How Many Calories Do You Burn Running a Mile?

Can Calories Burned During a 5K Justify a Big Meal?

Runner couple running on sunny urban footbridge at sunrise
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Do you know how many calories you burn running a mile? Or how about the number of calories burned during a 5K? If you're watching your diet you probably should. Many exercisers use a five kilometer (5K) race such as a turkey trot to justify eating a cheat meal or to burn off Thanksgiving Day calories. But do the calories burned running in a 5K race really make a dent in the calories consumed at the holiday dinner table? And how far should you run to burn off that cheat meal? 

How Many Calories Do You Burn Running a Mile?

The number of calories you burn while running depends on a few different factors.

For example, body weight makes a difference. A heavier runner will usually burn more calories than a lighter runner jogging at the same pace for the same amount of time.

Speed can play a role, too. A faster runner may burn more calories than someone who is jogging at a slower pace if they run for the same amount of time.

Gender can play a role as men often burn slightly more calories than women when performing similar tasks.

And lastly distance will usually change the numbers because it can determine the amount of time (duration) that your body is burning extra calories to run. .  

So what does that mean for you? As a basic rule of thumb, you'll burn around 100 calories per mile, regardless of pace (because faster runners complete the same distance in less time). You can use these guides to get a general idea of how many calories you burn running a mile.

Approximate Calories Burned Running a Mile 

  • A 120-pound runner will burn approximately 91 calories running a mile
  • A 140-pound runner will burn approximately 105 calories running a mile
  • A 160-pound runner will burn approximately 121 calories running a mile
  • A 180-pound runner will burn approximately 136 calories running a mile
  • A 200-pound runner will burn approximately 151 calories running a mile

Running uphill will burn more calories than running on a flat surface. And other obstacles, like rough terrain (such as a trail run or running on the beach) may also affect the number of calories you burn. 

Calories Burned During a 5K Run or Walk

The exact number of calories you burn when you walk or run a 5k will depend on your body size and your gender. Weather conditions on the day of the race can make a difference, too. If it is windy, you'll have to work harder to get to the finish line.

If you are running a ten minute-per-mile pace and you complete 3.1 miles (five kilometers), use these numbers to estimate the number of calories you would burn. Faster runners and slower runners would have similar caloric expenditures because the change in duration offsets the speed difference in most cases. 

  • A 120-pound runner will burn approximately 281 calories running a 5K
  • A 140-pound runner will burn approximately 328 calories running a 5K
  • A 160-pound runner will burn approximately 375 calories running a 5K
  • A 180-pound runner will burn approximately 422 calories running a 5K
  • A 200-pound runner will burn approximately 469 calories running a 5K

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.

Calories Burned During Longer Races

You can use the 100/calorie per mile estimate to calculate the number of calories burned at longer running events. However, running form can deteriorate as you run longer distances. Your body gets tired and movement becomes less efficient. For that reason, you may burn more calories at longer events, such as a 10K, half marathon, or marathon.

Can 5K Calories Burn Off a Cheat Meal?

Many runners celebrate the end of a run with an indulgent brunch, happy hour, or a big family dinner. If you run an annual turkey trot race, you celebrate the end of your 5K race with a huge Thanksgiving dinner. But, is running a 5K enough activity to burn off the calories in a typical Thanksgiving dinner? 

In most cases, a single run won't burn enough calories to account for an indulgent dinner at a restaurant or a festive brunch with all the fixings. And it is not likely to burn off the calories in a Thanksgiving meal, either. Although the answer depends in part on the number of calories you eat during your meal. In most cases, however, 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.

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.