how to calculate your calories burned correctly

often times mfp gives us a number for an activity and it is way off, usually much too high. also, we all burn differently according to our weight. here is a simple formula and a link to the website i found it.

The total number you burn depends on your weight, the activity and the pace. The factor for your formula is in bold type and does not change. Just insert your weight and time into the formula.

Check out these basic calorie burning numbers based on level surfaces:

Walking 3 miles per hour pace (20 min/mile pace).
1.6 x your weight in pounds x 1 hour (or whatever portion of a hour*)=calories burned in that activity at that pace for that amount of time.

Walking 4 miles per hour pace (15 min/mile pace)
2.7 x your weight in pounds x 1 hour*

Running 5 miles per hour pace (12 min/mile pace)
4.1 x your weight in pounds x 1 hour*

Running 6 miles per hour pace (10 min/mile pace)
4.9 x your weight in pounds x 1 hour*

Running 7 ½ mi per hour pace (8 min/mile pace)
6.0 x your weight in pounds x 1 hour*

Biking 6 miles per hour pace (1.5 min/mile pace)
1.5 x your weight in pounds x 1 hour*

Biking 10 miles per hour pace (6.0 min/mile pace)
2.0 x your weight in pounds x 1 hour*

Biking 15 miles per hour pace (4.0 min/mile pace)
3.9 x your weight in pounds x 1 hour*

Swimming resting stroke: 1.4 x your weight in pounds x 1 hour*

Swimming 20 yds/min (moderate) 2.9 x your weight in pounds x 1 hour*

Swimming 40 yds/min (vigorous) 4.8 x your weight in pounds x 1 hour*

*Use .25 hours = 15 minutes; .5 hours = 30 minutes; .75 hours = 45 minutes.

So if you’re just starting a training program and only run 1 mile, be careful! That’s not enough calories burned to celebrate with a margarita! On the other hand, you may be surprised how much fuel you did burn in a lengthy event. Celebrate with pride! Your sports nutrition plan worked!

Click here for a more extensive list of calories burned in various activities.

Do the types of calories burned while I exercise differ?

It depends on your extent of training and the intensity of the activity. The more trained you are, the more you will burn fat fuel and rely less on the carb fuel you’ve stored. If your intensity is at a good training pace (not too fast or slow), you’ll burn more fat fuel and rely less on carb fuel. Not only is this efficient for performance, but less fat in your body is great for lifetime fitness. Bottom line, match your pace with your sports nutrition plan when considering calories burned.


  • DollyMiel
    DollyMiel Posts: 377 Member
    I'll definitely look into this... MFP should really double-check their exercises, because I notice a lot of people seem to dislike it, and I'm not really sure who to trust.
  • windycitycupcake
    windycitycupcake Posts: 516 Member
    yes its strange, mfp tells me i burn 900 calories when a machine says i burn 700..just saying 300 calories can mean a lot to a person who is trying to keep track. hopefully this is helpful and truthful, i'm not a fitness person or anything but this sounds about right
  • monty619
    monty619 Posts: 1,308 Member
    its impossible to track calories burned.. closest estimate is with heart rate monitor but then there are other factors as well.
  • significance
    significance Posts: 436 Member
    MFP does take into account your weight, activity and pace. It probably uses slightly different formulae, probably based on similar evidence and with similar margins of error to the ones given in this thread.
  • windycitycupcake
    windycitycupcake Posts: 516 Member
    really? so is the mfp calculation closer to true? because that would mean i am burnin like 1500 cal in my cardio!!!! :love:
  • gramacanada
    gramacanada Posts: 558 Member
    I use MFP more to track my calories. Even a lot of times those listed are way off. I more rely on what manufactures list on label. And even then......? I eat mostly fruit vegetables and protein. They are easy. Any good calorie food count book lists those.

