How your commute can help you watch your weight

How much riding do you need to do to burn off that bacon roll?

Ride to work and you can enjoy some foods that you might otherwise skip

This is a sponsored article in association with Red Bull.


If you’re trying to balance your calorie intake or maybe shift some pounds, then you’ll know that getting the right balance between the calories you consume and the calories you burn through exercise is key. When your life is time-poor, finding time to exercise can be tricky, but add an active commute and suddenly time spent sat on the bus, train or car is a fitness opportunity.

In a recent study into the health impacts of an active commute – one that involves walking, cycling or running rather than public transport – it was found that the average distance commuted was 30 miles over the course of a week.

Broken down into 10 separate chunks that’s a distance that’s achievable by bike on a daily basis – about 3 to 4 miles. Going at an easy pace of around 10 miles an hour and accounting for the occasional traffic light, that will take most people 20 to 30 minutes.

For someone weighing around 10 stone, riding for 30 minutes and travelling at a sedate 10 miles an hour, this works out around 200 calories burnt per commute. Up the speed to around 15 miles per hour, and you’ll burn 320 calories per commute. That’s over 600 calories per day!

Cycling – the perfect means of commuter transport

Cycling is a very efficient means of commuter transport: it usually takes the same amount of time no matter what the traffic is doing, it’s gentle on the joints, the steady rate means you’re likely to sit in that optimal fat burning zone.

But perhaps most importantly because it is a mode of transport, it’s something you can do in your day that means you get exercise without making a special mission to the gym or a class. It effectively uses dead time in your day.

More and more employers are recognising the importance of a healthy, happy work force and are encouraging people to cycling by offering things like the Cycle to Work scheme to help with the purchase of bike and equipment, plus secure storage facilities and showers.

Calorie counting

If you’re trying to shift some weight, you need to achieve a calorie deficit: you need to burn off more calories than you ingest.

Bearing in mind you need to still consume enough calories to fuel your body for a hard day at work and the cycling itself, how much cycling are you going to need to do to burn off the food you consume during an average working day?

Of course these are only rough estimates, as the actual amount burnt off will depend on lots of variables like how fast you ride, how far, how much you weigh, etc. It’s also worth noting that while some things on this list might have a similar calorie content, one might provide far more useful nutrition like vitamins and minerals than another.

We’ve calculated the calorie burn below assuming a rider weight of around 140 pounds, and a riding speed of 12 – 14mph.

How much cycling do you need to do to burn this little lot off?


  • Greggs Breakfast bacon roll and black coffee (346 calories) – 32 minutes
  • Pain au chocolate (230 calories) – 22 minutes
  • Regular cappuccino (80 calories) – 8 minutes
  • English breakfast including toast (935 calories) – 89 minutes
  • Instant porridge pot (244 calories) – 23 minutes


  • Sausage roll (210 calories) – 20 minutes
  • Pret a manger teriyaki salmon sushi salad (315 calories) – 30 minutes
  • Egg mayonnaise sandwich (348 calories) – 33 minutes
  • Yo Sushi salmon selection (214 calories) – 20 minutes
  • Chicken Ramen (420 calories) – 40 minutes
  • Medium portion of fish and chips (660) – 63 minutes
  • Macdonald’s Big Mac hamburger (540 calories) – 51 minutes


  • Cheese and onion crisps (130 calories) -12 minutes
  • Apple (80 calories) – 8 minutes
  • Two boiled eggs (140 calories) – 13 minutes
  • Cadbury Dairy Milk chocolate bar (240 calories) – 23 minutes

Looking for some healthy alternatives you can prepare yourself? Why not check out some of our recipes including energy-boosting breakfasts and easy-to-make packed lunches.