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  1. #1
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    Is MapMyRide Hopelessly Optimistic regarding Calories Burned?

    So I recently put MapMyRide on my phone. Saturday I had a little time and got an hour's ride in even though it was 40 degrees and windy (wind chill into the 30's). My ride was along the Heritage Trails of Pittsburgh - essentially a flat trail with some small, very short climbs. I checked the stats when I was finished and it showed over 570 calories burned. Into the wind, I maintained perhaps 11.5 mph into the wind (13 mph wind, with gusts to 20) and around 13 mph on the return on a MTB with 26 x 2.00 tires.

    This just seems wildly optimistic on the calories burned, or am I completely misunderstanding MapMyRide?

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    Depends on your weight and fitness level.

    An out of shape Clyde? Probably underestimated.

    Lean racer? Way overestimated.

  3. #3
    SuperGimp TrojanHorse's Avatar
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    Generally speaking, take those sorts of estimates with a big grain of salt.

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    I haven't found a website or app yet that wasn't 1.5-2X higher than my power meter when estimating calories burned...

  5. #5
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    I checked map my ride against a heart rate monitor and it was 30% too high.

  6. #6
    don't try this at home. rm -rf's Avatar
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    Riders can get a fairly accurate calorie count if they have power meters. (calories burned are related to power meter watts.)

    I've seen reports of 30 to 40 calories per mile. So a 12 mile ride would be 360 to 480 calories. It's still just a rough idea.

    Quote Originally Posted by mrtuttle04 View Post
    I checked map my ride against a heart rate monitor and it was 30% too high.
    HRM calorie estimates aren't very accurate, either.
    Last edited by rm -rf; 04-07-14 at 09:18 AM.

  7. #7
    Cat 5 field stuffer bbeasley's Avatar
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    I cut all the estimates in half

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    Thanks, guys. Appreciate the insghts.

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    Quote Originally Posted by rm -rf View Post
    Riders can get a fairly accurate calorie count if they have power meters. (calories burned are related to power meter watts.)

    I've seen reports of 30 to 40 calories per mile. So a 12 mile ride would be 360 to 480 calories. It's still just a rough idea.



    HRM calorie estimates aren't very accurate, either.
    I use 50 calories per mile for a rough estimate but I'm riding a comfort-hybrid so it is not as efficient as a road bike. What I find interesting about the counters based on miliage and speed is it says I burn more calories when I go faster and less calories when I go slower. In all acutallity it is the exeact opposit, when I am goin faster it is because I am going down hill and thus brurning less calories and when I am going slower I am climbing a hill and thus brining more calories.

  10. #10
    got the climbing bug jsigone's Avatar
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    best way to trust those sites is with use of a heart rate monitor and/or power meter. Also make sure your user profile is up to date.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mrtuttle04 View Post
    I use 50 calories per mile for a rough estimate but I'm riding a comfort-hybrid so it is not as efficient as a road bike.
    That estimate sounds pretty high, to me. I can burn 35 (power meter-confirmed) calories/mile on my endurance-geometry road bike if I'm riding as hard as I can go. Jump on the touring bike and slow down a bit and I'm lucky to hit 30 calories/mile. Efficiency of the touring bike probably isn't that much different than a hybrid...

  12. #12
    SuperGimp TrojanHorse's Avatar
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    I seem to range from 42-48 calories per mile for most of my routes, but I hit 65 per mile 2 weeks ago in the mountains. (with a power meter) Strava seems to correct the work done into calories burned and I'm not sure how they do it but it looks like about an 11% bump (so 836 kj corresponds to 932 kCal for a 19.4 mile ride.) I don't use that information to eat more, so it's more of a curiosity to me than anything else.

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    I've been calorie counting as part of my weight loss, and typically I use the lowest of three sources; my Heart Rate Monitor, MyFitnessPal, and Strava (paired to my HRM). Typically (though not always), MyFitnessPal gives the highest calories for an activity, then my HRM in the middle, and Strava is the lowest (for biking). I'd never heard of the 40 calories per mile thing, and when I compare it to Strava (the lowest calories), it's not that far off.

    69 mile ride last week (average 14.3 mph on a 35lb touring bike):

    69*40=2760
    MFP=3314
    HRM=4105
    Strava=2810

    Longer rides tend to really skew things with the HRM.

  14. #14
    Senior Member bbbean's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Altair 4 View Post
    This just seems wildly optimistic on the calories burned, or am I completely misunderstanding MapMyRide?
    Yes. MMR gives you credit for a lot more calories than most people burn. Using a HR monitor and a power meter I can confirm I burn 20-40 calories per mile, and to burn 40/mile I have to be hammering at race pace and close to FTP. Riding at a leisurely pace on flat ground, 20-30 calories per mile more than covers it.

