Calories Burned While Pitching a Baseball

a caucasian man wearing a blue and white baseball uniform is leaning forward after throwing a ball

Baseball pitchers are skilled athletes. To execute a successful pitch, a professional player needs to be flexible, strong and coordinated. He may be able to throw a fast ball at a velocity of up to 100 mph, according to Kevin Wilk in “Exercise and Sport Science.” In a single game, a professional pitcher may throw 150 pitches, a number that adds up over a 30 to 40 game season. No matter what skill level, a pitcher performs rapid and powerful movements and burns off a lot of calories.

Position on the Field and Calories Burned

In a standard nine-inning game, a pitcher will burn about 1,440 calories, according to Eugene Coleman’s book “52-Week Baseball Training.” In comparison to other players on the field, the pitcher expends the most energy during the course of a game. While a catcher will burn up 1,100 calories, a fielder will expend 1,000 calories. These numbers are also affected by the body weight of the pitcher. For example, a 130-pound player will expend 295 calories per hour pitching slow or fast balls. Under those same conditions, a 190-pound player will burn 431 calories, according to State of Wisconsin’s Department of Health and Family Services.

Anaerobic Metabolism

A great pitch isn’t just the result of training and strength, but also dependent on how quickly your muscles contract and how many fibers in your muscles contract. Because pitching involves short bouts of maximal effort, it relies on your body’s anaerobic energy system or the amount of glycogen stored in the muscles. You also need phosphocreatine, which is a substance synthesized from protein. Moreover, baseball is a game that requires mental alertness and acumen at all times. You have to calculate your strategy on a pitch every time an offensive player steps to the plate. Glucose is the fuel not only for muscles but also for the brain. If you’re running out of fuel halfway through the game, mental fatigue can lead to bad judgment.

Calorie Intake Requirements

Because you’ll need a plenty of carbohydrates to replace the glycogen used for game play, the optimal diet consists of fruits, vegetables, bread and cereal. If you don’t take in enough protein, your body will start to burn protein for fuel during a game and therefore sabotage the production of creatine. In general, 60 to 65 percent of the calories in your diet should come from carbohydrates, 15 percent from protein and 20 to 25 percent from fat, according to “Advanced Sports Nutrition” by Dan Benardot. As per daily caloric needs, you should multiply your weight by 23 if it’s game time and you’re in the starting lineup. For example, if you weigh 200 pounds, you’ll need 4,600 calories per day. Starting and relief pitchers should multiply their weight by 20. While training, multiply your weight by 18, and reduce that multiplier to 15 in postseason, according to Coleman.

The Food-Performance Connection

It’s not just what you eat but when you eat it that impacts your performance on the pitching mound. Stick to timing and structure of your dietary regimen. Don’t forget to eat breakfast. If you do, don’t compensate for the loss in carbohydrates by loading up at a later meal. Two hours before a practice or a game, consume foods that are balanced in terms of carbohydrates and protein to replace any lost nutrients. Even if you’re not thirsty or lethargic, drink fluids and stay hydrated at all times.