Does Riding a Bike Burn More Fat Than Jogging?

In your quest for fat-burning, you've already resigned yourself to doing more aerobic exercise in your workouts, but you don't know which cardio activity will burn more fat. You enjoy jogging, but it's occurred to you that maybe riding a bike would be more effective at maximizing your metabolism's fat-burning capabilities. When it comes to comparing biking to jogging, there is more than just one factor that can determine which activity is more effective.

A jogger and biker on an exercise path. (Image: fatchoi/iStock/Getty Images)

In General

You must burn calories to burn fat, and whether you do it on a treadmill or enjoy touring your local greenway, jogging burns more than biking. According to the American Council on Exercise, a person who weighs 140 pounds will burn 10.8 calories per minute while jogging but will only burn 6.4 calories per minute riding a bike. How many calories per minute you burn depends on what you weigh and how much effort you put into the activity, but in general jogging is slightly more efficient at burning fat and calories.

Burn-Zone Myth

Whether you choose bike riding or jogging, indoors on equipment or outside in the fresh air, how you train affects fat burning. In his article for IDEA Health and Fitness, Jason Karp, who has a doctorate in exercise physiology, debunks the idea of jogging or biking in a "fat-burning zone." Karp says that people typically use more fat than carbohydrates for fuel during low-intensity exercise, but notes that burning more calories of either type at a higher intensity will result in more fat loss. Expending more energy in a 30-minute biking or jogging workout, for example, is more efficient than working out at a moderate pace in an effort to try to control the percentage of energy that comes from fat.

The Calorie Factor

You can jog your heart out or spend hours on your bike, but if you follow your exercise up with a cheeseburger and a full-fat milkshake you're unlikely to see any level of fat-loss. That's because losing fat depends on expending more calories than you take in. If you're serious about using bike riding or jogging as a means of burning fat, you must work hard enough to burn a large number of calories and, at the same time, cut back on the number of calories you take in.

Maximizing Burn

Consider performing bike riding or jogging in an interval training workout to maximize the amount of fat you burn. In their 2003 book "Athletic Abs," Scott Cole and Thomas Seabourne explained that interval training burns more calories than sustained aerobic activity because it's almost like confusion training. Your body doesn't know what to expect from your workout, so it doesn't store fat in anticipation. Additionally, interval training burns more calories because it stimulates fast-twitch fibers. Improve your fat-burning during jogging by sprinting for two minutes then slowing down to a jog for one minute, and continuing to alternate those intervals 10 times for a 30-minute workout. Or increase the amount of fat burned while biking in the same manner, speeding up to your maximum pace for two minutes, slowing for a one-minute recovery interval and continuing to alternate for 30 minutes.

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