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Run/Walk Intervals: Best Method to Estimate Calories?

Kalex1975Kalex1975 Posts: 389Member, Premium Member Posts: 389Member, Premium Member
I have walked a lot over the last few years. To estimate my calories burned I have been using the formula: Distance in miles x Weight in lbs x 0.3. I have seen that the formula for running is: Distance in miles x Weight in lbs x 0.63

Now that I am in maintenance and am in the best shape of my life I have been itching to begin jogging. I've used the C25K app and liked what it provided. I know it may sound silly, but the main thing that has prevented me from committing to interval training is knowing how to estimate the calories I have burned.

Do you have a method that combines the 2 formulas to estimate your calories? Do you track your distances between walking and running, if so, how? Any other methods you feel work best?

Thanks in advance for your comments. I am so appreciative of the MFP community - I've learned so much from these boards!



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Replies

  • emmamcgarityemmamcgarity Posts: 1,168Member Member Posts: 1,168Member Member
    I am just trusting the numbers my Fitbit gives me for the c25k intervals. I’m finding it is not much more calories burned than when I have briskly walked the same time period. 5 weeks into c25k I am not seeing a large drop on the scale but I am seeing significant difference in how my clothes fit and my endurance has increased more than I had imagined.
  • Steff46Steff46 Posts: 492Member Member Posts: 492Member Member
    Not sure if you like fitness gadgets but, I use a Garmin 920XT along with a heart monitor for my run/walks to estimate my calorie burn and distance. I like that it beeps/vibrates to tell me it's time to run and/or walk. I had a few friends that recommended the run/walk method by Jeff Galloway. Saying that it helped them build up to running longer distances. I use the 4 minute run and 1 minute walk, but there are all kinds of variations. So far I love the run/walk and it has helped me do a few half marathons.
  • garystrickland357garystrickland357 Posts: 598Member Member Posts: 598Member Member
    I would use a fitness tracker and base the calories on the average pace. For example if you jog at a 10:00 pace and walk at a 18:00 pace maybe your average is an 11:30 pace (don’t judge me - didn’t do the math). Base your calories on that 11:30 pace.
  • Kalex1975Kalex1975 Posts: 389Member, Premium Member Posts: 389Member, Premium Member
    Thanks @emmamcgarity @Steff46 and @garystrickland357

    I have been reluctant to use the tech because I've heard how often they can be off and because of what I've seen in my cases...

    I use MapMyWalk on my phone with a heart rate monitor and was always surprised by the calorie burns it gave me vs. the formula I referenced. For example, my last long walk was 8.83 miles and it estimated my calories at 1,359 vs. 566 calories using the formula. More than twice the estimate! I know may pace was pretty fast (13:43 average) for that walk and the difference between net and gross probably accounts for some of that difference, but not that much (I hope).

    I could just go with the MapMyWalk estimate and do the 50% thing. Hoping there may be other ideas too.

    @garystrickland357 is there a formula you use with the average pace?
  • TavistockToadTavistockToad Posts: 35,819Member Member Posts: 35,819Member Member
    Kalex1975 wrote: »
    Thanks @emmamcgarity @Steff46 and @garystrickland357

    I have been reluctant to use the tech because I've heard how often they can be off and because of what I've seen in my cases...

    I use MapMyWalk on my phone with a heart rate monitor and was always surprised by the calorie burns it gave me vs. the formula I referenced. For example, my last long walk was 8.83 miles and it estimated my calories at 1,359 vs. 566 calories using the formula. More than twice the estimate! I know may pace was pretty fast (13:43 average) for that walk and the difference between net and gross probably accounts for some of that difference, but not that much (I hope).

    I could just go with the MapMyWalk estimate and do the 50% thing. Hoping there may be other ideas too.

