Burning 1,000 calories in a day may sound like a lofty goal, but is it? And is it even healthy?
The short answer: It depends.
How difficult it is to burn 1,000 calories depends on how you define “burning 1,000 calories.”
Almost everybody’s body requires at least 1,000 calories a day through essential biological functions, like replenishing hormone levels and building new tissues.
Daily activities such as cleaning your house, walking, and gardening can also burn a significant number of calories throughout the day. For some people, these activities may burn more than 1,000 calories.
Burning 1,000 calories through exercise alone or in a single exercise session is more difficult, but not impossible. For example, a 150-pound person running at a 10-minute mile pace for 90 minutes burns about 1,020 calories.
Is it healthy to burn 1,000 calories a day?
That depends on your reason for trying to burn them.
If you’re an active person who eats enough to replenish the calories you burn, there’s nothing wrong with burning 1,000 calories a day through exercise.
However, exercising vigorously to lose weight quickly or to offset binge eating are not healthy habits and can be signs of an eating disorder.
Keep reading as we examine what you would have to do to burn 1,000 calories a day and help you determine whether it’s realistic.
Losing weight or getting in shape is a gradual process. No single workout is going to have a long-term effect on your body. When trying to determine what a realistic goal is for you, it’s important to consider what level of activity you’ll be able to sustain week after week.
Are you willing to commit 1 hour a day? Two hours a day? What about 3 days a week? Five days a week?
The number of calories you burn while exercising depends on factors such as your body size, sex, and your amount of muscle mass.
Usually, males and people with bigger bodies burn more calories per day than females and people with smaller bodies. For example, a 100-pound female will have to spend much more time exercising to burn 1,000 calories than a 250-pound male.
Experts recommend at least
If you’re creating a new workout program to get in shape, aiming to achieve at least this minimum level of physical activity is a good place to start.
According to the American Council on Exercise (ACE), here’s a rough look at how many calories three people would burn per day and week following the minimum guidelines:
|Person 1||Person 2||Person 3|
|Body weight||95 lbs.||150 lbs.||220 lbs.|
|Monday||30 min. moderate jogging||60 min. moderate jogging and 30 min. moderate weightlifting||30 min. moderate jogging|
|Tuesday||30 min. moderate rowing and 30 min. moderate strength training||Rest||20 min. moderate rowing and 30 min. moderate strength training|
|Wednesday||30 min. moderate jogging||30 min. moderate jogging||25 min. moderate jogging|
|Thursday||30 min. moderate rowing and 30 min. moderate strength training||Rest||25 min. moderate rowing|
|Friday||30 min. moderate jogging||60 min. moderate jogging and 30 min. moderate weightlifting||25 min. moderate jogging|
|Saturday||Rest||Rest||25 min. moderate rowing and 30 min. moderate strength training|
|Total calories burned||1,173||2,160||2,643|
|Average calories burned per day||168||309||378|
Burning 1,000 calories a day is easier for some people than others. For example, a 6-foot, 3-inch 18-year-old male playing on multiple sports teams might easily burn more than 1,000 calories a day exercising.
For a 5-foot, 1-inch 40-year-old female who works a desk job, burning 1,000 calories a day will be more difficult.
Exercising regularly is good for your body, but exercising vigorously to lose an extreme amount of weight or exercising to offset binge eating isn’t.
If you’re targeting to burn 1,000 calories a day, it may be a good idea to ask yourself why.
If your goal is to improve your overall fitness or get stronger, measuring your progress in calories burned is a poor way to get meaningful feedback.
If your goal is to lose weight, burning a set number of calories is meaningless without context. If you burn an extra 1,000 calories through exercise each day but consume an extra 1,000 calories, your weight will stay the same.
Here’s an example of what it would take to burn 1,000 calories per day in three different ways.
According to the ACE, here’s a rough guide to how long you would have to run at various paces to burn 1,000 calories. Keep in mind the exact number of calories you will burn is unique to your body.
|Pace||100-lb. person||150-lb. person||200-lb. person|
|5 miles per hour||2.8 hours||1.8 hours||1.4 hours|
|6 miles per hour||2.2 hours||1.5 hours||1.1 hours|
|7 miles per hour||1.9 hours||1.3 hours||1 hour|
|8 miles per hour||1.6 hours||1.1 hours||0.8 hours|
|10 miles per hour||1.4 hours||0.9 hours||0.7 hours|
According to the ACE, here’s a rough guide to how many hours it would take to burn 1,000 calories cycling.
|Pace||100-lb. person||150-lb. person||200-lb. person|
|5.5 miles per hour||5.5 hours||3.7 hours||2.8 hours|
|12–13 miles per hour||2.8 hours||1.8 hours||1.4 hours|
|16–19 miles per hour||1.8 hours||1.2 hours||0.9 hours|
You burn calories during all your daily activities. Over the course of a day, these calories may add up to a significant number. For example, for an average male, washing the dishes burns about 174 to 252 calories per hour.
Here’s a look at what it would take to burn 1,000 calories without exercising:
|Activity||Time||Calories burned (male)||Calories burned (female)|
|Cleaning or sweeping||1 hour||156–228||126–80|
|Washing dishes||30 minutes||87–126||69–90|
|Shoveling snow||30 minutes||183–264||147–210|
|Moderate walking||60 minutes||348–498||276–396|
|Cleaning gutters||30 minutes||174–249||108–198|
If you’re burning 1,000 calories a day through exercise, the amount you should eat depends on your goal.
If your goal is to lose weight, you’ll need to consume fewer calories than you burn. Reducing your calories by
Attempting a “crash diet” or a highly restrictive diet to lose weight is
If your goal is to maintain your weight, you’ll need to eat the same number of calories that you’re burning. To gain weight, you’ll need to eat more.
Starting a new and intense exercise program isn’t a good idea if you have a health condition such as diabetes or heart disease that could be affected by exercise, unless you get the green light from your doctor.
It’s also not a good idea to purposely burn a significant number of calories without refueling properly if you’re already below a healthy weight for your sex and height.
Purposely not eating after periods of heavy exercise can be a sign of the eating disorder anorexia. Exercising intensely after periods of binge eating can be a sign of bulimia or binge eating disorder.
If you think you may have an eating disorder, you may benefit from talking with a healthcare professional who specializes in eating disorders.
If you need help and you’re not sure where to start, you can contact the National Eating Disorder Association’s helpline by phone, text, or online chat.
Many people find working with a personal trainer or another fitness professional helps them achieve their weight loss or fitness target.
A personal trainer can help motivate you to stick with your program and help you establish realistic goals. They can also design an effective program for you and answer any questions you may have.
Some trainers specialize in helping people with little to no experience exercising, while other trainers work with people who are already fit to take them to the next level.
It’s a good idea to talk with your doctor before starting a new exercise program if you have heart disease or another health condition that may preclude you from intense exercise.
It’s possible to burn 1,000 calories in a single workout. However, it’s easier for some people than others. Males and people who have bigger bodies tend to burn more calories during the same workout than females and people with smaller bodies.
Some active people regularly burn more than 1,000 calories a day exercising. However, it’s not a good idea to try to burn 1,000 calories if your goal is to rapidly lose weight and you don’t replenish your body properly after your workout.
Developing sustainable eating and exercise habits is almost always the best strategy for long-term weight loss and health.