Calorie crunch time: how many are you burning?

Calorie crunch time: how many are you burning?

Just when we thought we knew all there was to know about calories, a new TV programme airs entitled “The Truth About Calories” and bang goes the old theory about the way we should consume those invisible fat-makers.

It turns out that it’s not just the number of calories we need to worry about, but rather the type of calories we consume. Say for example a cabbage and a doughnut contained the same amount of calories (admittedly it would need to be an enormous cabbage), then the cabbage would be the better choice of calorie consumption due to the way the calories are released. The doughnut contains essentially “empty” calories which are nutritionally no good for us, whereas the cabbage releases calories slowly to give us more energy and releases nutrients into the bloodstream.

Some things we do know for sure – there are ways you can burn calories faster

Many factors determine how you burn calories – these include your BMR – or Basal Metabolic Rate – which is the amount of calories you burn by doing absolutely nothing at all. This accounts for around 60% of calories for an average person.

About 30% of the calories you consume are used to do activity. This is for all movement, from lifting a spoon to running up a hill. We also burn calories just by eating and digesting food. This is called Dietary Thermogenesis and is the process used to chew, swallow digest and absorb food. To burn calories quicker, follow these tips:

Build Muscle

For each addition pound of muscle you put on, your body will use around 50 extra calories each day. This is because your BMR is increased by around 15%.

Move More

It stands to reason that moving more will burn more calories. Although the average person used 30% of calories through everyday activity, sedentary people may only be using around 15%. Take every opportunity to move and you’ll dramatically alter the amount of calories you burn.

Eat Spicy Foods

Eating spices, particularly chilli, raises the metabolic rate by up to 50% for as much as three hours after eating. Other metabolism boosters include caffeine and green tea.

Aerobic Exercise

Sustained high intensity activity helps you to burn more calories for several hours after you’ve finished your workout. You could try 30 minute sessions of vigorous walking, step aerobics or jogging, three or four times a week.

Eat Little and Often

It’s believed that eating small, regular meals keeps the metabolism going faster than bigger more randomly-timed meals.  Providing your meals are well-balanced and free of empty calories, you’ll find you burn them much quicker.


The Author

Laura Briggs

Laura is a fitness writer who loves running, strength training, Pilates and Yoga. When she's got time to herself you might find her knitting, or in the kitchen trying out an elaborate recipe - healthy of course!.


Mike D.
23 May 2015

Mike D.

When i changed job from a builder to an DT teacher the pounds crept on, just through the lack of movement. Sedentary jobs are the real killer in society.

Roger B.
21 May 2015

Roger B.

the study I saw is that spicy food is so tasty (and fiery) that you tend to eat less of it. Also curries/chillis are usually full of vegetables which provide fibre with relatively low calories. So curry doesn't burn fat, but curry eaters are usually less fat!

craig t.
20 May 2015

craig t.

It's interesting to hear that spicy food burns more calories. I am very slim, have no trouble staying slim, and eat spicy meals several times most weeks.

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