# Calorie count

Posts: 7 Member
I am using a stationary bike that puts in the calories you supposedly burn. Today I did 25 minutes on the bike and it basically told me I burned 80 some odd calories. My Fitness Pal made it 500 when I typed it in exercise. What do you think about this? Who is more accurate?? Thanks!
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## Replies

• Posts: 18,843 Member
edited November 2020
What entry did you use from the database?

What kind of bike, does it giving a reading of watts in the data shown?

80 doesn't sound correct either unless you were really just kind of piddling along on no resistance.

The answer to more accurate is based on those answers as there isn't enough info to estimate.
• Posts: 974 Member
I dont add in any exercise. None of the numbers are accurate.
• Posts: 42 Member
I agree with Heybales - neither one sounds very accurate!
• Posts: 121 Member
It's a funny business to calculate exactly how much calories one burns during an exercise, TBH I gave up trying. I like to underestimate use the lowest estimate that way at least I won't be too disappointed. To burn 500 I think you will need to spin more than 25 mins unless you did it on super high intensity even than it's unlikely.
• Posts: 90 Member
Cycling is one of the easiest activities to fairly accurately measure caloric burn for as long as the bike has the right sensors and can measure watts produced. To reach that 500 calorie estimate for 25 minutes requires averaging around 330 watts ... a fairly significant output for an untrained (or even most weekend warrior male) cyclist. 80ish calories requires around 55 watts average ... light resistance that equals little more than turning the pedals over on flat ground. Without the wattage data, I'd err much closer to the lower estimate.
• Posts: 19,859 Member
Don't use MyFitnessPal's estimate for stationary cycling for the following reasons:

Perceived intensity levels have very little to do with actual calorie burns, especially if someone is unfit. Just because it feels hard doesn't mean you are producing much power/burning a lot of calories. You picked "vigorous" as your level but that really just means you were trying hard for your fitness level (well done!).
As a regular cyclist my "vigorous" effort level would be burning a lot more calories than you, if a professional rider put in their "vigorous" effort they could probably double my burns due to their superhuman fitness levels.

MFP uses METS which takes your weight into account, which is a mistake for what is a non-weight bearing exercise. When you are heavy it's going to massively over-estimate. For weight bearing exercises (like walking or running) then it does make sense as moving mass over distance does take energy.

With your age, a lot of weight to lose and your health issues I would assume that the bike is far closer to reality.
It would be interesting to know what data the bike is using, if it's watts despite what @Fflpnari thinks that would be an extremely accurate net calorie estimate.
• Posts: 1,581 Member
I err on the side of caution. I agree that the MFP amount is much too high. Bikes tend to be more accurate than some of the other cardio equipment out there due to wattage as mentioned above. I would go with what the bike gave you. Enter the exercise, click in the calories spot, back space and type your calories in (iPhone).
• Posts: 26,913 Member
Dogmom1978 wrote: »
I err on the side of caution. I agree that the MFP amount is much too high. Bikes tend to be more accurate than some of the other cardio equipment out there due to wattage as mentioned above. I would go with what the bike gave you. Enter the exercise, click in the calories spot, back space and type your calories in (iPhone).

Unfortunately, not all bikes measure watts, so it's hard to generalize based on machine type.

The bikes at my Y spin class didn't measure watts. If the monitor picked up the signal from my HRM chest belt, it would give me a post-workout calorie estimate around twice the estimate it produced if it didn't pick up the signal. I ignored both of them, except as a source of amusement.

No, I didn't record zero. I used my Garmin's number, which I also assumed to be poorly estimated, since it was an interval workout. Why? It didn't seem crazy unreasonable by RPE comparison with better metered exercise (C2 rower) that I've done for years; I didn't have a better estimate (but too many calories for me to just ignore); it was lower. Good enough.
• Posts: 1,581 Member
AnnPT77 wrote: »
Dogmom1978 wrote: »
I err on the side of caution. I agree that the MFP amount is much too high. Bikes tend to be more accurate than some of the other cardio equipment out there due to wattage as mentioned above. I would go with what the bike gave you. Enter the exercise, click in the calories spot, back space and type your calories in (iPhone).

Unfortunately, not all bikes measure watts, so it's hard to generalize based on machine type.

The bikes at my Y spin class didn't measure watts. If the monitor picked up the signal from my HRM chest belt, it would give me a post-workout calorie estimate around twice the estimate it produced if it didn't pick up the signal. I ignored both of them, except as a source of amusement.

No, I didn't record zero. I used my Garmin's number, which I also assumed to be poorly estimated, since it was an interval workout. Why? It didn't seem crazy unreasonable by RPE comparison with better metered exercise (C2 rower) that I've done for years; I didn't have a better estimate (but too many calories for me to just ignore); it was lower. Good enough.

