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MOTIVATED@LAST Posts: 15,437
8/11/13 6:46 A


Yes, weight does make a difference to calorie burn, and a lighter person will burn fewer calories doing the same exercise as a heavier person.

A lighter cyclist will burn fewer calories over the same distance as a heavier cyclist. Alternatively, by maintain the same level of effort and the same heart rate, they can pedal further and faster in the same amount of time.

Getting lighter does not mean having to burn fewer calories, if you work to maintain the same level of physical effort.


MOTIVATED@LAST Posts: 15,437
8/10/13 10:43 P


Weight actually does make a big difference in cycling. I love watching the Tour de France. And the sprinters (who usually win the races on the flat stages) can lose 45-60 minutes (in a 4-5 hour race) in the mountains to the more slightly built 'climbers'.

And it's not as though the sprinters are fat or unfit, its just that a few extra pounds of muscle make a big difference when you have to drag that extra weight uphill.


KAJERO Posts: 300
8/7/13 2:12 P

Just a thought:
When I set my HR monitor with a higher weight I burn more calories. When I used a lower weight I burned less. Right now I am at 141. I imagine when I get my weight closer to were I want it I will see a significant decrease in number of calories burned. It happened once before when I got my weight down to 134. Kind of disappointing. You lose all that weight and have to eat less.

Edited by: KAJERO at: 8/7/2013 (14:12)
RENATARUNS SparkPoints: (4,367)
Fitness Minutes: (2,155)
Posts: 1,379
8/7/13 2:00 P

"Although I think that online calculators in general can be a bit distorted for cycling for heavier people, as you are really working against the rolling resistance of the bike and wind resistance, rather than your body weight as you might for walking and running."

Anecdotally speaking I would think that cycling would be far *more* taxing at a higher weight than is walking, though maybe not running, provided there are hills. (On the flat the whole time, probably not.) There were some hills in my area that I could just flat not get up at all when I weighed 180 pounds or more, that are relatively simple at 145. And that's not all just fitness, since I attempted them a few times at 180+ after I had been working out for a few monhs. Both my lungs and my legs just flat-out failed and could not handle it. Now I can. I've never experienced anything like that sharp division between "can" and "can't" (related to weight) anywhere I've ever walked or hiked.

There's also the evidence that pro road cyclists drop weight worse than wrestlers the day before a weigh-in, when it's race time.

But all that said (and I'm just quibbling) SP's calorie burn does seem really high for cycling.

KAJERO Posts: 300
8/7/13 11:41 A

I use my Polar Heart Rate Monitor when I ride my bicycle. The instructor felt it was pretty accurate when I took her spin classes. I enter my exercise and calories as not listed in the fitness tracker; I can put all my details instead of going with what SparkPeople suggests.

When I ride 120+ minutes the HRM says calories burned are between 900-1100. But I ride some pretty hilly terrain which really makes me work. It seems the entire ride is always uphill.

BUTTERFLYNORWAY SparkPoints: (8,817)
Fitness Minutes: (4,886)
Posts: 67
4/2/13 2:45 P

I was pushing it, I'm ashamed to say. You'd think my spinning classes would have made me faster than that! Whenever I stopped, I pressed "pause" on Endomondo. It was a lot of uphill/downhill, and I have not been out doing real-world bicycling since last summer. I just checked SparkPeople again - 131 minutes at 12 mph only uses 288 calories. From, "A bike ride at a pace of less than 10 mph is considered to be leisurely. For example, someone who weighs 155 lbs. will burn approximately 280 calories during a leisurely 1-hour ride". I weigh 148 pounds (close to 155) and rode over 2 hours. I give myself at least 550 calories. It's amazing how much difference you get between different websites.

CALGIRL80 Posts: 456
4/2/13 10:50 A

Thanks everyone as I have been having the same issue.

SIMONEKP Posts: 2,695
4/2/13 9:57 A

I find SP estimates to be high, I would recommend a HRM for better accuracy

MOTIVATED@LAST Posts: 15,437
4/1/13 7:07 P

Not sure how you came up with that number. I used the fitness tracker on Spark at 14-16 mph for 110 minutes and came up with 1518 calories. I never trust the map-based tracker, as it always seems to produce weird results.

I also tried it on and came up with 1422, which is pretty close to what I got on Spark, after allowing for the slight different in speed.

Although I think that online calculators in general can be a bit distorted for cycling for heavier people, as you are really working against the rolling resistance of the bike and wind resistance, rather than your body weight as you might for walking and running.


UNIDENT Posts: 33,498
4/1/13 2:22 P

Probably because that's a fairly low average speed. Are you a very slow cyclist or did you stop a lot? You called it a "trip", does that imply frequent stops? Was it just uphill/headwind all the way or something?

Eg Spark only takes your speed into consideration (and IIRC for cycling only has two speed options). So if you biked 7mph because you were lollygagging around and taking it easy, it'll give the same burn as having biked 7mph because you're relatively new and that's the best you can manage right now, or having biked 7mph into the toughest head wind ever.

BUTTERFLYNORWAY SparkPoints: (8,817)
Fitness Minutes: (4,886)
Posts: 67
4/1/13 9:17 A

I just put in my bicycle trip. Endomondo said it was 2.1 hours at 6.9 mi/hr, and I burned 790 calories. So, 6 calories per minute. That fits in the believable range. Yet Spark only gave me 289 calories, or some such. I been gypped! Weird.

UNIDENT Posts: 33,498
10/16/12 1:28 P

The link doesn't seem to mention that at all. How can it be "taking it to the street" if it's "hypothetical subjects"? One implies a real-world test, the other implies pure calculations.

In any case, none of those figures are even close to the 18cpm Spark offered the OP. Hence yeah, you gotta take things with caution and 'shop around' for the best value. :)

KRISTEN_SAYS SparkPoints: (81,217)
Fitness Minutes: (47,340)
Posts: 5,092
10/16/12 1:25 P

I would suggest getting a heart rate monitor!

PIPERJ4A SparkPoints: (0)
Fitness Minutes: (12,955)
Posts: 150
10/16/12 12:11 P

This is according to the livestrong web site.The Harvard Heart Letter also took its estimates out on the street, so to speak. Using the same three hypothetical test subjects, bicycling at a leisurely 12 to 13.9 miles per hour burned 480 calories, 596 calories and 710 calories per hour, respectively. Increasing the pace to the range of 16 to 19 miles per hour rated a burn of 720 calories, 892 calories and 1,066 calories, respectively.

Read more:

UNIDENT Posts: 33,498
10/14/12 2:12 P

Spark's figures can be a little high sometimes.

If you're getting a good average from other sites and agreement from them on a rough figure that differs from Spark, then I would go with that figure. Manually enter it.

The figure you have been given is 18 cals per minute. Exercise is typically 6-8. Cycling is a low impact lower-body-only exercise that is not a huge calorie burner. Even given that you are not petite and may burn more "than the average person", it's a huge leap from around 6 cpm to 18 to believe that. I would consider 18cpm to be physically impossible.

10/14/12 2:07 P

You're much faster than me! When I put in my 12-13MPH, the numbers I get back are pretty close to what my Endomondo comes up with. Do you have a HRM? It should give you pretty accurate numbers and then you can put in your actual numbers in the tracker.


10/14/12 1:35 P

I did 110 minutes on the road at an average of 14.5 mph just now. I put that in the tracker and it comes up with 1989 calories burned?! I do not see how that is remotely possible. Pretty much every other calorie tracking site on the internet estimates about half that amount. Any ideas how I can get more accurate numbers? Or did I just really burn almost 2k calories?

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