Troy Oldham, race director, Cache Gran Fondo

While some cyclists train to race, most get into cycling to stay fit, maintain or lose weight, and have fun riding with friends. Unfortunately, it takes more than just riding a bike a few days each week to shed unwanted pounds. Losing weight while cycling can be a double-bonus because as your performance improves you get lighter, and your body becomes more efficient.

Here is a list from of six weight-loss tips by author Marc Lindsay.

Have a goal.

If you’re trying to lose weight, you will be most successful if you set realistic goals. If your long-term goal is to get down to a certain weight and keep the pounds off, set goals to lose two pounds per week by riding four out of seven days. This keeps you on track for larger goals, like losing 40 pounds or riding your first century. Two pounds a week over three months equals 24 to 28 pounds.

Track your progress.

Once you have a goal, keep track of the progress you’re making. We use the Strava or MapMyRide app, which provides a GPS map and basic metrics of weekly ride time, distance, pace-per-mile, and calories burned. Also, weight loss is closely tied to the food you eat, and studies show keeping a food diary can double a person’s weight loss.

Mix up your workouts.

If the goal is to lose weight, mixing up your workouts and having a plan helps you burn more fat and calories. Commuting to work, riding with friends, or joining an organized event, like a Gran Fondo, all provide opportunities to add high-intensity interval training (HIIT), which burns the most calories in the shortest amount of time. Interval training is also shown to jump-start your metabolism and help you continue to burn calories throughout the day. On the weekends, try lower-intensity rides of two hours or more. Stay at about 70-80 percent of your maximum heart rate, which helps burn fat more efficiently.

Add strength training.

Incorporating strength training one or two days per week when you don’t ride will also help you continue to burn calories and add muscle instead of fat. Strength training also prevents common overuse injuries and helps you burn calories more efficiently. We also suggest yoga sessions each week for strength, flexibility, and mindfulness.

Eat smaller meals.

After your ride, and for the rest of your daily meals, resist the urge to eat large portions. Instead, eat smaller meals more frequently — ideally every three to four hours. This helps maintain steady metabolism, makes it easier to digest food, and helps avoid spikes and dips in blood sugar. Eat a well-balanced diet and avoid processed foods and sugars. After a ride, eat lean protein like chicken or fish with a side of vegetables. When you do eat carbohydrates, choose foods with a low-glycemic index.

Get plenty of sleep.

Sleep is one of the best ways to gain high performance, specifically six to eight hours of sleep each night. Sleep will reduce fatigue and help build fat-burning muscle. Studies show that people who get adequate sleep are less stressed, less likely to feel hungry, and will lose weight more effectively.