Calculating How Much Exercise to Work Off Your Excess Food much exercise does it take to work off that excess and/or not so good food you allowed yourself? A week after getting my first ever smart watch, I have a means to find out, and I want to share it for anybody looking to get an idea for themselves. It will be different for everybody due to the exercise, challenges in the exercise, their size, body mass index, and so on. It won’t be exact, but it might be as good an estimate as you’re going to get without all the medical gear. And I’ll also test the joke I’ve been telling myself for decades that I can run a mile per Canadian dollar spent at McDonald’s to run off any McDonald’s that I eat (within 24, if not 48 hours max). This should be interesting! But before we go on, a serious disclaimer.


Please only apply this to excess and/or junk food for fun!

if you don’t have a good relationship with the food you eat, please do NOT  try this, and perhaps best if you don’t even read it! But if you do, let this be your warning! Throughout the day and night, our bodies burn calories. Most of the calories we burn throughout the day actually don’t come from exercise, even! So please do NOT  think about most of your food as exercise you will have to do to work it off! Only apply this very sparingly to certain junk and/or excess food you consume as a bit of joke for yourself, or maybe cautionary reminder, but that’s on junk and excess food you shouldn’t be eating anyway. Please do NOT  apply this to regular, healthy, food you must eat to stay healthy!


Most of us have allowed ourselves excess and/or junk food with the justification we would exercise it off later. That’s great to have a little fun in life, so long as you generally take care of it by fulfilling the justification. But how many of you have ever actually calculated what you did to know for certain if you have or haven’t exercised it off? By doing this exercise, I want you to be able to walk away with a rough “exercise per 100 Calories” number in your mind that’s reasonably accurate for you. That way, if you knew how many Calories were in whatever you justified to having in exchange for exercising it off later, you’ll know what you’ll need to do with a little math! This is just a fun exercise, though, so please don’t take it as medical advice. Working off the calories is not the same thing

The exercise example I’m going to use is running, but you can use whatever exercise you want so long as you can describe the amount of it per 100 Calories, like x km or miles of running, or z pool laps of swimming, or k lifts of 50 kg, etc. per 100 Calories. To do this, I would also encourage you gather data from a week’s workouts, or 10 workouts, or something like that which you can average, because unless you do it all the exact same way, at the same weight, on the same rest, one or two workouts may not be representative of your typical workout and you’ll end up with a false number… which can be worse than no number at all!

For me, I’m going to take 101 km of running, which I happened to have done in the past week of getting my Garmin. I ain’t old yet, folks lol! The 101 km of running included a nice mix of elevation gains and losses, some longish runs and some short runs, some easy days and multiple speed workouts, among a range of body weights for me cause you lose some weight running 101 km a week, you know! It’s a decent sample of my running, the 101 km, not the typical week, but I don’t think rest comes into the caloric calculations much. It probably shows up in the heart rate, but I have a wide range of those in this sample, too, so I think it’s a good sample despite the peak mileage week. Pick your own sample you think might be representative for your exercising.

Sum of Calories (C) = 4773 Calories

Distance (D) = 100.7 km (metric Dm) or 62.59 miles (imperial Di)

Distance ran to use up 100 Calories = D / C *100

For me, the metric running distance to run off 100 Calories is
2.11 km per 100 Calories 
(or 0.0211 km per Calorie for other math)

While my imperial running distance to run off 100 Calories is
1.31 miles per 100 Calories
(or 0.0131 miles per Calorie for other math)


How much to run off other excess food?

With the distance per 100 Calories, or distance per Calorie that is probably simpler for math, though not as nice sounding, I just multiply the # Calories in whatever I’m consuming by distance per Calorie and I know what I have to run!


Calculating for other exercises

If you were using other forms of exercise, instead of Distance (though it may also be distance), substitute D with X, where X is whatever your exercise description is. Your answer, then, would be in units of X. So if X were lifts of 50 kg, you would get an answer of how many lifts of 50 kg you’d have to do to exercise off 100 Calories. Or do it per Calorie by dividing your number by 100.

Then, when you find out the caloric intake of some excess food you’ll justify by exercising it off, you just multiply your number per Calorie by the # of Calories. Simple, no?


About working off that McDonald’s (extra for me)

When I get McDonald’s, it’s usually either one of two things: the McDouble Meal that’s probably the best bang for your buck, or the Big Mac Meal when they have coupons. In Canadian dollar prices, they yield different # Calories per $ so I’ll have to do two calculations here, one for each meal type I consume to know what I need to do in the next day or two in order to exercise it off!

McDouble Meal

910 Calories so 910 Cal * 1.31 miles / 100 Cal = 11.93 miles


At $6.66, that is 1.791 miles per $ spent!

NOT 1 mile per $ spent as I had been joking! For my info, that’d be 2.882 km per $ spent!

That’s going to take a LOT of inflation before it becomes 1 mile per $ spent… probably a lot of inflation on my part if I had only ran the mileage needed to work off my McDouble meals, rather than all the other mileage from my regular training!!!


Big Mac Meal

1110 Calories so 1110 Cal * 1.31 miles / 100 Cal = 14.55 miles

That still hurts even though I had just seen the significantly smaller value for the McDouble Meal!

At $7.23 with coupons, that is 2.013 miles per $ spent!

That’s double my joke about running a mile per $ spent at McDonald’s to work off the fast food! That’s almost an average marathon training long run to work off a Big Mac meal! Well, that’ll make me think twice about getting one of those mid-week!



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