How to Burn More Calories Than You Eat

women walking to burn more calories
Make social time active to burn more calories. Priscilla Gragg/ Blend Images/ Getty Images

Do you know the magic formula for weight loss? The exact numbers are different for everyone, but the bottom line is that you need to burn more calories than you eat. Sounds simple, doesn't it? Well, if you've dieted before, you know that it can get tricky. To get the numbers right, you need to gather some essential information.

How Many Calories Do You Eat?

When you burn more calories than you eat you create an energy deficit for weight loss.

This is essential if you want to lose weight.  In a deficit state, your body burns fat as fuel and you begin to slim down.

So how do you create an energy deficit? To begin, you need to know how much food you eat everyday. To get that number, you keep a food diary of all the calories you consume for about a week. This process is fairly easy if you use an activity monitor or a smartphone app for weight loss. After about a week of recording your food intake you'll  have a good idea of the number of calories you eat on most days.

How Many Calories Do I Burn?

Once you know how many calories you eat every day, you can track your daily activity to make sure you burn more calories than you eat with daily movement and exercise. Most experts recommend that you burn 500-1000 more calories than you eat to lose weight at a rate of one to two pounds per week.

To find out how many calories you burn everyday, use an activity tracker all day long or a heart rate monitor during exercise to record your numbers.

You can also use an online calculator to estimate the number of calories you burn with various activities. Once you know your number, try to burn 500 or more calories above that number to lose weight. 

What happens if you don't burn enough calories with exercise? Don't worry. Just change your daily routine to burn more calories through exercise and non-exercise activity.

How to Burn More Calories Than You Eat

Believe it or not, you don't need to spend more time at the gym or work harder while you're there to boost your calorie burning potential. You should exercise on most days of the week, but there is only so much exercise activity that you can do every day. And one recent study found that if you are overweight or obese, doing high intensity activity may increase your appetite and cause you to eat more overall. 

If you really want to burn more calories than you eat, you need to make changes to your daily routine.  Create a balanced exercise program so that your workout routine doesn't wear you down and your energy level stays high throughout the day. Then burn mega calories all day long with an active lifestyle.

  • Get up early.  Your body burns the least number of calories when you're sleeping. So try not to spend too much time in bed. Make plans to get 7-8 hours of restful sleep, then get up and get moving when the alarm goes off.
  • Start your day with movement.  If you are not a morning person, you don't need to do a full workout in the wee hours.  But if you start your morning with a few stretches or a short walk, it'll help your body feel more flexible and strong throughout the day. This may help you to make active choices all day to burn calories and fat.
  • Avoid long periods of sitting. Do you spend hours sitting at a desk all day? Do you spend your evenings in front of the TV? If so, try to make changes to these habits. For example, at work set a timer to take a break and walk at least once every few hours. Take advantage of a treadmill work station if one is available or gather with colleagues to discuss work issues while you walk or climb stairs.

    In the evening, be mindful of the amount of time that you spend sitting. This may mean that you limit the number of hours in front of the television. Walk after dinner, go for a bike ride, or even do calorie-burning housecleaning activities to burn fat and build strength.
  • Look for mini workouts throughout the day.  Your day is filled with opportunities for mini calorie-burning workouts. Take the stairs at your office to tighten your hips and thighs. Carry your groceries to build strength in your upper body. Build a snowman with the kids, or go bowling with your friends to increase your fat and calorie burning numbers. 
While none of these daily activities is a huge calorie burner all by itself, when you do several of them throughout the day the calories add up. The end result is that you burn more calories than you eat and you lose weight.  Once you've reached your goal weight, the good activity habits will keep your body in shape and keep the weight off for good.

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