6 Things Everyone Should Know About Calorie Burn

Woamn reading a fitness article

Burning more calories than you consume plays a key role in your weight loss journey. But what are the truths and myths about calorie burn?

The answers to the most common questions on calorie burn will help you adjust your own workouts for better results:

Man reading a fitness post

Does sweating more mean you burn more calories?

No. People who sweat more don’t necessarily burn more calories, unless they are simply working out harder, of course.

How much you sweat will depend on your weight, age, fitness level, environment, and many other factors. It doesn’t directly relate to how many calories you are burning, but you can see a difference on the scale if you lose water weight through sweat. However, losing water weight is only temporary; you’ll gain it back when you rehydrate.

Will working out in cold weather burn more calories?

Exercising in cold weather burns more calories only if you start shivering.(1) This means that when you are wearing the right clothes and not shivering, the cold won’t affect weight loss because the difference in calorie burn is not significant enough.

But keep in mind, trying to shiver just to burn more calories is not a smart idea as you risk catching a cold or even getting frostbite. Train smart and check out these tips to prepare for your winter running workouts!

Woman running in winter

How long does your body keep burning more calories after a workout?

The extra energy needed to recover after an intense workout is called the afterburn effect. It can last anywhere from 1 to > 24 hours. However, the amount of extra calories burned is usually overestimated.

The afterburn effect depends on the intensity and the duration of your workout. Unless you really went out of your comfort zone and pushed your limits, you probably won’t burn more than 10% additional calories in total post-workout. So, don’t rely on this as an effective way to boost weight loss.

Does working out on an empty stomach burn more calories?

No, the amount of calories burned during exercise doesn’t change based on whether you train on an empty stomach or not. However, more of the calories you burn will come from fat stores.

Man sweating after workout

When it comes to weight loss, the total amount of calories burned will matter more than where they come from. Learn more about running and fat burn or check out other myths about working out on an empty stomach.

Is the “calories burned” display on treadmills and elliptical machines accurate?

No, most treadmills and other cardio machines overestimate the calorie burn, on average by 19%.(2)

Even if you enter your weight and age, the formulas used to estimate calories burned don’t factor in your metabolism or fitness level. The calculations are estimated based on VO2 max data, which is individual and can’t be adjusted or measured directly on the machine. So, use those numbers as a motivator, but be cautious about trusting them for weight loss.

Do walking a mile and running a mile burn the same amount of calories?

Running the same distance can burn 〜30% more calories than walking, but the difference will highly depend on speed.

There is a noticeable difference between a very slow jog and a fast-paced run. However, walking and running could burn the same amount of calories if you compare race walking to an extremely slow jog. Check out a more detailed explanation with a calorie burn calculator for walking and running.

Looking to boost calorie burn during your next workout?

Check out 7 ways to burn more calories in different types of workouts (running, strength training,…)!


Hana Medvesek With a background in physical therapy, Hana strongly believes that movement is medicine. She likes to run, lift weights, and try out simple, healthy recipes. View all posts by Hana Medvesek