# How many calories would you estimate are burned in tennis?

Discussion in 'Health & Fitness' started by pmata814, Apr 22, 2008.

1. ### pmata814Professional

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Can anybody estimate how many calories I would burn during 2hrs of playing doubles? How about singles?

I weigh 260 lbs and am 5' 9" male

I've tried several calculators that I found online and it seems very excessive to me. According to the calculators I would burn about 600 cal/hr in dbls and 700 cal/hr in singles. That would mean that I am burning 1200 cals on dbls league night! (I play for 2hrs) It just doesn't sound right.

edit:
I forgot to add that I am a 3.5 player.

2. ### WBFHall of Fame

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Way too complex to break down IMHO (could be wrong thougH!) You would need to consider breaks, your style of play (running for everything? trying to end points quickly?), your footwork... so much stuff.

3. ### pmata814Professional

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Well I was hoping for a rough estimate that would be within a 100 calories ro so. Anybody know how these internet calculators calculate the calories burned?

4. ### spikyblackhairRookie

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You're right, those numbers seem too high. I'm not sure how those calculators work, but 600 calories is what I might expect to burn in an hour of straight jogging (no breaks) at approx. 6 mph (175 lbs, I'm just a little guy).

Considering that there is a lot of standing around during tennis, I've never considered it much of a workout, even when I'm really playing hard and getting winded. If I had to hazard a guess, I'd say that an hour of competitive singles would burn about 200 calories for me, just based on how I feel (nothing scientific there). An hour of lackadaisical singles feels like it probably burns around 75 calories, lol, not counting the calories that my body naturally burns.

My advice would be to play tennis for fun, then jog or swim to burn calories. There's nothing better for it. If you jog, just make sure you run on nicer surfaces which won't give your legs too bad of a shock; flat grass/turf is good, or that rubbery track material is OK. Concrete and asphalt will sideline you for a while if you push it too hard. Also, I would start at a high level of intensity (the level where you have to push yourself through one or two cramps and finish with almost nothing left in the tank) but only increase your intensity (distance or time by 10% per week. The first run is h*ll, but after you get used to it and get a routine down, it almost becomes enjoyable. This from somebody who has always hated endurance running.

5. ### metamikeRookie

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100 calories?

...HAH...

You use an enormous 2000 calories for basic daily needs such as breathing, digesting...blinking...

100 calories burned playing tennis?

1200 sounds about right, maybe a bit more if youre constantly moving never allowing your body to rest.

6. ### pmata814Professional

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I'd like to share that when I play dbls league, the next morning I am extremely sore and tired! (So much so that sometimes I skip my cardio workout the next day) A lot more than when I do my normal 45 min. workouts on my Elliptical or with weights. So...I'd like to beleive that I am burning more than 200 cals.

7. ### SteveILegend

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Hi,

I have a really good pedometer. I can set it to my height, weight and stride. Then starting a timer it will track steps and do the conversion for cal/hr and miles covered. If I remember correctly, I was about 500 cal/hr for just drilling. Drilling for me means just feeding balls and playing out points (running side to side and up and back) with breaks about every 30 mins. I would think a very hard-fought grinding singles match would be in that same playpark (500-600). Doubles would be less of course. I play about 4.0 and can move the ball from side to side. The rally points in most cases are about 25-30 strokes.

Regards,
Steve

Last edited: Apr 23, 2008
8. ### chess9Hall of Fame

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I had my Polar Heart Rate monitor running for 3.5 hours a few days ago. I played 3 sets of singles and 3 sets of doubles, and total caloric expenditure was estimated at 2160 calories. I would suggest that 2/3rds of that was expended on singles and 1/3 on doubles. So, about 1300 calories for singles and 860 calories for doubles, roughly. So, about 433 calories per set of singles, and 287 calories per set of doubles.

I have a high metabolic rate, needing about 2800 calories per day to maintain my base weight.

So, for a guy who is out of shape, I'd say the numbers would be considerably lower, particularly for singles, since you probably are unable to work as hard as I can.

-Robert

9. ### superman1Legend

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If you're playing singles and you're playing long points and sprinting side-to-side and forward and back, and you're dripping with sweat, then you're going to be burning a lot of calories. If you're a typical rec player who stands in one spot and hits to one spot, then you won't be burning nearly as much.

10. ### waves2yaRookie

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Yep - HRM...

If you are playing 4.0/4.5 A level singles you would be surprised what your average heart is during a match (and how high it can spike; mine does 180); multiple sets over 1-2 hrs - easily 1000 kcal per hour.

