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TOPIC: Is MFP Calorie Calculator Accurate?

 
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May 18, 2011 7:09 PM
I'm noticing a discrepancy here. I found this website (I'll list it below this post) that I really like because it has a calculator that lists more activities than MFP (i.e. sleeping, showering, talking on the telephone, etc). I love MFP but sometimes I notice that my calculated calories seem a bit off. For example, I did 86 mins on the elliptical today (vigorous: approx 50 - 60 rpm) and MFP estimated that I burned 1501 calories, however, this other calculator estimated that I burned 1901?! That's a 400 calorie difference...so, I have no idea which one to go with! I want my calorie estimates to be as accurate as possible. What do you guys think? Which one do you think is more accurate?

Btw, the link to the other website is: http://www.healthstatus.com/calculate/cbc

This website has many calculators that many of you may find interesting as well. Thanks so much!
May 18, 2011 7:11 PM
I usually go by what the machine says... I would say go with the lower, but thats a lot of calories to low-ball. I would say next time see what the elliptical says and go by that.
  3586577
May 18, 2011 7:11 PM
It really varies on your height, weight, gender, etc. I've noticed MFP generally OVER estimates what my HRM is telling me. If you want more accurate (although it's still not perfect) calorie counts I would suggest getting a HRM. I have the Polar FT4.
  6351390
May 18, 2011 7:13 PM
QUOTE:

It really varies on your height, weight, gender, etc. I've noticed MFP generally OVER estimates what my HRM is telling me. If you want more accurate (although it's still not perfect) calorie counts I would suggest getting a HRM. I have the Polar FT4.


agree completely. a good hrm is your best bet
May 18, 2011 7:14 PM
Before I had my heart rate monitor (which is useless now that I have so little to lose) - I used to go online and get three "other" sites' guesses on my calories burned.

I would take those three and the one here and average them and use that number.

It's all an imperfect science, even the heart rate monitor. Thankfully there are other measures of success.
  5978
May 18, 2011 7:17 PM
That's a major flaw with MFP. I tend to not track my exercise in the calorie counter, I'll just eat something worth the calories I've burned- so even through MFP says I went over on calories- its rah.

Dailyburn has a similar thing to MFP(but you have to pay for android >_>)

I would love to see one of these two apps to start linking up with exercise apps for phone or garmin or Nike+ so we can get a better reading and get the proper amount of calories removed.

Basically- i trust the electronic I workout with- I wouldn't trust the computer which has no idea of GPS coordinates(for speed) or an accelerometer that fits in your pocket or is built into the machine to tell you how much you burned. MFP should really have an option to accompany the "know how many calories you've eaten" with a "know how many calories you've burned?" input.
May 18, 2011 7:18 PM
Agreed on the heart rate monitor. I have had trouble with MFP actually calculating me burning LESS calories than I actually did.
May 18, 2011 7:18 PM
Invest in a heart rate monitor. That is the only way to be 100% sure you are recording your exercise calories accurately. They are very affordable and a great tool for weight loss. When I got mine I found that the figures in the exercise database on MFP were much higher than the figures on my HRM. I was eating back way too many exercise calories. I always use the figures my HRM gives me now that I have one.
  4742297
May 18, 2011 7:23 PM
I use my bodybugg to tell me the exact cal burn during my workouts - some of the MFP calorie burns are way off then what I really burn with my bugg.... and I was told by my trainer that the calorie counts on the actual machine aren't always accurate as well and when I've compared them to my bodybugg he's correct.
May 18, 2011 7:23 PM
The reason I don't use the machine I workout on is because it's very inaccurate (the estimated calories I mean). The reason I say this is because it doesn't allow me to input my age, height, or weight. I guess I should have gone with a more expensive elliptical because I really dislike that that feature isn't available. And the HRM on the machine is inaccurate as well. When I can hardly breathe it says my heart rate is 50?! So, I'll definitely have to invest in a HRM.
May 18, 2011 7:26 PM
QUOTE:

exercise database on MFP were much higher
than the figures on my HRM.
I was eating back way too many exercise calories.


