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Running with Fries: Eating Less by Comparing Calories with Exercise

Updated on January 4, 2012
This food has too many empty calories.
This food has too many empty calories. | Source

You try to lose weight by eating less and then exercising. But when the smell of a thick grilled steak beckons from the barbecue or the beauty of a triple chocolate fudge cake fills your vision, you indulge your taste buds and ask for seconds. Your subsequent exercise sessions change little despite the rich food. You then despair at your growing waistlines and increasing poundage, only to repeat the cycle of gluttony and hopelessness.

Even though you may know the calorie count of your food, you continue unhealthy eating habits because the numbers mean nothing. You have no way of turning those calorie counts into the assaults on your health that they truly are. The strategy of comparing calories with exercise may help you finally realize the cost of unfettered consumption.

© 2012 by Aurelio Locsin.

Running can burn off unwanted calories.
Running can burn off unwanted calories. | Source


The first step to eating less with comparisons is finding the calories used by the exercises you use. Fortunately, Harvard Medical School has already published a list of calories burned by exercises based on weight. It assumes 30 minutes of effort. Here’s an abbreviated version of that list:

125 lbs.
155 lbs.
185 lbs.
Bicycling 14-15 mph
Elliptical machine
Hatha Yoga
High-impact aerobics
Jumping rope
Running 6 mph
Slow walk (3.5 mph)
Stair step machine
Vigorous stationary rowing
Weight lifting

Pick an exercise that you normally do. Feel free to round the figures to make them easier to remember. For example, if you weigh 125 lbs. and like to run at 6 mph, that activity burns 300 calories for 30 minutes of effort.


The next step to eating less with comparisons is find the calorie count of the food you want to eat on one of many calorie counting websites such as Nutrition Data or The Calorie Counter. Here are the values of some common foods:

Apple pie, 1 slice
Big Mac
Chocolate cake with frosting, 1 slice
Coca Cola, 12 oz. can
Donut, glazed
Fries, McDonald's, Medium, 4.1 oz
KFC chicken breast, original recipe
KFC chicken thigh, original recipe
Pizza Hut Meat Lover's pizza, 1 slice
Snicker's Bar
Steak, Rib Eye, 8 oz.
Steak, Sirloin, lean, 8 oz.
Vanilla ice cream, cup

For example, if you wanted to eat a Big Mac, medium fries and a can of Coke, you’d consume 1083 calories (563 + 380 + 140).

Eating Less with Comparisons

The final step in eating less with comparisons is converting the calories you consume into real world effort. For example, your McDonald’s meal of 1083 calories requires three hours of running at 6 mph to burn up at 300 calories every 30 minutes. A KFC chicken breast equals 37 minutes of running and a slice of apple pie requires 41 minutes. If you don’t burn off those calories, you’ll gain a pound for roughly every 3,500 extra calories you consume, which equals only about 3.5 McDonald’s meals.

This strategy makes you aware of the exercise needed to burn off the calories in the food you eat. This doesn’t mean you must swear off your favorite desserts or steaks entirely. Instead, if you don’t want such edibles to eventually add pounds to your body, you can reduce the extra calories by eating less or exercising more.


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    • Alecia Murphy profile image

      Alecia Murphy 5 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      This is good information. Great hub!

    • Millionaire Tips profile image

      Shasta Matova 5 years ago from USA

      This is a great strategy, and a great way to keep fit without depriving yourself of everything. Just eat the things that you really want and are willing to do the exercise for. It also does explain why the last few pounds are the hardest to lose - it does get harder and harder the closer you get to your goal!

    • rajan jolly profile image

      Rajan Singh Jolly 5 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

      Hi Alocsin. You are right in saying, eat less and exercise more. Fortunately, I don't have to since my metabolic rate being high I hardly put on weight. The exercise and calories used chart is very useful. Very surprising that weightlifting causes the least amount of calories to be expended.

      Very useful to those who want to reduce weight or maintain weight.

      Voted up and useful.

    • cclitgirl profile image

      Cynthia Calhoun 5 years ago from Western NC

      Dang. A glazed donut has 250 calories? Oh man, there goes my Krispy Kreme habit. ;) This hub has lots of great information. To lose weight, it is indeed about reducing caloric intake, eating more healthfully AND exercising. Voted up.

