MFP exercise calories vs device calories?

I don’t have a device and I’m wondering is it worth getting one or is the comparison pretty similar on MFP?

Replies

  • yirara
    yirara Posts: 7,342 Member
    For me, the fitbit for exercise is rather useless as my maximum heartrate deviates too much from the dreaded 220-age equation. I also don't link it because I can't chose what kind of info I want to sync and don't want to sync. For me it's mainly data nerdery.
  • sijomial
    sijomial Posts: 19,604 Member
    What kind of "device"?
    (An all day tracker trying to estimate your total calorie burn for the day or an exercise only estimator?)

    What kind of exercise are you doing?
    (Some exercises are easy and accurate to estimate, some virtually impossible by a normal wearable device.)

    For example my device is a Garmin cycling computer linked to a power meter and gives very accurate estimates based on the actual power I produce when riding. Personally I have zero interest or need for an all day activity tracker.
  • earlnabby
    earlnabby Posts: 8,177 Member
    My rule of thumb:

    Wearable step trackers are pretty accurate
    Wearable heart rate monitor trackers are pretty accurate for steady state cardio but wildly inaccurate for all day use
    Machines like a treadmill, exercise bike, etc. are very inaccurate
    MFP's database inflates numbers so it inaccurate, but consistent in that you know it is overestimating.

    I eat back any calories given me by my Garmin step tracker
    I eat back 50% of the calories given me by logging exercise into MFP.
  • sijomial
    sijomial Posts: 19,604 Member
    earlnabby wrote: »
    My rule of thumb:

    Wearable step trackers are pretty accurate
    Wearable heart rate monitor trackers are pretty accurate for steady state cardio but wildly inaccurate for all day use
    Machines like a treadmill, exercise bike, etc. are very inaccurate
    MFP's database inflates numbers so it inaccurate, but consistent in that you know it is overestimating.

    I eat back any calories given me by my Garmin step tracker
    I eat back 50% of the calories given me by logging exercise into MFP.

    @earlnabby
    Except some exercise bikes can be the most accurate of all cardio machines.
    Those calculating correctly from a person's power output are likely to be within + or - 2.5% accuracy for net calories.
  • tayusuki
    tayusuki Posts: 194 Member
    yirara wrote: »
    For me, the fitbit for exercise is rather useless as my maximum heartrate deviates too much from the dreaded 220-age equation. I also don't link it because I can't chose what kind of info I want to sync and don't want to sync. For me it's mainly data nerdery.

    You can change your heart rate zones in the app! I think it works for all devices. My heart rate is higher than normal, so I had to tweak it. I was always in the "fat burn" zone til I adjusted it. Definitely some trial and error.
  • Lillymoo01
    Lillymoo01 Posts: 2,868 Member
    You could always start with the free app on your phone Pacer and see how you fare before you spend the big bucks. It has the disadvantage of having to have your phone on you at all times but will give you an idea with determining step count and calorie burn.
  • AnnPT77
    AnnPT77 Posts: 24,732 Member
    sijomial wrote: »
    earlnabby wrote: »
    My rule of thumb:

    Wearable step trackers are pretty accurate
    Wearable heart rate monitor trackers are pretty accurate for steady state cardio but wildly inaccurate for all day use
    Machines like a treadmill, exercise bike, etc. are very inaccurate
    MFP's database inflates numbers so it inaccurate, but consistent in that you know it is overestimating.

    I eat back any calories given me by my Garmin step tracker
    I eat back 50% of the calories given me by logging exercise into MFP.

    @earlnabby
    Except some exercise bikes can be the most accurate of all cardio machines.
    Those calculating correctly from a person's power output are likely to be within + or - 2.5% accuracy for net calories.

    Concept 2 (C2) rowing machines also have a reputation for reasonable accuracy (after weight adjustment), though I'd expect it to be somewhat less accurate than well power-metered cycling (the range of individual efficiency in rowing is quite broad . . . but I think the risk is that it will underestimate, not that it will overestimate. :lol: ).

    At steady state, I've found the C2 estimate (weight-adjusted) within reasonable consistency range with my HR-based device estimates.

    As a generality, I think calorie estimates from exercise machines need to be considered machine by machine. Some are clearly awful; others can be fairly close.

    I also think that MFP's estimate for strength training (from the cardiovascular exercise database) is about as good an estimate as anything is likely to get; and that in general the MFP database doesn't consistently overestimate (other than the problem of - apparently - giving gross estimates rather than net, which is a bigger issue in some scenarios than others.

    While I share your (@sijomial's) quibbles, and add some, I think @earlnabby's rules of thumb are broadly fairly reasonable. Absent power metered things that have a narrow efficiency range, exercise estimating is kind of a black art. However, within a certain practical range, consistency is good enough, even without precision accuracy.
  • earlnabby
    earlnabby Posts: 8,177 Member
    sijomial wrote: »
    earlnabby wrote: »
    My rule of thumb:

    Wearable step trackers are pretty accurate
    Wearable heart rate monitor trackers are pretty accurate for steady state cardio but wildly inaccurate for all day use
    Machines like a treadmill, exercise bike, etc. are very inaccurate
    MFP's database inflates numbers so it inaccurate, but consistent in that you know it is overestimating.

