Zumba — a high-energy form of aerobic exercise inspired by Latin dancing — can be a fun way to increase your physical activity and daily calorie burn.

To lose weight, you’ll need to create a calorie deficit by burning more calories than you’re consuming. You can do this by reducing your daily caloric intake, increasing your physical activity, or a combination of the two.

You may be able to burn between 300 and 900 calories during one hour of mid- to high-intensity Zumba. Doing Zumba two or three times a week, combined with weekly strength training sessions and a balanced diet, may help you meet your weight loss goals.

Read on to learn how to incorporate Zumba into a healthy weight loss plan.

A small 2012 study of 19 healthy female Zumba participants ages 18 to 22 burned an average of 9.5 calories per minute during a 39-minute class. That totaled up to an average of 369 calories total in about 40 minutes. That was more calories burned than spending the same amount of time kickboxing, doing step aerobics, or power yoga.

How many calories you’ll burn during Zumba depends on a number of factors, including:

  • age
  • weight
  • current level of physical fitness
  • genetics
  • intensity during workout

If you want to increase the number of calories burned during Zumba, upping the intensity of the workout can help. Wearing a heart rate monitor can help you confirm you are working between 55 and 85 percent of your maximum heart rate.

You may also burn more calories and fat by participating in a Zumba variation class, such as high-intensity interval training (HIIT) Zumba. Or try a Zumba strength class that includes weights.

While a calorie deficit is important for weight loss, it’s equally important to consume enough calories to keep you energized and to get a healthy balance of vitamins and nutrients.

Losing weight too quickly can be dangerous for your health. To keep your energy up, eat a healthy diet full of whole grains, fish, lean protein, vegetables, and fruit.

How many calories do you need?

Unless instructed by your doctor, healthy women should never eat less than 1,200 calories per day and healthy men shouldn’t eat less than 1,500 calories per day.

If you’re burning extra calories while exercise, aim to eat enough calories so that the calories your taking in minus the calories you’re burning still equal 1,200 (women) or 1,500 (men) calories of more. For example, if you burn 300 calories in a Zumba class, aim to consume at least 1,500 calories if you’re a woman or 1,800 calories if you’re a man.

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How often you’ll need to participate in Zumba to lose weight depends on your health and fitness goals. In general, the American Council on Exercise recommends the following for realistic weight loss: Aim to burn 300 to 400 calories per workout session, a minimum of three days a week.

Also keep in mind your body quickly adapts to exercise. Try to alternate Zumba with other forms of cardiovascular exercise like swimming, power walking, and jogging.

And on days when you don’t practice Zumba, consider strength training. Benefits of strength training may include toning up and losing body fat faster. Keeping your body challenged is crucial for continuing to lose weight.

Your diet will also be an important factor for weight loss. To lose one pound per week, you’ll need to expend 500 more calories per day than you take in. A pound of fat equals about 3,500 calories, so it’s estimated you need to burn 3,500 calories to lose a pound, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Work with a nutritionist on a healthy weight loss plan if you need help figuring out your daily diet.

Participating in Zumba classes means you’ll be getting plenty of cardiovascular exercise. To meet your weight loss goals, you’ll also want to eat a healthy diet.

  • Fill your plate each day with whole grains like quinoa, brown rice, and oats.
  • Avoid empty carbohydrates like white bread, pasta, and cookies.
  • Eat plenty of lean protein such as chicken, fish, egg whites, and tofu,
  • Add fruits and vegetables to every meal.
  • Eating every three hours or so will help keep your energy up. Just make sure you’re choosing healthy snacks. For example, an apple with nut butter, string cheese, or a Lara or RX bar can help you feel energized without consuming a lot of empty calories.

Losing one to two pounds per week with a well-balanced diet and exercise routine is considered a healthy goal.

In the past decade, Zumba has increased in popularity around the world. Now most gyms offer a Zumba class several times a week. You may also find Zumba at your local community center or YMCA near you.

If you don’t have any Zumba classes in your area or prefer to work out at home, you can also find workouts online. There are online Zumba videos for beginners, Zumba for weight loss, and Zumba full-body toning.

You won’t need a lot of equipment for these workouts. You’ll just need lightweight clothing, sneakers, and an optional set of one- or three-pound dumbbells.

You’re more likely to stick with exercise you enjoy. Zumba can be a fun way to work out. If you enjoy Zumba classes, you’ll be more committed to attending them each week.

Some other potential benefits may include:

  • strengthening your core and become more flexible from the hip and midsection movements
  • boosting heart health from aerobic exercise
  • improving coordination from dance movements
  • improving mood
  • increasing energy

Zumba can be an enjoyable way to fit in aerobic exercise each week and help you meet your weight loss goals. Combine Zumba with strength training and a healthy diet for best results. Always check with your doctor before starting a new fitness routine.