How to lose weight while sitting down all day: A science-based guide

Written by , Last updated: July 11, 2018

Hey, and welcome to my collection of science-based tips on how to lose weight sitting down.

In this guide, you'll see the science on exactly how many calories you can expect to burn with each of the tricks.

I'll also tell you how many lbs / kg you can expect to lose with each of these fat loss tips.

As you'll soon see, most of these calorie burning tips won't be able to move the needle on their own.

(Though, some of them have quite a lot of calorie burning potential to help you get rid of that stubborn belly fat.)

I've already ordered the tips from the ones that can help you burn off the most body fat to those that may not be as powerful as the others.

Before we kick things off with the most powerful tip that can help you lose the most weight (as you sit at your desk), here's a short overview of everything I've covered in this guide:

(Use it to quickly navigate this guide.)

Switch to active sitting (to lose 10.4 lbs / 4.7 kg a year)

Maybe the potentially spine-deforming and life-shortening dangers of passive sitting don't really bother you all that much.

(Though it's true, science says that passive sitting CAN kill you).

But passive sitting can also do a tremendous job of keeping you overweight.

The solution?

Switch from passive sitting to active sitting to burn fat even while you sit.

Active sitting can help you burn +10.4% more calories[1], which can add up to around 100 extra calories every day.

(Naturally, your final number will depend on how many hours you actually spend sitting every day).

But if you can burn off 100 extra calories every single day, this means you can lose 10.4 lbs (4.7 kg) per year.

Once you switch to active sitting, you'll also get to enjoy at least two more scientifically-proven benefits of active sitting.

Drink cold water (to lose 10.0 lbs / 4.6 kg a year)

One study[2] took a closer look at how many extra calories something as simple as drinking water can help you burn.

What they discovered was truly amazing:

Drinking down 16 fl oz (500 ml) of water instantly boosts your calorie burn rate by +30%.

This fat burn boost goes away after a while, but if you repeat this a few times a day - to drink 64 fl oz (2 liters) in total...

You can boost your calorie burn rate by 96 calories per day.

(You can read more details about how to pull this off correctly in my science-based guide to drinking water for weight loss.

Now, if it weren't for the fact that active sitting also eliminates 4 potentially crippling problems of passive sitting...

...then drinking water to lose some weight even as you sit behind a desk would probably come out on top (but now it comes in as a close second).

Take caffeine (to lose 8.3 lbs / 3.8 kg)

One study[3] has discovered that caffeine can help you burn as much as 150 extra calories per day.

This would have been a clear winner if you only care about burning off as many calories during sitting as possible, but...

Most people won't be able to burn off nowhere near as many extra calories with caffeine alone.

Besides, you'd have to take potentially dangerous doses of caffeine throughout the day to burn off 150 extra calories every day.

If you played it safe and timed your caffeine correctly (read more details on how to do that here), you can expect to burn off around 80 extra calories per day.

Burning off 80 extra calories a day means that you can expect to lose 8.3 lbs / 3.8 kg in a year.

Drink green tea (to lose 8.2 lbs / 3.7 kg)

When it comes to burning off some extra calories with caffeine, people automatically think coffee.

But most coffee lovers around the world don't even know that they could get in their daily dose of caffeine with green tea as well.

On top of caffeine, green tea contains a substance called "polyphenols" - which actually brings down the effect of caffeine (but without slowing down fat burn).

So according to scientific research[4], green tea can help you burn around 79 extra calories per day.

(For a thorough guide on how to actually burn off that many calories day in and day out with green tea, you can follow my thorough guide to drinking green tea for weight loss).

This means that if you get in the necessary dose of green tea day in and day out for a year, you could burn lose 8.2 lbs / 3.7 kg of pure body fat because of it.

Drink oolong tea (to lose 7 lbs / 3.2 kg a year)

If you're into natural ways you can use to lose some extra weight every day, then oolong tea might be exactly what you need.

Science says that[5] has shown that drinking oolong tea can help you burn around 67 extra calories a day.

But just like many other drinks and "fat burners", oolong tea contains caffeine as well.

In other words, you need to be careful not to go overboard with how much caffeine you get in per day from different caffeinated drinks or supplements.

(Though, caffeine isn't the only thing in oolong tea that can help you burn off some extra body fat. For more details go to my science-based guide to drinking oolong tea for weight loss.)