    • Pinkchic18 profile image

      Sarah Carlsley 5 years ago from Minnesota

      Great tips and ideas here. Very helpful!

    • BlissfulWriter profile image

      BlissfulWriter 5 years ago

      People do not realize the amount of exercise need to burn calories. Running for 30 minutes is not even enough to burn off a medium fries. It is much easier to lose weight by proper nutrition. Diet and nutrition accounts for 80% of the body composition. Exercise 20%.

    • barbergirl28 profile image

      Stacy Harris 5 years ago from Hemet, Ca

      I am a firm believer that awareness is the key to weight loss. If you take a look at the comparisons... it makes you well aware of what work it takes to burn off that treat. Hopefully, while it won't make you feel guilty... it won't make you feel the need to indulge every single day. Interesting hub! Love it. Voted up and shared!

    • alocsin profile image

      alocsin 5 years ago from Orange County, CA

      Thanks Peggy W. Appreciate the shares.

    • weestro profile image

      Pete Fanning 5 years ago from Virginia

      Great info here alocsin, easy to follow and interesting to read. Full court basketball has always been my way to work off those fries! Voted up and useful!

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 5 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi alocsin,

      Our desk is not set up to be able to stand and type, but I actually saw a snippet on the news that some companies are organizing spaces in their workplace to have their employees be able to do just that. There is a treadmill that can be set at a slow pace and they work while making telephone calls or doing work on the computer. They are able to take turns at this type of work station. How smart is that!

      Already did up votes on this hub, so now SHARING it! This makes one really think about consuming the different types of food verses what it takes to burn the calories. Nice job!

    • alocsin profile image

      alocsin 5 years ago from Orange County, CA

      Congrats Audra on losing that weight. That's quite an achievement.

      And as for looking my age, it's amazing what Photoshop and plastic surgery can do ;)

    • profile image

      iamaudraleigh 5 years ago

      First of all, you do not look way!

      2nd, This hub is helpful to me in many ways. I am 5'0" tall and weigh 115 LBS. However, I used to weigh 140-150 several years ago. I eat alot now, but I am worried about cholesterol and exercise.

      I did not know until now, how much exercise was needed to rid calories that was in a piece of! Amazing and useful hub...voted up and shared while xerting calories!

    • Vinaya Ghimire profile image

      Vinaya Ghimire 5 years ago from Nepal

      Though I'm not over weight, I try hard to keep my weight under control. Your hub will definitely help me.

      Good work my friend.

    • alocsin profile image

      alocsin 5 years ago from Orange County, CA

      Peggy W, you can always type while standing and running in place to increase calorie use ;)

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 5 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Shucks! I was hoping to learn how many calories I burn by typing and creating new hubs. Haha! Seriously...nice hub. Calories in...calories out. My problem is the "out" category. Easy to do the "in." Voted up and useful.

    • alocsin profile image

      alocsin 5 years ago from Orange County, CA

      I still eat fries on occasion, THEHuG5. I just don't do it as often any more ;)

    • THEHuG5 profile image

      THEHuG5 5 years ago

      Alocsin now don't ruin my medium fry lol! It's definitely a lot easier to eat less than to exercise (at least for me). On the rare occasions that I do go to Mcdonalds I've started getting a happy meal instead of the regular adult sized portions and that helps cut down a few calories. I'm guilty when it comes to pizza though which is why I have to hit the gym at least 3 times a week! Very informative, and useful I like the calorie chart. Voting up.

    • alocsin profile image

      alocsin 5 years ago from Orange County, CA

      Rusticliving, that chart helps me decide whether that extra slice of cake is worth an hour or two or running.

    • tammyswallow profile image

      Tammy 5 years ago from North Carolina

      Great hub! All diets should be this plain and simple. It really does boil down to numbers. To loose weight, what goes in must be turned off. Very helpful and well written!

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 5 years ago from New York

      Exercise, exercise, exercise. Your hub drives home how important exercise really is, no matter what you eat or don't eat and the cheapest and easiest exercise is still walking though it may not burn as many calories as other exercise! Voted up.

