Are you a calorie counter? It’s hard to hide from calories when shopping for groceries or ordering your favorite seasonal drinks. This became especially true after the Food and Drug Administration made listing nutritional information mandatory in 2018.
In other countries, they use the friendlier label “energy” for calories. After all, that’s what calories are: a unit of energy. The body needs this energy — whether in the form of fats, sugars, proteins, or carbohydrates — to survive. And each person’s caloric intake varies based on lifestyle, age, and metabolic rate. But when we overeat, the body stores this extra energy as fat for later use. Conversely, if we undereat or burn more calories than consumed, this deficit can result in weight loss.
Calories can add up fast. Which is why it’s so important to check nutrition labels. This time of year tends to be particularly difficult due to the rise of seasonal sweet treats containing unhealthy ingredients.
Did you know that just one grande (that’s 16 ounces) Starbucks pumpkin spice latte has almost 400 calories and a whopping 50 grams of sugar? If you’re wondering whether that’s a lot — yes! To put it into perspective, the American Heart Association recommends that men should consume no more than 36 grams of added sugar a day, and women no more than 25 grams a day.
Working off 400 calories takes time and effort. And it’s common to think that you’re burning more calories than you truly are when relying on inaccurately calibrated cardio machines or fitness gadgets. So, if you really must sip on that Starbucks latte, or a similarly pound-providing treat, below are four activities that could help to burn off that caloric concoction.
These numbers will vary based on age, weight, gender, and intensity. For example, a heavier person or someone with more muscles will scorch calories faster than a thinner person because more energy is required to move a bigger body.
Down & dirty: Grab your Swiffer and Windex to shape up your body and your house. Move swiftly and put in some serious elbow grease for two hours.
Turn over a new leaf: It’s time to start raking and bagging the foliage. An hour of uninterrupted, intense yard work utilizes total body strength as you lift, bend, and twist. Just remember to have good form to protect your lower back when bending down or dragging large bags of leaves.
Walk your dog: There are a million reasons why a dog is a man’s best friend. And a top perk is that a pet helps improve your health. Get fit by taking Fido for a fast-paced, hour-long stroll. Don’t have a dog? Instead of lounging on the couch to chat with friends or family, take your phone for a walk.
Jump rope: This cheap aerobic accessory is priceless when it comes to frying calories. A steady 30-minute set can burn about 400 calories.
When it comes to calories, you don’t need to be a mathematician pulling out a calculator each time you eat. Nor should you stress when enjoying a treat such as a pumpkin latte once in a while. Rather, the goal is to become more mindful of your munching.
It’s important to have awareness that the quantity and quality of your calories count toward your overall health. By controlling your portion sizes, practicing moderation, limiting added sugars and trans fat foods, and exercising regularly, you are doing your part to protect your body.
Ashley Blake Greenblatt is a certified personal trainer and wellness coach. To learn more about her virtual training program, visit ashleyblakefitness.com.