How much body fat will you lose if you burn 67 calories every day?

If you drink oolong tea for weight loss day in and day out for a year, you'll lose - or at least not gain - 7 lbs / 3.2 kg of pure body fat.

(Remember, that's "just" your body fat, you'll lose even more body weight in total.)

Chew gum (to lose 5.0 lbs / 2.3 kg a year)

Ok, this may not exactly be a major game changer, but chewing gum has actually been proven to burn around 12 extra calories per hour[6].

But the problem with chewing gum and the few extra calories per hour it can help you burn is this:

You'd literally have to keep chewing for hours every single day to make a meaningful impact on your weight.

So let me - just for the sake of a ballpark figure - assume that if you put your mind (and your jaw) to it, you can actualy chew gum for 4 hours a day.

This, possibly a bit optimistic guess would mean that chewing gum can help you burn around 48 extra calories per day.

Of course, you'd need a zero-calorie gum to actually benefit from this trick.

Which comes down to you losing, or at least keeping off, 5.0 lbs / 2.3 kg of pure body fat per year.

Drop the temperature (to lose 4.4 lbs / 2 kg a year)

Scientific research[7] has shown that that if you drop your room temperature from 75°F->66°F / 24°C->19°C...

You can instantly boost your calorie burn rate by +5.3%.

This means that you can burn around 42 extra calories per day and that...

You can expect to put off - or at least keep off - around 4 lbs / 2 kg of pure body fat per year.

(Again, that's just how much pure body fat you can expect to lose, but you'll lose even more body weight in total.)

That's IF - and for me personally, that's a huge if - you're prepared to spend your days in a cold(er) environment.

If you're not exactly a fan of sitting in a cold(er) room - or you simply can't use this fat burning tip because of the people who share your living space with you...

You can find a couple more ideas on how to take advantage of the fact that cold can boost your calorie burn rate in my science based guide to burning calories with thermogenesis.

Time to move on to another way that can help you lose some weight while sitting down.

Eat protein (to lose 4.2 lbs / 1.9 kg a year)

One study[8] that took a closer look at how many calories you can burn in the 7 hours after eating a protein-rich meal, found that

Eating a meal with 30% protein (instead of a meal with 15% protein) can help you burn 40 extra calories per day.

Why does this happen?

Protein are a lot harder to digest than carbs or fats, which means that the more protein you eat, the more calories you'll burn on digestion.

So even if you do nothing else but add just a little extra protein to your meals every day, you can expect to melt away 4.2 lbs / 1.9 kg per year.

Of course, you can't just eat more protein on top of everything that you already eat in a day.

The trick is to eat foods that are richer in protein, but still eat at least roughly the same number of calories during the day.

Get a standing desk ( 3.9 lbs / 1.8 kg)

Standing behind a desk isn't exactly a way to burn more calories as you're sitting at a desk, but I feel like it deserves a mention here, simply because...

It's quite often being mentioned as an alternative to sitting down all day.

When I first heard of standing desks, I thought, wow, what an upgrade that would be.

But after taking a closer look at the science, standing desks turned out to be quite a disappointment when it comes to burning extra calories during office hours:

In one study[9], standing behind a desk only burned off 4.8 extra calories per hour (compared to when people were sitting down).

In other words, even if you stand behind a desk for 8 hours every day...

You can only expect to burn off around 38 calories extra calories per day.

This puts standing behind a desk for 8 hours every day LESS efficient at burning calories than chewing gum for 4 hours a day.

Far from being totally useless, this can help you lose (or prevent you from gaining) 1.8 lbs / 4.0 kg of pure body fat in a year.

Eat erythritol (to lose 3.7 lbs / 1.5 kg a year)

This trick may not be useful to you if you're already strictly avoiding any sugar to your daily cup(s) of coffee or tea.

(And of course, if you're avoiding any other sweet drinks that already have lots of sugar in them - think sweet juices, colas, etc.)

But if you're adding "just" 2 tablespoons to your favorite beverages throughout the day, then you're getting in around 32 extra calories every day.

And this is exactly where erythritol comes in.

Erythritol is a completely biological type of sugar[10], which means that it isn't one of those dangerously artificial sweeteners, but it is produced completely naturaly (by a special kind of bacteria).

