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  1. #1
    Semper Paratus coastie1975's Avatar
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    Calorie counters on machines, accurate?

    Okay, are the calorie counters on treadmills, bike machines and other aerobic machines accurate? How do they determine exactly what your burn rate is? Most of them have you put your weight, age, etc. before you start. Is this part of some universal formula? Yesterday I did 5 miles on a treadmill with varying speeds and inclines it didn't seem right that after 45 minutes it said I burned 1047 calories.

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    The Question Man
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    Quote Originally Posted by coastie1975
    Okay, are the calorie counters on treadmills, bike machines and other aerobic machines accurate? How do they determine exactly what your burn rate is? Most of them have you put your weight, age, etc. before you start. Is this part of some universal formula? Yesterday I did 5 miles on a treadmill with varying speeds and inclines it didn't seem right that after 45 minutes it said I burned 1047 calories.
    well, they aren't perfect but that could be right depending on your current fitness level (they go by the weight/age/etc. you put in). I'll give you my stats for the day and see if they make sense when you compare the two. I jogged 3 miles at 5 mph and walked another 1.75 miles at 4 mph and according to the treadmill I burned about 700 calories. I'm 18, 5 foot 8, and I weigh about 170. How do we compare?

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    However I have found that if you have a machine that doesn't ask weight, height, etc., they can be very far off. My exercise bike at home says I burn 630-640 calories an hour when I ride at 21 mph at an incline setting of 3 (out of 8). So I would be careful if going by machines but they do tend to be close when they take in your personal stats.

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    Faith-Vigilance-Service Patriot's Avatar
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    Calorie counters on machines are a result of some direct power production, and some estimated values to provide you with an indication of calories burned.

    For example, to run 7mph for one hour requires a very specific amount of work. But, to calculate the total amount of power needed, you also need the total amount of mass moved from point A to B.
    The weight value is a value that is pre-programmed into many machines. I think they use about 155# or something, which is an average between most men and women.

    However, I have a computer on my bike which specifically asks me to input my total weight of my body and bicycle, I am 175#, bicycle-25# w/accessories. So, my total weight is 200# inputted to the computer. So, in order to recieve a more accurate calorie indicationon my ride, my ending point of the ride must be my starting point (my home). If I finish my ride elsewhere, then my elevation is differant, and the more accurate calorie indication will be slightly off.

    Since trainers, and treadmills are stationary, then all you would need is an accurate body weight input for the machine to give a very accurate indication of calories burned.
    There are some other variables. For example, ambient temperature. If the room is hot then you expend more energy because operating in excessive heat is more difficult. A cooler room is more efficient. But if the room is VERY cold, then your body burns more calories to maintain body temperature.

    It can get very in depth. But, for the average person, a machine will give a good indication for general training purposes. So, to answer your question, yes. However, to burn 1045 calories in 45 minutes, you need to be running around 9mph or a little better. Depending on your body weight as well. So, if you are a heavy set person, and running that fast, then yes, it is probably fairly close.

    Believe it or not. If your total weight is around 175# with a 25# bicycle (like me), you can easily burn 1000+ calories per hour if you maintain an average speed of 16mph or better for the entire ride.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Patriot
    Believe it or not. If your total weight is around 175# with a 25# bicycle (like me), you can easily burn 1000+ calories per hour if you maintain an average speed of 16mph or better for the entire ride.
    According to my Polar, I need to be going over 17 mph (calm day, with wind it's obviously slower) to hit that wonderful 1000 calorie/hour mark. I'm also a few pounds lighter than you (170 lb.) and I don't include the weight of my bike in my weight on the monitor. My 30 minute jog the other morning supposedly burned right around 500 calories and I was going about ~6 mph.

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    Faith-Vigilance-Service Patriot's Avatar
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    hmm. I keep thinking of my wife, who is a runner. She is 135#, and burns ~700 cals per hour going 7mph. So you are probably pretty close. When guessing like this, you can only get a good estimate. Mainly a good estimate is all you need, specifically for just maintaining a proper diet.

    I know alot of those computers ask for your weight input, but I think they mean total weight including your bike, as that is also part of the equation, since bike weight differs quite a bit depending on what you're riding.

    17mph? You might be burning a little more than your Polar says. But, then again, it is close enough, and that's all that really matters.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Patriot
    hmm. I keep thinking of my wife, who is a runner. She is 135#, and burns ~700 cals per hour going 7mph. So you are probably pretty close. When guessing like this, you can only get a good estimate. Mainly a good estimate is all you need, specifically for just maintaining a proper diet.

    I know alot of those computers ask for your weight input, but I think they mean total weight including your bike, as that is also part of the equation, since bike weight differs quite a bit depending on what you're riding.

    17mph? You might be burning a little more than your Polar says. But, then again, it is close enough, and that's all that really matters.
    I think the weight of the bike is the factor I'm missing. My road bike with gear is 25 lbs. Toss on my Camelbak with the 100 oz. reservoir filled and then I'm really burning I'm perfectly fine with an estimate as that's all I really take it as. I then eat until I feel satisfied and watch my weight to make sure I'm not eating excessively (although it sure seems like I do but that's one of the reasons why I love biking so much ---> guilt-free gluttonny).

