How Many Calories Do You Burn Running a 5K?

Learn to calculate and boost calories burned in a 5K race.

calories burned in a 5k
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Do you know how many calories you burn running a 5K? You should. Many exercisers use the races to burn off Thanksgiving Day calories or to balance out another high-calorie meal. But do the calories burned in a 5K race really make a dent in the calories consumed at the holiday dinner table?

Calories Burned in a 5K Run or Walk

A 5K race or fun run is five kilometers or 3.1 miles. The calories you burn when you walk or run these events will depend on your pace, your body size, and your gender.

A 150-pound person will burn about 228 calories during the event if he or she runs a 10-minute per mile pace. A faster runner will burn more. A runner maintaining an 8:30/mile pace will burn 262 calories and a speedy 7:30/mile runner will burn 308 calories.  If you choose to walk a 5K course, you'll burn approximately 186 calories, according to the American Council on Exercise.

To find out how many calories you burn during a 5K, use an online calculator and input your pace and body size. To boost your number, see if you can run a little bit faster or add a short warm-up jog and cool down walk after the event.

Can 5K Calories Burn Off Thanksgiving Dinner?

So is running a 5K enough activity to burn off the calories in a typical Thanksgiving dinner?  Probably not, although the answer depends in part on the number of calories you eat during your meal. But in most cases, you'd have to run several consecutive turkey trots to burn off the entire feast.

For example, many experts estimate that you consume between 2500 and 4100 calories during a typical Thanksgiving meal. That meal would probably include high-calorie turkey with skin, full-fat mashed potatoes and gravy, several butter-drenched side dishes and, of course, one or two slices of pie with whipped cream.

Even if you're able to burn 300 calories during a 5K run, you'd have to run 8 or more races to burn off those calories. But you don't have to eat that much.

Eat Less to Balance 5K Calories

If you want to balance the calories in your Thanksgiving meal with the calories you burn during a 5K run or walk, you'll need to be mindful of portion sizes and food choices during the feast. You can cut calories in your Thanksgiving meal by using a few diet-friendly tricks during the holiday.

  • Drink water instead of wine during the meal
  • Skip the bread and butter to save room for your favorite savory foods
  • Fill up on fiber-rich veggies first so that you feel full sooner and eat less overall
  • Choose white turkey meat and remove the skin before eating
  • Fill your plate once and don't go back for seconds
  • For dessert, choose plain pumpkin pie. It's lower in calories than most other dessert choices.

Keep in mind that even with these healthy choices, you will probably still eat more calories than you burn during a 5K run or walk. But that doesn't mean there isn't value in participating in the Turkey Trot.  Running is a great way to improve strength in your lower body, improve your level of fitness and bond with friends and family.

Participate in the run on Thanksgiving Day and then add a few extra walking sessions or short runs to your weekly workout schedule to keep your diet on track.