And the best part?

Erythritol, which tastes almost as sweet as real sugar, actually contains ZERO calories.

In other words, you can add as much erythritol as you want in your drinks without getting in a single extra calorie.

With erythritol, you don't need to stop sweetening your drinks to avoid those 32 extra calories (or more) every day.

How much pure body fat can you get rid of - or at least not gain it?

Just 32 calories less per day means that you'll put off or keep off 3.7 lbs / 1.5 kg of body fat in a year.

Walk unexpectedly (to lose 2.5 lbs / 1.1 kg)

Again, this isn't exactly a trick you can use while sitting down at a desk, but this can still work for you during work hours.

According to one study[11] that took a closer look at taking regular walks during office work, has shown that...

Even if you took just a 1-minute walk every hour during the standard 8 hours of office work, this could help your burn around 24 extra calories a day.

You can enjoy that same benefit if you take 2-minute walks every two hours, or simply do an 8-minute walk at once.

Of course, if you put your mind to it and started walking intentionally every day, you could easily burn 3-5x as many calories just during work hours.

And this doesn't have to be fast-paced walking at all. The people in the study simply walked at a normal pace they felt comfortable with.

Now, you may not have the time or attention to do this willingly AND keep up with it every single day.

But even unintentional activities like walking to the photocopier, the coffee room, or pacing around on the terace, can add up over time.

So if you willingly or "accidentaly" walked around for just 8 minutes a day, you'd be able to lose 2.5 lbs / 1.1 kg of pure body fat per year.

Actionable takeaways

Wow, you've reached the end of my guide on how to lose weight sitting down.

To wrap things thorough guide up, here is a nice summary of all the things you can do to burn more calories as you sit at the desk AND how many calories each of them burns:

So pick one or more of them and start using them every day for some an easiy daily calorie burn boost.


1. Mach N, Fuster-Botella D. Endurance exercise and gut microbiota: A review. J Sport Health Sci 2017;6(2):179-197.

2. Boschmann M, Steiniger J, Hille U, Tank J, et al. Water-induced thermogenesis. J Clin Endocrinol Metab 2003;88(12):6015-9.

3. Dulloo AG, Geissler CA, Horton T, Collins A, et al. Normal caffeine consumption: influence on thermogenesis and daily energy expenditure in lean and postobese human volunteers. Am J Clin Nutr 1989;49(1):44-50.

4. Dulloo AG, Duret C, Rohrer D, Girardier L, et al. Efficacy of a green tea extract rich in catechin polyphenols and caffeine in increasing 24-h energy expenditure and fat oxidation in humans. Am J Clin Nutr. 1999;70:1040-1045.

5. Rumpler W, Seale J, Clevidence B, et al. Oolong tea increases metabolic rate and fat oxidation in men. J Nutr 2001;131:2848-52.

6. Levine J, Baukol P, Pavlidis I. The energy expended in chewing gum. New England J Medicine 1999;341(27):2100-2100.

7. Chen KY, Brychta RJ, Linderman JD, Smith S, et al. Brown fat activation mediates cold-induced thermogenesis in adult humans in response to a mild decrease in ambient temperature. J Clin Endocrinol Metab 2013;98(7):E1218-23.

8. Crovetti R, Porrini M, Santangelo A, Testolin G. The influence of thermic effect of food on satiety. Eur J Clin Nutr 1998;52(7):482-8.

9. Popp CJ, Bridges WC, Jesch ED. The Short-Term Effects of Lying, Sitting and Standing on Energy Expenditure in Women. Int J Exerc Sci 2018;11(2):129-136.

10. Mirończuk AM, Rakicka M, Biegalska A, Rymowicz W, et al. A two-stage fermentation process of erythritol production by yeast Y. lipolytica from molasses and glycerol. Bioresour Technol 2015;198:445-55.

11. Swartz AM, Squires L, Strath SJ. Energy expenditure of interruptions to sedentary behavior. Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act 2011;8:69.

David Brown

Hi, I'm David Brown.

I'm the guy who singlehandedly turned into a widely popular weight loss resource that gets visited by tens of thousands of people every month.

I reached this level of popularity because I invested thousands of hours into translating complicated science into highly actionable weight loss tips that ANYONE can start using in their lives right away.