Everyone wants to know: which exercises burn the most fat? Fortunately we have published scientific data that gives us this information, but it is a little difficult to understand. In this post I have boiled the data down to a specific list of top fat-burning exercises so that you can optimize your workouts.
Top fat-burning activities based on average calories burned
The Compendium of Physical Activities gives the measured Metabolic Equivalent (MET) values for some 821 different activities. A MET is a measure of the amount of effort expended to do a given activity. Basically, the higher the MET value, the greater the number of calories burned during a given amount of time. If you're sleeping or just watching TV, that's a MET value of 1. Running has an average MET value of around 10.
I narrowed the 821 activities down to a list of 35 common exercise and sports activities that people would intentionally do in order to stay physically fit. If you're interested in how to calculate the number of calories you might burn doing the following activities, keep reading below for further explanation.
How to use this information
Before you go dropping all other exercises and take up jump-roping, you need to understand that the MET values are averages. Depending on the amount of exertion, the various activities have a range of MET values. Walking, for example, goes all the way from 2 for a stroll to 9.8 for a vigorous uphill climb. Running goes from 4.5 to 15. So it's possible to burn more calories walking than running, depending on your amount of exertion. That's why I give the averages as well as the low and high values.
Here is a more complete list for the fitness and sports activities I have included in this article:
Calculating calories from METs
How do METs relate to calories? Here is the equation:
Calories = METs * 3.5 * (Your weight in kg /200) * (Number of Minutes)
For example, if I weighed 200 lbs and did 45 of stationary bicycle work at the gym, the calculation would be:
You can see from the equation that activities with higher MET values will allow you to burn the more calories, hence burn the most fat, in the smallest amount of time. Here is a website that will do the calculations for you, if you know the MET value of the activity.
The bottom line
My advice would always be to choose the activities that you enjoy, regardless of whether they burn more calories. Because if you don't enjoy them, you won't keep doing them.
Here's a simple example. I see that standing has a MET value of 2 while sitting has a value of 1. That means that I will burn twice as many calories standing as sitting. At work I have a desk that can go up and down. What an easy way to burn more calories throughout the day, just by standing. I also enjoy the rowing machine, so looking at the list it looks like rowing could burn more calories than jogging, so I would choose that.
Look through the list and if there are activities on it that you enjoy doing, perhaps knowing their MET values will help you choose activities that will bring you closer to your overall fitness goals.
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