An elliptical machine is commonly used as an alternative to the traditional treadmill. Since using an elliptical requires more effort than a treadmill, you may believe the additional effort means you're burning more calories. An elliptical is not necessarily a magic ticket to fat burning. Losing body fat depends on a combination of decreased calorie intake and increased physical activity. Along with a healthy diet, an elliptical machine can help you meet your weight-loss goals by providing aerobic activity.
Your metabolism manages how your body burns calories. How many calories you burn depends on a number of factors, including your age, sex and lean mass to fat ratio. Since 3,500 calories translates to 1 pound of fat, you must burn 3,500 calories more than you consume through diet to lose 1 pound, according to MayoClinic.com. The traditional strategy is to decrease your daily caloric intake by 500 calories and increase your physical activity. Through diet and exercise you can expect to lose about 2 pounds per week.
Elliptical Calories Burned
Using an elliptical provides a way to increase your physical activity. The number of calories you can expect to burn on an elliptical depends on the duration, intensity and your sex and body composition. Men typically possess a higher ratio of lean mass to body fat than women, allowing them to burn more calories while performing the same activity. You can expect to burn anywhere from 365 to 533 calories while exercising for an hour on the elliptical, depending on the intensity level.
You may be disappointed if you have ditched your treadmill in favor of an elliptical machine for the perceived benefit of burning more fat. Researchers examined the influence of the elliptical on energy expenditure, compared to a treadmill. The study involved male and female college-aged participants with no previous exercise background. The elliptical machine increased the participant's heart rates higher than the treadmill. However, this did not translate to a higher energy expenditure. The calories burned on the elliptical were identical to the treadmill, according to the study published in the June 2010 issue of the "Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research."
Increasing Fat Loss
If it's fat loss you're after, there are better options than the elliptical machine. Sprint interval training is a good way to rev up your metabolism and burn fat. Sprint interval exercise involves sprinting at a high-intensity for about 30 seconds, followed by walking for a few minutes. The sprinting is repeated four times equaling two minutes. Researchers found that two minutes of sprint-interval training burns the same number of calories as 30 minutes of continuous aerobic activity, according to a study published in the August 2012 issue of the "International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism."
- MayoClinic.com: Metabolism and Weight Loss: How You Burn Calories
- MayoClinic.com: Exercise for Weight Loss: Calories Burned in 1 Hour
- Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research: Comparison of Energy Expenditure on a Treadmill vs. an Elliptical Device at a Self-Selected Exercise Intensity
- International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism: Two Minutes of Sprint-interval Exercise Elicits 24-hr Oxygen Consumption Similar to That of 30 Min of Continuous Endurance Exercise
- Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Goodshoot/Getty Images