The 500-calorie workout plan

Apr 26, 2012 at 8:08 p.m. ET

To lose weight, energy going out (calories you burn) must be more than energy coming in (calories you eat). Specifically, you need to create a 3,500 calorie deficit in order to lose a pound. Eat 500 fewer calories or burn 500 more calories. Either way, you'll slim down.

Woman eating apple in kitchen

Higher math aside, it's decidedly less painful to cut back a bit and burn off more. You won't feel so deprived. Plus, you won't end up in the ER from back-to-back days of intense workouts, especially when the heaviest thing you'd lifted prior was the lid off a pint of Ben & Jerry's.

Here's a combination of 250-calorie-burning daily activities, along with ways to cut 250 calories a day from your diet. Mix and match to find what works best for you. Either way, stick with it and you will see results!

Calorie savers

  • Spray oil instead of a tablespoon of oil
    Calories saved: 100
  • Egg whites in place of whole eggs
    Calories saved: 65 per egg
  • Use mustard in place of mayo on sandwiches
    Calories saved: 75
  • A piece of fruit instead of 3 cookies
    Calories saved: Approximately 100
  • Swap hamburger for turkey burger
    Calories saved: Approximately 40
  • Skip the cheese on top
    Calories saved: 100
  • Swap a potato for a cup of veggies
    Calories saved: 75
  • Trade your specialty coffee for black coffee
    Calories saved: 200 or so, depending on the specialty coffee
  • Cut your sandwich in half and save the rest for another meal
    Calories saved: Depends on the sandwich but up to 250 for a mayo-based tuna salad
  • Skip the bread and butter before dinner
    Calories saved: 200 (1 roll + 1 tablespoon butter)

Calorie burners

Burn more calories by adding these activities to your weekly routines. The calorie-burn quickly adds up.

  • Walking the dog 30 minutes a day: 125 calories
  • Running up the stairs for 2 minutes: 36 calories
  • Washing and waxing the car: 300 calories
  • Gardening, total 60 minutes, including 30 minutes pushing a lawn mower: 360 calories
  • Vacuuming and ironing for 60 minutes: 152 calories
  • Cooking for 30 minutes: 72 calories
  • Walking 15 minutes to and from public transportation: 60 calories
  • Going up one flight of stairs 3 times a day: 15 calories
  • Walking briskly at the mall for an hour: 145 to 240 calories
  • Getting up and answering the phone, standing during a 10-minute conversation: 20 calories

More on calories

How to shred calories all summer long
Calorie reality check: What does it really take to burn off that breakfast?
How many calories should I eat in a day?

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