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Can You Lose Weight by Playing Basketball?

June 07, 2023

Can you lose weight by playing basketball?

Basketball is a beloved sport by many people across the globe. Young, old, and everyone in between can have fun and enjoy the game independently or with a group of their friends or fellow ballers. And even though you can play basketball leisurely in your driveway or at the playground by yourself, when you play with others, there is no denying that it's a great form of exercise.

So, can you lose weight while playing basketball? The short answer is: of course you can! But let’s take a closer look at that here to help you learn how basketball can benefit your weight and overall fitness as well.


Basics of weight loss

Before looking at how basketball can help you lose weight, it’s essential to understand the basics of weight loss if you are unfamiliar. In short, weight loss (and weight gain) is all about the calories you consume versus the calories you burn during any activity. To lose weight you need to be eating less calories than you burn, putting yourself in a calorie deficit. Checkout this article to calculate the amount of calories you should eat to lose weight.

Eating for fat loss

You consume calories in the form of food, drink, and anything else you ingest. You burn calories through the everyday processes that occur in your body, but you burn a lot more through physical activity and exercise. According to the Mayo Clinic, there are 3,500 calories in one pound (.45 kilograms) of fat. So that’s the same number you would need to burn to lose a single pound. 

That may seem like a lot to burn for a small tip of the scale, but when you look at it over the course of a week or a month, rather than just a day, a steady exercise plan with basketball or any other activity combined with healthy eating can help you healthily shed weight.


How many calories can you burn by playing basketball?

Basketball can be a great form of exercise and help you burn many calories, which will help you lose weight. But there is no exact amount of calories every person will burn every time they are on the court. Several factors determine how many calories you can burn playing basketball. 

The most significant factor here is how hard you play. If you are playing by yourself and just working on taking a few jump shots, you will burn far fewer calories than playing an entire full-court game. The harder you push yourself and the more running, jumping, sprinting, and every other basketball-related activity you do, the more calories you will burn and the more weight you can lose. 

According to the American Council on Exercise, a 175-pound person can burn 357 calories in an hour just shooting around on the basketball court. That same person can increase this number by increasing the intensity and burn 476 calories/hour running drills and shooting and 635 calories/hour playing full-game basketball.

 basketball team game

These numbers easily indicate the high-intensity nature of playing basketball and the quick increase in calories burned you can achieve if you play the sport at a higher level. The more you weigh, the more calories you will burn playing basketball as well. If you want to see how many calories you will personally burn according to your weight, check out this article for more details.


How to lose weight playing basketball

As you can see from the calorie numbers above, if you play basketball at an intense level for a few hours, you could lose a pound or two during one game night alone. But that doesn’t mean basketball is the only answer you’ll need to lose weight and stay healthy. 

If you want to lose weight by playing basketball, you need to play often. I would say at least three days a week is good, and more than that is even better. You also need to play at a consistently intense level to see consistent calories being burned. If you are not sweating and out of breath, try to push yourself harder.

But in addition to getting on the court often and working as hard as you can when hooping, you also need to consider your diet and make any necessary changes to help you lose weight as well. If you eat three cheeseburgers, an entire pizza, or have two desserts after a long night on the court, you’ll quickly put all the calories you just burned back in and could gain weight even if you play a lot of basketball. 

Try to watch your diet closely and make healthy decisions based around whole foods that aren’t filled with a bunch of empty calories. You can also count calories to better understand how much you are consuming and measure that against the numbers you see when using the calorie counter found above. That can give you a good idea of how much basketball you need to play to lose the desired amount of weight compared to how much you are eating.


Final thoughts

Basketball can be great exercise, there’s no doubt about that. And if you want to lose weight by playing basketball, make sure you work hard on the court and get out there often. Always remember that a balanced diet is another key to weight loss as well. If you consider those two factors, you can quickly lose some weight while playing the sport we all love! 


Thomas D
Thomas D


Thomas is a dedicated fitness enthusiast with over 12 years of experience in the gym. As a level 2 qualified gym instructor, he combines his passion for working out and nutrition to help others achieve their fitness goals. Thomas stays up to date with the latest fitness research and follows the work of top experts in the field. With a balance of textbook knowledge and real-life experience, he provides practical guidance to help others reach their full potential.

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