    Most people over estimate miles walked. Speed whatever. So who knows what anyone burns. But if you stick within a relative calorie intake. Exercise is the bonus. Keep going over calorie counts daily, to a minimum. If you're actually hungry eat something small but healthy. People get bogged down in details and numbers. And when they don't meet them. They call it a FAIL. and lots of times, they give up.
    Everything is a guideline.
    You're doing more than you used to. Your body will tell you, once you learn to listen to it.
  • NewAngel35
    NewAngel35 Posts: 182 Member
    thanks for that
  • ReyneDrop
    ReyneDrop Posts: 68 Member

    ^ most of the time I use that (well, used to. my HRM's batter died and well, it's not one you're supposed to replace yourself and I tried anyway, so I need a new one now :P)

    I find it's pretty accurate when I analyze how much I eat vs how much I lose. Obviously nothing is perfect. This one assumes a high VO2 Max if you don't know yours, which for some will overestimate calories burned, but you can modify it to fit your own specs. Example; you can estimate your VO2 max through some simple testing you can do on a treadmill. You can also estimate your own HRMax. Adjust age to HRMax and adjust VO2 max based on RHR or what you've estimated.

    No HRM? If your activity isn't TOO vigorous, test your heart rate periodically during exercise by counting beats for 10 or 15 seconds and multiplying by 6 or 4. You can also do a beat count directly after exercise, at stop lights (if you run outside), or during "light" periods if you're interval training.
  • windycitycupcake
    windycitycupcake Posts: 516 Member
    yes, i think people think they walk alot faster than they do. 5 mph walking is almost a run for me but i'm 5'6 and carry pretty much all of my weight in my lower body so i dont walk as fast as some might. still, even 3-3.5 mph is a very brisk pace for me esp for an extended period of time such as an hour or two (what i see people log)
  • helyg
    helyg Posts: 675 Member
    Actually, on my 3 mile daily walk to work and back I burn slightly more calories according to that formula than MFP estimates.

    MFP 60 mins walking 3mph = 280
    1.6 x 186 x 1 = 297.6

    So sometime MFP estimates lower than than formula.

    (Oh, and I know I walk at 3mph because I have measured the distance from my house to work and it is exactly 1.5 miles, I walk it in 30 minutes or just under).
  • litekotacakes
    litekotacakes Posts: 9 Member
    Yeah, I just got a higher burn from the formula than from MFP too.
  • tuppance
    tuppance Posts: 132 Member
  • KarenRae66
    KarenRae66 Posts: 31 Member
    Thanks for the info..This is a great post!!
  • thrudhammer
    thrudhammer Posts: 19 Member
    Does anybody know what the MFP formula for exercise calories actually is? I've been doing my own calculations using average heart rate, weight, sex, age and time; comparing the results to MFP produces some weirdly erratic numbers.
  • NikkiSmo
    NikkiSmo Posts: 180 Member
    I relay on my HRM but I usualy only eat back half my exercise calories just to be safe.
  • caseythirteen
    caseythirteen Posts: 956 Member
    I find that what MFP defaults to is typically lower than what my HRM monitor says. I compared my HRM results to the formula and according to running @ 6MPH it was right on. That being said, it's dawned on me recently that while my HRM might say that I burned 300 calories on my 30 min. run, if I had just stayed in bed I would have still burned about 30 calories anyway. When entering my exercise calories now I adjust down a calorie a minute just to be in a closer range. I know it's not much but I still feel like it makes it a bit more accurate. But really, if I'm worried about 30 calories (in this case), I probably have bigger problems. :laugh:
  • windycitycupcake
    windycitycupcake Posts: 516 Member
    yeah 30 calories is not as big of a deal as 300 haha
  • A very easy way of figuring out your speed is using Google Earth. Just trace a path along where you walked and when done, look at how far it was, exactly, under the measurements tab. (Of course it isn't 100% exact, but it definitely is around 98%)
    Then use this formula to calculate your speed:

    (miles walked) x 60
    = mph walked....
    (minutes walked)

    I have been doing that and it works like a charm. Also you can go back and see where you've already walked, kinda keep track of it, if you want.

    Have fun!
  • PS... I have found that soon you can quite accurately estimate your walking speed... Like you will know, eg. I get shin splints at around 4.5mph, but at 4.0 I'm fine or whatever... The whole trace-your-walk thing is just to get the feel for it.
  • slieber
    slieber Posts: 765 Member
    MFP defaults to higher than what my HRM says, so I'm going with the HRM. Apart from when injured (like now), I train pretty heavily both cardio and ballet. My HRM says I burn up to 1000 in a normal set of sessions (two per day) while MFP might double that.

    Case in point: An hour and a half intense ballet class burns around 450 on my HRM but MFP almost doubles that figure.