Some people want to know if it is possible to lose weight by exercising alone.
There are only two ways to lose weight. The first is to eat less calories than you burn. The second is to burn more calories than you eat. Haha. OK, so these are the kind of the same thing but the point is that if more calories are burned than you eat then the shortfall is made up by taking some fat and burning it.
One important fact to know is that there are 252 calories in one ounce of fat. Conversely, you need to burn 252 calories to lose an ounce of fat.
One hour of these types of exercises burns this about this much:
- Steady walking – 176
- Power walking – 281
- Jogging (slow) – 563
- Swimming laps (light)- 563
- Cycling (light) – 422
- Running upstairs – 1056
A little math will show that 2 hours of super human running up stairs each day for one week will cause you to lose only 4 pounds or less if that energy wasn’t used to burn food you ate. More precisely, thats 1056 calories times 2hrs times 7 days divided by 252 equals 59 ounces or just under 3.7 pounds. Not many people can actually run upstairs for two hours, most people will collapse with legs of jello after 20 minutes.
The other way to burn calories is build up your muscles. Muscles burn calories just by existing. In fact a pound of extra muscle will burn some 50 calories a day just by existing. Doing weight training to increase your muscle mass is a great way to boost your weight loss. Some people worry about becoming too muscular. You don’t worry about this because it is really hard to get a body builder physique, real body builds spend hours everyday in the gym to grow that big. It is also quite easy to lose a big build.
To put all this calorie burning information into perspective you need to understand how many calories there are in food.
- A Big Mac – 485
- A large Fries – 540
- A large Coke – 320
Yep, thats 1345 calories in one meal.
If you are anything like me, you could probably manage to eat a large take away meal once a day but there is no way you could slow jog for 2 and a half hours a day, every day. For most people, it is a lot easier to restrict your calorie intake (thats dieting guys) than it is to burn off everything you eat. This why I’m a big fan of Weight Watchers. They make it very easy to do a what is a simplified and clever form of calorie counting.
I have two answers to the question that started this page, “can you lose weight by exercise alone”. The first answer is yes, it is possible to lose weight by exercise only but you might have to do some very serious, very hard and very long sessions to get results depending on what you eat. The second answer is no, most normal people will struggle to do the required amount of exercise to burn off all the calories you eat plus some extra especially if you are not restricting your calorie intake at all. Of course, the best way to improve your weight loss results is to do both, diet and exercise.