How much exercise does it take to lose one pound?

How much exercise does it take to lose one pound

This is a very common question. While many disagree as to the exact amount of exercise you need to burn off a pound of fat, it is roughly 3,500 calories.

Like I said, it is a rough estimate that one pound of fat is equivalent to 3,500 calories.

When it comes to losing weight I am a huge supporter of the old fashioned way: exercise and eating healthy. I hate diets, diet pills, and any other gimmicks out there.

Losing weight is not a hard formula: calories in and calories out.

The diet I always tell people to do is simply eating healthy, whole foods. Your diet should be a lifestyle that you can maintain. If you can’t maintain just eating fruits for a week (not healthy!) chances are it is rubbish.

Instead, just focus on eating real, whole foods daily.

What I consider “real” food to be: whole, unprocessed food (fruits, vegetables, whole grains, healthy meats and cheeses).

I absolutely understand that every now and then we need to have some junk food, its just part of our culture (and it tastes good).

The big thing to remember is moderation! I eat very healthy 90% of the time, and every once and awhile I’ll indulge in some ice cream,  candy, chips, etc.

It is important to know that it is okay to do this, as long as it does not account for the majority of your diet.

Your body needs calories for everyday functioning, from moving your fingers to playing sports. So what are calories specifically? Calories are the energy within your food.

Proteins, carbohydrates, and fats are the three different types of nutrients that contain calories and are the  main energy sources for your body. Here are the amounts of energy/calories in each type of nutrient:

  • Carbohydrates = 4 calories per gram
  • Proteins = 4 calories per gram
  • Fats = 9 calories per gram
  • Alcohol = 7 calories per gram

When you eat food (calories), regardless of what type of food/drink, the calories are either converted to physical energy (movement) or stored within your body as fat.

The fat calories will remain in your body until you use them.

How can you use up the fat calories?

  • Creating a calorie deficit (more calories burned than ingested)
  • Exercise (burning more calories –> using your “fat reserve” calories)

Cutting calories is the simplest form of losing weight. However, it needs to be done in a healthy manor!

The rule of thumb for losing one pound per week (1 lb. per week is the healthy amount of weight you should be losing per week) is to create a calorie deficit of 500 calories per day, equalling about 3,500 calories at the end of the week.

Lets say your normal caloric intake for a day is 2,000 calories… you will need to change that to 1,500 calories.

Exercising is a great way to help speed up weight loss, but eating healthy and watching the calories is a bit more important in terms of losing weight.

I often have people ask me “I am training for a marathon, but I gain weight… why?!”.

Read my article on Weight gain during marathon training to get into more specifics about this!

Lets say you typically consume 2,000 calories per day and you have added exercise to your daily routine and are burning 500 calories (equivalent to 3.5 miles of running and 30-40 minutes of strength training).

Without changing your eating habits you are now at 1,500 calories per day.

Like I said before, losing weight is not a complex procedure. It is really about watching caloric intake, eating healthy foods, and getting some exercise in your day.

So when you go for a snack, make a conscious effort to eat something healthy with purposeful calories versus something with “empty calories”.


  • eat a handful of nuts and fruits instead of chip
  • make a banana/strawberry/spinach smoothie instead of ice cream
  • drink flavored water instead of pop

Now go eat something healthy or exercise 🙂



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