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More Accurate Calorie Calculator

Old 08-31-19, 11:29 PM
  #1  
ericcc65
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More Accurate Calorie Calculator

I'm wondering if anyone has a more accurate calorie calculator for us Clydesdale's than what is typically used in cycling or exercise apps? I use a Wahoo ELEMNT Bolt and I think it's drastically over-estimating calories. I think it is pretty dumb, because it looks to be giving the same results as online calculators give for my weight, the duration of the exercise, and my average speed. Maybe that's okay for loops or out and back, but when I ride into work and it's mostly downhill that's very wrong. Plus, it seems too high even for loops.

For example, I'm a 6'5" male, 42 years old, and today I averaged 17.1 mph on a 26.7 mile ride for 93 minutes and 768 feet of elevation gain. The Wahoo said I burned 1,384 calories. Does that seem high to anyone else?

I did notice that one day when I forgot the Wahoo that using the Strava app alone (with HRM) gave me an estimate that was about half of what the Wahoo was for my ride in to work. I'm guessing that's more accurate.

Is there a site that can take a .fit file or HRM data and produce a better estimate? I hear a power meter is the best way to get an estimate of this, but it's just not in the budget right now.
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Old 09-01-19, 06:15 AM
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If you want the only thing that isn't a guess, invest in a power meter.

If you just want a safe guess, ignore all calculators and go off of 30kcal/mi. For 26.7 miles, perhaps 800kcal.

If you want to lose weight and not do extra math, restrict your calories to a fixed number and do not add calories for ride days.
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Old 09-01-19, 08:12 AM
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dr. is correct, power meter is a truly measured. Before a powermeter I would take the number of calories Garmin said I burned I just cut it by 50%. I know that is lower but at least I was not guessing high.

Now that I have a power meter I feel its pretty close but I still cut it by 20% just to make sure I am on the good side.
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Old 09-03-19, 05:12 PM
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fwiw my garmin (fenix5x) said my morning 5 mile commute at a 13.7 mph average, 117 avr HR and me at 260, burned 280 calories.....
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Old 09-07-19, 06:48 AM
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Originally Posted by ericcc65 View Post
For example, I'm a 6'5" male, 42 years old, and today I averaged 17.1 mph on a 26.7 mile ride for 93 minutes and 768 feet of elevation gain. The Wahoo said I burned 1,384 calories. Does that seem high to anyone else?
It's high. For the record, I did a 20.2 mile ride at 17.4mph and 600ft of climbing. My ELEMNT says I burned 1216 kcal based on HR. My power meter says 792 kJ. So using the usual estimate that kJ of work is the same number as kcal burned, the ELEMNT is overestimating my calorie burn by over 400 kcal.

FYI I also had my Apple Watch running on the ride, and it estimated 1252 kcal. So these HR estimates are pretty close to each others, but >50% too high.

Honestly, I've wondered for a while if these HR calorie estimates are purposefully high to make people feel good, or whether the model they use isn't for the "larger gentleman/woman".
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Old 09-07-19, 07:05 AM
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Originally Posted by dr_lha View Post
Honestly, I've wondered for a while if these HR calorie estimates are purposefully high to make people feel good, or whether the model they use isn't for the "larger gentleman/woman".
This is why I asked the question here. I'm also wondering if the calculation just doesn't apply to Clydes/Athenas.
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Old 09-07-19, 07:16 AM
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Originally Posted by ericcc65 View Post
This is why I asked the question here. I'm also wondering if the calculation just doesn't apply to Clydes/Athenas.
The HR calculation supposedly takes weight into account, but the model is probably empirically based on someone who weighs 100 lbs less than the average clyde.

If you go into the ELEMNT iPhone app, it will actually tell you the equation they use and the source of that information. I haven't bothered reading the paper, but I would guess that their sample group doesn't include 270lb dudes who are riding over Appalachian ridges like me.

My advice is if you're serious about calorie counting, get a power meter, or if you can't afford one, I'd divide those HR estimates by 1.5-2.
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Old 09-07-19, 10:24 AM
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If I ride my mountain bike or my old steel bike I get the guess that Strava makes based off my heart rate. If I ride my newer road bike (2013 model bought brand new in 2015) I have a power meter, a cadence sensor, and the heart rate monitor and I get a pretty exact calorie count using Garmin or Strava.
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Old 09-07-19, 11:11 AM
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Power meter is an accurate measure of output, not of calories burned.
Depending on who you believe, the human body is somewhere between 15% to 30% efficient.
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Old 09-07-19, 11:44 AM
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Originally Posted by Mmassey338 View Post
Power meter is an accurate measure of output, not of calories burned.
Depending on who you believe, the human body is somewhere between 15% to 30% efficient.
15 - 30% is the widest range I've ever heard quoted on this. Typical is considered ~25%, which is where the 1kJ of work = 1kcal comes from, although I've heard as low as 21% for people who are super out-of-shape.

15% efficient is how inefficient my body would have to be for my ELEMNT predicted calorie count be correct. As much as I'd love to think I burned 1252 kcal on a ride that was just over an hour, I highly doubt that.
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Old 09-12-19, 08:18 PM
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Some of the online calculators take into account the basal metabolic rate (or a percentage thereof) which they use gender, age, weight, and height to estimate...and then add the calories representing the effort to move you and the bike at a certain rate for a certain time.

Additionally, doesn't one generally derive calorie-burning benefits after the activity due to an exercise-induced increase in BMR?

I'm no doctor, but I play one on Bike Forums...
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