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  1. #1
    Watching and waiting. jethro56's Avatar
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    Calories Per day as a training guide

    I do many different fitness activities. The only way I know of to quantify the volume of training is to go by calories expended. I use a Garmin FR60 system. I'm not saying the number is accurate but I think it should be consistant. Anyone know of any pitfalls to this approach?

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    Senior Member DannoXYZ's Avatar
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    Give it a try and track everything. You can verify its accuracy based upon food-intake. Go to the various sites that track food-intake and gives you total-calories eaten per day. Record all your workout-calories for a month as well as your food-intake calories. Then weigh yourself. Does the difference in intake-calories versus workout-calories match the weight-change? If so, you've got an accurate system. Otherwise, you'll need to recalibrate something.

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    Member MilkRace's Avatar
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    I'm not familiar with the FR60m it seems to be a multi-sport device. Try asking garmin support how the calories are calculated for biking, as many of these devices just use a simple formula based on distance, so if you do a lof of climbing it will count the same calories for both the uphill and downhill, in reality the calories burned going downhill are very small. It will also count the same calories for a 10 mile flat ride and for a 10 mile climb.

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    Senior Member tallmantim's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DannoXYZ View Post
    Give it a try and track everything. You can verify its accuracy based upon food-intake. Go to the various sites that track food-intake and gives you total-calories eaten per day. Record all your workout-calories for a month as well as your food-intake calories. Then weigh yourself. Does the difference in intake-calories versus workout-calories match the weight-change? If so, you've got an accurate system. Otherwise, you'll need to recalibrate something.
    +1 for a food diary (see mine in my sig below) - it will make you very aware of what foods are no good for weight loss.

    In regards to tracking, you want to work out your Basal Metabolic Rate - the amount of calories you would burn if you lied in bed all day.

    This is 66 + 13.7*weight in kg + 5*height in cm - 6.8*age - this works out to 2074 Calories for me.

    A simple way to then use this is to use a multiplier - 1.2 for a desk job, 1.4 for outside work, 1.6 for strenuous labour etc - including how hard your aerobic workouts are.

    I take it another step - especially as I have a PowerTap on my bike to accurately measure the amount of work being done - and add the work to the BMR, but BMR is a percentage of the full based upon how many hours were spent training/exercising.

    HTH

  5. #5
    Pat
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    First off, a food diary is probably your best single tool. Caloric counts on foods are widely available. For more information, you can track gms of fat, saturated fat, trans fat, protein, complex carb, simple carb and fiber consumed. You really should weigh all food you eat. Or at least get really good at estimation (no cheating or lying to yourself).

    So calories in is easy. What is less easy is how efficiently you extract calories from your food in digestion. Now I know how to do that. But it is a grim process which I could explain in detail but I think we can avoid that one. But some foods have no effective calories. Your body will expend more energy trying to digest them than you can ever get from them. These are things like lettuce (no dressing) and probably celery (no stuffing) --- you know green leafy stuff.

    Estimating the calories you burn is tough. The error on that can easily approach -50% to +100%. First you have to get your basal metabolic rate which can be estimated per lb or KG. Of course, if you are obese (fat tissue burns almost nothing), you will over estimate. If you are really lean, you might under estimate.

    Then you have to try to figure what you burn in each activity. I have seen internet sources on calories burned per hour of cycling vary by so much as to make the whole thing almost useless. You can estimate using a device like a power tap. But that measures work done. The human body or any engine is not 100% efficient or even 50% efficient in converting energy to work. I don't know if the power tap takes that lack into account.

    So on the intake side, you can do pretty well. But on the consumption side, any measure you come up with is not really reliable. It is merely a guess.

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    Senior Member DannoXYZ's Avatar
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    Yes, PowerTap does account for 21-24% efficiency of humans in converting food-calories to mechanical power.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Pat View Post
    The human body or any engine is not 100% efficient or even 50% efficient in converting energy to work. I don't know if the power tap takes that lack into account.
    The powertap doesn't care about the body's efficiency, it just measures your power output. If you want to estimate your caloric expenditure you can use a conversion factor in the range of 20-25%. Next to a lab test a powermeter provides the best estimate of how many calories are used during cycling.

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    Watching and waiting. jethro56's Avatar
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    I appreciate all the reply posts. I've been on the weight loss champaign for 16 months and have a good handle on how much food I can eat. If I eat less than 1600 calories a day, within a few days I don't have the "energy" to complete my exercise plan. On the other hand if I exercise more than 1000 calories a day eventually my resting heartrate will come up from 47 to 52. To me that's a signal to rest.

    My question is: Is the 1000 calories a day a measure of my fitness? Or is it just an indicator of how fast I can convert the stored bodyfat into fuel.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jethro56 View Post
    My question is: Is the 1000 calories a day a measure of my fitness? Or is it just an indicator of how fast I can convert the stored bodyfat into fuel.
    Neither really. It's just the amount of work you did while exercising. If you ride your bike at a leisurely pace it may take 2-3 hrs to burn 1000 Cals. If you go very hard you might burn the 1000 in an hr. If you take it slower you should be able to do the workouts more consistently without needing rest days.

