Image Credit: Viktor Hanacek / Picjumbo
Everyone knows they should exercise when trying to lose weight, but many underestimate how much time is needed to burn a pound of body fat. How quickly you lose weight will depend on the exercises you choose, and the intensity, frequency and duration.
How Long Is This Going To Take?
That’s usually the thought running through your mind when you think about diet and exercise. One month without Oreos? Two? Three?
The honest answer is it varies from person to person. The more diligent you are with diet, and the more effort you put in with exercise determines how quickly you lose weight.
With that in mind, how much exercise is enough? Is there a bare minimum needed to start shedding body fat? If you take a mathematical approach to weight loss you get an idea of how much time it takes, and how much effort you want to put in each week.
Burning 250 calories per workout, which is equivalent to running on a treadmill for about twenty minutes, it would take roughly 14 workouts to burn one pound of body fat.
If you’re only exercising once per week, you’d lose about one pound every three months. Not exactly what people are hoping for when trying to lose weight.
When you want to lose weight at a faster rate you can either workout more often, say three times per week, or increase your daily workout to 500 calories burned per session.
Related: How to lose 20 pounds or more
Intensity Vs Frequency
Exercising longer isn’t always the best solution, especially when low intensity workouts are involved. In the example above we used a fairly moderate intensity level. Running on a treadmill.
If you choose to do something easier and less stressful, it means fewer calories are burned. If you’re taking a leisurely walk every evening as your daily exercise, you’re definitely burning calories but not enough to influence weight loss.
You could double the walking distance, investing an hour or more per day, and still not burn as many calories as running on that treadmill for twenty minutes.
Intensity is more important than frequency or duration. A high intensity workout can burn up to 1,500 calories per hour. Burning 1,500 calories while walking would take several hours and probably most of your day.
When Will You Start To Lose Weight?
Your weight is going to fluctuate in a 2-5 pound range, even while dieting, because of water and undigested food. What you want to focus on is if you’re losing body fat.
You can use a measuring tape, calipers, or just simply pinch the body fat with your finger and thumb. It takes several weeks, and sometimes months for you to personally notice changes to your body composition.
That doesn’t mean it isn’t happening, but it won’t be obvious to you in the initial stages. Three months into a consistent workout regimen is when it becomes glaringly obvious that you’ve lost body fat.
Why does it take so long? Most people tend to focus on a specific area that they want fat to be reduced. For some it’s the small of the back. For others it’s the arms or abdomen.
Fat loss is systemic though. You may not be burning fat exactly where you want it, but trust me it’s getting burned. For me, personally, I had to lose fat off my thighs and upper arms before I started seeing noticeable fat reduction on my stomach.
Visualize your fat stores as on a list your body utilizes for preferred energy. For some, the fat on the abdomen gets burned at a faster rate than other areas. For some it’s the arms or the back.
We’re all a little different, and our genetics determine the “trouble spots” when it comes to body fat.
If you don’t have time to make it to the gym, there are plenty of at home workouts to choose from. Here’s a couple that burn at least 500 calories each:
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