What It Takes to Burn Off High-Cal Foods

Calories in and calories out -- the calories you eat from food are expended with physical activity. When eating outweighs what you’re burning, you can pack on the pounds. High-cal foods take more exercise to get rid of, and sometimes it makes it more real to visualize just how much moving you’d have to do to shed those decadent calories.

Crunching the Numbers

The values below are average based on a 155-pound person.

Dessert Damage
  • 2 small scoops of chocolate ice cream = 1 hour 20 minutes of tennis
  • 1 medium strawberry milkshake = 1 hour 30 minutes of high intensity aerobics
  • 1 slice cheesecake (restaurant portion) =  1 hour 10 minutes on the elliptical trainer

Fast Food Frenzy
  • A large order of French fries = 1 hour of swimming laps
  • Bacon cheeseburger = 1 hour of fast running  at 8 mph
  • Fried chicken sandwich = 45 minutes hiking

Takeout Trouble
  • 1 slice pepperoni pizza = 30 minutes of medium-paced jogging
  • Medium-sized movie popcorn with butter = 1 hour 20 minutes of downhill skiing
  • 1 order General Tso’s chicken = 2 hours on the stair-climber

Snacking
  • A candy bar = 1 hour of  brisk walking at 3.75 mph
  • A (12-fluid ounce) can of soda = 30 minutes of volleyball
  • A 1-ounce bag of potato chips (15 chips) = 45 minutes of weight-lifting
Damage Control

We aren’t suggesting banishing these foods from your diet forever, but if you want to indulge a little more sensibly, consider:

  • Serving up smaller portions
  • Indulging only on occasion
  • Increase your calorie burn by getting out there and exercising more often
TELL US: How do you burn those extra calories?

Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC, is a registered dietitian, certified athletic trainer and owner of Dana White Nutrition, Inc., which specializes in culinary and sports nutrition. See Dana's full bio »

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