Losing Weight With Cupid

Need a fun way to shed pounds? Try kissing and a little sex.

By Sid Kirchheimer
WebMD Weight Loss Clinic - Feature

Reviewed By Brunilda Nazario, MD

Granted, the latest weight-loss program to make the rounds won't shed pounds as quickly as plans more firmly rooted in that familiar diet-and-exercise mantra. But hey, there is that "fun factor" to consider.

Instead of counting carbs or calories, this math involves kisses. Rather than ruthless spinning gurus and perky-than-thou size 4 aerobics instructors, your personal coach is an airborne overweight sprite with a fetish for archery.

Thanks to some research unearthed from the scripts of philematology -- literally, the science of kissing -- it seems as though Cupid's well-placed arrow can help you lose weight, if at the very least by working off some of those Valentine's Day chocolates.

"In 1978, we first published research indicating that each passionate kiss burns between 6 and 12 calories, depending on the level of enthusiasm," says Betty Goldblatt, RD, MPH, publisher and co-founder of Environmental Nutrition newsletter. That's close to what's consumed while jogging for one minute.

So with this and other findings, her usually serious and seasonally playful staff of registered dieticians offer a new spin on how to, theoretically at least, shed nearly 10 pounds a year: With their newly published "Kissing Diet," they estimate that each well-placed (and received) lip lock burns an average of 9 calories. At three kisses a day, every day, that amounts to burning 9,855 calories a year -- totaling about 3 pounds of weight loss.

The Italian Kiss

"Of course, we're talking about an Italian kiss, since we learned about this research from Italian researchers," Goldblatt tells WebMD. "And I suppose that means it's a fairly intense kiss, since the Italians are known for being pretty intense lovers. It's probably a little more complicated if you're talking about a French kiss."

Maybe she's talking with tongue firmly in cheek, but when your tongue explores the cheek of another, you can burn even more -- and reportedly also activate all 34 of your facial muscles (as opposed to just two to purse your lips for a less robust peck). On paper, that could mean a more toned face. And as you may recall from yesteryear's prom dates, that tongue-tangling has been known to lead to serious make-out sessions, which some research indicates may engage nearly every muscle and tendon in your body, if ever so briefly.

Still, whatever nationality of your smooches, when you kiss as though you're in Cupid's cross-hairs, you'll likely reach the second phase of the Kissing Diet weight-loss plan -- a resulting two "amorous interludes" each week.

Go for the Gold

Each horizontal workout is said to shed about 212 calories, roughly the same as walking 2 miles. So even with this conservative twice-weekly romp (likely more if this archer's aim is a bulls-eye), Goldblatt estimates you burn an additional 22,100 calories -- another 61?2 pounds in one year.

Make those interludes vertical and you may burn even more calories.

"Sex isn't always weight-bearing, but it certainly can be," quips Peter B. Anderson, PhD, past president of the Foundation for the Scientific Study of Sexuality and a professor of health education at the University of New Orleans. "Do it standing up and you'll burn more calories and also stress bones and muscles in different ways that would be good for you. Hold your partner in the air and you'll burn even more."