Episode 15: How many calories do I burn when I workout?

This is one of the most asked questions by many people when they start working out.  Geof and Todd take on this question and discuss why it is a very difficult question to answer with any accuracy and why it might not matter to your ultimate goals. The real question is, “why are you trying to measure the calories you are burning in the first place?” Chances are, if you are keeping track of your calories, you’re also interested in losing weight.

While exercise is very important to weight loss, diet really rules the day when it comes to losing weight. Exercise is something you should do because you enjoy it and provides numerous other health benefits, not because it burns a maximum number of calories contributing to weight loss. Exercise can and should be part of a weight loss program along with diet, behavior modification, and pharmacotherapy (medicine) when indicated.

People are lead to believe that if they track the number of calories they eat and calories they burn that they will lose weight in a linear fashion. Although it was beyond the scope of this podcast, linear weight loss doesn’t occur for a variety of reasons. Briefly, it is very difficult to accurately track the calories you consume as well as the calories you burn and your metabolic rate slows as you lose weight (lean mass) and may further slow (adaptive thermogenesis) beyond what would be expected from lean mass loss. While it is very important to be aware of how many calories you are eating and burning, unfortunately you cannot micromanage your weight loss down to the calorie eaten or burned.

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