Have you ever sat down with a bowl of decadent chocolate ice cream, then wondered how long or how hard you’d need to exercise to work off those calories? We’ve all been there. This handy list will help you discover how many calories to burn – and some options for burning them – after you’ve enjoyed your favorite snacks, meals, and treats based on an average weight of 150 pounds. Use our macronutrient calculator to find out what calories and nutrients you should be aiming for each day (as a starting point) based on your weight and goals.
#1 – A Cheeseburger
Cheeseburgers are some of the most popular fast foods available, and per research from the “Food for 9 Billion” project, which was created to emphasize sustainable, eco-friendly food sources for a growing population, Americans alone eat more than 50 billion of them every year. If you want to burn off a single cheeseburger from McDonalds, one of the US’s favorite fast food joints, you’ll need to burn roughly 285 calories.
- General Aerobics or Leisurely Swimming – 42 minutes
- Brisk Walking – One hour and three minutes
- Jogging or Moderate-Intensity Stationary Cycling – 35 minutes
#2 – Carbonated Soft Drinks
The average American consumes 44.7 gallons of this sugary beverage each year per research conducted by AdAge. If you want to work off that sugary drink you slurped down with your fast-food lunch, you’ll need to burn off an average of 138 calories.
- General Aerobics or Leisurely Swimming – 20 minutes
- Brisk Walking – 30 minutes
- Jogging or Moderate-Intensity Stationary Cycling – 17 minutes
#3 – French Fries
It’s hard to stop in for a burger without grabbing a small order of French fries to go along with it. In fact, Americans consume some 55 pounds of frozen potatoes each year, and most of those are turned into French fries. If you get a small order of fries with your cheeseburger, you’re looking at an additional 230 calories – almost as much as the burger itself! If you add two tablespoons of ketchup (and most of us do), that’s another 38 calories for a total of 268.
- General Aerobics or Leisurely Swimming – 39 minutes
- Brisk Walking – 59 minutes
- Jogging or Moderate-Intensity Stationary Cycling – 33 minutes
#4 – Pizza
Pizza is another big hit in the Western diet, and per research out of the New York Daily News in concordance with CiCi’s Pizza, one of the most well-known chains in the country, Americans eat some 6,000 slices in our lifetimes. Most of us will consume two slices of our favorite large pie as a serving, though some will eat more. One slice from a large pepperoni pizza contains 285 calories, so if you consume two, that’s 570 calories.
- General Aerobics or Leisurely Swimming – One hour and 24 minutes
- Brisk Walking – Two hours and six minutes
- Jogging or Moderate-Intensity Stationary Cycling – One hour and 11 minutes
#5 – Donuts
In today’s hurry-up-and-go world, people eat convenience foods far too often for their own good. This is especially true during the morning hours, when people will often reach for iced cinnamon rolls or even jelly-filled donuts. Americans consume an average of 63 donuts per year, per capita, and the calorie content varies based on the donut type. To simplify things, a single glazed donut contains about 190 calories.
- General Aerobics or Leisurely Swimming – 28 minutes
- Brisk Walking – 42 minutes
- Jogging or Moderate-Intensity Stationary Cycling – 24 minutes
Putting it Together: A Day in the Life
With all this information in mind, the numbers can start to add up – and they can start to look a little scary. Of course, the numbers above don’t really represent actual serving sizes, either, since most people tend to eat much more. Below is a sample day in the life of a busy Westerner who relies on fast food for nutrition. The calorie content for each item can be found in parenthesis.
- Breakfast – Two glazed donuts (280) and a medium mocha coffee (290).
- Lunch – A double cheeseburger (437), an order of medium fries (340) with ketchup (38), and a 12-ounce soda (138).
Mid-Afternoon Snack – A bag of potato chips (171) and a 16-ounce energy drink (202).
- Supper – Two slices of pepperoni pizza (570), a breadstick with garlic butter glaze (220 calories), and an eight-ounce glass of fruit juice (124).
- Snack – A blueberry muffin (265) and another soda (138).
This type of diet isn’t uncommon, and in fact, it’s part of the reason why the United States is dealing with an obesity crisis even as we speak. Remember that the USDA recommends healthy adults consume a diet consisting of 2000 calories daily and moderate exercise to maintain a healthy weight. Adding up the calories in the sample day above, it comes to a staggering 3,213 calories. That’s 1,213 calories you’ll need to burn, and even more if you’re overweight.
- General Aerobics or Leisurely Swimming – Three hours
- Brisk Walking – Four hours and 29 minutes
- Jogging or Moderate-Intensity Stationary Cycling – Two hours and 32 minutes
Your favorite snacks, treats and meals may be tasty. They’re probably even relatively cheap and extraordinarily convenient. For these reasons, you may think you’re saving time and money. Once you learn how many calories to burn after eating them, your perspective tends to change. That little bit of convenience costs more than your money; it may cost your health. The best way to get a handle on your diet is to have a cheat day or day where you can have “x” cheat meals rather than relying on fast food as a convenient source. This allows most people to stick to diets rather than cut out fast food or unhealthy treats altogether. Check out our recipe section for some awesome and tasty ideas that are often quick to make or store for later.