Cheeseburgers & weight loss - Burning off calories you just ate

  • 2 Minutes Read

Would you order lower calorie food if the menu told you how many minutes of walking you'd need for burning off calories you just ate?

Cheeseburgers & weight loss - Burning off calories you just ate

It's a safe bet that if you're using MyNetDiary, you're counting calories. But what if there was a different way to think about the energy value of food. What if you looked at it as burning off calories you just ate instead? A clever study suggests that minutes of exercise may be more informative.

Here's how this study went:

In fact, minutes of walking is really just another way to say "calories", since exercise is fueled by calories. But now those calories are put in a real world context. And apparently it got the attention of the research subjects. People ordering from the regular and calorie count menus chose roughly the same amounts of food and calories. The people with the MBWTBOF menus ordered lower calorie meals.

Brisk walking is in the 3+ mph range. The faster you walk, the more calories the activity will burn per minute.

Number of minutes to burn off calories in popular food items

Food Walking(3 mph) Jogging (10 min mile) Bike ride Moderate effort
McDonald's Double Quarter Pounder with cheese 180 min 64 min 90 min
Starbuck's Grande Mocha Latte 80 min 30 min 40 min
8 oz bag potato chips 295 min 105 min 150 min
14" Pepperoni Pizza - 2 slices 155 min 55 min 80 min
1 cup (1/2 pint) Ben & Jerry's chocolate ice cream 120 min 43 min 61 min
1 cup raw broccoli 4 min 1 min 2 min

Are you more inspired to avoid eating that handy 8 oz bag of potato chips because it will take you 5 hours to burn off or because the label says 1230 calories? Actually, the label probably does not say 1230 calories. It will say "one serving (1 oz): 154 calories". But will you just eat 1/8th of that bag?

Best exercise to burn calories and lose weight

  1. Bicycle riding, very fast (15 mph or faster)

  2. Rowing machine, very vigorous effort (200 watts)

  3. Running 8 minute miles or faster

  4. Running up stairs

  5. Jumping rope (100+ skips per minute)

  6. Kayaking, rowing or canoeing with vigorous effort (competitive)

  7. Swimming - training or competitive

  8. Ice skating competitively

  9. Cross country skiing

  10. Snowshoeing

But you don't have to take on any of these demanding activities. A brisk walk is just fine for health, fitness and burning off calories you just ate.

Originally published on Apr 30 2013,
Updated: Jan 10 2020

Dining Out->Portion Size & Calories Exercise->Aerobic & Cardio
Jan 10, 2020
Donna P Feldman MS RDN is author of Food Wisdom for Women and "Feed Your Vegetarian Teen". She writes about food and nutrition at Radio Nutrition.

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