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    Senior Member tallmantim's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pat View Post

    ...

    Then you have to try to figure what you burn in each activity. I have seen internet sources on calories burned per hour of cycling vary by so much as to make the whole thing almost useless. You can estimate using a device like a power tap. But that measures work done. The human body or any engine is not 100% efficient or even 50% efficient in converting energy to work. I don't know if the power tap takes that lack into account.
    The Powertap gives you work done in KJ. As the body is roughly 20-25% efficient, simply converting KJ directly to Calories is a simple and easy way to track caloric output. You will still be off, but not massively so.

    So on the intake side, you can do pretty well. But on the consumption side, any measure you come up with is not really reliable. It is merely a guess.
    Yep -just need to be careful of internet sites that WAY overestimate the amount of Cals burned cycling or with other activities.

  11. #11
    Senior Member DannoXYZ's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jethro56 View Post
    My question is: Is the 1000 calories a day a measure of my fitness? Or is it just an indicator of how fast I can convert the stored bodyfat into fuel.
    While fat-conversion takes place slowly, that's not what is indicated by the elevated resting-HR. That's more a sign of overtraining in your cardio system (1000-calories/day is actually a lot of training if you're doing it 7-days/week). How are the leg muscles feeling when your resting-HR is up? You may be getting caught in no-mans-land of training where you're doing not enough distance and not enough intensity. You're kinda going as hard as you can for the time that you're riding, which traps you in no-mans-land with high potential for overtraining with minimal improvements.

    You'll want to break up your workouts into distinct routines with specific intents in mind. The overall effect will be improvements in fitness as measured by:

    - resting-HR
    - AT-HR
    - FTP
    - speed @ FTP
    - max-power
    - recovery time from max-HR
    - etc.

    If you target increasing fitness first, weight-loss is an automatic result. With higher fitness, you can ride faster, longer at higher calories/hr consumption and lose weight faster. Let's say you're doing 12-15 hrs of working out a week, we can get you better results by mixing up your schedule to include the following once per week:

    1. sprint-day, this is the shortest-duration, highest-intensity day, takes about 1-hr. Do 5-mile warm-up and find a loop or long straight road somewhere. Starting at your average-speed, do an all-out, 100% screaming bloody-murder sprint as hard as you can for as long as you can (about 20-35 seconds). Try to spin your legs as fast as you can 100-150rpms+. You may need to shift up one or two gears along the way to maintain the intensity. Rest to recover completely and do it again. About 5-10 sprints, then go home.

    2. interval-day is 2nd-shortest duration, 2nd-highest intensity and works on your muscle efficiency. You can do any combination of 1, 2, 3, 5 minute intervals you want. Usually 5-10 of them depending upon your fitness and recovery state. These are done at steady-intensity above your AT/FTP level so that you hit max-HR by the end of the interval. So if your 1-hr TT speed is 20mph, you'll want to do the 1 minute interval at 90% of an all-out sprint, 2-minute intervals may be at 25mph, 3-minute at 23mph, 5-minute at 21mph, etc. If you blow up before the end of the time, go slower next time. If you've got something left to give, go faster next time. Keep a log so you can fine-tune your interval-intensity so that you blow up right at the end. Rest and recover between each one and do it again. Then go home, probably 60-90 minutes total.

    3. tempo day, work more on the aerobic system. Find a steady hill or long-road where you can ride uninterrupted for 20-minutes at a steady HR right at AT/FTP. Some people say slightly above, some slightly below. Whatever you can hold for 20-minutes total. Rest to recovery completely and if you've got anything left, do another 20-minutes. Then go home, 60-80 minutes total.

    4. endurance day, this is the lowest-intensity and longest distance. You really need to do a ride of 3-4 hours at least once a week. This taxes your energy systems and gets your body more efficient at burning fats. Do a ride at a steady pace you can hold for the entire time. Eat 100-200 cal/hr so you don't bonk. Less if you've had a recent meal, more if you haven't. If you bonk before the end, you didn't eat enough and didn't get all the benefits from this workout. If you finish with more in reserves, you can try it a little faster next time.

    Don't forget to sprinkle some rest days in there, 1-2 per week. You will find that by incorporating these workouts into your weekly schedule, you'll most likely reduce the time and volume compared to previously. And you'll get stronger and can do longer rides faster. That's the goal, to burn off higher calories/hr for longer. Then the weight will magically disappear.

  12. #12
    Watching and waiting. jethro56's Avatar
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    I agree with everything DannoXYZ. I don't do the sprints yet as I don't have my base work done yet. I just started riding in Oct. I want to get at least 500 miles in if not 1000.

  13. #13
    Senior Member DannoXYZ's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jethro56 View Post
    I agree with everything DannoXYZ. I don't do the sprints yet as I don't have my base work done yet. I just started riding in Oct. I want to get at least 500 miles in if not 1000.
    Yes, let's get the macrocycles down as well. Sprints usually start in Jan./Feb. for me and are a once to twice/wk workout after that.

    For now, you may want to cut back on the intensity of your mid-range rides and increase the distance. Spread them out with shorter rides and rest days in between. Good luck!

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