For quick weight loss, the best exercise is the one that burns the most calories. The faster you burn calories and the more you burn, the faster you can lose weight. The best exercises are aerobic exercises done at a high level of intensity.
According to the calorie calculator on the Fitness Partner website, the top calorie burning activity is biking over 20 mph (racing speed). This activity will burn 0.16 calories per pound of bodyweight for each minute you can keep your biking speed above 20 mph (this doesn't include coasting downhill). For example, if a 150-lb. person bikes more than 20 mph for an hour, the biker will burn 1,440 calories or .41 lbs.
The activity tied for top honors as a calorie burner is running at speeds greater than 10 mph. This is the same as running 6-minute miles. Both running and biking at the levels needed to burn the maximum amount of calories requires a high level of performance.
Another top calorie burner is running up stairs. This burns 0.15 calories per pound of body weight for each minute. You'll burn considerably less running downstairs, so only the time spent going upstairs should be measured. The same 150-lb. person running upstairs for an hour will burn 1,350 calories, or .39 lbs.
A calorie is the amount of heat needed to raise the temperature of one liter of water one degree. Most people just think of it as the energy contained in food and drinks. Calories give your body the energy needed to function, but if you consume more than you need to function, the excess will be stored as fat. However, for every 3,500 calories you burn above the amount of calories you need, you will lose a pound of fat.
Maintaining Your Body Weight
To get an idea of how many calories your body needs to maintain your current weight, the rule of thumb according to the book "Mass!" is that a person needs to consume between 15 and 17 calories per pound to maintain current body weight. For example, the 150-lb. person we've been using in our example needs between 2,250 and 2,550 calories a day to remain at 150 lbs. If this person consumes 2,250 calories a day but burns an extra 500 calories a day by exercising, the person will lose a pound a week (500 extra calories burned x 7 days).
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