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Average speed and calories burned?

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Average speed and calories burned?

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Old 02-17-09, 02:58 PM
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veggie_lover
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Average speed and calories burned?

Is it a linear relationship between the higher your average speed, the more calories you burn? For example does averaging 15 mph over a 15 mile commute burn 50% more calories than averaging 10 mph ?

Edit: Assume all else being equal

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Old 02-17-09, 03:04 PM
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mickey85
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I think that depends on a lot of factors. if I'm going 20 mph with a 15 mph tailwind downhill, I'll probably burn a lot less calories than if I was going 10 mph into a 20 mph headwind uphill...

ya know?
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Old 02-17-09, 03:06 PM
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I'm pretty sure it's not linear throughout the curve, the faster you go the more power it takes to go the same increment faster. So to go 25mph for example, might take twice the calories of going 20mph. (The example is made up off the top of might head, I'm not sure when the curve gets that steep).
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Old 02-17-09, 03:16 PM
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Originally Posted by dwilbur3 View Post
I'm pretty sure it's not linear throughout the curve, the faster you go the more power it takes to go the same increment faster. So to go 25mph for example, might take twice the calories of going 20mph. (The example is made up off the top of might head, I'm not sure when the curve gets that steep).
This is correct. The energy expended at higher and higher speeds grows exponentially. You can get online calculators as well as most cyclocomputers that will *ESTIMATE* calories burned. There are a lot of factors.
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Old 02-17-09, 03:39 PM
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Air resistance is the dominant loss of energy on a bike, and that tends to grow roughly *quadratically* with speed. So for a 2x increase in speed, it takes roughly 4x as much power. 3x increase would take 9x the power, etc. This would generally assume skinny tires, I'm not sure how power loss from knobbies affects things.

Air resistance is also linear with the amount of 'sail' you're showing. So clothing and posture plays a very large role. The more tucked you are, the less air resistance. The less loose clothing you have, also less air resistance.

Of course, that assumes things like no wind and a flat course, which only exist in fiction (and Kansas). It also neglects hills, the weight of the bike, riding style, etc.

Given all the above, you can see that there are a whole lot of variables that make it hard to determine a clear relationship between speed and the rate of calories burned. However, assuming everything else equal, for a given route, going faster will definitely burn a lot more calories.

So if your goal is weight loss, get out there and burn.
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Old 02-17-09, 03:39 PM
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Just too many factors to make a blanket statement like that. I could be going 5 mph up a steep incline for several miles and into a head wind and I would burn significantly more calories than going 40 mph down a steep incline with a 30 mph tail wind. Your average heart rate might be a much better indicator of the level of effort expended in calculating calories burned than your average speed.
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Old 02-17-09, 03:41 PM
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And it really doesn't have that much to do with speed, although that's a rule of thumb for many because it's easy to understand. Heart rate has a lot to do with it. And that value varies from person to person.
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Old 02-17-09, 03:44 PM
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Originally Posted by Mr. Underbridge View Post
... Of course, that assumes things like no wind and a flat course, which only exist in fiction (and Kansas). It also neglects hills, the weight of the bike, riding style, etc.
...
I've lived in Kansas and in Sacramento. If you want flat, move to Sacramento.
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Old 02-17-09, 04:15 PM
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Originally Posted by Mr. Underbridge View Post
Air resistance is the dominant loss of energy on a bike, and that tends to grow roughly *quadratically* with speed. So for a 2x increase in speed, it takes roughly 4x as much power. 3x increase would take 9x the power, etc. This would generally assume skinny tires, I'm not sure how power loss from knobbies affects things.

Air resistance is also linear with the amount of 'sail' you're showing. So clothing and posture plays a very large role. The more tucked you are, the less air resistance. The less loose clothing you have, also less air resistance.

Of course, that assumes things like no wind and a flat course, which only exist in fiction (and Kansas). It also neglects hills, the weight of the bike, riding style, etc.

Given all the above, you can see that there are a whole lot of variables that make it hard to determine a clear relationship between speed and the rate of calories burned. However, assuming everything else equal, for a given route, going faster will definitely burn a lot more calories.

So if your goal is weight loss, get out there and burn.
For larger people it tends to grow *quintuptically*
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Old 02-17-09, 04:25 PM
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In your example, miles equals calories.
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Old 02-17-09, 04:35 PM
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Caloric burn rate is related to your heart rate and VO2max. It has nothing to do with pedaling into the wind except that pedaling into the wind tends to make your heart beat faster. Easiest way to measure calories burned is to get a Polar Heart Rate monitor that measures this function.
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Old 02-17-09, 05:09 PM
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When my *effort* is much higher, my average speed is usually much lower. Yesterday is a good example. I did 20 miles, probably 2/3 of it with lots of climbing. My top speed was 35 mph, probably while coasting. My average speed was around 13 b/c I was climbing so much.

I can do the same amount of miles at a higher average speed with *way* less effort if the route is flatter.

