Newsflash: working out doesn’t burn that many calories.


Newsflash: working out doesn’t burn that many calories.

Why working out to burn more calories isn’t the best weight loss strategy…

Let me explain…


In order to lose weight, you need to be in a calorie deficit. That means you need to consume LESS calories than what you expend each day.

Most people dramatically overestimate the amount of calories they expend in a day, including their workouts. 

Also, exercise (particularly cardio-based exercise) tends to make people more hungry, prompting them to consume more calories.

The calories you burn while working out only contribute to a small fraction of your daily calorie burn.

If we break down how your metabolism works, you’ll see that exercise and physical activity is a small portion of your daily calorie expenditure.

For most people, ANY physical activity they do amounts to roughly 10% daily calorie burn.

The more active a lifestyle and physically demanding job you have, the higher that percentage is… that may swing more towards 30%.

Unfortunately most people sit all day and don’t expend much energy. But they feel as though a one hour workout burned enough calories to make up for their lack of food discipline.

The truth is you don’t burn as many calories as you think you do when you workout… so people often consume more calories than they need if their goal is weight loss.

I know your wearable may say you burned a ton of calories, particularly in your workout…

But your wearable can overestimate your calorie burn by 25%-30%… which will significantly impact your weight loss efforts if you’re tracking your calories and trying to stay in a deficit.

To lose weight, particularly unhealthy body fat, you need to combine fitness AND nutrition tactics to place yourself in a calorie deficit.

We can control 100% of our calorie intake, but we can only dictate up to 30% of our calorie output… and that’s if you’re super active.

So focusing on managing your calorie CONSUMPTION instead of your calorie BURN is a much more effective way to lose weight.

Relying on exercise alone won’t be a great strategy to lose weight… but there are a ton of benefits to exercise – which is why you need to exercise regularly, regardless of your goals.

Here are 12 reasons why you SHOULD workout:

  • Build strength and muscle muscle
  • Increase your metabolism as you build more muscle
  • Become more mobile and keeps your joints healthy
  • Improves your cardiovascular health
  • Improves bone density
  • Improves self esteem and body image
  • Relieves stress and anxiety, improves your mood
  • Improves cognitive (brain) function
  • Makes you a more adaptable and useful person
  • Helps ensure you can do every day tasks like house work, playing with kids, moving furniture, etc
  • Improve insulin sensitivity
  • Manage your cholesterol 

In conclusion, working out without managing your diet will prove to be a frustrating weight loss strategy. Instead, workout for the reasons above and focus on your calorie consumption (what you eat and drink)  as the best combination to hit your weight loss goals.

At Elevate, we specialize in strength-based fitness. But if you need help with nutrition, we do that too!

  • Nicole Race, owner Elevate St. Pete