Calories Burned While Cooking

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While it is not the most intense activity, cooking does involve some movements. Find out more or less how many calories this burns.

The average person can expect to burn around 103 – 178+ calories per 30 minutes of cooking with a moderate effort.

Keep in mind that these are very rough estimations. Details like your body weight, hormone levels, body composition, etc. will influence your results.

You can see these amounts of calories burned with cooking as a nice bonus. To really lose a lot of weight, most people will need to make other positive changes too (like in the foods they cook).

I will also go over estimations for different body weights and time intervals, how your cooking intensity changes things, and how to burn more calories while cooking.

Biggest influences on calories burned while cooking

It makes things more complicated but the fact is that correctly estimating how many calories you burn while cooking is hard to do. There are many details that will influence your actual results.

At the same time, you can still make your estimations somewhat more accurate. For example, by considering a few of the more important influences on the number of calories burned while cooking.

These influences also already give you an idea of things you can do to get more results per minute of cooking.

That being said, here are a few factors that play a role in how many calories you burn while cooking include:

  • Body weight: To move around your body needs energy, measured in calories. The more you weigh, the more energy your body needs to fuel its movements.
  • Body composition: Body composition is how much of your body weight is made up of different tissue. Two people can weigh the same but for one individual most of the weight can come from fat while the second individual has a lot of muscle. The reason that is important is that the same weight of muscle requires more energy than that weight in fat.
  • Cooking intensity: Really picking up your speed while cooking may not always be the safest to do but it would likely increase the number of calories you burn.

Estimations calories burned cooking

The Centers For Disease Control And Prevention notes that moderate-effort housework like cooking can burn between 3.5-7 calories per minute (1).

You can also get more precise estimations that take your body weight into account by using MET values.

These are numbers that indicate how physically intense certain activities like cooking are. You can then use the MET in the formula below to get rough calorie-burning estimations.

Formula: METs x 3.5 x (your body weight in kilograms) / 200 = calories burned per minute

As you can see, this formula is far from complete. In turn, the number of calories you actually burn while cooking can vary.

That being said, the numbers do give you some idea of what you can expect from this activity.

One source mentions an MET of 2 for light-effort cooking and an MET of 3.5 for moderate-effort cooking (2).

In the first table below, you can find the estimations of calories burned with moderate-effort cooking. After that, you can find a comparison between the two cooking intensities mentioned.

Calories burned while cooking

Since there are no repetitions or distances involved, you likely want to know how many calories cooking burns in certain time intervals.

Weight Person
1 Minute15 Minutes30 Minutes45 Minutes60 Minutes
125 Pounds
(56 kg)
3 calories52 calories103 calories155 calories207 calories
155 Pounds
(70 kg)
4 calories64 calories128 calories192 calories256 calories
185 Pounds
(84 kg)
5 calories76 calories153 calories229 calories306 calories
215 Pounds
(97 kg)
6 calories89 calories178 calories267 calories356 calories
Calories burned with cooking at a moderate effort

Calories burned with light vs moderate effort cooking

The source is not too specific about what activities count as light or moderate cooking but the numbers below do indicate that your intensity levels can make a nice difference.

These estimations of calories burned are for cooking for 30 minutes.

Cooking Effort
Weight Person
(Light Effort)
(Moderate Effort)
125 Pounds (56 kg)59 calories103 calories
155 Pounds (70 kg)73 calories128 calories
185 Pounds (84 kg)87 calories153 calories
215 Pounds (97 kg)102 calories178 calories
Calories burned cooking at different effort levels for 30 minutes

Ways to burn more calories while cooking

As you can see from the intensity differences, there are ways to influence the number of calories you burn while cooking.

First of all, if you can do so safely, speeding up your cooking movements can help you burn more calories per minute.

In more specific guidelines, instead of strolling around you really want to walk and move fast.

Secondly, you can make the weight you have to carry around while cooking heavier.

One way to do this is to build some extra muscle mass with resistance training exercises outside of your cooking sessions.

Secondly, you could theoretically wear a weighted vest that does not get in the way.

Can you lose weight from cooking?

While the number of calories you burn while cooking is not too impressive, these theoretically could be enough to lose a tiny amount of weight if your habits in other areas are good enough.

At the same time, these other habits will still play a big role.

Temporarily assume there is a 155-pound (70 kg) person who is at a weight loss plateau and only plans to cook more often.

This 155-pound person would burn an extra 896 calories or about 0.26 pounds (0.11 kg) of body fat while cooking 30 minutes a day for a week.

After 30 days of this, the same person would have burned an extra 3840 calories or about 1.1 pounds (0.48 kg) while cooking 30 minutes a day.

Something important is that these weight loss results would only apply if the person starts cooking longer than before. Otherwise, this calorie-burning would already take place.

Is cooking a good activity to burn calories?

While it is better than sitting still, cooking is not that good for burning calories.

You will typically see more weight loss results from making smarter choices about what foods you cook.

Additionally, many other activities and workouts are just a lot more effective for this purpose than cooking.

If you absolutely want to make your cooking sessions burn more calories anyway, you do have options.

Ideally, you would implement resistance training exercises to build more muscle mass.

Additionally, wearing a weighted vest would make you burn more calories while cooking. The downside is that this vest can get in the way.

Keep in mind that even with these modifications, cooking will not burn that many calories.

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Matt Claes founded Weight Loss Made Practical to help people get in shape and stay there after losing 37 pounds and learning the best of the best about weight loss, health, and longevity for over 4 years. Over these years he has become an expert in nutrition, exercise, and other physical health aspects.