Cycling calories burned

I recently started cycling with a friend (both road and mountain biking) and I’ve been trying to track my calories burned but it seems off across multiple apps. For example, today I rode for an hour at about 11mph and MapMyRide says I only burned 156 calories. This also happened when I tried apple health and another app I’ve forgotten about. When I put the same ride into MFP I get an estimated calorie burn of 400-500. I’ve put in all my stats and my runs seem to be tracking as accurately as I’d expect in the same MapMy app. Any ideas why or suggestions so that it’s logged correctly? I really just want to be able to eat some of those calories back, it’s a motivator.
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Replies

  • heybales
    heybales Posts: 18,842 Member
    Since using MapMyRide - try Strava instead.

    Get your correct weight entered with clothes, and the bike with with extras - and it will take that and speed and elevation into account for a much better calorie burn estimate.
    It doesn't know about wind, so ..... (if going fast enough to matter)

    And you are are right - MFP trying to teach life lesson about weight management.
    You do more - you eat more.
    You do less - you eat less (usually the kicker).

    In a diet, a tad less in either case.

    Just as trying to be as accurate as possible with food helps, so also with exercise. You earned it, enjoy it all!

    MapMy inflates run calories too.
    Strava again - though it'll underestimate on those I've noticed.

    Strava can be setup to sync those workouts to MFP - making it easy.
  • NorthCascades
    NorthCascades Posts: 10,970 Member
    Strava is probably as close as you'll get (or Golden Cheetah). They'll get it wrong when it's windy or when you draft someone.

    You said you're doing road and mountain, put both of them in as gear. Everything else being equal - flat ground, windless day, smooth pavement - the mountain bike requires more calories to go the same speed. The difference isn't very pronounced until somewhere in the ballpark of 15 mph.
  • phred_52
    phred_52 Posts: 189 Member
    Really don't think You'll get a 100% correct number. I only use stationary bike at gym, between what bike shows and numerous cycling calculators, the numbers I get are fairly close. I went to mapmyride, and it gave me 200 or so higher calories. I just take em' all as approximations.

    Here is an example I used on mapmyride. Obviously I don't know Your info...

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  • George8383
    George8383 Posts: 69 Member
    I think the only way is by wearing a chest strap heart rate monitor but even they aren't 100% accurate but if you wear the same one all the time that would work better. (only my opinion)
  • sijomial
    sijomial Posts: 19,811 Member
    Don't use a HRM unless you actually want to know your heartrate.
    There's every chance you will spend money just to get an estimate no better than using a free app, people's faith in their accuracy is badly misplaced, they can be wildly inaccurate for many individuals.

    Suggest you use Strava and eat them all back - I've found their calorie estimates very usable, sometimes a bit high, sometimes obviously too low but on average perfectly fit for purpose.
    It's also very motivating to track your progress as you get fitter and ride segments quicker.
  • Machka9
    Machka9 Posts: 24,530 Member
    I go with 100 calories for every 5 km ... and Strava seems to match that reasonably well.

    Then I eat about 50% back if I'm doing a short ride, about 75% back if I'm doing a mid-length ride, and about 95% back if I'm doing a long ride.
  • ethompsonemt
    ethompsonemt Posts: 7 Member
    Thanks for all the suggestions, I'll try Strava and hope its a little more accurate. It's so frustrating comparing my numbers to my buddy and seeing mine so low!
  • sijomial
    sijomial Posts: 19,811 Member
    Thanks for all the suggestions, I'll try Strava and hope its a little more accurate. It's so frustrating comparing my numbers to my buddy and seeing mine so low!