I use one and it helped me appreciate the role training, ballistic routines and managing fatigue play in my athletic life (I was grinding myself down, not building up enough - not eating right and resting/sleeping properly).

Btw the doubles workout, as you might imagine - varies greatly.

11. ### spikyblackhairRookie

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My body burns approx 2,200 calories per day on its own, but I have always felt like tennis for most people doesn't burn many calories at all. If you are playing at a higher level then I could see it going into the 400-500 calories/hr range, but as far as 85% of the people I see out on the courts goes, it's probably anywhere from 75 to 200. Here's why:

1) You have to spend time collecting balls without a ball boy/girl. Most people seem to walk around to do this, which burns some calories, but isn't all that intense.
2) Most people can't consistently hit extended rallies, meaning less actual playing time and more ball collecting time.
3) Most people can't place their shots all that well, meaning that they won't make each other run all that often. Lots of people just smack the ball back and forth straight to each other from the baseline until somebody makes an unforced error.

I personally always try to run to get balls and place my shots whenever I get the chance, but my hitting partners pretty much always walk unless I yell at them, and only hit a well placed shot that will make me sprint once in a blue moon. I can get far more exercise in while running, weight lifting, or playing pickup basketball games. Tennis has always been pretty tame for me because I don't play at a high level and don't have a really intense partner who will push me that often, and yet I notice that I still do more running and hard playing than the majority of the other people out on the courts.

Most of you guys here are fairly hardcore compared to the rest of the tennis world, and I'm sure you burn more than 200 calories per hour. You're more consistent, more competitive, and may have ball boys/girls during your matches. However, I was speaking about what I think the majority of the population burns, and they honestly don't seem to be doing much work at all. You know that most people who say "yeah, I exercise, I play tennis" are people who play about once every other week at around the 1.0 to 3.0 level... just imagine what a 2.0 player looks like on the courts. I know you've seen them. They do more running after mis-hit lobs than anything else. I would love it if I burned even just 400 calories per hour while playing singles. I could quit running altogether, and I've never really been a fan of running. However, monitoring my caloric intake and factoring in several hours of tennis every other day, an hour of weight lifting every other day (I know it's weak, but I'm too busy with other things right now to do it every day), jogging 6+ miles every three or four days, and an hour of dance every other day, the numbers just don't add up. I feel much more tired after running for an hour than after any other activity I do. Lifting is more for enhancing the other activities rather than burning calories, although it certainly burns some. Tennis and dance get me sweating and occasionally tired, but it's never close to jogging because you get breaks in the action and don't really do an hour of straight exercise.

If you play a competitive game and you are constantly on the move with little downtime, pmata814, I would think that you could burn maybe 300-400 calories/hr in singles. More body weight would mean that a similar amount of court coverage would require more calories. However, I stick by my statement that swimming and running remain unparalleled for burning calories in the shortest amount of time.

12. ### spikyblackhairRookie

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Think about it this way (sorry, can't edit my posts): if you burn 1,000 calories per hour playing tennis, then you could go home after a match, eat a large pizza with some beer to wash it down, and not get noticeably fatter after two weeks of doing this (assuming you eat regularly the rest of the time and balance your diet with your basal metabolic rate).

13. ### Midlife crisisHall of Fame

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Heart rate is a poor way to judge aerobic stress or caloric consumption. You can be sitting as comfy and relaxed as possible in an easy chair, but with your favorite wet dream doing a striptease in front of you, your heart rate will be sky high and only one part of your body will be doing any "work".

Roughly, an average athletic adult male in his 20's or 30's could probably consume 1000 Calories per hour at their aerobic maximum output, such as cycling or running at their maximum sustainable rate for the entire hour. (This corresponds to an aerobic power output of around 250 watts, since thermodynamic efficiency averages 23-27% among men in this age range). Anything that increases the variability of the effort lowers the total amount of energy output possible. For instance, sprinting 10 seconds and resting just long enough to sprint again, will use well less than 1000 Calories per hour.

This being said, I'd say that an hour of very intense doubles might use 300 to 400 Calories total. You have to account for all the time standing around waiting for the server to bounce the ball, retrieving balls after points, switching sides, etc. There is not a lot of energy being expended during those times.

14. ### metamikeRookie

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Which is strangely enough pretty much what I do. Except before a game so that it's all burned off, not after. Aaaand...yeah...Not really gaining weight here...In fact the opposite.