    I eat back any calories given me by my Garmin step tracker
    I eat back 50% of the calories given me by logging exercise into MFP.

    @earlnabby
    Except some exercise bikes can be the most accurate of all cardio machines.
    Those calculating correctly from a person's power output are likely to be within + or - 2.5% accuracy for net calories.

    Most people don't have access to fancy-schmancy machines. A rule of thumb is exactly that and always has exceptions.
  • sijomial
    sijomial Posts: 19,604 Member
    earlnabby wrote: »
    sijomial wrote: »
    earlnabby wrote: »
    My rule of thumb:

    Wearable step trackers are pretty accurate
    Wearable heart rate monitor trackers are pretty accurate for steady state cardio but wildly inaccurate for all day use
    Machines like a treadmill, exercise bike, etc. are very inaccurate
    MFP's database inflates numbers so it inaccurate, but consistent in that you know it is overestimating.

    I eat back any calories given me by my Garmin step tracker
    I eat back 50% of the calories given me by logging exercise into MFP.

    @earlnabby
    Except some exercise bikes can be the most accurate of all cardio machines.
    Those calculating correctly from a person's power output are likely to be within + or - 2.5% accuracy for net calories.

    Most people don't have access to fancy-schmancy machines. A rule of thumb is exactly that and always has exceptions.

    Except even quite basic exercise bikes now have powermeters and use the correct maths both in gyms and for home use.
    When there's many or common exceptions then sweeping or absolute statements become inappropriate and misleading. The range of accuracy isn't even the binary from very accurate or "very inaccurate" - there's also a middle ground of reasonably accurate such as many spinning bikes.

    Understanding of tools (including the MFP database) helps more than generalisations.
  • yirara
    yirara Posts: 7,342 Member
    tayusuki wrote: »
    yirara wrote: »
    For me, the fitbit for exercise is rather useless as my maximum heartrate deviates too much from the dreaded 220-age equation. I also don't link it because I can't chose what kind of info I want to sync and don't want to sync. For me it's mainly data nerdery.

    You can change your heart rate zones in the app! I think it works for all devices. My heart rate is higher than normal, so I had to tweak it. I was always in the "fat burn" zone til I adjusted it. Definitely some trial and error.
    tayusuki wrote: »
    yirara wrote: »
    For me, the fitbit for exercise is rather useless as my maximum heartrate deviates too much from the dreaded 220-age equation. I also don't link it because I can't chose what kind of info I want to sync and don't want to sync. For me it's mainly data nerdery.

    You can change your heart rate zones in the app! I think it works for all devices. My heart rate is higher than normal, so I had to tweak it. I was always in the "fat burn" zone til I adjusted it. Definitely some trial and error.

    I know. It still gaves me 2000 calories for a 20km slow stroll.
  • swimmchick87
    swimmchick87 Posts: 451 Member
    edited June 2020
    I have a basic fitbit that doesn't measure heart rate and I find that it's very accurate for me. For me one of the most eye opening things was how sedentary I can be on non-work days. I had myself set to "lightly active" on MFP because I'm a teacher. This was fairly accurate during the workweek but on weekends I'd get hardly any steps without purposeful exercise. Even if I felt like I was "out and about" a ton- it was mostly going to various places, walking in, and sitting. Having a day at work that is mostly meetings also makes a huge difference. And once I started working from home- without purposeful walking I would have seriously gotten maybe 1500 steps for the day. Without my fitbit and knowing/keeping track of that I would have certainly gained weight and then wondered how on earth I was gaining while eating the same.

    My fitbit encourages me to get moving a lot more than I would otherwise. I often pace in front of my TV to get more steps in. I'm so used to it now that I have a hard time just sitting and watching TV for any length of time- I have to get up and move. If you're doing workouts that are mostly not stepped based, a fitbit isn't going to help you much. I've been thinking of upgrading my fitbit to one of the "smartwatch" like ones and the whole heart rate thing does make me nervous as I just feel like it would be really inaccurate. Heart rate monitors were never meant to be used as an all day calorie burn estimate.
  • Nativestar56
    Nativestar56 Posts: 112 Member
    I've had a Fitbit Charge 2 for over 2 years now and its definitely been worth it for me. The data it gives me I find very useful and its relatively accurate for me, if I log my food properly I can be confident I will lose or maintain weight depending on my goal, all the 'calories burned' is done by the Fitbit and I don't have to bother with logging anything else. More accurate and a lot less hassle! Low activity days I eat a little less, high activity days give me some wiggle room or an extra treat.

    My cardio is running and cycling and I think Fitbit is pretty accurate when it comes to them, much more than MFP estimates. If it ever broke I would immediately look to replace it. Although I would probably consider a Garmin next time as I love the Fitbit but when it comes to data during my runs like pace, distance and splits, its really not that great.

    That said, whether it is worth it for you depends on what you want to get out of it and how it would fit your choice of exercise and eating habits. I did a lot of research and read a lot of reviews beforehand and bought a cheap fitness tracker off amazon (£15) to see if I got any value out of it initially. It was basically a step counter with some notifications but I liked it, found it useful and realised I wanted more functions. (My mum now has that one and loves it!)