Worried by 'Calories Burned' figures

Options
According to the figures given to me by MFP, assuming I follow the food and exercise plan I've pre logged into my diary for today, I will only be netting 411 calories.

But I know this isn't true. For example, I am going to do 45 minutes of Body Attack and an hour of Kickboxing tonight. The Body Attack figure I have got is 300 calories but I think I selecte that manually myself the last time I used this site and I can believe it's around right. But I have been given a figure of 536 calories for an hour's Kickboxing class!?!?!? There is no way a woman of my size is going to be burning anything close to that in the kickboxing class I go to (or in fact in almost any hour long exercise stint). I'm nto saying it's easy (half circuits, half paired kickboxing exercises) but the number is ridiculous.

Now that wouldn't worry me if the site wasn't expecting me to 'eat the calories back' (a phrase I have an irrational hate for but can't think of a better way to put it). In theory it therefore wants me to eat over 2000 calories today. Which, if I wasn't thinking and just accepted the numbers could be really detrimental if done over a long period of time.

So, what I'm wondering is - does anyone else find the figures nonsensically high and does anyone else worry that they'd be eating too much if they followed them/are eating too much because they do follow them?

Replies

  • Phrick
    Phrick Posts: 2,765 Member
    Options
    This comes up fairly often, and the most common answer is either a) get a Heart Rate Monitor and wear during your classes so you get an accurate reading of what you're burning, or b) just cut the # that MFP gives you by 1/3 to 1/2 and eat THAT back. hth
  • EmmaKarney
    EmmaKarney Posts: 690 Member
    Options
    if you think the figures are high, eat back what you think is reasonable.

    Without a heart rate monitor the site's database is only an estimate.
  • fattyfoodie
    fattyfoodie Posts: 232 Member
    Options
    I find two things:

    1. I tend to underestimate the number of calories I am eating
    2. I tend to overestimate the number of calories I am burning.

    My remedies for these are to:

    1. carefully measure all of my food so I can track my intake as accurately as possible
    2. wear a heart rate monitor to figure out how many calories I am burning.

    Yes, I do find for a lot of things that the MFP numbers are very high, for example 20 minutes of walking burns 272 calories? I don't think so!

    If I can't wear a heart rate monitor to determine how many calories I am burning, I usually cut the estimated burn by at least 1/3 and sometimes up to 1/2.
  • KeithChanning
    KeithChanning Posts: 214 Member
    Options
    I mistrust the figures given by MFP. I also have doubts about the figures given by fitbit, as I am unsure of the assumptions they make. My HRM should be the most reliable, but I think that may be low. My resting heart rate (probably thanks to blood pressure medication) is below 50. The rowing machine, as 30 pulls/min on level 5 never pushes my rate above 80, elliptic at level 3 and medium pace gets it up to the mid-80s. For the rowing machine, I am taking the mid-point between MFP and HRM, for the elliptic and my daily long dog walk, the mid-point between fitbit and HRM.

    Not helpful, but you aren't alone in questioning the given values
  • sijomial
    sijomial Posts: 19,809 Member
    Options
    Those numbers seem incredibly low to me!!

    The best way is to be as consistent and accurate with your food and exercise logging, hit your net calorie goal as close as you can for a period of time and see what the results have been - four weeks of this will give you a good idea.

    I tracked my food minus BMR minus exercise calories over a period of 3 months and the results were surprisingly accurate.

    Getting a HRM is much better bet than using estimates from either MFP or other online resources but you can compensate for any inaccuracy with trial and error.
  • vickiandrews
    vickiandrews Posts: 254 Member
    Options
    Don't forget that the 'calories burned' figure depends on your weight. My friend and I use the 'mapmywalk' app when we go out for walks at lunchtime and I can usually burn about 50 cals more than she does - she weighs a lot less than I do.

    Even though I don't use one myself I think that a HRM is the best way to find out exactly what you burn.
  • jellybaby84
    jellybaby84 Posts: 583 Member
    Options
    Thanks. I bought a very cheap HRM watch last year but after it told me that I had only burned 50 calories in an intense 60 min step aerobic class I threw it away in a fit of temper!!

