Woman Exercising Outdoors

If you’re wondering how to quickly and easily burn more calories throughout your day, you certainly aren’t alone. Calories are actually quite a confusing and controversial topic in the world of nutrition, and it can be hard to decide what strategy is best for you. To count or not to count calories? Quality over quantity, or quantity over quality? This article aims at clearing up the confusion, and provides eight of the best ways to burn 500 calories. 

Calorie Counting

First and foremost, let’s take a close look at calorie counting. We’ve all heard the expression “a calorie is a calorie.” To a certain extent, this is undeniably true. For example, a dietary calorie from a twinkie and a calorie that comes from kale both contain 4184 Joules of energy. However, how each of these calories goes on to impact and function in the body is very different.

Your body is a beautifully and impressively complex biochemical web of processes that are controlled largely by hormones, and this is where the real difference between calories comes into play. The sorts of foods you eat and the calories they provide have a big impact on the mechanisms that control appetite, cravings and even mood, among other things.

You might be wondering how this relates to counting calories. While each and every person is biochemically diverse (meaning the same strategies won’t work for everyone), generally speaking quality matters more than quantity as an important first step in weight loss. However, for some, counting calories can be a very useful tool to learn about the foods they eat regularly, especially if you’ve already adopted a healthy diet and are still at a weight loss standstill. 

If you do decide to track food and calories, I highly recommend investing in a tracker like the Fitbit Versa Smart Watch. 

Eat the RIGHT Foods

If you are eating foods with a high satiety index (more on this in a bit, but meaning foods that keep you full), like plenty of healthy protein, good fats and fiber, studies show that you will naturally consume less calories without having to count. Lower carbohydrate and higher protein and fat diet models will leave us feeling fuller and with far fewer sugar cravings, while low fat diets generally contain a lot of carbohydrates that leave us feeling hungry again soon-after, and craving more carbs and sugar. 

Everybody’s nutritional needs are slightly different, but studies show that trying out a lower carbohydrate diet model that includes an abundance of vegetables, fresh fruits, protein and good fats such as avocado, coconut and olive oil, ghee, grass fed butter, nuts and seeds might just kick-start weight loss.

The Hormone Connection: Satiety

We are much more likely to overeat certain foods than others, depending on how full they make us feel. For example, it’s all-too-easy to stuff yourself full of 1,000 calories worth of cake and ice cream, while eating 1,000 calories of wild salmon and veggies is a challenge. This is due to the fact that protein and healthy fats from salmon and vegetables has a higher satiety index, referring to foods that increase feelings of fullness and decrease hunger.

What does this mean for you? Your takeaway is that a diet high in foods with low satiety indexes will much more often lead to overeating and weight gain, and vice versa. These foods include refined carbs and sugars such as pastries, cakes, cookies, white breads and pastas. On the flip side, foods with a high satiety index works to keep you full, and includes foods like complex carbs in the form of root vegetables, whole grains and legumes, high quality meats, eggs and fruit, among others. My favorite resource that I’ve recommended to dozens of clients is The Hormone Fix by Dr. Anna Cabeca. 

Without further ado and with all of this in mind, here are eight ways to burn 500 calories.

8 Ways to Burn 500 Calories

  1. Skip a Meal

While this might sound intimidating, it can actually be quite natural and effective to avoid 500 extra calories in your day. The gentle intermittent fasting approach of skipping breakfast and having your first meal be an early lunch (so you might have your last meal or snack around 8pm and eat the following day at 12pm), has been practiced along with other types of fasting for centuries. Hand in hand with eliminating calories, you’ll also reap benefits such as improved body composition, lowered systemic inflammation, improved cognitive function and more.

  1. High Intensity Interval Training

High intensity interval training involves shifting between periods of just-below maximum exertion and periods of total or active rest. Incredible studies have been done showing that interval training improves the health and total number of mitochondria in the body’s cells, which leads to increased energy. One study in older adults found that almost 70 percent experienced an increase in their mitochondrial capacity, which is essentially the power plant of your cells.

HIIT on average burns around 15 calories per minute, so a 33 minute workout could torch 500 calories.

  1. Swim for One Hour

The British Journal of Sports Medicine released a study that found the benefits of swimming to extend far beyond what many people thought. Aside from burning 500 calories in about one hour, you’ll also benefit from improved mental health and even a 28% lowered risk of death!

  1. Hike for Two Hours

Getting outdoors and connecting with nature offers benefits ranging from decreased rates of depression to better immunity and just about everything in between, so maximize your calorie burn and overall health by going for a two hour hike.

  1. Strength Train to Burn Calories All Day Long

Resistance training, also referred to as weight or strength training, is another exercise method shown to increase both leptin and insulin sensitivity, both of which are key factors in eating less and losing weight. While strength training probably won’t burn 500 calories during your workout, you will raise your resting metabolic rate and burn more calories all day long.

If you don’t belong to a gym or don’t have the time, purchasing an at-home set of dumbbells can make a world of difference.

  1. Take a Martial Arts Class

You might be surprised to learn that most martial arts classes burn a whopping 500 calories in a 50-60 minute class. On top of that, you’ll increase your confidence, focus, coordination and tranquility. 

  1. Dance!

Exercise is far more sustainable if you enjoy it, and dancing is often something people love to do. Whether it’s Zumba, salsa, ecstatic dance or just jamming out in your bedroom, dancing on average can burn more than 300 calories per hour. 

  1. Just Keep Moving

Many people feel discouraged if they can’t log a gym workout or plan a long run, but remember that all movement throughout the day truly adds up. Twitch while sitting at your desk, take the stairs, do a set of 10 squats every hour, or do some reverse lunges while you brush your teeth. It might not add up to 500 calories each day, but it will certainly make a dent.

Whether or not you decide that counting calories is right for you, incorporating these eight simple strategies to burn 500 extra calories a day can make a big difference in reaching your health and wellness goals. Pair this with healthy eating and stress management, and you’ve got a recipe for success.