    Is your buddy bigger than you?
    What makes you think their estimates are any more accurate than yours?
  • Momjogger
    Momjogger Posts: 750 Member
    That seems low for an hour bike ride. I don’t know your stats, but the last time I rode for an hour, it was about 660 calories according to Endomondo. I’m sure that’s an overestimation, but I wouldn’t think I’d burn less than 400. It’s frustrating to try to figure these things out, so I go with an average. Mapmyride seems way too low though.
  • NorthCascades
    NorthCascades Posts: 10,970 Member
    George8383 wrote: »
    I think the only way is by wearing a chest strap heart rate monitor but even they aren't 100% accurate but if you wear the same one all the time that would work better. (only my opinion)

    The most accurate way to know how many calories you burned on a bike is to ignore your heart rate and measure 2 things: your cadence aka RPMs, and the amount of torque you supply. You measure torque vector with strain gauges, like the thing in a bathroom scale. With these two (continuous) measurements you know how much work you're doing. And we know that humans all fall into a very narrow range when it comes to efficiency, turning fats and carbohydrates into mechanical work.
  • phred_52
    phred_52 Posts: 189 Member
    I'm with Matchka9, from cycling sites to just general calculators, they are all pretty close to what stationary bike shows, but don't take it as exact.
  • BrianSharpe
    BrianSharpe Posts: 9,249 Member
    The most accurate numbers will come from using a power meter (hard to argue with watts) that is properly calibrated. I got mine mostly for watts based training and it was humbling experience in that it cut what my Garmin was estimating in terms of calories expended in half...yesterday's ride was 650 cal for a relatively flat (175 m elevation gain) 45 km ride.
  • lauracostain
    lauracostain Posts: 3 Member
    Does anyone here know if pulling a bike trailer makes a big difference and how I could calculate that? It's 55lbs and my daughter is 40lbs. I usually go 11.5-12mph.
  • I used to cycle all the time, and then I got my driver's license haha. Having the convenience of a car made me not want to cycle as often, especially since I didn't need to to get places. In my current journey to lose weight and get fit, I set my bike up in a stationary system, but I'm kind of afraid to get on it because the last time I got on a bike I was totally winded and exhausted. Do you guys think I should start by only cycling for a couple of minutes at a time, would that help?
  • yirara
    yirara Posts: 9,257 Member
    Does anyone here know if pulling a bike trailer makes a big difference and how I could calculate that? It's 55lbs and my daughter is 40lbs. I usually go 11.5-12mph.

    I would think it adds weight that needs moving first of all. Thus if you use 170lbs for you and your bike then you add those 95lbs to it. But then there's also more friction due to the additional wheels. I would think that's probably not too much.
  • dpwellman
    dpwellman Posts: 3,271 Member
    HR monitor. Can be as little as $50.
  • jjpptt2
    jjpptt2 Posts: 5,650 Member
    As others have eluded to, there's no good way to estimate calories burned aside from a power meter. HRMs, calculators, apps, websites... they are all likely to be "in the ballpark" - but you have to be OK with that level of accuracy.

    Also, the more you compare your number to other numbers (be it other people, other websites/apps/calculators, etc), the more frustrated you're likely to become.
  • heybales
    heybales Posts: 18,842 Member
    Does anyone here know if pulling a bike trailer makes a big difference and how I could calculate that? It's 55lbs and my daughter is 40lbs. I usually go 11.5-12mph.

    For Strava - enter the weight of the bike and the trailer and kiddo combined - create a new entry for when that is done.

    It doesn't take into account the extra rolling resistance (minor) or wind resistance (possibly major pulling parachute basically) - but usually the speed is below 15 so air resistance isn't as great a factor.

    When done that way - Strava seemed to be as accurate as normal compared to power meter, on flatter trails.
    Tons of hills probably would have fouled it up.
  • blobby10
    blobby10 Posts: 357 Member
    I use a MyZone HRM and I tend to burn around 30 cals a mile on flat and steady routes but up to 40cals a mile on hilly routes. I usually work on 30 cals a mile on the assumption that if I've burned more then its going to be of benefit!
  • heybales
    heybales Posts: 18,842 Member
    awdouth wrote: »
    I used to cycle all the time, and then I got my driver's license haha. Having the convenience of a car made me not want to cycle as often, especially since I didn't need to to get places. In my current journey to lose weight and get fit, I set my bike up in a stationary system, but I'm kind of afraid to get on it because the last time I got on a bike I was totally winded and exhausted. Do you guys think I should start by only cycling for a couple of minutes at a time, would that help?

    I don't think it's possible to only get on for a couple minutes.
    You'll want to go longer and farther.
    Also accept after the first ride the rear won't let you the next day probably.