T Nation

Caloric Expenditures and Their Accuracy


I tend to lift at the same time every day and like to think that I give the same amount of intensity each time. I use fitday to determine caloric expenditures and wonder about the accuracy. For instance, Wednesday we did legs and we hit them hard for an hour. Heavy presses, drop sets, stiff leg lifts, etc. According to fitday the calories burned for that sessions was 464.

Does that sound right?? We keep our sets moving fairly quick, as long as it takes for the other person to complete their set. What tools are you using to determine calories burned and does it sound correct?



Not really..

The thing is, a program like Fitday - or any other for that matter - can not account for the concurrent boost in metabolism from a high intensity session, let alone the fact that everyone burns calories at different rates.

There are a set of equations (i am not about to look them up for this purpose) for such things, but they are 'general guidelines'. The metabolism is still not 100% understood and as such is impossible to account for all variables.
I have used Fitday and it is a useful tool, but i would never take anything like that at its word. It is useful for a ball-park figure - not as an accurate tool to calculate expenditure and intake of energy.
If you are the most stringent with the data you input (not to Fitday per se - as i don't know what equations they use - but calculated everything fully from scratch, i would say the range would be better than 'ball-park'.. but not 100% still).

When you take into account the LBM, weight, age, sex and height of a person - you get a moderately accurate snapshot of their metabolism - this is NOT totally accurate and two men with the same stat's as above will still have differences in their metabolisms.. but as i said 'ball-park'.
Then add (or subtract) the general activities one partakes in (stair climbing, walking, sitting, eating, etc) and add the exercise activities one does.. such as football for 90mins or weights for 60mins. These again are ball park expenditures.. as for example 90mins of 75% 1RM load with controlled to the dot intensity, will burn different amounts of calories in different people, and it will raise the metabolism for a period thereafter too.. which will also differ greatly - dependant on hundreds of factors.
All this goes into BMR and caloric requirements - and it is common for GOOD PT's to do this sort of thing for the clients that require it.

It is better than not knowing - so Fitday is good. But it is not 100%, no.

Is that you in your profile? I always thought it was but suddenly i wonder - i will be disappointed if it isnt :wink:


Also.. i wouldn't suggest anyone give the same intensity each workout. It would be better to vary intensity, if not per Microcycle then per Meso.


The avatar or the pictures in the profile? The pics are me and the avatar is a goal.


You could try one of those gowearfit / bodybugg thingies, they're a glorified pedometer that also measures body temp and maybe sweat. But I would guess the results would still be far from the truth.

Go to a university that has a whole-room calorimeter and try working out there. I don't even know what those are, but it sounds awesome.


Sounds about right to me.


As a rough means of guessing:

On an aerobics machine that for whatever reason you think probably is reasonably close in its calories per hour figure, notice how calories per hour relates to your breathing.

If you're convinced that on average -- of course, breathing rate varies during a workout -- you breathe harder during your workouts than you do at around 460 cal/hr on the machine, then that would be reason to think that that figure is an underestimate.


I got a Gowear fit about a week ago. Its pretty cool. You put it around your upper arm and it measures movement, body temp, moisiture and a couple other things. It claims to be accurate within 5%. Im a couple months into the Stronglifts 5 x 5 and after a workout of squats, overhead presses, dead lifts (1 set of deads), chins it says I burned around 400 calories (thats about 45 mins and im 6'4" 250.) More than anything its motivating to see if you havent been moving around enough in a day. Also it has a sleep analysis where it will tell you how efficient your sleep is (whether your moving around a lot etc.)

Overall I think it's pretty cool. Downside is the unit does not have a display. To see anything you HAVE to upload it to thier database which requires a monthly subscription (awesome business model.)



It does have a display you can buy separately, but you still have to upload to the web software (yeah, the business model).