AUG 07, 2017 4:00 PM PDT

How Long Does It Take to Burn Off Junk Food Calories?

WRITTEN BY: Xuan Pham

On some level, we intuitively know that calories in is much easier than calories out. That is, we can easily consume 400 calories worth of pizza in mere minutes, but to burn the same amount of calories would take hours of strenuous, focused exercise. But then, why is exercise at the forefront of all weight loss regimens? New scientific data say this is a fallacy and to stop emphasizing physical activity as a weight loss tool.

To be sure, the health benefits of exercise are tremendous - aside from not smoking, scientists deem exercise as the best thing you can do to be healthy. But there's a distinction between health benefits and weight loss, and exercise is not an effective way to lose weight.

Consider that we have three main ways to burn calories: resting metabolism, food breakdown, physical activity. Of this, exercise accounts for 10-30 percent of energy breakdown. Thus, while we control 100 percent of our calorie intake as food, we only have 30 percent control of the calories going out as exercise.

Of course it's not impossible to lose weight with exercise, but the new data say that we should reconsider emphasizing nutrition and diet over exercise when it comes to achieving weight loss goals. If 100 percent of our calorie intake is within our control, it makes sense that what we choose to eat plays far more importance on weight loss than exercise.
About the Author
  • I am a human geneticist, passionate about telling stories to make science more engaging and approachable. Find more of my writing at the Hopkins BioMedical Odyssey blog and at TheGeneTwist.com.
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