    I don't really have the spare money for an expensive one but cutting the calories by 1/2 sounds like a reasonable plan, thanks.

    Argh, it's just so much easier to stop worrying about calories burned and just view exercise as burning 'some' calories that is a bonus - as in traditional diets.
  • merrillfoster
    merrillfoster Posts: 855 Member
    Options
    Lol. My HRM usually gives me almost twice the calorie burn that MFP does. Is it wrong? I mean at the end of the day even the best HRM is an estimate, and MFP can't factor in things like the level of exertion (again, beyond an estimate). It's not an exact science, any more than the calories that they give you for various foods are exact (even prepackaged foods where you know exactly what you are getting have a margin of error). It's just a guide.

    For example, MFP gives me about 250 calories for a 30 min kickboxing video (Jillian's CardioKickbox, which is kickboxing for dummies). My HRM gives me in the 600 calorie range for the same activity. The HRM is more accurate because it at least nominally factors in my level of exertion. But if I did a harder kickboxing class for the same amount of time, MFP's estimate wouldn't change because the only factors it can account for are your weight, the activity, and amount of time.

    I lost following MFP's estimates and I lost following my HRM's estimates (of course, I got lazy and gained most of it back, but WHEN i was following their guidance, I lost). Either way I think you will be fine, the point is to get moving and stop overeating, which, if you are within either calorie range on here, you will do, and therefore lose. No point in getting hung up over a few calories or so when they are estimates at best in the first place.
  • Okapi42
    Okapi42 Posts: 495 Member
    Options
    Are you sure you're taking into account standing around time?

    If you're doing an hour-long class, there's probably some chatting with classmates, some instruction, some waiting for other people to finish things etc. involved.

    My fencing class lasts two hours. I only log the parts where I'm actively fencing (not including really slow drills), usually about 45 minutes.

    That's probably why it seems unreasonably high, if you were really kickboxing for 60 minutes straight with no breaks, it sounds reasonable.
  • Sjenny5891
    Sjenny5891 Posts: 717 Member
    Options
    According to the figures given to me by MFP, assuming I follow the food and exercise plan I've pre logged into my diary for today, I will only be netting 411 calories.

    But I know this isn't true. For example, I am going to do 45 minutes of Body Attack and an hour of Kickboxing tonight. The Body Attack figure I have got is 300 calories but I think I selecte that manually myself the last time I used this site and I can believe it's around right. But I have been given a figure of 536 calories for an hour's Kickboxing class!?!?!? There is no way a woman of my size is going to be burning anything close to that in the kickboxing class I go to (or in fact in almost any hour long exercise stint). I'm nto saying it's easy (half circuits, half paired kickboxing exercises) but the number is ridiculous.

    Now that wouldn't worry me if the site wasn't expecting me to 'eat the calories back' (a phrase I have an irrational hate for but can't think of a better way to put it). In theory it therefore wants me to eat over 2000 calories today. Which, if I wasn't thinking and just accepted the numbers could be really detrimental if done over a long period of time.

    So, what I'm wondering is - does anyone else find the figures nonsensically high and does anyone else worry that they'd be eating too much if they followed them/are eating too much because they do follow them?

    If you was religious about logging everything, you would log the time you spend cleaning, playing with the kids/pets (if you have any) cooking, etc... These would be extras unless you figured them into your daily goals. I did mine based on the bare minimum I might do on my day off and only add in exercise to wat back. I believe it evens itself out in the long run.

    If you think the exercise is overestimating the calories burned, you can create a new exercise for it or just log half the time spent.
  • mfpcopine
    mfpcopine Posts: 3,093 Member
    Options
    You have to use your own judgment. MFP posts guidelines, that is all. I followed their 1200 calorie recommendation and didn't lose weight, so I went lower. Exercise wasn't a factor because I was laid up with an ankle injury. But I don't log exercise because the calorie burn estimates are inaccurate and give me a false sense of confidence.

    It's better to focus on calorie consumption, get in as much exercise as you can and monitor the results.