- A caloric surplus of 3500 calories, under the right physiological conditions, will result in the creation of one pound of stored body fat.
- Running is the most calorie-efficient form of exercise for people looking to burn fat and lose weight.
- Three key strategies that will help you burn maximum calories are to challenge yourself when exercising, cross-train, and choose a healthy lifestyle.
Check out what exercise burns the most calories by looking at the burning calories chart below and read more to learn about the science behind calorie burn:
All About Burning Calories
Everybody knows that if you want to be in peak physical condition or just lose some weight, then you need to burn calories. But how do you burn calories? What is the best way to burn calories?
How you burn those calories depends on how much you weigh, what exercises you do, and how you do them. Body composition and proper weight training can also help accelerate your weight loss goals.
Bodies are complex systems and no one factor determines weight loss, fat gain, or calorie burning, but this simple breakdown will give you the information you need to make smarter training decisions
How Many Calories Do You Need to Burn to Lose One Pound?
A caloric surplus of 3500 calories, under the right physiological conditions, will result in the creation of one pound of stored body fat. Where you store that fat depends heavily on your unique physiology: existing fat and muscle levels, hormone production, etc.
By way of comparison, one medium apple with skin weighs in at about 100 calories (with 25 grams of carbs and 4 grams of fiber, but no protein or fat). About the equivalent amount of chicken has about 250 calories and will deliver 30 grams of protein, 13 grams of fat, and no carbs of any kind (though no fiber either).
Calories Burned Per Hour (Based on Weight)
Many different exercises can help you burn calories, but the six we picked to investigate were running (7 miles per hour), cycling (13 miles per hour), swimming (freestyle, at a slow, steady pace), general aerobics, Ashtanga style yoga, and walking (3 miles per hour).
We broke down our bodyweight classifications into three groups: light – 130 lbs (and below), up to medium – 155 lbs, up to heavy – 180 lbs (and above). Calorie burn goes up as weight goes up, which makes sense since your body is moving more mass and thus using more energy (that’s all calories are, a unit of stored energy).
- Light: 679
- Medium: 809
- Heavy: 940
- Light: 472
- Medium: 563
- Heavy: 654
- Light: 413
- Medium: 493
- Heavy: 572
- Light: 384
- Medium: 457
- Heavy: 531
- Light: 236
- Medium: 281
- Heavy: 3217
- Light: 195
- Medium: 232
- Heavy: 270
As you can see, running is by far the most calorie-efficient form of exercise for people looking to burn fat and lose weight. However, weight loss is a slow, steady process. Even overweight people with mobility issues can benefit from the calorie burn of long periods of walking or yoga. Most yoga classes are at least one hour to 90 minutes long.
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Calories Burned Per Hour (Based on Intensity)
Intensity of exercise also makes a huge difference in how many calories get burned. The intensity of an exercise varies by fitness level and amount of strain placed on the body, but for purposes of these figures, we have categorized them as slow, moderate, and intense. We cataloged the same six exercises:
- Slow: 563
- Moderate: 880
- Intense: 1267
- Slow: 281
- Moderate: 563
- Intense: 844
- Slow: 422
- Moderate: 563
- Intense: 774
- Slow: 352
- Moderate: 457
- Intense: 598
- Slow: 175
- Moderate: 300
- Intense: 445
- Slow: 141
- Moderate: 232
- Intense: 443
Calorie Burning Showdown!
Everyone likes to think that they know best when it comes to burning calories and getting in shape. How much do the different calorie-burning exercises differ when you get right down to it? Long-time, long-distance runners will tell you that running is the only way to get slim and be in shape. Meanwhile, you can go to any public park and find people who spend hours each day walking at a brisk pace and sweat by it.
The bottom line: one hour of walking burns 80 calories. One hour of running burns 17 more, coming in at a grand total of 97 calories. This makes it basically your choice of how you want to spend your time.
Meanwhile, lifting weights will burn 8 to 10 calories per minute. That’s 480 calories per hour if you do it consistently throughout. That’s the most efficient form of calorie-burning we’ve found. It has other benefits as well, namely the fact that putting on muscle raises your resting metabolic rate, allowing you to burn more calories faster. For every three pounds of muscle that you gain, you will burn off an extra 120 calories per day.
The Best Way to Burn Calories:
In the end, three key strategies that will help you burn maximum calories are:
- Exercise Better: Challenge yourself every time you workout.
- Cross Train: mix it up, try lots of different activities and switch up your routine regularly.
- Choose a Healthy Lifestyle: Stay active whenever possible. Take the stairs, not the elevator, walk to the store instead of driving. Opportunities to burn calories are everywhere if you just look for them.
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