Serious flaw with My Fitness Pal

24

Replies

  • steveko89
    steveko89 Posts: 2,178 Member
    It is interesting to see all the arguments saying op is not using the app correctly, over assuming its accuracy, etc. Every single thread on exercise calorie burns has posters telling people to only count half of those exercise calories, sometimes even less. Why the argument here when it is obviously inaccurate?

    welcome to the internet
  • aokoye
    aokoye Posts: 3,495 Member
    Yes...I own 5 bikes. But averaging 17-18/if the ride is flattish is not particularly fast for the average cyclist.

    But you are missing the point...its all exercise estimates. Even walking is over estimated by over 50%. Most estimates are using gross, not net calories.

    Clearly you love this app. (And I like it too
    ..) But just a word of caution:

    The calories expended estimates for exercise are either gross calories or just grossly over stated in every exercise I've used.

    If you are just using this to track calories in...no biggie...that seems to be very accurate.

    That the estimates for exercise calories in the MFP database are inflated isn't new information. I'm pretty sure almost everyone who has replied to you has read and/or participated in threads stating this. I personally don't use any of the MFP exercise estimates - my Garmin devices and Concept2 sends them over. Given that it sounds like you have a power meter, I question why you aren't doing the same for bike related calories.
  • cmriverside
    cmriverside Posts: 32,191 Member
    It is interesting to see all the arguments saying op is not using the app correctly, over assuming its accuracy, etc. Every single thread on exercise calorie burns has posters telling people to only count half of those exercise calories, sometimes even less. Why the argument here when it is obviously inaccurate?

    The Exercise calories were pretty spot on for me through the beginning of my weight loss. As I got into the healthy BMI, I couldn't be bothered to deal with exercise calories and I already had six months of my own data so I've always used a flat 300 calories per hour for moderated exercise and I've been successful with that.

    I'm just saying it really does take knowledge of how the tool calculates and then some consistent data over a couple months. It's not necessarily the "gross" vs "net" - it just isn't that simple, and all the calculators use basic algorithms, you just have to understand how they work.
  • jhanleybrown
    jhanleybrown Posts: 239 Member
    edited September 2019
    aokoye wrote: »
    Yes...I own 5 bikes. But averaging 17-18/if the ride is flattish is not particularly fast for the average cyclist.

    But you are missing the point...its all exercise estimates. Even walking is over estimated by over 50%. Most estimates are using gross, not net calories.

    Clearly you love this app. (And I like it too
    ..) But just a word of caution:

    The calories expended estimates for exercise are either gross calories or just grossly over stated in every exercise I've used.

    If you are just using this to track calories in...no biggie...that seems to be very accurate.

    That the estimates for exercise calories in the MFP database are inflated isn't new information. I'm pretty sure almost everyone who has replied to you has read and/or participated in threads stating this. I personally don't use any of the MFP exercise estimates - my Garmin devices and Concept2 sends them over. Given that it sounds like you have a power meter, I question why you aren't doing the same for bike related calories.

    I am for cycling. But I assumed per a previous comment that the calories for cycling were for "bike riders" not cyclists.
    When i ran more I also knew its run estimates were pretty high and i would lower those manually. But, I've recently started other exercises like walking, yoga, sculling and am finding that *everything* is way too high.

    I'm not talking about user error...and the food estimators all seem pretty accurate.

    I didn't realize that it is common knowledge that calories burned are always (very) inflated. (Dont participate here often.)

    If its so endemic...why not fix it or at least post that most edtimates are de facto off by 30%+??
  • jhanleybrown
    jhanleybrown Posts: 239 Member
    WinoGelato wrote: »
    It is interesting to see all the arguments saying op is not using the app correctly, over assuming its accuracy, etc. Every single thread on exercise calorie burns has posters telling people to only count half of those exercise calories, sometimes even less. Why the argument here when it is obviously inaccurate?

    Because a lot of newer members will see a post like this and read “exercise calories are inflated therefore I should dismiss these exercise adjustments altogether and not eat back any of my burns”. We see that ALL the time where someone fears inaccuracy and a slight over inflation so instead of monitoring and adjusting based on their own inputs and results - they choose the one number that is definitely wrong which is zero.

