Science/Tech

Cycling Can Help Cut Down Your Carbon Emissions But You Need To Look At Your Diet Too

As the world shifts into a mindset that prioritizes personal health more, many people have started biking to work, which is also a great way of reducing your carbon footprint. However, if you’re eating more to help power you up, then it’s important to look at where your food is coming from as well.

This is because, according to a new study published in Scientific Reports, fueling your daily commute with foods like meat and dairy might actually result to higher levels of carbon emissions, especially in high-income countries that tend to produce more of these kinds of food. As such, your effort to reduce your carbon footprint may be all for naught.

There are essentially numerous bodies of work that are involved as to how many calories you burn from biking, although for this study the findings reveal that your body spends at least 25 to 40 calories for every kilometer that you make compared to the 48 to 76 calories that you spend if you opt to walk instead. However, depending on what you eat to fuel your body, each extra kilometer you travel could actually result in an increase in greenhouse gas emissions by 0.14 kilograms CO2-equivalents.

“The race is on to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions to stop us suffering the worst effects of climate change. It is easy to just think about one source of emissions, such as cars, in isolation, but we need to be thinking about the whole picture,” Anja Mizdrak, PhD, study author and a research fellow in the Department of Public Health at the University of Otago, Wellington, said.

So what does this mean for fellows who now prefer to bike to work? Well, the emissions for cycling can significantly be lower if you “fuel” yourself with lower-carbon food like grains, vegetables and fruits, which happen to be healthier options as well. To do this, try to make small dietary changes as you go through the week.

“This could include having a ‘meat-free’ day every week, or swapping some of the meat with other ingredients in a meal. For example, you could try replacing some of the ground beef in a spaghetti Bolognese with some veggies or lentils,” Mizdrak suggested.

biking In the United States, an increase in bike-related injuries occurred between 1998 and 2013, driven by spiking rates among the over-45 crowd. Richard Masoner / Cyclelicious, CC by 2.0

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