be as accurate, but pumping blood burns calories. And to pontificate that HR is completely irrelevant to caloric consumption is just plain wrong.
    I can argue that because it is all that matters. Suggesting otherwise is plain folly.

    If it weren't then you could answer this question:

    Two riders who both weigh 70kg and with a Max HR of 180bpm ride an hour with an average of 160 bpm. How many calories are they burning per hour?

    A: you can't tell me because you have to know how much power they are producing. Their HR is irrelevant.

    By the same token, two people sitting around doing nothing, but one is... let's say in the sauna (to go back to the start of this arguement). The one person in the sauna has a higher heart rate than the one sat outside. Both sat around not exerting any energy.

    Are they both burning the same amount of calories?
  • fuzzynavelfuzzynavel Posts: 718
    Pokerface wrote:
    Pokerface wrote:
    You can argue all you want that power produced is the only important factor in determining calories burned, but you can't deny that HR (and especially an elevated HR) is also a factor.


    It may not be as accurate, but pumping blood burns calories. And to pontificate that HR is completely irrelevant to caloric consumption is just plain wrong.
    I can argue that because it is all that matters. Suggesting otherwise is plain folly.

    If it weren't then you could answer this question:

    Two riders who both weigh 70kg and with a Max HR of 180bpm ride an hour with an average of 160 bpm. How many calories are they burning per hour?

    A: you can't tell me because you have to know how much power they are producing. Their HR is irrelevant.

    By the same token, two people sitting around doing nothing, but one is... let's say in the sauna (to go back to the start of this arguement). The one person in the sauna has a higher heart rate than the one sat outside. Both sat around not exerting any energy.

    Are they both burning the same amount of calories?

    There would be a little variation due to extra perspiration but nothing worth measuring
    17 Stone down to 12.5 now raring to get back on the bike!
  • Homer J wrote:
    So if a pro rode for an hour say at 150 watts with ave heart rate at 110bpm and i did the same ride but my heart rate would be 140bpm, would that mean i've burnt more cals?? :?
    If you both rode at 150 watts, then you would have burned the same amount of energy irrespective of your heart rate, provided you both have the same gross efficiency level (which as I have said before can vary from ~ 19-24% between individuals but pros, on average, are no more efficient than ordinary cyclists).
  • vorsprungvorsprung Posts: 1,953
    Pokerface wrote:
    two people sitting around doing nothing, but one is... let's say in the sauna (to go back to the start of this arguement). The one person in the sauna has a higher heart rate than the one sat outside. Both sat around not exerting any energy.

    Are they both burning the same amount of calories?

    You don't know, I don't know and from that information no one would ever know if they are burning the same amount of calories

    We could play this game all day long

    Let's suppose that by some freak of nature the same person had the same weight and the same physical condition and was doing the same quality of exercise on two occasions. At time a) he had a lower heart rate than at time b) then it would be strongly likely that he was using more calories at b) than a)

    However there are a lot of conditions there and no actual numbers for the calories
    Also in this example how would you know that the person had exactly the same physical condition?

    For an individual I believe that you could calibrate a HR monitor to give a calorie read out that gave useful information. But you would have to use some other means (invovling a power meter probably) to work out what the HR readings meant
  • The ProdigyThe Prodigy Posts: 832
    And the conclusions we can draw from all this are.....???

    Just ride the bike and ride it hard.
  • fuzzynavelfuzzynavel Posts: 718
    And the conclusions we can draw from all this are.....???

    Just ride the bike and ride it hard.

    Depends what you are hoping to achieve....As someone pointed out earlier a mid-low intensity tempo ride will burn fat as you ride....if you increase the intensity too much then different energy pathways wil be used with varying percentages of fats being used
    17 Stone down to 12.5 now raring to get back on the bike!
  • Vino2007Vino2007 Posts: 340
    I just love the intense debates that go on in these forums. I wonder if amateur league football or even running's equivalent to bikeradar forums talk about these fine details with such enthusiasm
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