    Also from what OP has posted his exercise is atypical and likely the duration and intensity of his cycling is making the numbers less reliable. Or he thinks he’s exercising more strenuously and chooses higher intensity entries/burns than he’s really achieving. He also could likely improve the accuracy of the overall CICO numbers by changing his activity level from sedentary - which he clearly isn’t, to active - which is a far more realistic baseline. I have a desk job too but I know that because I average >3000 steps a day I’m not sedentary.

    We get it OP - the entries aren’t accurate for you. These are all based on statistical samples and not meant to be the gospel for any individual. Success with any program that relies on estimates and averages means that a fair amount of trial and error is warranted.

    This seems like laibility management from a MFP PR guy.

    The estimates do *not* seem to be based on averages. They are consistently very high.
  • cmriverside
    cmriverside Posts: 32,191 Member
    edited September 2019
    sijomial wrote: »
    Some of the exercise estimates used by MyFitnessPal source the Compoendium of Physical Activities.
    And that gives estimates in METS which as the OP correctly points out is inflated by 1 MET - a gross calorie estimate not a net calorie estimate.

    For short duration exercise it's a trivial difference.
    For long duration exercise it starts to mount up - it's a particularly large percentage deviation for long duration and low rate of burn exercises such as walking.

    Yes the cycling speed categories are badly inflated for any sort of decent road bike - but I don't know any serious cyclists who would use such a dreadful way to estimate calories when much better ones are commonly used!
    There's a world of difference between a mountain bike being riden in tough terrain (or over mountains!) and a fast road bike on the flat which speed ranges don't take into account.

    BTW - please can people stop insisting the exercise estimates were accurate when they mean their weight loss results were on track. That verifies your calorie balance but it certainly doesn't validate all the elements involved on both sides of the CICO balance. Unless you have validated your exercise against a known good method (such as a power meter on a bike) you simply know the estimates worked for you - not that they were accurate.

    Did someone say they were accurate? I guess I didn't read any of the responses that way.

    Same goes for the tracking devices. All are standard algorithms that are used as estimates. Not really accurate, just close enough.

  • jhanleybrown
    jhanleybrown Posts: 239 Member
    sijomial wrote: »
    Some of the exercise estimates used by MyFitnessPal source the Compoendium of Physical Activities.
    And that gives estimates in METS which as the OP correctly points out is inflated by 1 MET - a gross calorie estimate not a net calorie estimate.

    For short duration exercise it's a trivial difference.
    For long duration exercise it starts to mount up - it's a particularly large percentage deviation for long duration and low rate of burn exercises such as walking.

    Yes the cycling speed categories are badly inflated for any sort of decent road bike - but I don't know any serious cyclists who would use such a dreadful way to estimate calories when much better ones are commonly used!
    There's a world of difference between a mountain bike being riden in tough terrain (or over mountains!) and a fast road bike on the flat which speed ranges don't take into account.

    BTW - please can people stop insisting the exercise estimates were accurate when they mean their weight loss results were on track. That verifies your calorie balance but it certainly doesn't validate all the elements involved on both sides of the CICO balance. Unless you have validated your exercise against a known good method (such as a power meter on a bike) you simply know the estimates worked for you - not that they were accurate.

    I agree for short duration, its not material. But if you are getting a deficit more through exercise rather than gross calorie reduction...it adds up fast.

    In the past, I mostly ran and biked. And I know accurate ways to estimate calories for those.

    But as Ive added other activities, I'd go back to using app estimates and then weight loss would drop significantly.

    Then I'd research those activities and find accurate calculators....and the MFP calories were also always off. And always over inflating calorie usage significantly.

    The more reduced calorie intake is how you get your deficit, the more accurate the app. If you are getting your deficit mostly from exercise...dont use any of the app estimates for exercise. And if you exercise enough that you need a calorie surplus even to lose weight...dont use app estimates at all.