    FWIW, I've compared GPS based (i.e no HR or power) calorie estimates from MMR, Strava, and Garmin. As a rule, Strava tends to be the most conservative estimate, although they're still pretty generous when you compare to estimates based on power and HR.

    My advice is to assume your calorie burn is 20 cal per mile, or no more than 500 cal per hour if you're trying to lose weight. Similarly, assume you're actually eating more calories than your food log apps indicate. Over time, your weight will tell you if you're on targt or not.

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    Does the power meter know the Gross Metabolic Efficiency of its subject? Does this variance get plugged into the conversion to calories burned per hour.

    It is all a SWAG.

  16. #16
    Senior Member bbbean's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Weatherby View Post
    Does the power meter know the Gross Metabolic Efficiency of its subject? Does this variance get plugged into the conversion to calories burned per hour.

    It is all a SWAG.
    More data = less guesswork.
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  17. #17
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    I've had estimates on the Garmin Edge 500 that swing pretty high for an hour of rowing on my Concept 2 (i use it for the HR function on the rowing machine too ) - 7-800 calories some hours --- i have a hard time believing this , but it lets me compare one workout to another and compare calorie burn of a bike to the rower, since i am using the same monitor

  18. #18
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    Yes!

    ... That was my reply before actually reading any more than the heading. Now after reading your full comment, and the reponses, I would say.... Yes! I tend to assume it may be around half, as a very general rule.
    Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day-in and day-out.*~Robert Collier

  19. #19
    Senior Member Jarrett2's Avatar
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    The LoseIt app is pretty high on calorie burn numbers. I generally just half it when entering my exercise. 30 cals/mi sounds like a decent way to do it as well.

    But in my experience (120lbs lost in last 14 months) its much more important what you put in your mouth rather than how much you exercise.

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    Strava's kJ estimate is pretty close to what I observe when counting calories. At a 1:1 conversion it had me at a hair over 26.5 calories per mile on Sunday for a long slow miles day. 180-185lbs, 18.5lb bike, 70.14 miles in 4h20m, 1650 feet climbing and descent. 118 watts average seems like it was a fair estimate.

    Garmin 500 with HRM estimates higher, but if you assume it includes basal metabolic rate it isn't too far off.

  21. #21
    The Improbable Bulk Little Darwin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mrtuttle04 View Post
    I use 50 calories per mile for a rough estimate but I'm riding a comfort-hybrid so it is not as efficient as a road bike. What I find interesting about the counters based on miliage and speed is it says I burn more calories when I go faster and less calories when I go slower. In all acutallity it is the exeact opposit, when I am goin faster it is because I am going down hill and thus brurning less calories and when I am going slower I am climbing a hill and thus brining more calories.
    I agree, this is a big weakness in estimated that do no real measurement of effort. One ride last week was on crunchy snow and mud, I only managed to do a mile, and it may be the hardest mile I have ever ridden. An easier 3.6 mile ride on pavement I rode at 3 times the speed later in the week in roughly the same amount of time supposedly used twice the calories.

    My Bluetooth HRM should get here shortly, then I will hopefully get a little more accuracy.
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  22. #22
    Just Keep Pedaling Beachgrad05's Avatar
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    Interesting that Garmin Connect typically comes up lower and more realistic than Strava does with the same data.

    Example is the Palm Springs Century in Feb of this year:

    Garmin Connect: 2004 calories (2992kj)
    Strava: 3337 calories (2993kj)

    I choose to use the lower number as the more "real" number. I use both a HRM and a Power Meter.
    Move along....nothing to see here....anymore.

  23. #23
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    I've found Lose it way over estimates Garmin Connect and Wahoo Fitness are very similar.

    Anyone know the formula to determine Calories burned?

    ML
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  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Beachgrad05 View Post
    Interesting that Garmin Connect typically comes up lower and more realistic than Strava does with the same data.

    Example is the Palm Springs Century in Feb of this year:

    Garmin Connect: 2004 calories (2992kj)
    Strava: 3337 calories (2993kj)

    I choose to use the lower number as the more "real" number. I use both a HRM and a Power Meter.
    If you use a power meter, the rule of thumb is that kilojoules of work is equal to calories burned. That assumes, I believe, around 25% efficiency. If true, that means the Strava number is slightly too high and the Garmin number is way too low.

  25. #25
    Senior Member Pakiwi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sstorkel View Post
    If you use a power meter, the rule of thumb is that kilojoules of work is equal to calories burned. That assumes, I believe, around 25% efficiency. If true, that means the Strava number is slightly too high and the Garmin number is way too low.
    I just got a power meter and finally I understand why my calories burned were so far off the actual calories burned on a ride. As you stated Kilojoules of work is equal to calories burned.

    When I am out on the road, I coast, though the application does not know that I am coasting.
    Actual burned vs reported on application was about 2 - 1
    Just my experience

    Allan

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