Does Peloton Make You Gain Weight? (Explained)


Doing peloton classes every day is a great cardio and strength workout because it increases your energy expenditure. However, it also increases your appetite and hunger afterward. So does a peloton make you gain weight?

In general, a peloton doesn’t make you gain weight, as long as you stay in the calorie deficit and don’t overtrain. Gaining weight from the peloton only happens when you eat more calories than you burn. Eating more calories is related to overtraining.

In other words, doing a high volume of classes makes you want more food. In this article, I will show you easy ways to make sure you’re not gaining weight while doing peloton workouts.

Not Losing Weight On Peloton

If you’re not losing weight on a peloton it means you’re eating more calories than you burn. Doing high-intensity classes daily impacts the calories burned, but also stimulates the sympathetic nervous system and leads to chronic stress, and increases your allostatic load.

What is allostatic load? Allostatic load is the accumulation of all physical and psychological stressors that you encounter. High stressful jobs, caregiving, family situations, and other things that increase your stress all add up to the allostatic load. Doing high-intensity peloton sessions also counts as stress.

Why allostatic load is important in peloton? Allostatic load is important in the peloton because people who have already too much stress going on have lower stress tolerance. This means that doing an additional high volume of high-intensity classes can trigger overeating.

Can Peloton Cause Weight Gain?

In general, a peloton can cause weight gain if you eat more calories than you burn. The high volume of high-intensity sessions increases your sympathetic nervous system. Studies have shown that increased sympathetic activity is related to weight gain.

What is the sympathetic activity? Sympathetic activity is part of the autonomous nervous system. It is also called fight or flight mode or the stress response. During high-intensity exercises, the sympathetic nervous system elevates glucose levels, increases the heart rate, and increases cortisol levels.

A little short-term stress is often good for us. Having the right amount of good stress that we can recover from improves our health. Occasional peloton workout can make us feel better if it’s done correctly. That is called good stress.

Of course, if the workout is done too much, too often, and too intensely, we don’t recover from it efficiently. That is bad stress.

Is Peloton Making Me Fat?

What makes the exercise “too much” or “too often” will depend on a host of factors and what else is going on in your life right now (your allostatic load). If you’re not having a lot of stress, then daily 20 minute session can make you feel better than you were before.

However, if there is already too much stress going on in your life (wanting to lose weight, work stress, poor sleep, poor nutrition, loneliness, relationship stress, etc.) the same 20 minutes session done everyday can make you feel worse than you’re before.

The difference between good stress and bad stress is your ability to recover from it. Here you can see the table that illustrates how to know when the peloton session is making you feel.

Good sessionBad session
is short-lived
you do it when you feel like it
is infrequent
leaves you feel better than you’re before
last long time
you do it when you think you need to
is frequent
leaves you worse than you’re before
Good versus bad peloton session

As you can see, when a workout is done too much and too often will lead to overtraining and burnout. The body will start to compensate by making you feel hungry and cause weight gain.

That’s why you can have two people following the same peloton classes for a month. One will feel invigorated and energized. Another one will feel crushed, burned out, and wanting to eat more to reduce extra stress because he or she didn’t recover from it.

What is recovery? Recovery is basically everything that you do to trigger a parasympathetic response in your body, rest and relax. Studies have shown that people who lose weight have high parasympathetic activity, where people who gain weight have high sympathetic activity (Tentolouris, N et al. 2006).

Why recovery is important in peloton? Recovery is important in the peloton because it helps to reduce sympathetic activity. It also helps to enhance the clearance of pro-inflammatory compounds that cause muscle and joint pain and helps to facilitate better metabolic adaptations after exercise.

In other words, having the right balance between those two systems prevents overtraining and overeating. Here is the list of workouts that the peloton offers that stimulate your parasympathetic response.

Peloton classWhat it does
StretchingHelps to facilitate better recovery
Reduces DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness)
Reduces muscle tension
YogaReduces stress
Helps with sleep
Helps to relax and digest food
MeditationHelps with mindfulness
Increases stress tolerance and resilience
Reduces anxiety
Peloton classes that prevent from overtraining

As you can see, non of those classes are high-calorie burn or high impact.

Another great option is to use peloton low impact rides as those not only help to recover faster, but also improve muscle perfusion and reduce soreness.

Sometimes it’s better to switch from doing peloton bike 7 days a week and plug in a couple of down-regulating activities. They don’t burn as many calories as the bike, but they help you to relax and eat less.

Peloton workouts that offer HIIT or Bootcamp are effective, especially if you want to build muscle.

Learn more: Click here to learn more about does peloton build muscle

Overeating On Peloton – What to do when I want to train every day?

I have several clients who say they just need to exercise every day, despite their high cortisol levels. They say it just feels like a therapy session for them. And when they drop the balls and skip the day, immediately they feel bad about it.

I can totally relate because I also feel like exercise helps me to stay focused.

Over time, too many peloton workouts lead to overtraining and overeating. One of the simple ways to stop overeating, or at least manage the effects is to add an efficient amount of proteins and fiber-rich foods to the diet.

Why protein is important in peloton training? Proteins are essential nutrients that help you to increase your satiety and lower hunger pangs. They also increase energy expenditure, and trigger muscle protein synthesis, you keep your metabolic rate high and burn more calories.

The high amount of proteins not only keeps you fuller for longer but also helps to lower the hunger pangs. Another part is adding more high-fiber foods. Fiber also induces satiety after the meal (Clark, 2013).

There are several other ways to reduce hunger and appetite, which I won’t be covering here. I’ve already covered that in “intuitive eating and weight gain“, which I recommend you read.

Peloton Making Me Gain Weight

Generally, you’re gaining weight on the peloton because you’re eating more food. Peloton workouts offer high-intensity classes that can stimulate more hunger and cravings for food. The more energy you expend, the more hungry you get.

In the short term, the more you train, the more calories you burn which is good for weight loss. However, over time, doing a lot of peloton high-intensity sessions can upregulate the sympathetic nervous system and increase cortisol levels.

I used to do spin classes daily and used a bike to get to work. But with more exercise, I was getting more hungry. So I would eat more food and use exercise as a justification of why I’m hungry. Which was true but I was eating way more than necessary.

Conclusion

Gaining weight on peloton doesn’t mean there is something wrong with the program. It means that you need to take a step back and look around what else is going on in your life right now.

Michal Sieroslawski

Michal is an exercise physiologist (MSc), nutrition coach, Ashtanga teacher, and fitness blogger. He shares his successes and failures to help busy men and women squash down 20, 50, or even 100 pounds of fat without leaving their home.

Recent Posts