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Does Flying Fighter Planes Help Burn Calories?

topgunIf you are looking for a rather exclusive bit of energy metabolism trivia, this study may catch your attention.

The study by Mateus Rossato and colleagues from Brazil, published in the Journal of Exercise Physiology, looked at how many calories fighter pilots burn during combat flights.

The answer is about 3 kcals per minute – that’s about three times the number of calories most of us burn at rest.

Given that fighter pilots are strapped tightly into their seats, this increase in caloric expenditure is largely explained by increased stress levels (an indicator for this was the fact that their heart rates were at about 60% of maximum during flight).

This may be the most expensive way to burn an extra 135 kcals that I have ever heard of – wonder when we’ll see the first fighter pilot simulation app promising weight loss.

Vancouver, BC


  1. Was this in actual combat, in maneuvers, or in simulators? Was it done in G-Suits or not?

    Aerobatics pilots use abdominal muscles to a HUGE extent during flights when doing tricks and exercise greatly to create about the strongest abs a person could imagine for that reason, so I am wondering how much the fighter pilots used their abs.

    The abdominal clamping is done by the pilots despite being strapped in, and is done to make sure the body’s blood stays where it is needed during moves that rapidly alter the nature of the gravitational forces on the body. (You can see why aerobatics pilots and fighter pilots are also helped on this score by not being tall.)

    If the tests were done with changes in gravitational forces but not in the G-suits then the pilots would has been using their abs to a great extent.

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  2. Sorry, sent too fast.

    If measurements involved actual combat, which is a stressor one definitely would be best not having to repeat, then a comparison made with similar conditions except for combat to weed out how much the use of the abs, and how much any stress from needing to get the maneuvers right was involved would make sense.

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