How much exercise do you need to do to burn off a treat?

How much exercise do you need to do to burn off a treat? We spoke with Christine Wong, an accredited

How much exercise do you need to do to burn off a treat? We spoke with Christine Wong, an accredited practicing dietitian at Bupa, about the amount of energy in a healthy snack and the amount of energy in a “treat”, and then compared them with how much energy we can burn up in an average workout.

Let’s set the scene…

A typical 60 year old female living a moderately active lifestyle should aim to consume approximately 8700 kilojoules (kJ) each day.

In most cases, weight loss comes from burning up more energy than you take in. But remember that it’s important to seek advice from a doctor before making major changes to your diet.

However, it’s worth noting that everyone is different, and that the amount of energy someone needs, and burns up, can vary a lot, based on their activity levels, muscle mass, and metabolism.



We all love an occasional treat, but how often do we stop and consider how much of our daily energy consumption it constitutes and the amount of exercise we may need to do to work it off?

A typical healthy snack should contain no more than 600kJ of energy. Examples might include:

  • a muesli bar
  • a slice of wholegrain bread/toast with a slice of cheese, lettuce and tomato
  • a piece of fruit with some low-fat yoghurt.
  • or a handful of rice crackers.

When we have an unhealthy “treat”, the kilojoules can dramatically increase, for example:

  • 1 bar of chocolate, weighing about 50g, can contain about 1100kJ of energy.
  • 90g of lollies (about half a packet) can contain 1200kJ of energy.
  • A 50g packet of potato chips with 75% less saturated fat can contain 1100kJ of energy.

Often these unhealthy snacks can make up one eighth of our daily energy intake. It is also worth noting that these are all mostly empty kilojoules, without much nutritional benefit.

Burn it off

“So how long would it take you to burn off the energy consumed in one of these treats?” we asked.

According to Christine, a 70kg female burns approximately:

  • 440kJ by walking for 30 minutes.
  • 850kJ by swimming for 30 minutes.
  • 1100kJ by riding a bike for 30 minutes.

So, for a female weighing 70kg to burn up the energy contained in a bar of chocolate weighing about 50g, she would need to walk for more than 1 hour.

Take note that the more you weigh the more energy you are likely to burn doing the same activity.

To calculate exactly how much energy you are burning in everyday activities: Click here.


This post was prepared with the support of Bupa to offer useful information and insight to Starts at 60 readers.  Visit The Blue Room for more articles like these.  

  1. Frank  

    when I used to go to the gym I calculated that to burn off the maybe 100 calories in one of my stubbies of low alcohol (3%) home-brew beer, I would have to run on the treadmill or exercise bike for 20 minutes – so 2 lite beers – 40 minutes at the gym.

    I read more recently of some obscene cream cake in the US that was like 2000 calories a slice ! – so by my formula – to burn off the calories in one slice of that cake – you’d need to treadmill or exercise bicycle for 400 minutes or nearly 7 HOURS !

    Whereupon I devised my saying ‘we can swallow in seconds more calories than we can burn off in hours at the gym’

    So – more recently I gave up the beer – and sugar – and find I don’t crave the snacks – at all – my beer belly has dropped off – and sweets and chocolates and junk food in the cupboard remain unloved and unopened. So maybe drop the sugar as well – you know the Coke that has 70 teaspoons of sugar per bottle – that can’t be good for you …

  2. Linda  

    Someone should proof read the second paragraph
    “she should aim to lower her daily energy intake by about” what?

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