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Old 05-20-2010, 04:30 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: Riverside, CA
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Default Understanding "Calories Burned"

Originally Posted by jennygoodman View Post
I apologize for asking such a ridiculous question, but I really can't seem to get a grasp on this whole "calories burned" thing.

So I just did the Calorie Calculator/Daily Caloric Needs, and if I use the option for exercise 3 times weekly, it says my daily caloric needs for maintenance are 2166 calories.

Here's where I get confused:

When I exercise, do I add the calories burned from each workout to my daily caloric needs, and THAT is how many calories I burn for that day? Or is the calculator I just used accounting for my workouts, and I'm only burning 2166 total?

I don't understand!!!!! Also, you guys say you add in your sleeping hours to your FitDay activities. Is that not accounted for in your BMR? I seriously get so confused by all of this that I want to stop counting calories altogether, because I never know what the right number is!!!

Somebody please explain

Hi Jenny,

The calorie burn thing is confusing, both in theory and the way FitDay applies it. Here's what works for most people. When you set up your profile pick a level of activity that does not include your exercise routines. For me, most of my day is either at my desk or stand/walking in the laboratory. So "seated with some activity" is appropriate for me.

The "calories burned" in the table now reflects the amount of calories you use just to do the things you need to do in your every day life.

Now, when you exercise you will add those activities independently. For example, my daily calorie need is about 1900, or about 80 calories per hour on average. Then I add a 2 hour run at 10 min miles. FitDay will calculate the calories burned for those 2 hours and replace 2 hours at 80 calories with 2 hours at about 500 calories burned per hour. So my calories burned for that day will be around 2740.

That is the value that will be used to calculate my daily calorie deficit. So if I eat 1700 calories and burn 2700 calories, I will have a deficit of 1000 calories - which is really good, almost a third of a pound of fat at 3500 calories per pound of fat.

What can get confusing is that the calorie burned calculations are only a rough estimate. There are many, many factors that go into exactly how many calories an individual burns. And a program like FitDay just can't account for all of those factors.

Many of us believe that our profiles over estimate the number of calories we require for our day-to-day activities. That is why some people add "sleep" or other activities to lower the number. Lots of folks also find that the calories burned doing an activity doesn't match other data they have available like the calculators on elliptical machines or GPS equipment. Therefore you will probably read recommendations on how to adjust those numbers in FitDay by changing the time spent doing and activity or the intensity of that activity.

The calorie deficit calculations can be really helpful for planning meals and exercise. But not everyone likes them or can use them, so the bottom line is: Whatever works for you... stick with it.

Last edited by VitoVino; 02-08-2012 at 08:22 PM. Reason: included quote, title
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