    The exercise estimates are *all* significantly inflated.
  • sijomial
    sijomial Posts: 19,516 Member
    edited September 2019
    kshama2001 wrote: »
    sijomial wrote: »
    Some of the exercise estimates used by MyFitnessPal source the Compoendium of Physical Activities.
    And that gives estimates in METS which as the OP correctly points out is inflated by 1 MET - a gross calorie estimate not a net calorie estimate.

    For short duration exercise it's a trivial difference.
    For long duration exercise it starts to mount up - it's a particularly large percentage deviation for long duration and low rate of burn exercises such as walking.

    Yes the cycling speed categories are badly inflated for any sort of decent road bike - but I don't know any serious cyclists who would use such a dreadful way to estimate calories when much better ones are commonly used!
    There's a world of difference between a mountain bike being riden in tough terrain (or over mountains!) and a fast road bike on the flat which speed ranges don't take into account.

    BTW - please can people stop insisting the exercise estimates were accurate when they mean their weight loss results were on track. That verifies your calorie balance but it certainly doesn't validate all the elements involved on both sides of the CICO balance. Unless you have validated your exercise against a known good method (such as a power meter on a bike) you simply know the estimates worked for you - not that they were accurate.

    Did someone say they were accurate? I guess I didn't read any of the responses that way.

    Same goes for the tracking devices. All are standard algorithms that are used as estimates. Not really accurate, just close enough.

    I said the particular walking entry I use was accurate for me (Walking, 3.0 mph, mod. pace, walking dog)

    Because I eat a lot of whole foods and get my syntax for those entries from the USDA database, I am very confident in my food logging but was having trouble losing weight until I changed some exercise choices.

    I gave strength training examples above.

    For gardening, I give myself credit in a range from no credit to full credit. If there's a shovel involved, I take full credit. If I'm clipping roses like Annette Bening in "American Beauty", I take no credit. (However, if I am pruning up a storm, that's different.)


    Silly picture removed.

    Same question - how did you validate that the walking estimate was accurate for you?
    Hooked up to a breath analyser in a gym perhaps to measure oxygen uptake?

    How did you validate your BMR was accurate?
    How did you validate your activity multiplier was accurate?
    How did you measure your TEF?

    Again getting the right results doesn't not validate all the elements involved.

    e.g.
    When I started out I used inflated exercise estimates from a HRM and gym machines.
    Adjusted my daily goal and proceeded to lose 1lb a week as predicted - my exercise estimates were still inaccurate, losing exactly on goal didn't change that, I just compensated for the inaccuracy.
  • cmriverside
    cmriverside Posts: 32,191 Member
    sijomial wrote: »
    sijomial wrote: »
    Some of the exercise estimates used by MyFitnessPal source the Compoendium of Physical Activities.
    And that gives estimates in METS which as the OP correctly points out is inflated by 1 MET - a gross calorie estimate not a net calorie estimate.

    For short duration exercise it's a trivial difference.
    For long duration exercise it starts to mount up - it's a particularly large percentage deviation for long duration and low rate of burn exercises such as walking.

    Yes the cycling speed categories are badly inflated for any sort of decent road bike - but I don't know any serious cyclists who would use such a dreadful way to estimate calories when much better ones are commonly used!
    There's a world of difference between a mountain bike being riden in tough terrain (or over mountains!) and a fast road bike on the flat which speed ranges don't take into account.

    BTW - please can people stop insisting the exercise estimates were accurate when they mean their weight loss results were on track. That verifies your calorie balance but it certainly doesn't validate all the elements involved on both sides of the CICO balance. Unless you have validated your exercise against a known good method (such as a power meter on a bike) you simply know the estimates worked for you - not that they were accurate.

    Did someone say they were accurate? I guess I didn't read any of the responses that way.

    Same goes for the tracking devices. All are standard algorithms that are used as estimates. Not really accurate, just close enough.

    You said "and yet the MFP exercise calories were right on for me."

    If that wasn't a suggestion that you thought they were accurate maybe you should rephrase?

    "I used the exercise estimates here and lost on track" is a very different statement to the exercise calories were right on for me.

    Not interested in a semantics side argument that is irrelevant to the point.

    Maybe you should re-read.