    @garystrickland357 is there a formula you use with the average pace?

    mapmywalk is notorious for overestimating calorie burns.

    garmin is pretty accurate, fitbit it seems to depend on the person.
  • garystrickland357garystrickland357 Posts: 598Member Member Posts: 598Member Member
    @Kalex1975 I just use the pace calculated by my Garmin.
  • emmamcgarityemmamcgarity Posts: 1,168Member Member Posts: 1,168Member Member
    I try to remember that it’s all estimates regardless of the method used and let hunger be my guide on how many exercise calories I choose to eat back.
  • TavistockToadTavistockToad Posts: 35,819Member Member Posts: 35,819Member Member
    I try to remember that it’s all estimates regardless of the method used and let hunger be my guide on how many exercise calories I choose to eat back.

    the runger is real for me, if i did that i would gain weight every time i trained for a half marathon! (my first half i gained 7lbs!)
  • The_EnginerdThe_Enginerd Posts: 3,913Member Member Posts: 3,913Member Member
    The overall pace method assumes you are running the entire time, which will overestimate since walking burns approximately half the calories per mile as running.

    If you had a Garmin or similar device or a GPS tracking app which has a lap feature, you could use lap to split up the running/walking segments so they could be easily added together.

    The HRM algorithms assume steady state cardio at a moderate effort. Run/walk intervals will affect the accuracy of estimates, although to what extent will be variable based on the implementation. And they aren't designed or very good for low intensity workouts, such as walking.
  • heybalesheybales Posts: 16,958Member Member Posts: 16,958Member Member
    You can compare your overall pace/time calorie estimate to the other sites.
    Gross is how it would be handled for tracker synced in which uses a replace method, NET is how it should be handled for stand-alone MFP as an add method (sadly they use Gross database, hence the comments to take % off stated calorie burns).

    https://exrx.net/Calculators/WalkRunMETs

    You can also use that to do a pretend interval session where you get the calorie burn for walking separate from running and add together, compared to just taking the average pace.

    You'll find usually not much difference at all.
  • ritzvinritzvin Posts: 2,400Member, Premium Member Posts: 2,400Member, Premium Member
    Kalex1975 wrote: »
    Thanks @emmamcgarity @Steff46 and @garystrickland357

    I have been reluctant to use the tech because I've heard how often they can be off and because of what I've seen in my cases...

    I use MapMyWalk on my phone with a heart rate monitor and was always surprised by the calorie burns it gave me vs. the formula I referenced. For example, my last long walk was 8.83 miles and it estimated my calories at 1,359 vs. 566 calories using the formula. More than twice the estimate! I know may pace was pretty fast (13:43 average) for that walk and the difference between net and gross probably accounts for some of that difference, but not that much (I hope).

    I could just go with the MapMyWalk estimate and do the 50% thing. Hoping there may be other ideas too.

    @garystrickland357 is there a formula you use with the average pace?

    mapmywalk is notorious for overestimating calorie burns.

    garmin is pretty accurate, fitbit it seems to depend on the person.

    this.

    Garmin pretty much always gives me the formula.. anytime I've checked, it has indeed been 72-74calories/mile which fits the 0.63x___ formula. (Includes runs with and without the HRM). (ETA: also includes runs with some walking intervals)

    If your average pace is in run territory, I wouldn't worry about overcounting any walking intervals, especially considering the distance covered will only be ~half as much per minute and you are probably already spending the majority of the time running. (ie the walking portion as a percentage of the distance covered is probably pretty small).
    edited March 14
  • MelanieCN77MelanieCN77 Posts: 3,673Member Member Posts: 3,673Member Member
    I just got an app called Intervals for exactly this, I have an Apple Watch but the phone app might be useful? Walking and running is generally about moving weight over distance rather than anything else I think so the phone alone might be able to ballpark well enough.
  • The_EnginerdThe_Enginerd Posts: 3,913Member Member Posts: 3,913Member Member
    ritzvin wrote: »
    If your average pace is in run territory, I wouldn't worry about overcounting any walking intervals, especially considering the distance covered will only be ~half as much per minute and you are probably already spending the majority of the time running. (ie the walking portion as a percentage of the distance covered is probably pretty small).

