How do I accurately count the calories I'm burning?

I do 60 minutes of cardio when I go to the gym, either the bicycle or the treadmill.
I enter my age, weight in the machines and they read I've used around 320 calories, but when I enter the cardio in My Fitness Pal it reads I've burned over 650. Which do you think is accurate? Some days I want to eat those extra calories and cannot afford to make a mistake.
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Replies

  • MeanderingMammal
    MeanderingMammal Posts: 7,870 Member
    I would suggest the lower number.

    It may be that you're overestimating your effort when you use MFP as it's reasonably accurate for running, a bit less so for cycling as there are many variables.

    The main thing is to pick a method and use it consistently. That way you can adjust how much you eat back based on your progress.
  • MamaBirdBoss
    MamaBirdBoss Posts: 1,516 Member
    Get a heart rate monitor. :) Polaris is the brand I have--I really like it.
  • MeanderingMammal
    MeanderingMammal Posts: 7,870 Member
    Get a heart rate monitor

    To give a third inaccurate number...
  • sijomial
    sijomial Posts: 19,782 Member
    In all probability neither is likely to be accurate - but you haven't mentioned speed, distance, power output, effort....

    Would go with the machines - at least they are trying to estimate some of the above factors. 320 sounds low for an hour but you could be walking slowly on the treadmill and not putting much effort into the cycling.
  • andrikosDE
    andrikosDE Posts: 383 Member
    Get a heart rate monitor. :) Polaris is the brand I have--I really like it.

    They make some nice snowplows! ;)

    I think you meant Polar. I have it too, highly recommended...
  • RoxieDawn
    RoxieDawn Posts: 15,491 Member
    edited June 2015
    Even a heart rate monitor is not perfect.. everything is an estimate just like no two weighing scales are calibrated the same or even equal if they are different models.

    Everything is important for calculating the estimate which is age, height, current weight, stride length, speed (rpm), distance, effort (level, incline)...

    What I do, is take the computer on the machine if it has one and even decrease its total by a margin of error by about 25%.. I never eat back all exercise calories.. I am one of those that says I just burned it, why eat them back?... But if you are one of those that exercises to eat more, then this will not apply to you..
  • MamaBirdBoss
    MamaBirdBoss Posts: 1,516 Member
    andrikosDE wrote: »
    Get a heart rate monitor. :) Polaris is the brand I have--I really like it.

    They make some nice snowplows! ;)

    I think you meant Polar. I have it too, highly recommended...

    Hahaha! You're right. Polaris is the north star, so I was confusing it. :) North Star = guiding light, etc.
  • MamaBirdBoss
    MamaBirdBoss Posts: 1,516 Member
    edited June 2015
    gia07 wrote: »
    Even a heart rate monitor is not perfect.. everything is an estimate just like no two weighing scales are calibrated the same or even equal if they are different models.

    Everything is important for calculating the estimate which is age, height, current weight, stride length, speed (rpm), distance, effort (level, incline)...

    What I do, is take the computer on the machine if it has one and even decrease its total by a margin of error by about 25%.. I never eat back all exercise calories.. I am one of those that says I just burned it, why eat them back?... But if you are one of those that exercises to eat more, then this will not apply to you..

    But, for example, I'm hideously out of condition. HRMs make it much easier. :) Still not exact but better than other methods to take into account your actual exertion. Also, if you do circuit work, there's REALLY no practical other way to do it.

    According to my HRM, I spent 258 cal on the first day of GM's 30-Day Shred. Anyone in decent shape of my weight would probably spend around 180-ish from what others have reported. :) It's nice to capture that even if it might be somewhat off.
  • MeanderingMammal
    MeanderingMammal Posts: 7,870 Member
    gia07 wrote: »
    Even a heart rate monitor is not perfect..

    Given the calorie expenditures that the originator is reporting from the machines, HR is the wrong tool to be using. Given that HR is only a meaningful proxy for calorie expenditure in a fairly limited set of circumstances the originator is unlikely to be operating in a range where it's meaningful.

    I'd go as far as to say, in the circumstances, an HRM is the least useful of the three measures talked about as it's not even going to be consistently wrong.
  • MeanderingMammal
    MeanderingMammal Posts: 7,870 Member
    Still not exact but better than other methods to take into account your actual exertion.

