Real Number of Calories Burned...does anyone know?

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  • kethry70
    kethry70 Posts: 404 Member
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    I occasionally use a HRM at my typical classes and use the average burn to add here. But I still only eat <= half the calories back - in part because my MFP settings are already at a small cut - less than .5 lb a week. I also tend to eat out too much on the weekends so it helps me manage those guesstimates and overages better :p

    Anyway, previous posters are right - use the most accurate tools you can but just be aware that there are limitations to all of them because they are all based on formulas and statistics :D
  • DavPul
    DavPul Posts: 61,406 Member
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    I'm new to this and I don't understand why it adds back calories after you've exercised to burn them off in the first place. I stopped adding my exerise so it won't add any back because eating back what I've earned I don't think it will help me too lose, maybe i'm wrong. Any advice?

    You're wrong. The deficit is already built in to the program. MFP is set up so that you're eating to your calorie goal and you're exercising for fitness. Eating the calories back ensures that your deficit isn't doesn't become too large and unsafe
  • SnuggleSmacks
    SnuggleSmacks Posts: 3,732 Member
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    I use a Body Media Armband. Best out there...so far.

    Yes, I just got mine a few days ago, and it's been very enlightening, and a tremendous help.

    26b57437c12a177e1aedbaedc1f805b3.jpg
  • stephanne13
    stephanne13 Posts: 212 Member
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    Thanks so much for all of the input...it is definitely helpful information. I did not expect to know the on the dot count, but I like having an idea of what is true (er) and also a good idea of how much I should be subtracting from the machine totals when logging my exercise. Also, I am using the same treadmill at the gym each day. So far, there is roughly a 30-50 point difference between what the treadmill says and what MFP says the workout burned, and I have been logging somewhere in the middle of the two numbers. I'm also on 1200 cal/day, so I have typically been eating it all back, but for the past few days I've tried to leave a little.
    We'll see what works!
  • 3dogsrunning
    3dogsrunning Posts: 27,167 Member
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    Unless you're hooked up to an indirect calorimeter, it's going to always be an approximation. An indirect calimeter indirectly measures ventilation and the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide by the body. Normally one wears a mask while performing exercise (usually a bike or treadmill test).

    A.C.E. Certified Personal and Group Fitness Trainer
    IDEA Fitness member
    Kickboxing Certified Instructor
    Been in fitness industry for 30 years and have studied kinesiology and nutrition

    This.

    They are all estimates, HRMs, activity trackers, the exercise machines, databases - everything.
    Which one may be closer to the "real" number depends on your activity. Activity trackers like FitBit are decent for estimations over the day, but not for exercise like running, swimming, etc. HRMs are decent for steady state cardio activity. Cardio equipment can be fairly accurate depending on the model.

    A couple of good reads on the issue if you are interested
    http://www.myfitnesspal.com/blog/Azdak/view/the-real-facts-about-hrms-and-calories-what-you-need-to-know-before-purchasing-an-hrm-or-using-one-21472

    http://www.myfitnesspal.com/topics/show/1044313-this-is-why-hrms-have-limited-use-for-tracking-calories

    http://www.myfitnesspal.com/blog/Azdak/view/estimating-calories-activity-databases-198041

    http://www.myfitnesspal.com/blog/Azdak/view/exercise-calories-sometimes-the-cardio-machines-are-more-accurate-404739
  • 12by311
    12by311 Posts: 1,719 Member
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    So, everyone says that the 'calories burned" totals for exercises on MFP are highly exaggerated. The same is also said for most cardio equipment at the gym. I was just reading reviews for HRM watches on Amazon, and again...many say they are inaccurate.

    How does someone get a true count of calories burned through exercise?

    This is why I now use my TDEE numbers. I don't add in and I don't eat back.

    I have a polar FT4 and will use it occasionally now. I used to really be motivated by that number on the watch. I like the HRM I have though.
  • 3dogsrunning
    3dogsrunning Posts: 27,167 Member
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    So, everyone says that the 'calories burned" totals for exercises on MFP are highly exaggerated. The same is also said for most cardio equipment at the gym. I was just reading reviews for HRM watches on Amazon, and again...many say they are inaccurate.

    How does someone get a true count of calories burned through exercise?

    This is why I now use my TDEE numbers. I don't add in and I don't eat back.

    I have a polar FT4 and will use it occasionally now. I used to really be motivated by that number on the watch. I like the HRM I have though.

    Everyone says that but it is not necessarily true. In some cases, yes, it is, but not always. It is just accepted as fact.


