Mathematically, if you burn 500 calories a day, it should take you a little more than two months to lose 10 pounds. However, while burning calories through exercise is one way to lose weight, it's important to eat a healthy diet, too. Consult your doctor to discuss weight loss before making changes to your exercise routine or diet.
Burning 500 Calories a Day to Lose 10 Pounds
It takes 3,500 extra calories to gain 1 pound of fat. You lose body fat by creating a negative calorie balance through eating less or burning more, or both. If 10 pounds of fat contains 35,000 calories, and you're burning 500 calories a day, mathematically that's 35,000 calories divided by 500 calories per day, so it would take you 70 days to lose those 10 pounds. You may have more success at keeping the weight off when you lose it slowly, at a rate of 1 pound to 2 pounds a week, says FamilyDoctor.org, because you're more likely losing fat weight and not muscle and water.
Exercise Only and Weight Loss
You can lose weight through regular exercise. However, you may not lose as much as your energy expenditures predict. A paper published in Obesity Review in 2012 investigated why people don't lose as much weight when they exercise without making dietary changes. The authors reviewed numerous studies and identified a number of factors to explain the weight loss discrepancies, including change in metabolic rate and a decrease in overall activity outside of exercise. They concluded that people don't lose as much weight through exercise alone because they don't burn as many calories as predicted, and they tend to compensate for the calories they burned by eating more.
Managing the Calories You Eat
While burning calories is helpful when it comes to weight loss, finding ways to help you manage the number of calories you consume is equally important. A food diary can help you track your intake and stay within weight-loss calorie range. Use food labels to learn proper portions and count calories. Also, fill your diet with low-calorie foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins and nonfat dairy to help keep calories under control. Additionally, the fiber in fruits, vegetables and whole grains makes them perfect weight loss foods, says NHS Choices, because they fill you up with few calories.
Benefits of Combining Diet and Exercise
The most effective way to lose weight is through a combination of diet and exercise, according to a 2015 review study published in the Journal of Diabetes and Metabolic Disorders. It takes a lot of effort to burn 500 extra calories a day. A 155-pound person can walk for 90 minutes at 4 mph, take a 40-minute high-impact aerobics class or run for 30 minutes at 8 mph to burn 500 calories. While exercising this hard isn't impossible, you may find it easier to decrease your caloric intake by 250 calories a day and burn a minimum of 250 calories through exercise to lose those 10 pounds. A 155-pound person can burn 250 calories in 30 minutes with a low-impact aerobics class, riding a stationary bike at a moderate pace or in-line skating.
Tips to Reduce Calorie Intake
There are many ways to trim 250 calories. For example, replacing 1 tablespoon of heavy cream in your coffee with reduced-fat milk saves more than 20 calories. If you drink two cups of coffee a day, that's 40 fewer calories. Also, replace your midafternoon candy with a medium banana and save almost 200 calories. At dinner, make your 3-ounce hamburger using 93 percent lean ground meat instead of 70 percent lean and save another 78 calories.
- FamilyDoctor.org: What It Takes to Lose Weight
- Obesity Review: Why Do Individuals Not Lose More Weight from an Exercise Intervention at a Defined Dose? An Energy Balance Analysis
- Journal of Diabetes and Metabolic Disorders: Diet, Exercise or Diet with Exercise: Comparing the Effectiveness of Treatment Options for Weight-Loss and Changes in Fitness for Adults (18–65 Years Old) Who Are Overfat or Obese; Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis
- Harvard Health Publications: Calories Burned in 30 Minutes for People of Three Different Weights
- HealthAliciousNess.com: Nutrition Facts Comparison Tool: Cream, Reduced-Fat Milk, Snickers Bar
- HealthAliciousNess.com: Nutrition Facts Comparison Tool: Bananas, Beef Ground
- NHS Choices: 12 Tips for Weight Loss Success