And I myself hate playing "slow" tennis, where people don't run to get balls, or don't play seriously. My opinion is that if you have the chance to play tennis with someone, give your all

15. ### Japanese MapleSemi-Pro

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Spiky-if you are a strong "A" club player in a hard fought competitive match, you will easily burn 500-800 calories per hour not the 300 to 400 per hour you state.To burn extra calories and improve footwork while practicing, I place a speed ladder and jump rope on the side of the court and use these for 1-2 minutes during changeovers-great way to burn calories and improve quickness. Of course it helps if your partner does the same and is not waiting for you. Also, run to pick up balls obviously burns more calories , along with a split step each time your partner hits the ball.

16. ### spikyblackhairRookie

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Hehe, I'm definitely not playing at that high of a level. There have been times when I try to get my buddy running after balls, but for some reason he gets tired considerably quicker than I do. This just aggravates things, as when he gets tired, he gets lazy with his form and starts cannonballing a lot more shots past the baseline, so we have shorter rallies. I really think it's his mental game more than anything else; any problem will take his game down a couple notches. I can be doing 80% of the running, and I will try to push myself harder to keep up the pace, but if he doesn't have water, or his shoes feel a little too loose or tight, or if his grip isn't just the way he likes it (he also claims he can feel a difference in weight/balance when a vibration dampener is on), he will make excuses and have worse shots. That said, he's a pretty good playing partner when he has no excuses, and I definitely hit a lot of unforced errors as well; I just feel like I am usually putting in more effort and focus than he is. He's gotten a little better since we started playing together since I've yelled at him a lot, but it's frustrating when I have been running around to collect balls and I'm tired but still pushing myself to play well, while he doesn't move to collect balls at the same time as I do or he walks to do it and then really doesn't put in the same amount of effort (sloppy footwork, slicing balls instead of topspin, loss of form).

Well, I got a little off topic with that... I just have to vent a little bit now and then so as not to break another racquet down the road

Good suggestions, JM, but I think my buddy would be worthless for tennis after about 10 minutes if we did that, lol. I can't even get him to collect balls reliably.

metamike: I envy you. I haven't been able to eat a whole pizza and not live to regret it since high school, and I am 99% off of beer and soda. 100% agreement on the tennis mentality, though.

17. ### rbq4h4Rookie

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im just curius but isnt the inverse be truer? i'm really out of shape and near 300 pounds so if for me running is harder then isn't then burning mor e caloreis than if you in shape? dont i work harder than you, i' know i more out of breath than you after running the same?

18. ### fastswingVDRookie

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you're fat man
im 5'7 and weight around 120

19. ### The Home Run KidRookie

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Lol, was that comment really neccesary? I was 6' 1", 275, and I knew I was fat. Plus, you've never seen him. He could be like 4% body fat and be ripped out of his mind. But even if he's not, trust me, he doesn't need somebody to tell him if he's overweight, he can figure it out on his own just fine.

20. ### 0rangeHall of Fame

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Hi Robert can I know your LBM (lean body mass weight)?

And this heart rate monitor thing can tell me exactly how much calories I spent doing whatever I was doing??

21. ### 0rangeHall of Fame

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Are you... a man?

22. ### pmata814Professional

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And you're also an idiot.

23. ### spikyblackhairRookie

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fastswingVD, you should hit the weights if you are 14 or older, and you should eat a lot of calories so that you don't stunt your growth while you're at it. A good medium weight for a 5'7" male is probably 140 lbs, and that's for non-athletes.

24. ### spikyblackhairRookie

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I should say that if you want to get reasonably athletic, you should shoot for 160-165.

25. ### chess9Hall of Fame

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Good question.

The problems you have are multiple.

1. Your metabolic rate is probably much lower than mine, even though I'm 65 and you are, say, 40. This isn't a hard and fast rule in physiology, but generally it's true that when you are substantially overweight you tend to have lower metabolism.

2. The work you can do per unit of time will be substantially less. It will feel like you are doing more because your metabolic economy is poor and your muscular endurance is poor.

3. The length of time you can work will be lower. I played tennis today against a 40 year old guy who hasn't played in a week, and is about 10 pounds overweight. He got badly waxed the second set only because he couldn't keep up. He was knackered.

Don't worry about most of this stuff. Just get your eating habits under control and start REALLY enjoying the things that matter in life.

Best of luck!

-Robert

26. ### cncretecwboSemi-Pro

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youre a skinny kid?

120 isnt much to brag about, anyone can be skinny

27. ### officerdibbleSemi-Pro

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If your aim is to lose weight exercise is unlikely to help.

I know that weight loss is basically a trade-off between calories consumed and colories burned, but studies show that people frequently over-estimate the benefit of the exercise they do and then don't decrease what they eat sufficiently.