    Not particularly addressing you, just the comment about MFP. There is nothing wrong with using TDEE either.
  • stephanne13
    stephanne13 Posts: 212 Member
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    Thank you for these articles.
  • ILiftHeavyAcrylics
    ILiftHeavyAcrylics Posts: 27,732 Member
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    MFP calories for cardio are spot-on for me. Whatever that's worth.


    Or at least, I've always eaten back every last one and my results have been in line with what I would expect.
  • ninerbuff
    ninerbuff Posts: 48,592 Member
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    The main thing is to be consistent with your mechanism for approximating expenditure, and use that to inform how you account for it. If you're always using the same tool you've at least got consistent ambiguity.If you always use the same method and you lose weight, then that's fine. If the loss isn't at the rate you expect then adjust the approximation up or down.
    This. If one is going to use a machine's readouts for their calorie counting, then make sure to consistently use THAT SAME MACHINE because calibrations of similar ones could be entirely different.

    A.C.E. Certified Personal and Group Fitness Trainer
    IDEA Fitness member
    Kickboxing Certified Instructor
    Been in fitness industry for 30 years and have studied kinesiology and nutrition
  • cnickolem
    cnickolem Posts: 15
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    Thanks
  • cnickolem
    cnickolem Posts: 15
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    I'm new to this and I don't understand why it adds back calories after you've exercised to burn them off in the first place. I stopped adding my exerise so it won't add any back because eating back what I've earned I don't think it will help me too lose, maybe i'm wrong. Any advice?

    MFP has your deficit already included. Making it bigger is bad for a variety of reasons, especially if you chose the maximum loss per week (2 lbs). Fatigue and muscle loss are the big ones. I ate back every single exercise calorie when I was losing weight. It does work if you follow the program and log accurately.


    Thanks, I've got 30lbs to lose so anything to help is great.
  • MB_Positif
    MB_Positif Posts: 8,897 Member
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    I've just totally been winging it the last 3 years and 4 months.
  • beastmode_kitty
    beastmode_kitty Posts: 844 Member
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    I used to use a HRM, it broke, and I decided not to replace it. I just eat at a caloric deficit and lift heavy weights. Tried and true method.
  • sappy42
    sappy42 Posts: 65 Member
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    The reason why it adds calories in is that MFP already calculates your calories based on how much you want to lose, so if you do cardio and do not eat back any of the calories its putting your body at an even bigger deficit and can become unhealthy. I would never recommend eating back the full amount, but half is generally a safe method.

    What if MFP sets you at 1200, tho? Before I started reading the forums, I just used the app and it set me at 1200 calls, which is the lowest we should go before your metabolism gets messed up right? If I don't eat back my exercise cals, that puts me at less than 1200. But then I see a lot of folks only eating back half? Where does that leave me? I've been consistently losing a lb a week but info like this confuses me...should I not eat back all the cals or should I change to more cals and only eat half back?
  • waldo56
    waldo56 Posts: 1,861 Member
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    MFP calories for cardio are spot-on for me. Whatever that's worth.


    Or at least, I've always eaten back every last one and my results have been in line with what I would expect.

    The same. I find MFP's entries to be very accurate. Since I calculate my maintenance intake and thus set goals off of past results, there is effectively zero error in the exercise entries for me.

    You can in fact get exact values for calories in hindsight. The scale tells you exactly how many calories you burned once scale date is reconciled with calorie data.
  • cnickolem
    cnickolem Posts: 15
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    I'm new to this and I don't understand why it adds back calories after you've exercised to burn them off in the first place. I stopped adding my exerise so it won't add any back because eating back what I've earned I don't think it will help me too lose, maybe i'm wrong. Any advice?

    You're wrong. The deficit is already built in to the program. MFP is set up so that you're eating to your calorie goal and you're exercising for fitness. Eating the calories back ensures that your deficit isn't doesn't become too large and unsafe

    Thanks, I have been eating back those calories and I've actually noticed a difference in how I felt not eating them before compared to now.
  • JennyHollyHansen
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    For me, I think of exercise and eating as two separate acts. I think the machines add way more calories burned than what we have earned to motivate us to use the machine more.

    I also know that I can not lose weight by working out, I can only tone my muscle which will improve my shape.

    I eat to lose weight and I work out to tone my muscles.

    I do not add calories to my diet for working out. It seems it would be counter intuitive to lose weight to add more calories to lose our weight. Most of us on this site are in no danger of starving for not adding more calories after a work out.
  • jenniferock
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    How could one count the number burnt calories.. :huh:
    I am using the device Plank360 which burn more calories than sit-ups or crunches because they recruit muscles in the legs, arms, and rear too. It's truly the ultimate total-body toner!
    :smile: