When you're trying to lose weight, going for a jog or spending an hour on the elliptical machine at the gym isn't the only way to do it. Even your profession, if it's active, can help you burn calories to shed pounds. Waiting tables is an active job that keeps you on your feet for hours at a time.
According to Harvard Health Publishing, a 155-pound person can have 185 calories burned waiting tables for an hour. If you work in a very fast-paced restaurant, carry heavy trays or have to walk up stairs during your shift, you could burn even more.
Keep in mind, you'll need to burn about 3,500 calories to lose 1 pound of fat, according to Mayo Clinic.
Read more: How to Lose Weight Fast — the Healthy Way
The number of calories burned waiting tables varies, depending on your weight.
What Makes You Burn Calories?
Your body burns calories even while you're at rest, taking care of all its various physiological functions, such as respiration and digestion.
Any physical activity you do — from walking to raking leaves to lifting weights — increases your total calorie burn. According to Valdosta State University, even sitting at a desk doing light office work burns 140 calories per hour for an individual weighing 205 pounds.
The more you weigh, the more calories you burn because your body has to work harder to propel you forward, and men usually burn more calories than women doing the same amount of work.
Consider the Variables
Those who work in a small restaurant with a slower pace have to walk a shorter distance and burn fewer calories than workers in a larger restaurant who have to walk farther and/or a faster-paced restaurant.
Also, if a food runner carries your customers' orders to the table for you, you'll burn fewer calories. If the kitchen is in the basement, and your tables are on the first floor, traveling up and down the stairs will increase your calorie burn.
The list of variables is long, but you can assume that anything that increases your effort will cause you to burn more calories.
Calories Burned While Waiting Tables
Because there are so many variables involved in waiting tables, it's difficult to pin down exactly how many calories are burned. Harvard Health Publishing estimates a 125-pound person burns 150 calories per hour waiting tables, and a 185-pound person burns 222 calories per hour of work.
If you work a six-hour shift, consider how much of that time you spend on your feet walking around, carrying food and drink, or shuttling supplies from the storeroom. Do not include the time you spend sitting down folding napkins or refilling condiments.
If four hours of your six-hour shift are active, you could burn almost 750 calories per shift if you weigh 155 pounds. That's similar to the number of calories you would burn running at a 5 mph pace for about 75 minutes.
Measure Calorie Burn
If you really want to know how many calories you burn each shift, invest in a fitness tracker and wear it each time you work.
Your fitness tracker will have info on your sex, weight and other variables, which it will then use, along with how often you are active, to give you a more accurate estimate of your calorie burn.
A fitness tracker with a heart rate monitor will be even more accurate, because it can more accurately measure exertion levels.