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MFP and Garmin Connect and calories from exercise

Sparkles1967Sparkles1967 Posts: 3Member, Premium Member Posts: 3Member, Premium Member
I have been using MFP for a while and lost quite a lot of weight and become more active, so have been adjusting my calorie requirements.

I started using a Garmin to log steps earlier this year but as my day job is quite desk bound, I have used sedentary as the activity level, which I understand is less than 3,000 - 5,000 steps a day. However, I have been doing at least one moderate to brisk walk per day as well as quite a bit of general walking about, thinking this would add on my calories if my activity was over the sedentary level. However, more often than not I end up having calories reduced and I'm not sure why.

For example, today I have done a 50 minute brisk walk, another 20 minute moderate pace walk and some wandering around in between. I have done 14,612 steps but because I have negative adjustments allowed (to stop over counting) my calorie expenditure from exercise is -1 over the day. How does that work if I am sedentary and then done that activity and ended up losing overall? Most days I do around 8-9,000 steps but end up having calories deducted by the end of the day. It says Garmin projected calories for the day is 1983, MFP is 2271 including 287 from exercise so it's adjusted by deducting 288 calories. But my understanding is that Garmin takes the calorie allowance from MFP in the first place so surely its a circular calculation?

Should I just be choosing lightly active and not logging steps or walks at all? Or if I choose lightly active Garmin will pull a higher figure from MFP for my daily calories and therefore not make such a large negative adjustment and I log the exercise as I am doing now? Or do I just stop the negative adjustments (I thought I should have negative adjustments allowed to stop double counting, but now I'm not so sure as it appears to work to negate all the activity I am doing) I am quite confused!!
edited July 10

Replies

  • TerythaTerytha Posts: 790Member, Premium Member Posts: 790Member, Premium Member
    Sounds like a glitch or settings issue.

    Garmin pulls what calories you eat/should eat from MFP, but comes to it's own conclusions about how many calories you burn in a day total. So if it figures your total daily burn at 1983 and MFP is looking at your stats and thinking you should burn 2271, it takes that number from Garmin and subtracts the difference.

    I walk maybe 2500 steps a day and usually gain about 70 calories from that at the sedentary level, which is why I think you have a setting issue. Do you keep the HR monitor on all day? I get crazy numbers when I do that, since it shifts around on my wrist and gets wonky readings.
  • Sparkles1967Sparkles1967 Posts: 3Member, Premium Member Posts: 3Member, Premium Member
    I do wear it all day. I have to do some SERIOUS levels of walking to gain any calories, which is what I don't understand as if I am sedentary I should get something for all that effort!! My weight loss has slowed (which I would expect as I have lost quite a lot already), but I wonder whether I am now going a bit too low on intake as I am basing it an estimate of 1990 (sedentary, based on height and current weight), but anything I am gaining from activity is (wrongly) being cancelled out by Garmin's negative adjustment. So, for example today I should have gained 278 calories extra but instead I am effectively ignoring that and getting my calorie deficit by eating less than the 1989 (1990 less 1 calorie adjustment), and thereby undereating?
  • TerythaTerytha Posts: 790Member, Premium Member Posts: 790Member, Premium Member
    I do wear it all day. I have to do some SERIOUS levels of walking to gain any calories, which is what I don't understand as if I am sedentary I should get something for all that effort!! My weight loss has slowed (which I would expect as I have lost quite a lot already), but I wonder whether I am now going a bit too low on intake as I am basing it an estimate of 1990 (sedentary, based on height and current weight), but anything I am gaining from activity is (wrongly) being cancelled out by Garmin's negative adjustment. So, for example today I should have gained 278 calories extra but instead I am effectively ignoring that and getting my calorie deficit by eating less than the 1989 (1990 less 1 calorie adjustment), and thereby undereating?

    No, I mean do you have the heart rate function turned on all day. I turn mine off unless I'm doing deliberate exercise since it seems extremely inaccurate long term.

    Otherwise you can turn off negative calorie adjustments. It's not that big of a deal.
  • Sparkles1967Sparkles1967 Posts: 3Member, Premium Member Posts: 3Member, Premium Member
    Yes, sorry, I meant I do wear the Garmin all day and it has a wrist HR monitor so it is constantly monitoring HR.

    I think I was worried about not over estimating calories burned so turned on the negative adjustment, but I will try turning it off but leaving activity as sedentary and see if that works out better.

    Update - having turned off negative adjustments, there is now a discrepancy between MFP and Garmin, as my Garmin only gives me 62 active calories - does Garmin underestimate?? Is the true burn somewhere between the two??
    edited July 10
  • NorthCascadesNorthCascades Posts: 8,956Member Member Posts: 8,956Member Member
    Something sounds off. If you haven't already, try deleting your Garmin from MFP, and then re establishing the connection. No guarantee, but it's like in the old days how you'd reboot a computer that was acting up.

    At the end of the day, you just need to eat fewer calories than you burn. If you can't get this sorted you might try upping your activity level it using the TDEE method instead.
  • chris_in_calchris_in_cal Posts: 334Member Member Posts: 334Member Member
    @sparkles1967 This isn't an answer to your question, consider just ignoring the calculated numbers. You pick a daily total because you know what you are doing, after a week or two, where is you trend weight going, and adjust your daily calories to move your trend weight whichever direction you choose.
    An athlete may triple the calorie intake of a similar yet sedentary person so doing this daily math would mean a lot. Sounds like we aren't that athlete.

    Congrats on loosing weight, consider doing some vigorous activity using your garmin now that you are lighter and healthier, that's where Garmins shine.
  • dewd2dewd2 Posts: 2,115Member Member Posts: 2,115Member Member
    Garmin can be a bit confusing... It takes the number from MFP + your exercise calories then subtracts the exercise calories (both in and out). It then gives you are percentage of your original calorie goal. I just ignore it. :)

    I also turned off the negative adjustments since they seem to be all over the place.

    Go with MPF's numbers.

    FWIW - The HR on or off makes little difference. You can't accurately calculate calories based on heart rate.
  • heybalesheybales Posts: 16,876Member Member Posts: 16,876Member Member
    OP - To address some confusion it think I see in your comments.

    The setting for Negative adjustments ONLY matters if your actual daily burn as reported by Garmin is less than MFP estimated you'd do.

    If you get above 4K steps and are set to Sedentary - this is unlikely, so it doesn't matter if enabled or not, but might as well on those sick or lazy days - just in case, have it enabled.

    Garmin is only sending to MFP the Daily calorie burn, and workouts. (as far as calories is concerned)

    While it does receive some extra info from MFP compared to other trackers - it does no math with that for figures it sends to MFP, it's for displaying it's own figures.

    And they are confusing figures. It has some RMR figure that floats around, never been able to nail it down as to what they are using, but I've seen it change daily when no changes on MFP took place.
    I always ignored all it's math on eating goals and such.

    I also wouldn't worry about having HR enabled if you are curious and can take the extra battery impact - it should do NO HR-based calorie burn until the HR goes high enough to show exercise is being done.
    But if you have meds or such that cause elevated, that could occur even with casual walking - in which case not useful.
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