Play tennis, do other exercise too, to be physically fitter and to feel good about yourself as a result; but don't let the sport you're doing distract you from looking at what you eat and when.

28. ### baseline08thrasherSemi-Pro

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it matters on how intense you are.

29. ### baseline08thrasherSemi-Pro

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30. ### ogruskieProfessional

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Last summer, I used to play singles tennis for 4 hours every single day out in the heat (I had nothing else to do).

I lost 35 pounds over the course of 2.5 months.

That is kinda random, I know.

Listen, just focus on your exercise. Don't focus on the calorie numbers.

31. ### jamaussHall of Fame

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I'm not basing anything on pure knowledge/facts but just thought I would add this to the discussion...

Last Saturday I played 7 sets over 3 matches (4.5 level) in fairly good heat (about 95 degrees here in AZ) and over the course of those 7 sets I consumed 7 of the 32. oz Gatorade bottles.

7 x 32 = 224 ounces.

16 oz. in a lb = 14 lbs.

After I came home and took a shower I weighed myself and I was only 1 pound lighter than the night before (I'm weighing myself once a day now as I'm trying to lose weight). I'm fairly overweight (5'9" and 230 lbs) so I don't know if that had anything to do with it or not but like I was saying - just thought I would share those numbers as I was pretty surprised at them.

32. ### spikyblackhairRookie

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Keep in mind that weight can fluctuate significantly over the course of a day, so you typically only want to check your progress every few weeks.

33. ### jamaussHall of Fame

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Oh, I'm not expecting to see big changes day-to-day. I just have a tiny little calendar in my bathroom by the scale that I write my weight on each day with a "w" or "t" on for whether I did weights or played tennis, or both. It's just for fun though. I'm not setting my goal for any higher than a pound or two a week. I'm a fan of healthy weight loss, rather than huge extreme weight loss than is tough (for me) to maintain for any good period of time.

34. ### cncretecwboSemi-Pro

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that just means you lost a lot of water, nothing to do with calories

35. ### r2473G.O.A.T.

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???????

I would say that tennis is unlikely to be the total (or best) solution, but I would challenge you to find a single reputable person that recommends a fat loss plan and no exercise.

36. ### spikyblackhairRookie

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Hehe, it reminds me of a blip I read in the L.A. Times saying that "when you wake up hungry, that means you've lost weight overnight"... ridiculous. There is too much misinformation floating around out there.

37. ### officerdibbleSemi-Pro

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Of course, almost every reputable person recommends it because it's physiologically irrefutable. Unfortunately, as the vast numbers of obese and overweight people in the Western world who know that diet and exercise are "the key" to losing weight will testify, the physiological theory isn't the issue, the psychological practice is.

Incidentally, you say "fat loss plan"; there are lots of reasons why focusing on the consumption of fat (if that's what you're suggesting) won't work. Many low fat foods have another ingredient that increases calories directly or indirectly. Fat per se isn't an issue; the calorific density of fat may be, but even that's beside the point.

The problem with focusing on exercise to lose weight is that studies show that people routinely over-estimate the calorific impact of exercise and feel they can reward themselves with foods.

The original poster is doing a smart thing to try and get a reliable estimate of the calories consumed in exercise, but it will be impossible to give an accurate guide because none of us can be sure how efficiently he plays; only scientific measurement of the individual could provide this. However, the issue of weight loss isn't a conscious one. If it was everyone who was told that to lose weight you need to exercise more and eat less and who decided they wanted to be slimmer would achieve their desired outcome. The unconscious mind has a mental age of approximately six years, and takes many, many months to change. Unfortunately the unconscious drives the vast majority of our behaviour.

I recommend that the original poster reads The No Diet Diet. It's not a weight loss panacea, but at least it puts the emphasis in the right place - the preoccupations of the unconscious mind.

And another thing; diet sodas. Another grand weight loss illusion. Whether the artificial sweetners trigger hunger sooner, or whether people unconsciously miscalculate the punitive benefits and then over-indulge elsewhere isn't clear, but a large long term study found that when of the two groups it was the diet soda drinkers that ended up with higher proportions obesity.

Of course, if you take your sugary Gatorade to the court when you go to play tennis to "lose weight" there's a pretty good chance you'll negate calorifies burned before you've left the court!

38. ### officerdibbleSemi-Pro

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Of course you lose weight overnight; unless you're being fed by a drip you are burning calories that you aren't replacing. But it's a classic as a piece of information that helps people justify over-consumption. Not that they need much help with that in the US!

As Billy Connelly says, "I don't care how fat you are, just don't sit next to me on a plane..." and; "If you want to lose weight stop buying food that's served in buckets!"

