You Can’t Out Run Calories

“But I go to the gym” she said in exasperation, her weight had increased considerably despite her frequent gym visits, what she didn’t realise was the simple fact that you just can’t outrun calories.  

So unless you are exercising in the extreme, i.e like sitting on a bike all day, or running a marathon and not being able to refuel adequately without seeing your food twice the simple fact is for most normal people you just ‘can’t outrun the calories you consume’.

The average snack, a few pieces of toast, a bag of crisps, 4 squares of chocolate or that medium latte can easily add up to a few hundred calories, that 200 calories doesn’t seem like an excessive calorific value but few people also realise the amount of exercise that you would need to do to burn off those calories.

1. The first option is to hit the sofa for 4 hours.
Even with inactivity your basal metabolic rate burns at about 50-60 calories per hour and providing you don’t eat anything else for another 4 hours (this is the important bit), getting your arse on the sofa in the front of the TV is the easiest way to burn off that snack.  

2. The second option is go for a walk.
One hour of slow walking should do it, so get yourself out for some fresh air for an hour or so.

3. Go for a run or a swim.
A 20 minute run is perhaps a little quicker and providing you are going fast enough 20 minutes of running will burn through those 4 bits of chocolate. Alternatively swimming for half an hour will also burn about the calorific equivalent. 

These examples are what I call the ‘Calorie Paradox’ the simple principle that if we want to stay weight neutral we generally need to be able to burn off any excess calories we shovel into our mouth, and few of us have the activity in our lives to do this, most people can’t out run their calorie intake.

Put a person on a treadmill next to me running full pelt whilst I’m sitting on the sofa eating pizza and drinking beer, and I’d be able to consume more calories than they could ever burn off before they dropped down exhausted.

Consider this only by consuming an extra 200 calories a day amounts to over 73000 excess calories a year, and given that there are 3500 calories in every pound of fat you can put on 20 lbs in that year just because of the extra medium latte on the way to work.

This article is not about snacking, it’s not about dieting, it’s about not thinking that going to the gym for a few sessions a week is really going to help you lose weight, because for most of us you just can’t outrun calories.