Thanks!
May 18, 2011 7:26 PM
Thanks so much everyone for the responses. I'm going to invest in a good HMR.
May 18, 2011 7:32 PM
I use the calorie counter on my treadmill, I always vary the inclines and think the treadmill is probably more accurate. I have a garmin HRM, but you have to enter your data into an online program to get calories burned, pain in the butt. I used it once while on my treadmill, found my treadmill counter to be close (within 20 calories), so now I just use what the treadmill says.
I don't enter calories burned for strength training at all, figure they're bonus calories burned as long as I continue to lose :)
  7131606
May 18, 2011 7:45 PM
QUOTE:

I use the calorie counter on my treadmill, I always vary the inclines and think the treadmill is probably more accurate. I have a garmin HRM, but you have to enter your data into an online program to get calories burned, pain in the butt. I used it once while on my treadmill, found my treadmill counter to be close (within 20 calories), so now I just use what the treadmill says.
I don't enter calories burned for strength training at all, figure they're bonus calories burned as long as I continue to lose :)


Yes, I'm going to purchase a HRM and try it out for a little while. I'll see which site is closest and go from there. Thanks!
May 18, 2011 7:47 PM
Every person will burn a different amount of calories on different types of ellipticals. Not all ellipticals burn the same amount of calories. So either go by the machine or don't worry about what other sites say.
  3221276
May 18, 2011 8:41 PM
I really don't know if it's accurate but I've been using it for four months and am steadily losing weight eating back the cals estimated by MFP. I find that it is often a bit lower than some of the other calculators I have seen. I even found a web site that lets you do a whole lot of maths based on body weight, speed, etc to work it out manually. This works out higher than MFP so I think I'll just stick with MFP as it seems to be working out OK.

(I don't have an HRM, but might get one, specially if I start doing some serious running training)
  4147547
May 19, 2011 12:51 AM
QUOTE:

I really don't know if it's accurate but I've been using it for four months and am steadily losing weight eating back the cals estimated by MFP. I find that it is often a bit lower than some of the other calculators I have seen. I even found a web site that lets you do a whole lot of maths based on body weight, speed, etc to work it out manually. This works out higher than MFP so I think I'll just stick with MFP as it seems to be working out OK.

(I don't have an HRM, but might get one, specially if I start doing some serious running training)


I agree, the first week I lost 8lbs, then I gained a pound (because of weight training probabily), but it seems that it's working so I'll stick with this site until I purchase a HRM. Thanks!
May 30, 2011 5:32 AM
I haven't invested in a HRM yet and am an avid cyclist. Calories burned vary greatly on terrain and conditions whereas MFP's calculator assumes an essentially flat ride. I have found two that I like.

This one seems to be at a defunct website but still works and takes into account a lot more than just age, weight, speed and distance. It also takes into account vertical gain which is very important if you are riding big hills:

http://www.bikemetro.com/calculators/calorie.asp

I also like this site which isn't as accurate for cycling but has LOTS of calculators and the are fairly accurate (for me).

http://www.caloriesperhour.com/index_burn.php

As for MFP's calculator, it does seem accurate for flat terrain. I tend to look at all three and pick the one that makes sense.
May 30, 2011 5:37 AM
A heart rate monitor, into which you input your gender age weight etc will be more accurate than the figures on here.

HOWEVER while it can be a useful tool, it does not directly measure calories burned, it's still only an estimate based on your heart rate.

Mine is a Polar FT4 and I'm extremely pleased with it, but don't assume it's absolutely spot on, especially if you wear it for times when you're not exercising hard, eg when you're going for a gentle stroll. Also, it does not take into account your BMR, which you're already allowing calories for. That means even I as a short fairly light person have to take around 55 calories an hour off what the HRM reads.

It doesn't matter for me, but for those who eat all of their exercise calories, they could end up feeling they have to eat more than they really need to.
Edited by TourThePast On May 30, 2011 5:41 AM
  6288475
May 30, 2011 5:42 AM
Yay for your awesome burn!!!

I would go with the less of the 2 because I also feel there is usually an overestimate in burn from MFP.
I have a Bodybugg and HRM of which I LOVE my bugg. It's pricey but so worth it when really trying to keep a close eye on cals burned and taken in.
May 30, 2011 5:47 AM
QUOTE:

Thanks so much everyone for the responses. I'm going to invest in a good HMR.


Very good idea! I would love to hear what you find after trying your HRM. I love mine and have found that my HRM gave me a higher calorie burn than MFP calculations for Cardio, and a lower count for Yoga. heart
  4588015
May 30, 2011 5:51 AM
QUOTE:

Before I had my heart rate monitor (which is useless now that I have so little to lose) -
Why is it useless now that you have so little to lose???.

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