That’s good to know. When I went to the gym, the bikes recorded wattage and my bike at home (that I’ve decided I hate lol) records wattage also.

Now that I don’t use the bike anymore, the only machines calories that I trust are my C2 rower. Everything else I blanket deduct 20% to be “safe”, but it’s working so far 😊
• Posts: 18,843 Member
AnnPT77 wrote: »
Dogmom1978 wrote: »
I err on the side of caution. I agree that the MFP amount is much too high. Bikes tend to be more accurate than some of the other cardio equipment out there due to wattage as mentioned above. I would go with what the bike gave you. Enter the exercise, click in the calories spot, back space and type your calories in (iPhone).

The bikes at my Y spin class didn't measure watts. If the monitor picked up the signal from my HRM chest belt, it would give me a post-workout calorie estimate around twice the estimate it produced if it didn't pick up the signal. I ignored both of them, except as a source of amusement.

That would be interesting during a busy gym time - get done with workout, point at the display screen, and give a good belly laugh.

That is interesting it changed it's calorie formula based on seeing the HR.
I've only used older units that merely display the HR, and use it to change program speed/incline if you picked some HR-based one.
But I guess since they didn't pair except for the older Polar analog signal, and hand sensor - they didn't expect much accuracy in HR readings.

• Posts: 7 Member
• Posts: 35 Member
Using an exercise bike does burn alot of calories I find. OP I'm sorry if its confusing for you. I recommend focusing on how your body feels though hunger wise too in terms of deciding calorie intake.
• Posts: 26,913 Member
Using an exercise bike does burn alot of calories I find. OP I'm sorry if its confusing for you. I recommend focusing on how your body feels though hunger wise too in terms of deciding calorie intake.

Hunger is triggered in multiple ways, some of which have nothing to do with calorie *needs* for maintenance or slow loss. Many of us who've been overweight to obese have poor hunger signaling/interpretation.

I *wasn't* hungry early on when I was eating too little (not intentionally; MFP underestimated my calorie requirements - an unusual thing, but possible). Sometimes, especially after unusually high exercise, I'm hungry beyond actual needs (based on 5+ years' logging experience).

I'm not saying hunger's universally a bad guide . . . but for sure, it's not *universally* an accurate guide!

• Posts: 3,473 Member
My stationary bike gives me about the same calories that MFP does - about 350 for an hour of moderately hard cycling. The bike says I go 22-24 miles in that hour. I only cycle a couple of times a month, so I can't really tell how accurate it is, but it hasn't thrown me off too much. I eat back all exercise calories.
• Posts: 90 Member
Using an exercise bike does burn alot of calories I find. OP I'm sorry if its confusing for you. I recommend focusing on how your body feels though hunger wise too in terms of deciding calorie intake.

How many calories are burned on any piece of exercise equipment comes down to one thing ... the amount of work (in the purely mathematical formula usage) put in by the person using it. Light easy spinning = relatively low calories expended. Crushing a short ride at high intensity = relatively large number of calories expended.
• Posts: 7,824 Member
My stationary bike gives me about the same calories that MFP does - about 350 for an hour of moderately hard cycling. The bike says I go 22-24 miles in that hour. I only cycle a couple of times a month, so I can't really tell how accurate it is, but it hasn't thrown me off too much. I eat back all exercise calories.

Have you tried cycling 22 to 24 miles per hour on a road bike? Did you manage? 22 mph is aorund 35kmh. That's faster than most people on racebikes that overtake me. Just as a sanity check: do you think you'd go that fast on the road? If not i would discard that number.
• Posts: 19,859 Member
My stationary bike gives me about the same calories that MFP does - about 350 for an hour of moderately hard cycling. The bike says I go 22-24 miles in that hour. I only cycle a couple of times a month, so I can't really tell how accurate it is, but it hasn't thrown me off too much. I eat back all exercise calories.

But that doesn't actually help the OP any more than I can burn almost 800cals in an hour or elite rider can burn 1,500. The range of possible is enormous.

A thing to note is if you had 90lbs to lose (like the OP) the MFP database entry would give you far more calories than your bike for exactly the same performance.

And you did zero miles - stationary bikes don't move, the speed indicated is very artificial, varied across bikes and exaggerated compared with the same effort outdoors.
Using an exercise bike does burn alot of calories I find. OP I'm sorry if its confusing for you. I recommend focusing on how your body feels though hunger wise too in terms of deciding calorie intake.

An exercise bike doesn't burn any calories, the person does.
MyFitnessPal wouldn't have many subscribers if hunger was a good guide to calorie intake.