Some professional athletes manage to have successful careers while rocking a dad bod but the vast majority of them devote their lives to staying in shape in order to play at the pinnacle of their game.
In order to do so, they have to follow a strict diet and exercise regimen to ensure they’re ready to go on gameday and deal with the grueling physical requirements that come with playing a sport on the highest level.
However, which athletes actually work the hardest when they compete? If you’re curious, you’ve come to the right place.
In order to answer this question, I took a look at which athletes burn the most calories playing their respective sport. The one problem I ran into while researching this is that the number of calories burned can vary based on weight and height but I did everything in my power to find the most conclusive numbers I could.
Also, I apologize for not including the likes of cricket and water polo (or regular polo, for that matter). I made the executive decision to focus on sports people actually care about so I’m sorry if I omitted something you were looking forward to.
>Without further ado, here’s what I uncovered.
A lot of people operate under the assumption that NBA players run five miles over the course of a game but it looks like the reality is actually around half of that.
Running up and down the court is responsible for ridding players of the most calories, but when you take all of the other factors into consideration, they burn around 635 calories when everything is said and done (although that number assumes they’re playing for almost the entirety of a regulation game, so the total might be lower depending on the player).
We run into a bit of a problem here as far as different positions are concerned. Most hockey players are only on the ice for around one-third of the game (if that) while goalies patrol the crease for its entirety—Carey Price claims he once burned an insane 2,300 calories over the course of 60 minutes.
However, unless you’re enough of a headcase to be a goalie, you’re not going to come anywhere near that number. One study estimates someone around 190 pounds burns 700 calories per hour playing hockey, but when you consider the average NHL player weights around 200, that number is probably slightly higher.
Baseball might seem like the most sedentary sport in existence but some players are a bit more active than others, which makes generalizing exertion a tad difficult. One expert estimates pitchers burn around 1,450 calories while their trusty sidekicks behind the plate burn 1,100 (the final tally for position players is around 1,000 over the course of nine innings).
If we average that out we’re looking at a mean of 1,050 calories per game.
Sadly, I couldn’t find a source that takes sunflower seed consumption into consideration.
Golf is the only sport aside from auto racing that gives you the option of doing as little walking as possible, but if you’re a PGA player not named “John Daly,” you’re not given that option.
If you’re lugging around your bags yourself, you’ll shed 1,440 calories over 18 holes—although that doesn’t account for the beers you may drink along the way.
However, PGA players have the opportunity to have someone schlep their bag around for them, and as a result, the average professional golfer burns around 1,240 calories over the course of an 18-hole match.
Soccer players are constantly on the move and the vast majority of them end up playing for a full 90 minutes, so when you consider you lose around 900 calories per hour of playing time, you’re looking at a grand total of 1,350 calories burned over the course of a match.
According to one source, professional tennis players burn around 600 calories per hour, and at the U.S. Open, the average match lasts around two hours and forty-five minutes. Most people I know aren’t playing five sets—nor do they play at the same intensity as people on the tour—but if you do, you’re going to burn around 1,650 calories over the course of the showdown.
As was the case with baseball and hockey, it’s a little trickier to figure out an average here, as some players don’t exert as much energy as others (I’m looking at you, punters). However, I still tried my darndest to figure things out.
I did find one source that suggested players can burn up to 3,000 calories over the course of a day of practice, as a single hour of football burns around 550 calories. If we were to extrapolate that to consider the length of a regulation game, we’re looking at a grand total of 1,760 calories, making it the most physically grueling sport of all.