Weight Loss Monday June 13, 2016

How Much Exercise Burns Off Food?

We all know that exercise burns off calories and that it's good for our health to keep active, but how much do we need to burn off our favourite foods?

Food packets give us nutritional value and list calorie totals but they lack information on the activity levels required to burn it off. Given that the nation's weight is increasing year on year, and the World Health Organisation predict we're experiencing an overweight 'epidemic' it's time we learned to balance the scales.

To lose one pound in weight you need to burn 3500 calories. Shirley Cramer, chief executive of the Royal Society of Public Health, recently suggested in the British Medical Journal that food manufacturers should make people aware of what activity level is required to burn off the contents on the product's label. She believes this will make people more aware of how calories relate to everyday activities.

What Are Calories Exactly?

A calorie is a measure of energy. Historically a calorie was measured as the amount of heat needed to raise the temperature of one kilo of water by one degree, but since 1925 they've been measured in joules, which is the measurement needed to force one newton unit through one metre of distance.

Our bodies need calories for energy. Without them we would simply die, but eating too many leads to 'storage' or as we know it better - fat. 500 calories cut from your diet every day means losing a pound of fat each week.

How Does Exercise Burn Calories?

It's all relative to your size. Bigger, heavier people burn calories faster, but basically calories fuel your body. They are burned undertaking body functions such as breathing, digesting food, and pumping blood, but the more motion you undertake the more fat will be burned away.

How Much Do We Need To Do?

Burning 3,500 calories means you'll burn off one pound of fat, but in reality what does that mean when you're looking at the calorie content of a snack? Here are some meals and what you need to do to burn off the energy they provide off.

A Big Mac from McDonalds

There are 492 calories in a Big Mac which is 140 minutes of fast walking - that's over two hours.

Mars Bar

A Mars Bar contain 241 calories which equates to 25 minutes of non-stop swimming.

Slice of Pizza (Domino's Hawaiian)

One slice contains 140 calories - that's half an hour of non-stop tennis.

A glass of wine

A glass of wine contains roughly 134 calories which is 40 minutes of walking.

A Can of Coke

A can of full fat Coke has 161 calories (40 grams of sugar). Just because it's liquid it doesn't mean it's fat free. To burn off one Coke you need to do 22 minutes of intensive aerobics.

StarBucks Venti Java Chip Frappuccino with 2% milk

This drink is a shocking 460 calories. To burn it off you'll need to walk for hours or run for 40 minutes.

You'll no doubt grasp from those calculations that we need a lot more exercise than we currently get to burn off some of our standard foods.

If you want some more information on the calorie content of the most popular fast food chains this calculator can tell you what exercise you'll need to do rid yourself of the fat. It's enough to stop you eating it in the first place.

Burning calories

How To Beat The Calories

With our favourite foods causing such a calorie build up what can we do to keep our weight down? There are three methods:

Get Educated

A lot of calories are consumed because we simply don't realise how much we are eating and what is in the food we consume. Hidden salt and sugar hugely ups the calorie content of your dinner so try to eat fresh when you can. It's also good practice to eat at the table without TV or internet distraction. Concentrate on what you're eating rather than mindlessly eating spoon after spoon.

Eat better

  • Dump the junk and replace it with vegetables, fruit, lean meat and low fat options. Water is cheap and it's the best beverage for you. Cut down on processed drinks and alcohol. When you're out shopping choose a low fat drink such as tea or a black coffee rather than a sweet coffee with milk and sugar added for you.
  • Try to eat a good breakfast. Without the sugar crash you're more likely to make it to lunchtime without snacking. Eggs, wholegrain cereals, bananas are good choices. Keep healthy snacks on you so you don't fall foul of the vending machine or office muffin delivery.

Exercise Better

  • Cardio acts immediately to burn off calories. Experts say that short sharp bursts are better at fat burning than a moderate sustained effort, but any exercise will burn calories.
  • Weight training is great for muscle tone and bone strength. It's slower to burn off excess calories but it builds muscle mass which in turn burns calories.
  • For the best outcome combine cardio with weight training and stretching. Do these regularly in a fun way and your weight will respond.
  • Take small opportunities such as a lunchtime walk or energetic shopping expedition to increase calorie burn - all movement burns calories.
  • Those who struggle to exercise can join a class or invest in a Fitbit or similar exercise app to monitor output and keep that motivation going.

With a worldwide obesity epidemic upon us it's more important than ever than we learn exactly what is in our food and how much we need to move in order to rid ourselves of the extra we consistently eat.

It's not as simple as 'eat less do more' because we need to understand how much more. It's a fair assumption that most of us substantially underestimate the amount of 'do more' required to shift fat.

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