    • The Dirt Farmer profile image

      Jill Spencer 5 years ago from United States

      Interesting! Love your title and your writing style.

    • Rusticliving profile image

      Elizabeth Rayen 5 years ago from California

      Alocsin, I love this hub. The key to successful weight loss is to eat less (portion control) with exercise.

      Your charts on balancing the intake vs outtake is a great visual. I know that if I eat an order of large fries, My exerices will be require more time. I don't like to deprive myself of the things I love, but the happy balance between the right portion and exercising is definately the key! Voted up and shared!

    • LauraGT profile image

      LauraGT 5 years ago from MA

      Interesting take on how to look at balancing calories going in and out. Thanks for the perspective.

    • Natashalh profile image

      Natasha 5 years ago from Hawaii

      This is an informative, useful and awesome hub! (Voted all of those and up!)I am also sending this link to some folks I know to share it with them.

    • jeyaramd profile image

      jeyaramd 5 years ago from Mississauga, Ontario

      Cardio seems like the best way to burn off excess calories. I haven't tried skipping. I have tried it once and if done right; it can be great burner. You have to have the right skipping rope (the professional kind) and you have to get your footsteps and movements right. It may seem simple; but can make a huge difference. Great hub.

    • L.L. Woodard profile image

      L.L. Woodard 5 years ago from Oklahoma City

      Weight loss and maintenance really does come down to being a numbers game -- mostly addition and subtraction. Your hub brings that message home. Nicely done.

      Voted up and SHARED.

    • alphagirl profile image

      alphagirl 5 years ago from USA

      Love fries, now I substitute it with sweet potato fries. I want some benefit if I eat any fries.

    • Brett.Tesol profile image

      Brett Caulton 5 years ago from Thailand

      This made me laugh, because it is so true when you start to work out! You count the calories and feel proud of how much you worked off, but the when it comes to a can of coke or a burger, you suddenly think ... geeze, that was a lot of effort to waste, its not worth it. The price of fast food becomes the effort to burn it, rather than the cost of it.

      Thanks for SHARING.

    • formosangirl profile image

      formosangirl 5 years ago from Los Angeles

      Alocsin, it is interesting to see that heavier individuals burn more calories by doing the same exercise that someone who weighs less does. I know that it would take a lot of exercise to work off a bag of chips, but like anything else, it is a matter of choice and with the understanding of consequences. Moderation is key. Voted up and useful.

    • alocsin profile image

      alocsin 6 years ago from Orange County, CA

      Thanks scarytaff. The technique has certainly worked for me.

    • scarytaff profile image

      Derek James 6 years ago from South Wales

      Great hub, alocsin. For me this last statement was the one that summed it all up, 'eating less or exercising more.' Voted up.

      Happy new year.

    • alocsin profile image

      alocsin 6 years ago from Orange County, CA

      Thanks billips. Glad you found it useful.

    • billips profile image

      billips 6 years ago from Central Texas

      I love the title of this hub - you have lots of really useful information here - the activity chart is really a wake-up call - B.

    • alocsin profile image

      alocsin 6 years ago from Orange County, CA

      Thanks, JEOrtega. I'm not sure that I understand your question. But if you're asking how to put the © symbol, in Windows, you press the ALT key and then at the same time on the numeric keypad, press 0169. Feel free to ask me as a private message if you need more clarification.

    • profile image

      JEOrtega 6 years ago

      Hi Alocsin!

      I really like the way you set up this article. It is informative and also formated as easy to read. Please tell me, how do you copy write your articles?

    • alocsin profile image

      alocsin 6 years ago from Orange County, CA

      It also makes it easier to lose weight when you weigh more, since your activity burns more calories. Thanks for stopping by.

    • usenetreviewz profile image

      usenetreviewz 6 years ago from Washington DC

      Nice Hub .. I didnt know that if you weigh more then you actually burn a lot more calories. I mean it makes since but it nice to see the actual figures there :0

      Well done Hub and timely now that the season of dieting and new years resolution is on us :)

    • nanospeck profile image

      Akhil Anil 6 years ago

      Very insightful, diet is really the key to reduce weight.Not expensive products.