Why It Doesn’t Matter How Many Calories You Burn During Exercise
You probably know many people who focus on how many calories they burn during an exercise session. People that will only chose a workout based how many calories they will burn so that they reach their “calorie goal.”
They may even try to burn a certain number of calories to compensate for something they ate or so they can splurge without guilt on something high in calories after they finish. Unfortunately, that kind of focus rarely delivers results, especially if you’re trying to change your body composition.
The calories you burn during exercise are typically not enough to cause significant weight loss unless you’re training for hours every day. In fact, many people compensate after exercising by overeating because they feel it’s justified because they worked out.
You might burn 200 or 300 calories doing a moderate-intensity workout for 30 minutes. It’s easy to more than undo the calories you burned by simply treating yourself to a a slice of cake. That time might be better spent doing a shorter high-intensity workout, or strength training which activates key fat-burning hormones that keep you burning fat even after you’ve finished.
When you do moderate-intensity exercise, once you stop moving your feet, the increased calorie burn comes to a halt. Which isn’t the case with a high-intensity workout or a strength based workout. Let’s take a strength based workout – this will burns fewer calories while you’re doing it than an hour jogging, but the high-intensity of a strength based exercise increases insulin sensitivity more as it demands so much energy, your body requires extra oxygen to recover in the hours after your workout, using this extra oxygen burns calories which can last up to 24hrs.
For most people, exercise accounts for less than a third of their total daily energy expenditure. What’s more important is how many calories you burn when you’re NOT exercising, when you’re sitting at your desk, relaxing and sleeping. After all, you spend more time doing that than you do working out.
Wouldn’t it be better to focus on exercise that increases your resting energy expenditure? That would include resistance training to build lean muscle mass.
When you have more lean body mass, you have a higher resting metabolic rate. That’s one reason men are less prone to weight gain than women.
Resistance training may burn fewer calories while you’re actively doing it, but what about the long-term benefits of having more muscle so you burn more calories at rest? Sounds like a worthwhile trade-off, doesn’t it?
Focus less on the number of calories you’re burning DURING exercise and more on the long-term benefits of resistance training and high-intensity exercise. Then think about the effects they’ll have on your resting metabolic rate and total energy expenditure. You’ll also enjoy it more when you aren’t so focused on a number that isn’t all that important in the big scheme of things.