If you’re like most people, you occasionally indulge in high-calorie foods. It’s okay to enjoy the occasional treat, but you need to keep in mind that calories add up fast. You may notice your waistline expanding if you make a habit of eating too many high-calorie foods.
It’s easy to say, “I’ll just burn these extra calories off at the gym.” But have you considered just how much exercise you would need to do to torch the amount of calories you get from your favorite indulgences? The next time you are tempted to indulge, take a moment to consider if your snack of choice is loaded with calories, and how long it would take you to work them off.
Striking a balance
You may have heard the phrase “calories in, calories out” used as a bottom-line strategy for proper weight maintenance. This simply means that to maintain your current weight, you need to take in an equal amount of calories to those you burn off during your day. In a simplified sense, you gain weight if you take in more calories than you burn. You lose weight if you burn more calories than you take in.
For example, you might be craving a sugary doughnut for breakfast. A medium-sized frosted cake doughnut contains about 250 calories, and a large doughnut can contain more than 350 calories. Are you going to make time to burn those calories off at the gym? If you do, how long will it take to do so?
The answer depends on a number of factors. The amount of time it takes to burn off a certain number of calories changes depending on your current weight and the type of exercise you choose. For example, someone who weighs 150 pounds burns:
- approximately 300 calories per half hour of swimming
- almost 200 calories per half hour of walking
- more than 180 calories per half hour of yoga
People who weigh more will burn a greater number of calories doing these activities because their bodies are heavier. On the other hand, lighter people burn fewer calories doing the same activities. The intensity of the exercise will also determine how many calories you burn in a given amount of time.
What does this all amount to? On average, to burn off a 350-calorie doughnut, a person who weighs 150 pounds would have to swim for about 35 minutes, walk for 54 minutes, or attend an hour-long yoga class.
You could opt for a healthier breakfast instead of loading up on sugar in the morning. A cup of oatmeal contains only 150 calories and has more nutrients than a doughnut. You can work off 150 calories with less than a half hour of walking.
It’s important to remember that calories add up throughout your whole day. You might decide to go to the gym to burn off the doughnut you ate for breakfast, but what about the foods you choose at other meals?
Think about some of your favorite lunch foods. How often do you choose to order pizza or indulge in a burger and fries? A single slice of pizza can contain over 300 calories. You’ll have to swim for a full hour to burn off just two slices of pizza. A burger and fries have even more calories. A fast-food burger can have anywhere from 325 to more than 900 calories. A large order of fries can have up to 450 calories. You’d need to walk for quite a few hours to burn off that meal.
Consider choosing some tasty, low-calorie foods for some of your meals. Sandwiches are an excellent choice for lunch. A regular turkey sandwich usually contains approximately 230 calories. Sushi is a fun alternative. The average California roll contains roughly 250 calories. Salads can be a great option too. The caloric content of salads varies depending on the ingredients. If you stick to lower-calorie dressing and don’t load up on cheese and nuts, it’s easy to create a salad that is less than 250 calories.
It can be difficult to balance the number of calories you eat with the exercise you do. You can choose to take a simpler approach by making an effort to exercise on a regular basis. Exercising regularly can help you maintain your weight and enable you to occasionally indulge with less worry.
The American Heart Association recommends that adults engage in at least 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity exercise. This comes out to about 30 minutes per day, five days a week.
The benefits of regular exercise go beyond maintaining a healthy weight. Exercise can decrease your risk of developing serious diseases like cancer and heart disease. Moreover, getting regular exercise boosts your immune system and mood, increases your circulation, and can help lower your blood pressure.
Remember, it all comes down to calories in, calories out. Learn how to moderate your calorie intake to keep it in tune with your level of exercise. Better yet, start eating a well-rounded diet and exercising regularly so you won’t need to worry about the occasional indulgence. You’ll find it’s easier to maintain a healthy balance once you start taking steps toward a more active lifestyle.