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Will Knowing Your Daily Calorie Burn Help You Lose Weight?

Updated on July 2, 2019
Lorra Garrick profile image

Former ACE-certified personal trainer Lorra Garrick has trained men & women for fat loss, muscle building, more strength and more fitness.


Do you have a bunch of “calories burned” charts in your files or even taped to your refrigerator?

Or perhaps you have the amounts for many activities memorized.

You can also obtain this information instantly online.

It seems that the only activity whose calorie burn is not published somewhere is walking on the moon.

There are calorie listings for every kind of household task, for both sitting while doing it and standing.

There’s even a calorie count for butchering animals.

You Want to Lose Weight. Should You Track Daily Calories?

Heavens no. A really great thing you can do for yourself is to avoid getting addicted to keeping track of calories and accounting for every single thing you do once you’re out of bed in the morning.

Yes, every activity has a calorie-burn value, from watering plants and feeding your pets to washing your hair and knitting.

Instead of worrying, fixating or obsessing about how many calories you’ll be burning today, why not instead make your weight loss goal a whole lot easier by ADDING to your life an activity that burns a lot of calories?

  • Running/jogging
  • Hill walking
  • Sled push and pull workouts
  • Compound strength training (deadlift, squat, barbell pressing, row)
  • Boot camp fitness classes
  • Martial arts

Do you really need to know how many calories 15 minutes of ironing burns?

You’ve already been performing the activities of daily living – yet are overweight.

The excess weight is there NOT because you haven’t been ironing, watering plants, blow-drying your hair (yes, there’s a calorie-burn for this, too), butchering animals, mopping, washing dishes or vacuuming.

There are 300-pound people who conduct these tasks every day.

What’s wrong with tracking the calories of everyday tasks and activities?

The activities of daily living are a constant in the equation, not a variable. Counting up the calories at the end of the day will not create what you need: a variable – a variable that forces your body to burn enough fuel to incite fat loss.

To keep track of all of the elements that comprise that constant would be outright draining – unless you’re a robot.

Imagine training your mind to become burdened with the compulsion to jot down the calorie expenditure for everything you do, day after day – including:

  • Brushing your teeth
  • Brushing your hair
  • Bathing the dog
  • Trying on clothes at the store
  • Pushing a shopping cart
  • Putting food away
  • Baking bread
  • Setting the table

How many different things do you do every day? If you were to write down every new task that cropped up, you’d be shocked at how many different things you did come nighttime.

You’d have to then hunt for the calorie-burn for all of those activities, such as shaving your legs, putting on makeup and reclining with your baby.

If you failed to locate the calorie expenditure for a particular activity, you’d then go nuts wondering what it was and how to fill in that gap when it was time to add up the day’s total.

What about automatic calorie trackers?

Good question. But these can't tell if the movement (you name it) is coming from a 25-year-old male bodybuilder or an 80-year-old tiny woman. There are so many variables. Besides, even an "automatic" calorie counter can lure the user into becoming obsessive about it.

Tracking Your Daily Calorie Burn Will Not Speed Up Your Metabolism

It won’t change a thing about your body. For instance, if you know how many calories certain household chores use up, will this knowledge magically accelerate your resting metabolism?

Again, what you do every day as part of living as a human being…is a CONSTANT.

The key to weight loss is adding a variable – a variable that’s powerful enough to raise your resting metabolic rate, as well as burn many calories during that newly-introduced activity (like vigorous hiking).

Forget Calories

Another drawback to tracking calories throughout the day is that you may accidentally overestimate the values, since your reference might have an associated body weight (it’s usually 150 pounds) or an ambiguous additional descriptor, such as “slow” walking vs. “brisk” while pushing that shopping cart.

Another example of this is the calorie expenditure of “carrying children” for 15 minutes.

  • How much does that child weigh?
  • How are you carrying that child? Slung on your back in a sack (easier) or at your hip (harder?)
  • Is the child asleep or fidgeting?

“Oh, he’s a heavy boy and was fighting me all the way while I was carrying him, so I’ll tack on another hundred calories!”

There are many factors open to interpretation with those calorie-burn values. You will end up guessing and miscalculating, and will go batty when you (inevitably) forget to document a particular activity.

If you ultimately become immersed in this arduous venture, you’ll want to ask yourself if it’s because it gives you a sense of control – control over a life in which you feel totally out of control.


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