Balancing Calories You Eat With Those You Burn


Easy to say, balancing calories you eat with those you burn and you’ll maintain a healthy weight, right? 

Balancing calories you eat with those you burn sounds like an easy math problem.  It sounds easy to understand, just eat less calories than you burn and you’ll lose weight.  Yet, if it was this easy, those folks working so hard to lose weight wouldn’t be so frustrated when everything they try just doesn’t seem to work.   There are some variables to this equation of balancing calories you eat with those you burn.

Here’s an example.  If you are on the heavy side, fairly active and you need 2700 calories a day, that would add up to about a million calories n a year.  If you trying to do this balancing act of calories in and calories out and let’s say are off about 10%, that is 100,000 calories in a year.  That equates to 28 pounds of weight gain in the year.  Simply counting calories can be difficult between food you eat and knowing how many calories you are actually burning each day.

Below are some of the challenges with this method for losing weight.

Most People Do Not Know How Many Calories They Should Have Each Day

The problem is that there are many variables that go into just how many calories one needs each day.  How old you are, your gender, your body fat to muscle ratio, metabolism rate and your general health status can all play a part.  Most of the calories you use are part of your baseline body functions that are involuntary such breathing, pumping blood around, digestion and even sleeping.  This resting or basal metabolic rate accounts for about 70% of your calorie usage.  The remaining calories you burn are used to accomplish your daily activity.  You can google basal metabolic rate and get tools that can give you a general number of calories you may need, but everyone’s body is a little bit different.  It is a good place to start though.  Another way is to write down everything you eat for a week, then figure out how many calories that is.  If your weight is stable with that amount, then that would be the calories needed for you.  If you are gaining, then the amount of calories you are consuming is too high.

We Often Don’t Assign Enough Calories To The Serving Of Food We Eat

When we are guessing on our portions or maybe even not be aware of what a serving size is for that particular food, we can be way off in estimating how many calories it is.  Reading labels is good, but even those can be off by 10%.  If you eat out, then you can be sure they are more calories than what you might think or what’s on the menu.  Many restaurants add things to the menu for extra pallability, which adds calories, not to mention what you might add to them like condiments or gravies.  You also got to count that bite of something here or that small handful of something else there.

Judging How Many Calories That Are Burned With Our Exercise Can Be Off

The rate at which burn calories for the same exercise can be different depending on once again, many factors.  Our body size, body fat to muscle ratio, health status and how intense our workout is can all go into the answer of how many calories we are burning with any type of activity.   Someone who weighs 120 pounds burns 250 calories walking for an hour at a speed of 3 miles an hour,  but a 200 pound person walking at the same speed burns over 400 calories.

Here’s One I’m Guilty Of …

You had a good workout, figuring you burning a lot more calories than you actually have, so you figure it warrants a special treat that may add hundreds of more calories to your diet.  Or may just think you can kick back the rest of the day while eating more.  Maybe after exercising, you’re convinced that you’ve burned up a lot more calories than you actually have, so you figure you’ve earned a treat or maybe kicking back the rest of the day while eating this high calorie treat.

Below is a basic guide to give you an idea of the activities needed to burn off certain food items.  This is for a 150 pound person and remember, this is only a guide as there are other variables to get the exact number, but it does give you an idea.





  Exercise required…

Microwave popcorn   –  4 cups   –  140   –  20 minutes of biking
Average candy bar   –  1 bar   –  280   –  30 minutes of singles tennis
Chocolate fudge brownie ice cream   –  1½ cups   –  780   –  90 minutes of racquetball
Potato chips   –  15 chips   –  160   –  90 minutes of Frisbee
Meat and cheese pizza   –  2 slices   –  1000   –  2 ½ hours of ice skating
Beer   –  16 ounces   –  250   –  1 hour of water aerobics
Chocolate chip cookies   –  4 small   –  400   –  120 minutes of bowling
Mixed nuts   –  ½ cup   –  435   –  165 minutes of dusting
Macaroni and cheese   –  1 cup   –  430   –  45 minutes of stair-climbing
Double burger with fries   –  1 burger + large fries   –  1100   –  2 hours of jogging
Ranch dressing   –  2 TBSP   –  150   –  30 minutes of aerobics
Mayonnaise   –  1 TBSP   –  100   –  22 minutes of brisk walking

Here’s a plan for balancing calories with those you eat with those you burn

Knowing the general amount of calories you eat each week, coupled with whether gaining or losing, will give you a good idea of how many calories you need to cut out on a weekly basis to lose weight.  Balancing calories with those you eat with those you burn can be best figured out that way for your body type.  Try writing down everything you eat for a week.  Remember the little add-on stuff like a spoonful of sugar in your coffee, handful of nuts or the little cookie you grabbed at the office.  Then determine the calorie content.  Be sure to weigh yourself at the beginning of the week and the end to determine of you maintained weight with that amount of calories.  That will give you an approximate calorie need and you can adjust up or down depending on your goals.


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