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TOPIC: Best way to calculate calories burned

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April 14, 2013 8:09 AM
I have begun exercising along with counting my calories. I am not entirely sure on how best to calculate how many calories I burn. I have heard that you can't really trust what the machine (treadmill/elliptical) says. And I also take classes zumba/step/pilates and don't really have any idea how to calculate this. Suggestions?
April 14, 2013 8:11 AM
Heart Rate Monitor.
April 14, 2013 8:14 AM
A Heart Rate Monitor (HRM) will give you the closest figure, but if you don't have one, then you can use the machine's figure as an estimate, or else use the figures in MFPs database.
April 14, 2013 8:15 AM

Heart Rate Monitor.

April 14, 2013 8:15 AM
HRM. I have a Polar FT4, best $80 bucks I've ever spent.
April 14, 2013 8:17 AM
There is no exact science and at best you are shooting for an estimate, that being said I myself have used a Polar FT60 heart rate monitor. I went with this particular monitor because it allows me to manually set it up even with my Vo2 max which allows for a little more accurate calorie burn number. That being said I have monitored and logged and ate back my calories burned until a found that optimal range for my own personal situation. I eat back roughly 85% of my calories burned leaving 15% for error in accuracy of the HRM and my own logging.... Best of Luck to you......
April 14, 2013 8:17 AM
You can get a HRM, I have a PolarF7 and it works great. I have found that it calculates a lower burn by about 10_15% for kickboxing,running and about 30_40% than the elliptical machine. I love using mine for strength training and I do a lot of group workout classes, and run outside so it gives me a better calorie burned than mfp does.
Edited by SASSYnCHICago On April 14, 2013 8:20 AM
April 14, 2013 8:18 AM
April 14, 2013 8:19 AM
I good quality HRM is the most accurate...but still and estimate. I'm partial to Polar models (I have an ft4). They have been independently tested and show to be about 75% accurate. When I was using the MFP method and eating back exercise calories burned, I just ate back 70% of them or so to account for that estimation error. That worked well for me. I eventually got myself into enough of a routine that I just went with the TDEE method and assumed exercise in my activity level...which is also working well for me.
April 14, 2013 8:20 AM
Gym machines such as elipticals and treadmills and such are calibrated (in general) for 170-180 pound people, so base the numbers accordingly. I use about 50-80% of MFP's suggestion on calorie expenditures for activities and exercise. This is based on cross referencing to other databases. I find in general, MFP to be on the high side, that is if it says 100 calories were burned for X activity, that it is simply too high of an estimate. You could go way wrong eating back your exercise calories that are over-estimated by the database. Err if you will on the conservative side and you may accomplish better long term results. This has been my experience over about a 2 year period. Good luck.
April 14, 2013 8:20 AM
I have heard a bit about the fitbit and jawbone things. Would these work or are they more for everyday movement rather than working out?
April 14, 2013 8:21 AM
I have the Polar FT40. It can calculate your resting heart rate, so it can better calculate your calories burned. I have had it a year and like it. It has taught me that myfitnesspal really overestimates calories burned.
April 14, 2013 8:23 AM
All the devices, including HR monitors, Fitbits, and so on work. I thought they were pretty cool at first, then decided I didn't want another device in my life.


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