    If the run:walk intervals aren't too heavy on walking, this will pretty much be the case. For a 4:1 run:walk interval (run 4 minutes, walk 1) and a 20 minute/mile walking pace and 8 minute/mile running pace, it would only overestimate calories by 5% to assume you ran the entire distance. That is within the limit of accuracy for calorie estimates.
    edited March 14
  • sijomialsijomial Posts: 15,256Member Member Posts: 15,256Member Member
    I see zero benefit in using a hopeless calorie estimating app (MapMyWalk) and then randomly guessing what proportion to take off. Starting with bad data is pretty pointless.

    Either use a better device or app (Strava perhaps?) or just do the educated guessing/estimating yourself.
    I'd simply use any old device to measure distance and then use a number between 0.3 and 0.63 depending on the proportion of walking and running you do.

    Please keep in mind that exercise estimates simply don't have to be accurate - they just need to be reasonable to be usable. In the context of a big number (your CI) some inaccuracy in your small number (exercise) isn't going to make a significant difference. Even if it had a small impact it's going to be very slow in manifesting itself and you are going to notice before it's a problem.
  • Kalex1975Kalex1975 Posts: 389Member, Premium Member Posts: 389Member, Premium Member
    Thanks everyone, appreciate all the comments!

    Knowing how bad the estimates from MapMyWalk were (thanks to this community) I never relied on its calorie estimates - only to get the distance and see the other analysis.

    It sounds like the Garmin is the most accurate of the wearable tech. Until I commit to purchasing one I'm going to give the Intervals app that @MelanieCN77 recommended and Strava a try and see how it goes. Will also try to compute based on the proportions of walking vs. running.

  • MelanieCN77MelanieCN77 Posts: 3,673Member Member Posts: 3,673Member Member
    The free version of Intervals only shows you your most recent workout, FYI, so screen grab the stuff if you want to keep it for reference. Works great though.
  • BrianSharpeBrianSharpe Posts: 8,732Member Member Posts: 8,732Member Member
    If you know the distance that you've covered and the approximate run / walk proportions you could work it out. For example if you walked 60% of the time and covered 10 miles it would be 6 miles at the walking formula and 4 at running (even simpler if you were doing 50/50 by using 0.46 as your factor.

    I'm another Garmin 920 user / fan, largely because of its multi-sport capabilities and built in triathlon setting. It is a discontinued model, if and when you consider wearable technology you can find some great deals on them.
  • cwolfman13cwolfman13 Posts: 36,682Member Member Posts: 36,682Member Member
    When I used to do that, I just used my HRM and lopped off my BMR calories. I found it to be good enough.
  • MeanderingMammalMeanderingMammal Posts: 7,865Member Member Posts: 7,865Member Member
    Kalex1975 wrote: »
    I have walked a lot over the last few years. To estimate my calories burned I have been using the formula: Distance in miles x Weight in lbs x 0.3. I have seen that the formula for running is: Distance in miles x Weight in lbs x 0.63

    Now that I am in maintenance and am in the best shape of my life I have been itching to begin jogging. I've used the C25K app and liked what it provided. I know it may sound silly, but the main thing that has prevented me from committing to interval training is knowing how to estimate the calories I have burned.

    Do you have a method that combines the 2 formulas to estimate your calories? Do you track your distances between walking and running, if so, how? Any other methods you feel work best?

    Thanks in advance for your comments. I am so appreciative of the MFP community - I've learned so much from these boards!



    I wouldn't overthink it. For the first four weeks just use the walking calculation, after that use the running. While there is an error, in the grand scheme of things it's negligible.
  • autumnblade75autumnblade75 Posts: 1,313Member Member Posts: 1,313Member Member
    I would use a fitness tracker and base the calories on the average pace. For example if you jog at a 10:00 pace and walk at a 18:00 pace maybe your average is an 11:30 pace (don’t judge me - didn’t do the math). Base your calories on that 11:30 pace.

    Only because you said "don't judge me":

    It's really hard to prove or disprove your math, without a few more variables - like how many minutes at each pace.
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