Does Playing Soccer Help You Lose Weight?

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Many people turn to running and weights to lose weight but there are other options. Find out whether playing soccer is good for weight loss or not.

To lose weight you need to get in a situation where you need more energy than is coming in from food.

The more intense movements in soccer help you use up more energy so you can say this sport is good for weight loss.

One of the benefits of soccer is that it can be a fun way to exercise more. Enjoying the workouts you do can help you stay consistent.

At the same time, the principle above also means your habits in areas like your diet need to be good enough to see results.

So playing soccer will not always help you lose weight but it does help in the process.

This article will also go over how soccer compares to other sports and activities, whether it can make your legs skinnier, and how long to play to see what weight loss results.

Can soccer help you lose weight?

If you want to lose weight, you need to get to a point where your body needs more energy to function than is coming in from food sources.

When this happens, you start using up energy stores like body fat to get the remaining needs.

Soccer can help you lose weight in the sense that it increases your energy usage. This increases your chances of getting to the point above and making the difference bigger.

At the same time, you will still need to implement habits that are good enough in areas like nutrition to see weight loss results from playing soccer.

Besides that, you likely also want to know how good soccer is for weight loss compared to other sports and exercises.

Calories burned with soccer vs other sports and exercises

Because you only have a limited amount of time, you will have to make choices in terms of what sports and exercises to do when trying to lose weight.

To do this, you can compare how many calories (energy) these activities burn.

One thing to note first is that the numbers below are rough estimations.

Two people of the same body weight can burn different amounts of calories with soccer because of differences in body composition, hormone levels, running speed, soccer field position, etc.

That being said, the estimations for how many calories soccer burns compared to alternatives can still offer an idea of the effectiveness of these activities for weight loss.

A 155-pound (70 kg) person will burn more or less the following amounts of calories while doing the sports and activities below for 30 minutes (1):

  • Soccer (General): 252 calories
  • Soccer (Competitive Match): 366 calories
  • Volleyball (non-competitive): 108 calories
  • Water Aerobics: 144 calories
  • Swimming (general): 216 calories
  • Rowing, Stationary (moderate): 252 calories
  • Tennis (general): 252 calories
  • Bicycling, Stationary (moderate): 252 calories
  • Jumping rope (slow): 281 calories
  • Hockey: 288 calories
  • Running 5 mph: 288 calories
  • Elliptical Trainer (general): 324 calories

Something that stands out is that the intensity of your soccer match will influence your weight loss results a lot.

The same likely applies to your position. A defender will generally not burn as many calories as a midfielder.

These things aside, soccer can be relatively effective for burning calories compared to many other sports and activities. At the same time, there are some options that are more effective too.

Does soccer help you lose belly fat?

Many people get the idea that you have to do certain exercises to burn fat from specific areas like your stomach.

Unfortunately, it is generally not possible to influence where fat loss happens in significant amounts. This applies to soccer too.

If you want to lose belly fat, you have to lose enough weight in general. Over time, your body will use up more and more fat from this and other areas.

In simpler words, soccer can help you lose belly fat at some point.

However, your other lifestyle habits still need to be good enough to lose weight and you don’t necessarily target your stomach alone.

Does soccer make your legs skinnier or bigger?

Similar to belly fat, many people wonder whether soccer can make their legs skinnier because you mainly use the muscles in this area.

The same principles apply to leg fat loss. Soccer can make your legs skinnier over time but there are conditions and it may take some time.

On the other side, some people also wonder whether soccer can help them build muscle mass and in turn, make their legs bigger.

It may be possible to build a tiny amount of muscle mass in areas like your front thighs with soccer thanks to the explosive movements.

However, you should not really expect too much in this area. Soccer is often not challenging enough to build a lot of muscle mass.

So soccer can mostly make your legs skinnier in combination with good lifestyle habits.

How long should you play soccer to lose weight?

The calorie burning mentioned above sounds nice but you likely also want to know what weight loss results soccer offers in what time frames.

As mentioned, your habits in areas like your diet will influence these results a lot. Even so, by making a few assumptions, you can get some interesting estimations.

More specifically, assume that there is a 155-pound (70 kg) who has a routine that keeps them at the same weight. The only change they will make is playing more soccer.

This 155-pound (70 kg) can burn an extra 1575 calories or about 0.45 pounds (0.2 kg) of body fat by playing three hours of soccer a week.

If the same person keeps this routine up for four weeks, they can burn an extra 6300 calories or about 1.8 pounds (0.79 kg) of body fat.

Another thing to keep in mind with these estimations is that as you lose more weight, the same soccer sessions will start to burn fewer calories.

How much weight does a soccer player lose during a game?

The numbers above can be helpful but you also may want to know what the weight loss results of playing an entire game will be.

Something to note first is that these estimations don’t take water weight loss into account.

Additionally, where the calorie-burning comes from body fat will also depend on other details.

That being said, a 185-pound (83 kg) person can burn 1311 calories during a competitive 90-minute soccer match.

This comes down to losing about 0.38 pounds (0.16 kg) of body fat if these calories come from that source.

Due to high exercise intensities, the soccer player may also have a faster metabolism for a while after the match.

Is soccer a good exercise choice for weight loss?

Soccer can be a good exercise choice for losing weight in the sense that it can burn a lot of calories.

Another benefit of this sport is that many people really enjoy doing it. If this applies to you, you may find it easier to stick to an exercise routine that includes soccer instead of running.

On the other hand, you do want to keep in mind that soccer also has downsides for this purpose.

First of all, to be able to play soccer you likely have to travel to a soccer field. This requires extra time and attention.

Additionally, you have to organize yourself with other players. This could make it so you miss some of your workouts due to people canceling.

That being said, these advantages are often not the end of the world. You can still say that soccer is a good option for weight loss.

Do make sure your habits in other lifestyle areas like nutrition are good enough to see weight loss results from playing soccer.

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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.