Cycling for weight loss


first post here and new to zwift after getting my elite suito trainer.

My aim for this is to start on a workout plan that will assist me weight loss and would like to ask the community which plan is best for me to follow. I cycle outdoors for 3/4 days a week but in winter I can dedicate 3 days of about 1 to 1.5hr each.

Any assistance or recommendation for weight loss training is appreciated.


Maybe I can share my experience to help you to decide what to do. I’ve lost 22.5 kg in 11 months with a combination of diet and Zwift. By using myfitnesspal to count calories I was 1000 kcal/day below BMR (or 7000 kcal/week). Three Zwift sessions per week count for about 2000 kcal total (1 hour of Zwifting is about 600 kcal at my fitness [FTP 220 W]).

Those numbers show that caloric restriction is by far better for weight loss than Zwift (or any form of cycling). Here’s how I look at it… I cycle (real and virtual) primarily to build fitness and secondarily cover myself off for the occasional big meal.

I once read a quote that puts this well: lose weight in the kitchen and get fit on the bike.


Thanks a lot to reply…that quote really has some sense in it.

In winter I only cycle indoors and for this coming season I thought to get on zwift with a smart trainer…can I ask what program you are following for building fitness please.

I built my own program which was loosely a standard periodization program of 3 weeks of increasing intensity and volume and a 4th week at reduced intensity/volume then repeating that cycle at about 5-10% increase. With my weight (I started at 30.5 BMI) I was less interested in a specific training plan than I was in seeing improvements over some favourite routes. I did a lot of Volcano Climb, Road to the Ruins and Big Loop (in that order as I lost weight).

Now that I’m at normal BMI I’m about to start the Build Me Up program or something similar.


Remember, no amount of cycling (or workout even navy seal training) will help you lose weight unless you’re eating right. Its too much for me to discuss here but this guy sums up how to get the eating part right before you worry about cycling (exercising) to lose weight:

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Bahaha that video is hilarious.

You meant that as a joke right :rofl::crazy_face:


I would add a couple of thoughts:

First, I think it would be a good idea to also start a weight program of some sort. We lose muscle as we age, and cycling isn’t really going to help you build that back up, even if it does help with overall fitness. Another advantage of adding muscle is that it will ‘consume’ calories 24/7, while the calorie burning from cycling drops off dramatically as soon as you get off the bike.

Second, I think you should focus on how your clothes fit, not your weight. Technically speaking it is possible to completely transform your body without losing a pound. You’re just trading flab for muscle tone.

There are two groups on facebook…ZwiftOff and Valhalla.
You might try some ZwiftOff workouts on
Basically, any workout that focuses mainly on blue and green target zones is the target for weight loss. Drink plenty of water. Ride hills in bigger gears (don’t hurt yourself but don’t spin in tiny gears.) We all want to beat that Peloton girl, lol.

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Just joined Zwift yesterday - it’s amazing! That said, weight/fat loss is a huge goal for me too. Coming back from vacation, I picked up a magazine called ‘Science of Cycling’ and it had some good tips on the subject, a couple of which I plan to adhere to in the near term:

  • Do sub-90 min sessions in the morning while in a fasted state.
  • Focus on Zone 2 efforts - 68-79% max hear rate
  • Delay intake of in-saddle snacks during longer training sessions.
  • In 30-45 min sessions, increase intensity and do more interval training. Either more 15-30 second intervals, or less 60-90 second intervals.
  • Build muscle - here’s my big area for improvement(other than nutrition). I need to take the time to weight train in addition to my time on the bike. Building even a little extra muscle will be incredibly helpful for ditching my fat.

Anyway, I just thought those basic reminders were helpful, some of which were already mentioned above. I’m also going to be religious about tracking calories using MyFitnessPal.


Sounds pretty reasonable, Lynn. I would focus a little less on calorie counts and just work at reducing or eliminating sugars and late snacks.
Glad your in love with Zwift. I love it too.

Thanks a lot for this…lovely workouts.

Very good replies. Just remember that you CAN’T outride a bad diet.

what about HIIT sessions…i am reading a lot about these workouts and how they may even be more effective than the normal cardio sessions…also anyone uses them and can anyone point any workouts of this type that are already available in zwift please.


Most coaches will suggest you do a mixture of HIIT and steady state endurance rides. Check out to see all the available workouts.

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I go through yearly cycles - ride like a bear is chasing me for 9 months, then fat up for about three months at the end of the year. I find that when dieting, it is essential to cut out colas and deserts. Foods should be sensible - chicken, fish, a little red meat. Lots of vegetables, and fruits when you want sweets. So basically, it’s a diet that cuts out the junk. That, coupled with riding indoors every other day and weight training twice a week ensures that I am back in form by the beginning of the outdoor ride season.

Ok noted…but is there a specific plan that you are aware of that combines the correct mixture of HIIT and steady state rather than I go choosing individual workouts please.

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Many Zwifters have had a good experience with the Build Me Up plan, however, this is a very personal decision and I’m not a cycling coach so don’t take my word for it. If your goal is weight loss then you should focus more on nutrition than what cycling training plan to follow. I’m sure any of them will do the trick when combined with a sound nutrition plan. A lot of research is coming out against the old standard advice of eating low fat and restricting your calories. Cut out the sugar and grains and focus on whole foods that keep you full and lower your blood glucose and insulin resistance. Your body will burn the fat it has stored instead of the glucose in your system.

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thanks a lot for your reply.

Unless someone has evidence contrary to the Second Law of Thermodynamics, there is only one way to lose weight: energy ingested must be less than energy burned (aka calories in vs calories out).

How you do that is up to you. Some useful advice given already (e.g., using a calorie tracker) but also much unscientific disinformation and myths that belong to the 1960s.

If you can only ride 3 times a week, don’t waste your time in z2: sweet spot (90% of FTP), threshold (95-105%), and VO2max (110%+) rides and workouts get the most bang for your buck, while varying your training to get you stronger and fitter at the same time. If you can ride every day, then by all means ride most of them at z2-3 (70-85%).

For the record, I lost 10kgs in 8 weeks purely by burning 800-1000 calories on zwift and eating whatever I liked, so long as it was around 2400-2700 calories for the day. With my metabolic rate at around 1850 calories, plus daily activities like walking our dogs, that was enough to ensure a calorie deficit.


your post is very insightful and makes lot of sense. So 800-1000 calories you managed to burn these in each workout? if yes can you indicate which ones you were doing or if you were just riding at 90-110% maybe advise the duration of each session you did for 3 times a week…I am much more inclined to do something like this in view of time restrictions and then maybe allocate 2 sessions for strength bodyweight training most probably.