Is the exercise calorie counter correct?

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Hi there,
I've been on and off fitness pal for a few month now - off especially over Christmas. But now I've had enough and I'm determined to get fitter! Now, I was wondering about the exercise calorie counter...I find I'm gaining too many extra calories from exercise; not that I HAVE to make up for them, but I was wondering if anyone has an idea about how correct the counter is?? I've started the 'couch to 5K' challenge and would like to document my progress on here; but I want it to be correct. Also I wouldn't mind some fitness pal friends on a similar 'mission' to give each other some support and motivation. :)

Replies

  • shannonbun
    shannonbun Posts: 168 Member
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    What I do is just ignore what MFP says the calories I burned are. I don't eat back my exercise calories, so ultimately I'm not too bothered about the exact amount. My workout machine tells me one thing, MFP tells me another, and unless you have something monitoring your heart rate, any supposed calories burned from any website isn't going to be totally accurate. :)
  • rand486
    rand486 Posts: 270 Member
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    Good lord no. I realized how inaccurate it was when I was landscaping my backyard while having beer two summers ago, and realized MFP thought I was at a net negative calorie intake.

    Pulling weeds does NOT burn 200 calories haha.

    I don't encourage people eat back their calories if they're cutting, as long as they hit their protein goals. The point, after all, is to burn calories to use up that body fat, isn't it? Why eat that back?

    Some people will suggest eating back half the calories. To each their own.
  • rand486
    rand486 Posts: 270 Member
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    shannonbun wrote: »
    unless you have something monitoring your heart rate, any supposed calories burned ... isn't going to be totally accurate. :)

    And even then, there's a lot of really lousy HRM out there :P
  • joepratt503
    joepratt503 Posts: 191 Member
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    All of the calorie counters on cardio machines or generic counters on here, fitbit, etc are approximations based on averaged data...I think of it as a guideline rather than a hard metric. I think the only way you can be truly accurate is by using equipment that need to be calibrated with your vitals (weight, height, etc.) and even those aren't going to be 100% because two people that look the same may have different metabolism.

    If you do use a generic system, always try to use the same...so at least you can track your relative performance based on the same rules. Thats why I only use one type of cardio machine...at least I know day-over-day that its calculating my calorie spend the same.

    just my opinion.
  • LynseyJx
    LynseyJx Posts: 22 Member
    edited February 2015
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    I don't think it's at all accurate, I've been doing half hour on a stationary bike and half an hour walking every day and it tells me I've burned hundreds and hundreds of calories, I don't think that's right!
  • rand486
    rand486 Posts: 270 Member
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    If you do use a generic system, always try to use the same...so at least you can track your relative performance based on the same rules. Thats why I only use one type of cardio machine...at least I know day-over-day that its calculating my calorie spend the same.

    Very similar to how one should track bodyfat% as well, if they're so inclined. Most methods are quite inaccurate, but as long as you do it at the same time, at the same level of hydration, etc every time, you'll still see the progress/rate of change, even if the number is wrong in both cases.
  • callsitlikeiseeit
    callsitlikeiseeit Posts: 8,626 Member
    edited February 2015
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    in a word, no.

    i do believe in eating back at least SOME of your exercise calories, simply because your body needs the food. How many, is up to you.

    but, as you will learn, everyone has their own system. As long as you are going about things in a healthy, sustainable manner, feeling good, and seeing results, that is all that matters. It may take a few weeks or a month or so for you to figure out what works best for your body! :)
  • tephanies1234
    tephanies1234 Posts: 299 Member
    edited February 2015
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    I don't think it's accurate. When I workout, which usually has a heavy weight lifting component and a cardio one, I will only add 100 calories and will eat those back to try to get extra protein that day. If I do a HIIT bootcamp for 50 minutes straight I will add 200 calories to my day. I go by how hard I feel I've worked out basically and what I feel I need to eat so I'm not hangry at night. But it's all just a guess. So far my weightloss is working still so no issues here and I'm not starving myself.
  • earlnabby
    earlnabby Posts: 8,171 Member
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    I have found that it is pretty consistent with other calculators out there, but all of them are based on averages. I have a Fitbit and eat back about 2/3 of the calories it gives me. I log my swimming and my water aerobics and eat back about 1/3 of those calories, partially because it seems like too much food and partially because I question the accuracy. There was a recent article (I'll see if I can find it again) that described a study of activity trackers and Fitbit was one of the more accurate ones, but the burn was still overestimated by about 20%.

    I set my weight loss goal to 1 lb a week but see that as a minimum, not an actual goal. This way I can play with my exercise calories while still making sure I don't eat too little. I am averaging 1.4 lb a week by doing this which is a good pace for me.
  • ElisaJtsu
    ElisaJtsu Posts: 97 Member
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    Fast replies!!! Thanks guys, I really appreciate it! I thought the numbers just seemed unreal. I always find it hard to get back on track after being a lazy couch potato for a while. But where's a will...Anybody else just starting???
  • usflygirl55
    usflygirl55 Posts: 277 Member
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    ^^This^^ I follow my fitbit as it is set for me and I still don't eat back all of the calories I am credited with.
  • ElisaJtsu
    ElisaJtsu Posts: 97 Member
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    I don't think it's accurate. When I workout, which usually has a heavy weight lifting component and a cardio one, I will only add 100 calories and will eat those back to try to get extra protein that day. If I do a HIIT bootcamp for 50 minutes straight I will add 200 calories to my day. I go by how hard I feel I've worked out basically and what I feel I need to eat so I'm not hangry at night. But it's all just a guess. So far my weightloss is working still so no issues here and I'm not starving myself.

    Thanks, I don't want to re-feed these 'worked off' calories, but I find myself hungry at night when I worked out. I just think I've lost a healthy relationship to my body i.E. not sure what it needs. That's why I'm using this site to eventually 'know' what my body needs. Thanks for your post!
  • Sued0nim
    Sued0nim Posts: 17,456 Member
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    No

    Take 50-75% (most take 50)
  • ahealthiercara
    ahealthiercara Posts: 139 Member
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    I was wondering that myself. I do Zumba a couple times a week and it calculates an hour of zumba for me as burning 800 calories. On those days I've been eating about half of those calories. I did notice that the calories burned goes down as I lose weight so that makes sense.
  • aplcr0331
    aplcr0331 Posts: 186 Member
    edited February 2015
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    Overestimate your food calories (if you're not weighing them) and underestimate your exercise calories.
  • prettygirlstorm1
    prettygirlstorm1 Posts: 722 Member
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    I am also doing the C25K and MFP really over exaggerates the number of calories burned. I wear a heart rate monitor and I actually burn 50% less calories than what MFP logs for me. Like others have said the best way to see how many calories you actually burn is to wear a heart rate monitor.
  • ElisaJtsu
    ElisaJtsu Posts: 97 Member
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    aplcr0331 wrote: »
    Overestimate your food calories (if you're not weighing them) and underestimate your exercise calories.

    Simple and helpful. Thanks :)
  • James1935
    James1935 Posts: 37 Member
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    I think it over estimates by approx 30%....
  • earlnabby
    earlnabby Posts: 8,171 Member
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    When I started swimming laps, I checked MFP's estimate with other calculators out there and it is actually a little lower than most. My one mile of breast stoke in 60 minutes gave me an estimate on other online calculators of anywhere from 590 calories to over 900! I went with "swimming, leisurely, general" on MFP which gives me a burn of 597 calories. I still don't eat it all back but feel that it is the closest of the possibilities.