“Oops! I can’t believe I ate that!” Who hasn’t uttered those words as an entire slice of cheesecake disappears from the plate? Exercise is a great way to counter calories in food, although the math doesn’t work exactly the same for everybody. “Exercise does not perfectly offset indulgences,” warns registered dietitian Marisa Moore, RD, president of the Georgia Dietetic Association based in Atlanta. "Exercising regularly and seeing results may encourage you to eat healthier, however, and decrease the stress that often leads to emotional eating.”
The number of exercise calories burned varies according to your weight, but the times listed are for someone weighing 140 pounds. So what about that 500-calorie slice of cheesecake? It will take jogging for one hour on a treadmill (at a five-mile-per-hour pace) to negate it. Ouch!
Slice of Pepperoni Pizza: 290 calories
The calories in pizza add up dramatically, especially if you have more than one slice. One way to feel full with fewer slices is to load up on veggie toppings. Think green peppers, onions, and black olives instead of meats or extra cheese. Meanwhile, if you want to undo the calories in a slice of pizza, plan on 60 minutes of fast-paced ballroom or swing dancing. Or you could try 90 minutes of walking around the shopping mall or tackling vigourous cleaning chores at home.
Can of Pop: 150 Calories
Desperately thirsty with no water in sight? You won’t be the first person to down a cold, 12-ounce can of sugary pop with your fingers crossed against the weight gain. Want an easy way to feel less guilty and nurture man’s best friend as well? Spend 40 minutes walking your dog (or a neighbour’s, if need be) at a moderate pace, advises Moore. Of course, it’s always best to choose a no- or low-calorie drink and avoid having to exercise calories away.
Caffe Latte: 260 Calories
As coffee-based pick-me-ups go, this one is tasty and perhaps not as indulgent as, say, the largest mocha with whipped cream on the menu. Still, a 16-ounce (medium) latte with sugary flavouring, even with nonfat milk, is still a bit of a guilty pleasure when it comes to calories in food. Exercise calories away with 30 minutes of biking. An hour of moderate weight training or resistance training will achieve close to the same result.
Chocolate Bar: 210 Calories
Can’t resist the treats in the checkout aisle? The average bar of chocolate will cost you. If you want to enjoy it, set aside your lunch break for a mini-workout to exercise calories away. Approximately 13 minutes of climbing up the stairs at work or on a machine will pay the piper. Moore points out that chocolate bars are not all created equal. Depending on the bar, you may be faced with more calories (and stairs to climb). Read the label and adjust accordingly.
Glazed Doughnut: 260 Calories
Even if you ate breakfast, a fresh doughnut at a breakfast meeting or from a box passed out at your child’s soccer game may simply “disappear” before you know it. Now what? Even though a doughnut may not get you in the mood for swimsuit season, it’s time to hit the pool: Just 25 minutes of vigorous swimming will cure these excess calories in food. Of course, the exercise calories you burn will change with the intensity of your workout. Swimming lazily on your back burns fewer calories than energetic laps.
Small Slice of Birthday Cake: 312 calories
It’s a challenge to avoid a celebratory slice of cake with gooey icing. Your parents’ wedding anniversary, your toddler’s birthday party, your co-workers’ bridal shower — sooner or later this sugary confection will find its way onto your plate. Get rid of the calories in a 3-ounce slice of frosted cake by lacing up your hiking boots: About 50 minutes of hiking outdoors will counter the calories in this food. Alternatively, you could use a power mower to groom your yard for 45 minutes to an hour.
Small Hot Fudge Sundae: 392 calories
Hopefully you hit an ice cream parlour close to your favorite gym. It will take nearly 75 minutes in a spinning class to wipe out the calorie load of the small sundae that you probably ate in under 10 minutes. If you’d rather exercise calories away by making some home improvements, cleaning gutters around the house for the same amount of time will do the trick — and give you a great sense of accomplishment.
Large Bagel: 320 calories
Who doesn’t love a toasted bagel with their morning coffee? But the larger the bagel, the more calories you’re racking up. How to undo the damage? The calories burned jogging for 45 minutes at a good pace will counteract those in one large bagel. Of course, you’ll have to work harder and longer if you slathered on the cream cheese or any other topping.
Glass of Red Wine: 125 Calories
Whether with dinner, during the cocktail hour, or while socializing at an event, a 5-ounce glass of red wine may not be the worst diet offense you could commit. And this one is pretty easy to work off. Just spend 12 minutes jumping rope, and you’ve erased the dietary damage. Moore points out that calorie counts for alcoholic beverages vary. While a small glass of wine is somewhat innocuous, a giant margarita can clock in 200 to 300 calories … and necessitate a marathon jump-rope session to exercise calories away.
A Single-Patty Fast-Food Cheeseburger: 313 Calories
When you’re on the road or just out and about, an irresistible craving may steer you toward a popular guilty pleasure, the fast-food drive-through. This tasty (and oh-so-bad-for-you) meal can be erased with exercise calories burned in about 30 minutes of kickboxing — a fabulous stress buster in addition to conquering calories in food. Keep in mind that you’ll have to double up your exercise effort if you had a medium side of fries with that burger.