Some people give themselves permission to indulge in junk food just because they had a great workout or plan to have a good workout later in the day.  It’s a common excuse. Many people believe that because they exercise, they’re in the clear regarding their calorie intake versus their output from exercise. But in reality, many people have no idea how many calories they consume on an average day, and when asked to guess they usually underestimate it. On the other hand, they also overestimate the number of calories they burn through exercise. Truth be told, 30 minutes of the best boot camp in town may not cancel out that burger and fries you had for lunch.

Many people who are wanting to lose weight make the mistake of focusing on exercise, but there is a mountain of research that shows that exercise alone is not enough, and that reducing calorie intake should be the focus for weight loss. While physical activity reduces the risk of a range of health conditions such as heart disease, dementia, some cancers and Type 2 Diabetes, as well as reducing symptoms of depression and anxiety, the impact exercise can have on weight loss is limited if changes are not made to a bad diet. It’s rare to lose weight on an exercise-only program.

Still not convinced? Let’s look at the maths. Your average, moderate intensity workout will burn approximately 300-400 calories in about an hour.  That’s an hour of hard work with plenty of sweat and heavy breathing. Now, if you decide to eat a slice of chocolate cake with the intention of “working it off later”, in the three minutes it will take you to put away the cake, you’ve consumed around 500 calories. Not even that hard workout you plan to do will burn off the cake you just ate. Plus, you’ve provided your body with a couple of hundred extra calories to potentially store as fat.

The bottom line is you simply can’t out run a bad diet.  If you try to battle a bad diet with exercise, the exercise will lose every time.  The best way for successful and sustainable weight loss is to eat a healthy diet in support of – not a substitute for – a good exercise program.

How long would the average person need to walk to burn off: one pizza, doughnut, slice of cake, packet of lollies, chocolate bar, burger, Starbucks coffee, burrito, meat pie, etc.

The below times are based on an average adult walking at a pace between 5-6km/hr:

  • 1 x Traditional BBQ Meat Lovers pizza (1,456cal/6,088kJ) = 330 minutes
  • 1 x Krispy Kreme Original Glaze doughnut (255cal/1,066kJ) = 60 minutes
  • 1 x slice (100g) chocolate mud cake with icing (508cal/2,124kJ) = 115 minutes
  • 1 x packet (190g) of Allens Party Mix lollies (663cal/2,774kJ) = 150 minutes
  • 1 x chocolate bar (53g Mars Bar) (241cal/1,007kJ) = 55 minutes
  • 1 x McDonald’s Big Mac burger (492cal/2,060kJ) = 110 minutes
  • 1 x Starbucks Short cappuccino coffee – full cream milk (235mL) (122cal/512kJ) = 30 minutes
  • 1 x Starbucks Tall cappuccino coffee – full cream milk (355mL) (185cal/774kJ) = 40 minutes
  • 1 x Guzman Y Gomez Little guy beef guerrero burrito (442cal/1,850kJ) = 100 minutes
  • 1 x Four’N Twenty Classic meat pie (401cal/1,678kJ) = 90 minutes


***Please note that the “average adult” is based on an adult male with a height of 170cm and weight of 70kg. The length of time to burn off the above will vary depending on several factors such as gender, age, weight, fitness level, genetics and basal metabolic rate (BMR).