May 22

These questions are from a comment I got on my Calories Burned in Running vs Cycling post.

Calories Burned BikingQuestion: Can you burn as many calories biking as running?

Answer: For shorter distances you might be able to burn more calories running than biking but as soon as you get past 10 to 15 miles you can burn more biking. My top speed running for 5km is 30:00 for a burn of 330 calories. In the same 30 minutes I can bike 14.88km for a burn of about 327.

It takes me 1:10:00 to run 10km for a burn of 660 calories (66 calories per kilometer) where in 1:10:00 I can bike 58km for a burn of 1,102 (19 calories per kilometer at 25kmph according to Dr. Coyle’s study). After 10km my time dropped drastically but I can keep a 25kmph rate up for quite a long distance.

Here are the numbers Dr. Coyle’s tests came up with for the calories you burn biking at difference speeds.

mph | calories/mile
10: 26
15: 31
20: 38
25: 47
30: 59

Here they are in metric.

km/h | calories/km
16: 16
24: 19
32: 24
40: 29
48: 37

So for me I can clearly burn more calories biking than running in any workout over 1 hour.

Lets compare professional runners and bikers.

On June 8, 2008 Matti Breschel of Team CSC won the Philadelphia International Championship with a winning time of 6:14:47 which is an average speed of 24.96mph. According to Dr. Edward Coyle’s numbers that would be a calorie burn of 7,332 for the race and 1,173 calories per hour.

When we compare that to running you will see that running burns more calories for shorter times but as you move into longer runs biking will burn more calories. The typical calorie burn number is 110 calories per mile or 66 calories per kilometer no matter what speed you go.

Deriba Merga the 2009 Boston Marathon winner had a time of of 2:08:42 for 26.22 miles (42.195 km). He burned 2,884 calories for the race or 1,341 calories per hour.

Mike Adams’ best for the JFK 50 Mile Run is 6:42:34. This is 5,500 calories for the race or 818 calories per hour.

The record for the Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run is 15:36:37 by Scott Jurek. That is 11,000 calories for the race or 704 calories per hour.

Question: Wouldn’t 30 minutes of running equal 45 minutes of biking?

Answer: Not for me. It would depend on the speeds you are run and bike at.

Question: Isn’t running the best way to burn calories in the least amount of time?

Answer: Perhaps for the short distance yes but for longer distances clearly no.

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5 Responses to “Calories Burned Biking”

  1. 1. Michael Knowles Says:

    When I bike I burn 560 cal in 20 km. Is this correct. Is stationary biking equivalent to actual road biking

  2. 2. Bob Mutch Says:

    Hi Michael Knowles,

    What is your average speed or the time it takes for you to do 20km on your bike? Your calorie burn in 20km will depend on what your average speed is.

    Each stationary bikes will have different resistance settings but you can set them up equivalent to actual road cycling.



  3. 3. Steve Lewnau Says:

    Hello, while I agree that biking long distances is easier than running the same distance, you’re comparisons / calculations fail to include elevation. The Western States 100 that Scott Jerek won has 18,090 of total elevation gain. A person may burn 110 calories per mile running on flat ground, but when climbing hills that number increases exponentially. That’s a 3.5% grade for 100 miles, so he would be burning about 3000 more calories making it 14000 calories or 900 calories per hour. Obviously it’s hard to include all factors, but saying one is better than the other seems moot. It’s all subjective in the end.

  4. 4. bob Says:

    Hi Steve,

    I didn’t take the rise and fall of elevation and a number of other things like wind speed, temperature, runner/cycler weight, and elevation into the equation. While these things will effect running and cycling some what differently I think the general premise of the article still stands.


  5. 5. The_Mick Says:

    You don’t include weight at all except to note it will “effect”. Double the weight and you DOUBLE the calories per mile walking or running.

    The Dr. Edward Coyle to whom you refer and base your calculations published calorie consumption PER POUND of biker weight. So doubling the weight in cycling ALSO doubles the calories burned.

    Coyle’s numbers are based on TOP athletes.

    The rule of thumb for slow biking (around 10 mph) is that your Calories burned are about 1/4 of your weight in pounds per mile.

    For walking/running, the Jalories burned are closer to 2/3 of your weight in pounds per mile.

    However, the casual cyclist will typical travel 3x as far as a walker in the same amount of time, and that’s also roughly true for racing cyclists compared to runners. So biking is an excellent way to burn calories fast and your shoulders, arms, back, and legs tend to get toned much bettier with biking.

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