I exercise, so I can eat what I want, right? This thinking has led more than a few exercisers to despair and give up.
All that sweating at the gym, all the miles you left behind on your running course, they have to count for something, right? They do, but you can easily outeat your cardio and workouts, as our bodies are so darn good at doing stuff with the least amount of energy needed.
Let’s look at what some typical fitness activities burn if you are a 25 year old man, 5’11″ (1.80 m) tall, weigh 170 lbs (77 kg) and do each activity for one hour:
|Activity||App. Calories Burned Per Hour|
|Light jogging (4 mph (7 km/h))||543 kcal|
|Stationary bike at 100 W||427 kcal|
|Moderate biking (9 – 12 mph (15 – 20 km/h))||466 kcal|
|Walking the dog||233 kcal|
|Leisurely swimming||466 kcal|
|Bodybuilding, heavy workout||466 kcal|
In comparison, here is a variety of foods, their calories, and how long it probably takes to eat them:
|Food||Calories||App. Time To Eat It|
|Big Mac (McDonald’s)||576 kcal||5 minutes|
|6 -8 nachos with cheese||346 kcal||6 minutes|
|2 slices 14″ pan pizza, cheese only (Pizza Hut)||780 kcal||6 minutes|
|4 chocolate brownies (30 g per piece)||400 kcal||8 minutes|
|1 Twinkie cake (Hostess)||150 kcal||2 minutes|
|1 can Coca-Cola Classic (Coca-Cola Company)||140 kcal||2 minutes|
|10 pieces plain M&Ms (Mars)||34 kcal||20 seconds|
In In 5 Minutes, Out In 60
The activity burning the most calories, jogging, burns 543 kcal per hour, yet it takes you only around five minutes to consume the same amount.
Or even more drastic: If you managed to eat one Big Mac per five minutes and keep that up for an hour, you would eat around 6,912 kcal, but you would never manage to burn as much in the same time, even if you ran while lifting weights, playing on a tambourine with your teeth and carrying your five year old niece on your back.
It’s really easy to overestimate how many calories you burn and underestimate how many you consume. If you can’t lose weight or even gain some despite your exercising, it’s a worthwhile idea to keep closer tab on how much really goes in and out.
Picture courtesy of “lululemon“.