What Is a Good Number of Calories to Burn in a Workout for Weight Loss?

What Is a Good Number of Calories to Burn in a Workout for Weight Loss?

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Exercise to accelerate your weight loss efforts.

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The equation for weight loss is simple: Burn more calories than you consume. Every pound of body fat that you carry equals approximately 3,500 calories, but trying to incinerate all of those at once is well nigh impossible. The good news is that with smart exercise planning you can gradually lose that weight and keep it off.

Do the Math

Everyone starts their weight loss journey at a different point. Fortunately, the more you weigh, the more calories your body needs to move you through space. Because men generally weigh more than women and have more muscle mass, guys tend to burn more calories regardless of their choice of physical activity. Understanding the math is important, because estimated calorie burns based on exercise machines or generic online calculators may not be accurate for you. A MET, or metabolic exercise equivalent, is the amount of energy needed to sit quietly and this translates to roughly one calorie for every 2.2 pounds of your weight. Activities that range from 3 to 6 METs are best for beginning an exercise program, and include brisk walking and bicycling.

Go Halfsies

Set your sights on reaching your long-term goals by making a series of short-term steps. You didn't gain all of your weight at once, so don't plan on losing it all in two weeks, either. Experts recommend a slow, steady rate of 1.5 to 2 pounds lost per week, which would be the equivalent of accumulating a deficit of 5,250 to 7,000 calories every seven days -- about 750 to 1,000 calories daily. Consider getting there by splitting that number in half, eating 500 fewer calories while burning 500 calories through physical activity each day.

Hills and Valleys

So you've whipped out your calculator and figured out how many calories you burn at rest, you know that you need to choose activities of higher MET levels to lose weight, and you've been diligently logging 30 minutes of moderate activity daily for several weeks. Congratulations! Now you can spike up your routine such that you burn even more calories in that time by adding intervals -- short bursts of higher intensity action followed by brief recovery periods. These intervals cause an increase in your post-exercise oxygen consumption as your body strives to replenish your cellular energy stores while clearing out lactic acid and other byproducts of activity. More oxygen used translates to more calories, and bigger steps toward your weight loss goals,

Lift to Lose

Your fat cells are quiet energy storage depots, designed to get you through times of famine. Your muscles, on the other hand, are energy hogs, demanding anywhere from 6 to 10 calories per pound just to keep themselves going. By increasing the percentage of your body composed of lean muscle through strength training, you can accumulate greater overall daily calorie expenditures. Aim to lift weights at least twice weekly, choosing resistance levels that make it difficult to complete more than 12 repetitions of any exercise for each of your major muscle groups. These include your chest, shoulders, back, abdominal muscles, arms and legs.

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