39. ### spikyblackhairRookie

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Right, you've maybe lost 1/5 of a pound, lol.

40. ### zebanoSemi-Pro

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"fat loss plan" is not referring to how much fat he eats, but rather to the percentage of ones body which is fat. In order to do this typically the recommended approach is (assuming one is overweight)
1. Consume fewer calories than you consume, this will cause you to lose weight. Some will be bodyfat, some will be muscle
2. Perform resistance training. This will minimize the amount of muscle lost.

In this way you are maintaining your muscle and losing mostly fat. If they are not overweight, then you increase the calories consumed so that your body can gain muscle (it will also gain fat) and at some point you switch to the above approach to lose the extra fat.

41. ### simiHall of Fame

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Waking up hungry has nothing to do with losing weight when one sleeps. People definitely lose weight during the night. I went on a diet a year and a half ago where I lost forty pounds in two months. Since then, I have weighed myself first thing in the morning when I get out of bed and last thing as night before I get under the covers. (Keeps me "on track".)

There is always a 2-4 pound difference between the two readings. I asked my physician son-in-law who works in sports medicine (he is the football physician at one of the smaller Florida universities) why this is so. Why do I lose weight when I'm sleeping seeing that I'm not doing any exercise? Two pounds is 7000 calories!

He said that the weight loss during sleeping hours is almost totally due to respiration. We are basically losing water, being expelled with every breath we take.

Same thing with tennis. After a match, a lot of our weight loss is due to water loss in our bodies, (by sweating, not respiration). That in addition to the 500-1000 calorie loss due to physical exertion.

42. ### simiHall of Fame

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I do not dispute your statement. It is a true one. However, some of us cannot consume sodas that contain sugar. If a diabetic chooses to drink a carbonated soda pop, diet ones are the only option.

So true! Shows us the power of Madison Avenue.

43. ### BiGGieStuFFHall of Fame

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And you're a stick. I know women in great shape that weigh more than you. =). PUT SOME MEAT ON YOUR BONES!! :lol:

44. ### spikyblackhairRookie

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Right, your weight fluctuates throughout the entire day, but we're talking about pounds of fat and muscle in this context.

That's why weighing yourself day to day isn't going to be a great indicator of how much weight you're really losing, but if it helps motivate you, then by all means do it.

45. ### simiHall of Fame

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Correct. When I was on the diet, I was advised to only weigh myself two or at most, three times a week. But, now that I'm "maintaining", daily readings give a good record of fluctuations. It keeps me "honest".

46. ### cncretecwboSemi-Pro

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ummm thats very unhealthy to lose weight that fast, did you lose a ton of muscle?

47. ### simiHall of Fame

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No. First two weeks one is advised to cut back on strenuous exercise. After that, you can go back to your normal routine. Everything is fine with my body. Have kept the weight off so far. Biggest change is in metabolism. No way I can go back to eating the way I used to. Feel better about myself too. However, the greatest advantage and result of the diet is that I no longer have to take diabetes medicine. Blood sugar levels are now "normal".

If we can...this will be the last I have to say on this. If you have more questions, drop me an e-mail. Let's not hijack this thread worse than I already did.

Last edited: Apr 30, 2008
48. ### 843New User

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I'm 19, 5'5", 115 lbs, and am an ecto-endomorph with fairly small frame, and I'm a guy.

I haven't eaten fast food for months and drink only water. I play tennis 3-6 times a week, around 1-2 hours each time. With my current lifestyle, it's nearly impossible for me to gain any weight at all, so sometimes it baffles me why the vast majority of people think that losing weight is hard...

49. ### formerblakefanRookie

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I, too, have a Polar Heart Rate monitor that I wear whenever I do any type of aerobic exercise. Whenever I do tennis drills (some 1.5 hours), I burn 1100 Kcal (then again, I'm a short woman). Whenever I do gym cardio (elliptical, bikes, etc.) usually I'll burn 10 Kcal/min. Whenever I play a competitive tennis match (singles) I usually burn 800-1000 Kcal over 2 hrs.

Hope this helps.

50. ### simiHall of Fame

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Just wait until you are about twenty-thirty years older. Then, you'll understand.

When I was 19, I was 6'3" tall, as I am now. But only weighed 165 pounds. And like you, nothing I could do made a difference. That all changes around your late-30s or early-40s. You'll have a full-time employment. You'll get married and have a family and most likely young children. All kinds of things will start taking up your time, other than hitting the courts or the gym. You'll see... Enjoy your youth while you still have it.