Are you burning calories effectively?

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    Burning calories is just a matter of knowing what you burn and what you eat

    Jumping rope may burn around 800 calories if you do it for an hour, but one dish of chicken Parmesan will cancel it out! So when burning calories, don’t focus only on your workout. (Shutterstock)

    If you’re one of the many people who get out and exercise but don’t see a change in weight, you may be the victim of inefficient calorie burning.

    This isn’t a medical condition;  it’s more or less a form of self-sabotage usually done completely inadvertently. Burning calories is great–but you need to be burning calories effectively, which means burning more than you take in.

    Unfortunately, a lot of people think because they worked out they are allowed to indulge in larger portions, higher calories snacks, or completely ditch a lifestyle of healthy eating completely.

    This is not the case!

    If you want to lose or maintain weight, the equation is simple: burn more calories than you take in.

    Are you burning calories effectively?

    While the concept of burning calories effectively sound simple, most people don’t actually keep track of their numbers. You may assume, for example, the 2 mile run you did burned off all those calories from breakfast because it felt difficult, but that may not be the reality at all. Burning calories effectively begins with knowing how many calories you are burning per activity and afterwards in the first place.

    So just how much are you burning?

    Take a look at this list of exercises from the Mayo Clinic and the calories they burn for a general idea.

    Keep in mind a person’s weight, health and age can impact total numbers. The examples given are for an individual approximately 160 pounds and for one hour of exercise.

    • Aerobics, high impact: 533 calories.
    • Aerobics, low impact: 365 calories.
    • Backpacking: 511 calories.
    • Basketball game: 584 calories.
    • Bicycling, < 10 mph, leisure: 292 calories.
    • Hiking: 438 calories.
    • Rollerblading: 548 calories.
    • Rope jumping: 861 calories.
    • Walking, 3.5 mph: 314 calories.
    • Running (5 miles an hour): 632 calories.

    Feel pretty good about those few hundred calories you burned during your exercise session?

    Now put it into this context: A pound is about 3,500 calories. So, to lose a pound of body weight, you need to create a caloric deficit of 3,500 calories.  Now those 300 calories from aerobics isn’t looking so impressive, is it?

    Next, you have to take into consideration total burn. This is the caloric burn from everything you do during your day. So, if the average human body burn 2,000 calories a day without exercising (just breathing and other vital functions), as stated by HealthStyleFitness, adding exercise to that may take your total burn up to 2,500. That sounds fantastic, but now you have to consider what you are taking in for calories.

    Burning calories is just a matter of knowing what you burn and what you eat

    You can have that burger and fries–for around 600 calories. (Shutterstock)

    To be burning calories effectively, you need to end up negative either for the day or for the week. This all depends on what you eat and drink, and everyone is going to be different.

    Take a look at the caloric values of some common meals:

    • Hamburger single patty with condiments: 279 calories.
    • Tossed salad with 3 tablespoons of ranch dressing: 400 calories.
    • Chicken Parmesan: 930 calories.
    • A small side of French fries (85 grams): 216 calories.

    See how easy it is for calories to add up? This may just be why you aren’t burning calories efficiently.

    If you are burning 2,500 calories a day with regular activity and some exercise, but you are taking in almost 3,000 calories from breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks, you are actually putting on weight!

    And just as you need to burn 3,500 calories to lose a pound, you only need 3,500 calories to gain a pound! So make sure that at the end of the week, when you add all you have burned and consumed, you have a deficit… it does not have to be 3,500 calories. It could be fewer than that… just keep in mind that it’ll just mean you’ll lose weight slower than if your caloric deficit is higher each week. Also, keep in mind that a deficit higher than 750 calories per day is not recommended.

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