As was said earlier in the thread... calorie burning does not exactly equate with level of effort, so I thought I'd stick to the simpler relationship between speed and effort.
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Old 02-17-09, 05:15 PM
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Of course my question is assuming 'with all else being equal'.. So no need to bring in more variables to the problem.
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Old 02-17-09, 05:57 PM
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ok_commuter
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Ah, I see what you're asking. Then, the answer is no. But don't ask me to show my work.
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Old 02-18-09, 09:19 AM
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Originally Posted by woodway View Post
Caloric burn rate is related to your heart rate and VO2max. It has nothing to do with pedaling into the wind except that pedaling into the wind tends to make your heart beat faster. Easiest way to measure calories burned is to get a Polar Heart Rate monitor that measures this function.
You're arguing in a circle and getting the causality backwards.

Riding into wind == greater air resistance. Air resistance == power loss. To maintain speed, that power must be added back. That power comes from calories consumed. Extra calories consumed requires more fuel (oxygen and blood sugar), which are carried by blood. To get the fuel at a higher rate, your heart rate increases.

So you don't burn more calories *because* your heart rate goes up (not dramatically, anyway). Your heart rate goes up *so you can burn more calories*. If all you needed to get a great workout was increased heart rate and oxygen, you could just pop some greenies, sit on the couch, and hyperventilate.
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Old 02-18-09, 09:32 AM
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I am only arguing that wind speed, biking speed and calories are not directly correlated. You want to know how many you are burning, get a HRM. The exercise is left to the reader. Cheers!
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Old 02-18-09, 11:18 AM
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I don't know about cycling, but back when I used to run quite a bit, and my brother did as well, he told me that he read a study that found that the number of calories burned was pretty much a factor of distance covered. In other words, the number of calories burned in one mile for a specific person was relatively similar whether it was jogged or run at a 4 minute pace. The point being that if you were to go out for a 20 minute run at a 6 minute per mile pace versus a 20 minute jog at an 8 minute per mile pace, you burn more calories at the faster pace because you cover more distance.

In reality, running faster did burn a few more calories per mile, but not a lot more.

In cycling, there is the addition of wind resistance, so the findings may be less relevant.
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Old 02-18-09, 12:05 PM
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Originally Posted by Little Darwin View Post
I don't know about cycling, but back when I used to run quite a bit, and my brother did as well, he told me that he read a study that found that the number of calories burned was pretty much a factor of distance covered.
I think this is basically true for biking too. You can estimate calories per minute across different speeds, and pretty much to the extent that riding faster, burning more cal per minute, gets you where you're going in fewer minutes, you wind up w/ about the same calories burnt for that distance.

Heart rate is only indirectly related to calories burned. The only solid data on calories burned comes from a power meter. You can calculate calories burned from watts output, but can only correlate it from other things like speed, distance, heartrate...
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Old 02-18-09, 12:21 PM
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Originally Posted by HardyWeinberg View Post
I think this is basically true for biking too. You can estimate calories per minute across different speeds, and pretty much to the extent that riding faster, burning more cal per minute, gets you where you're going in fewer minutes, you wind up w/ about the same calories burnt for that distance.
Except that the decrease in minutes is linear with speed and the increase in power required is quadratic with speed (assuming wind resistance is the primary loss mechanism). If that assumption is reasonably accurate, then there would be a roughly linear increase in total calories spent as a function of speed assuming a constant route. So I'm rather certain that increasing your speed over a constant distance will significantly increase your total caloric output.

One can reasonably easily gauge this by riding on a flat section of road at 15 mph, then at 30mph. 30mph definitely requires more than 2x as much power.

Originally Posted by HardyWeinberg View Post
Heart rate is only indirectly related to calories burned. The only solid data on calories burned comes from a power meter. You can calculate calories burned from watts output, but can only correlate it from other things like speed, distance, heartrate...
True. Different people react in different ways to changes in power output such that attempting to calibrate calories vs. heartrate is guesswork at best.

The key is indeed power - of which the relative increase needed can be determined from aerodynamics, which are very much dependent on wind speed/direction, as well as the rider's speed. So as I mentioned originally, assuming your clothing and posture remains roughly the same and you're riding on slicks, you can get a pretty reasonable guess regarding your relative increase in output based on your speed. Of course, the problem there is you only have a guess as to the relative change (ie, 30% increase). To determine an actual value for the power, you would definitely need a meter, and that would be far more accurate than a HR monitor.
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Old 02-18-09, 12:28 PM
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Originally Posted by Little Darwin View Post
In reality, running faster did burn a few more calories per mile, but not a lot more.
This I can not believe as it implies sprinting and walking burn the similar calories per mile ?
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Old 02-18-09, 12:30 PM
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Originally Posted by veggie_lover View Post
This I can not believe as it implies sprinting and walking burn the similar calories per mile ?
Yep. But look at the cal/minute of each activity and the number of minutes it takes you to sprint a mile (if you can) vs walk it.
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