    Nope. It's the least suitable tool.
    Also, if you do circuit work, there's REALLY no practical other way to do it.

    HRMs are explicitly not designed for circuit training as the research that they're designed around is predicated on steady state cardiovascular training; running, cycle and rowing ergometers.


  • sijomial
    sijomial Posts: 19,782 Member
    gia07 wrote: »
    Even a heart rate monitor is not perfect.. everything is an estimate just like no two weighing scales are calibrated the same or even equal if they are different models.

    Everything is important for calculating the estimate which is age, height, current weight, stride length, speed (rpm), distance, effort (level, incline)...

    What I do, is take the computer on the machine if it has one and even decrease its total by a margin of error by about 25%.. I never eat back all exercise calories.. I am one of those that says I just burned it, why eat them back?... But if you are one of those that exercises to eat more, then this will not apply to you..

    But, for example, I'm hideously out of condition. HRMs make it much easier. :) Still not exact but better than other methods to take into account your actual exertion. Also, if you do circuit work, there's REALLY no practical other way to do it.

    According to my HRM, I spent 258 cal on the first day of GM's 30-Day Shred. Anyone in decent shape of my weight would probably spend around 180-ish from what others have reported. :) It's nice to capture that even if it might be somewhat off.
    @MamaBirdBoss
    Being out of shape makes the calorie accuracy worse not better.
    That you find it hard because you are unfit is a "feeling" and not an indication of energy output.

    Circuit training is an inappropriate use for HRMs - the interval nature makes the burns very inflated.

    You are right that it makes it easy to get a number - but easy isn't the same as accurate.
  • TnTWalter
    TnTWalter Posts: 345 Member
    my polar knows my age, height, weight VO2 level. It's not perfect but much better than the machines or the fitbits IMHO.
  • 999tigger
    999tigger Posts: 5,236 Member
    Heart rate monitors are good for measuring heart rate believe it or not.
  • itsMcKay
    itsMcKay Posts: 131 Member
    Yep, either get a heart rate monitor or manually measure your heart rate a few time over your workout, average it and use the Brayden Calorie Calculator. MFP is generally way off, so never use what's in the database.

    http://www.braydenwm.com/calburn.htm

    As for HRMs, I have a Polar FT4 with chest strap. It was $50 on Amazon and it rules. Auto-syncs with machines that use Polar technology, too.

    http://smile.amazon.com/Polar-Heart-Rate-Monitor-Purple/dp/B005M1P85O/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1434019561&sr=8-1&keywords=polar+ft4
  • MeanderingMammal
    MeanderingMammal Posts: 7,870 Member
    999tigger wrote: »
    Heart rate monitors are good for measuring heart rate believe it or not.

    Butbutbutbutbut all these people have them and use the arbitrary numbers that they show and it's a number so it must be right...
  • belinda_73
    belinda_73 Posts: 148 Member
    I think the MFP calorie burned is way off, I usually only eat half back of what any machine or MFP says. I just got a polar chest strap and wore it yesterday to boot camp. Jumping jacks, burpees, etc my heart felt like it was going to beat out of my chest and I burned 368 in 45 minutes according to polar beat.
  • raven56706
    raven56706 Posts: 914 Member
    belfle wrote: »
    I think the MFP calorie burned is way off, I usually only eat half back of what any machine or MFP says. I just got a polar chest strap and wore it yesterday to boot camp. Jumping jacks, burpees, etc my heart felt like it was going to beat out of my chest and I burned 368 in 45 minutes according to polar beat.

    but would you put 368 in the calories burned?
  • HappyTrails7
    HappyTrails7 Posts: 878 Member
    I see many comments on what doesn't work, but no suggestions on what should be used in place of HRM, machine readouts, etc.
  • sullus
    sullus Posts: 2,839 Member
    I see many comments on what doesn't work, but no suggestions on what should be used in place of HRM, machine readouts, etc.

    Mostly because the answer is: You can't accurately count your calorie burn unless you're hooked up to some serious metabolic testing equipment in a lab.