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    Quote Originally Posted by joejack951
    I think the weight of the bike is the factor I'm missing. My road bike with gear is 25 lbs. Toss on my Camelbak with the 100 oz. reservoir filled and then I'm really burning I'm perfectly fine with an estimate as that's all I really take it as. I then eat until I feel satisfied and watch my weight to make sure I'm not eating excessively (although it sure seems like I do but that's one of the reasons why I love biking so much ---> guilt-free gluttonny).
    I'm curious. How serious are you about this? I have mainly been trying to lose weight but once I reach my goal weight is it really ok to eat what I used to to some degree. Obviously I can't just binge on fatty things but I would love to treat myself to cookies and other things I have recently stayed away from if I need to just maintain my weight. How often do you ride? How many calories would you say you take in in a regular day?

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    Quote Originally Posted by cheebahmunkey
    I'm curious. How serious are you about this? I have mainly been trying to lose weight but once I reach my goal weight is it really ok to eat what I used to to some degree. Obviously I can't just binge on fatty things but I would love to treat myself to cookies and other things I have recently stayed away from if I need to just maintain my weight. How often do you ride? How many calories would you say you take in in a regular day?
    I'd say I'm 75% serious about it. I started out biking this May at 195 lbs. At that time, I decided that I hated being out of shape and just felt too heavy. So I modified my diet a bit, mainly to include more good foods and less junk and got on my bike as much as I could. I started out riding 12 miles at a time 4 days a week or so, then 16, then 20+ and now I just ride however much I feel up to on a particular day (20-100 miles). During the summer, I was probably averaging 100 miles a week and dropped down to 175 pretty quick. Since then, I've dropped another 5 lbs. slowly but I also have only been averaging 75 miles a week due to some weeks when I only get in one ride.

    When it comes to food, I eat more now than I did when I was 25 lbs. heavier but my weight stays the same. A lot of that I believe is due to having a higher metabolism from all the extra muscle. I consume anywhere from 2250-2500 calories per day (~300-400 breakfast, 1000 snacks and lunch at work, 800-1000 dinner), with some days (particularly if I go for a longer ride) where I'm sure I top 3000. Case in point, after my solo century, I ate three dinners I've always been a big eater and I've found that as long as I stay somewhat physically active, I maintain my weight easily. All through high school I was 170 lbs. when I was playing soccer and lacrosse. In college, I played some soccer and biked around Philly and stayed at 170 (and ate way too much junk). Two years during school my physical activity stopped and I plumped up to 190 or so, dropped back down before I graduated by biking around again, then gained it back again after an ankle injury.

    Since I'm rambling, I'll continue This spring, I plan on seeing if I can get down to 160 and and find out what it will take to maintain that weight. I haven't been there since I was 16 but I've also never really watched what I've eaten (aside from this past year). I believe I can relatively easily drop another 10 lbs. by biking regularly and cutting out junk food. I hope that once it's gone, I can go back to my beloved junk food and still keep the wait off with a little extra biking thrown in (I'm planning to start commuting soon so that will up my average by about 60 miles a week).

    In short, for me, as long as I'm relatively active, I can get away with eating a lot when I feel the desire to do so. People who see me eat wonder how I've managed to drop weight and stay there and the only explanation is the bike.

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    Faith-Vigilance-Service Patriot's Avatar
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    Ok, here's my story. Get ready, as you will be an old dried up prune by the time you are done reading this.....

    I started out at 210#. I am 6'2". 8 years ago, I weighed 175# in the Navy, and that was one of the fittest times in my life. After getting out and working a less vigorous job, I put on the weight over the years. So, I decided to lose it.

    Well, I managed to lose about the first ten pounds in a couple months just by cutting back on sweets. But, I was still eating close to 3000 calories a day, and did not yet have a serious excersise program.

    I found out at 34yo, for my height,and frame size, I should weigh 170-175# for optimum fitness, and should only be eating about 2500 calories a day. I was eating too much, so I started taking in 2500 calories a day to get used to a little less food. I also started walking my dogs everyday for 2 miles (vigorously) to slowly get my heart used to pumping a little harder than the norm.

    Then, I spent some time (about two months) rebuilding my old Centurion road bike that was hanging in my garage for 10 years. After a couple months of fast walks everyday, I started riding my bike. But took short rides to get used to it.

    I also cut my calorie intake back to 2000 calories a day, 500 less than what I should be eating with moderate excersise. I found that with my cycling getting progressively better over a couple months, and my diet staying the same (2000 cals), I was losing about 2-3 pounds a week.

    After a couple months, I got myself down to 170#. My doctor said I should not go much lower for as much cycling as I am now doing. If I was a marathon runner, then I would probably get a little lighter.
    Anyway, I have managed to get to my target weight, and slowly increase my calorie intake back up to 2500 cal/day, and maintain my weight.

    As I started taking 20-30 mile rides at close to 20mph, I started losing even more weight again.
    So, now I take in around 2500-3000 calories per day, and as long as I continue my cycling, and brisk walking everyday, I maintain my weight 170-175#, with little problems.


    All in all, I lost close to 40 pounds, and I enjoy my sweets with no guilt, (in moderation of course) as I know I can easily get the HR up to 170-180 for an hour a day and just burn it right off.

  11. #11
    Meow! my58vw's Avatar
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    I can burn 1100 calories in 1 hour on the trainer, I typically can burn 1500+ calories on a trainer E2 ride, even more on an M1 muscular endurance ride.

    You actual results may vary...

    And a calorie deficet of over 1000 calories a day if I am not careful... And I am loosing about 2 pounds a week...
    Just your average club rider... :)

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by my58vw
    I can burn 1100 calories in 1 hour on the trainer, I typically can burn 1500+ calories on a trainer E2 ride, even more on an M1 muscular endurance ride.

    You actual results may vary...

    And a calorie deficet of over 1000 calories a day if I am not careful... And I am loosing about 2 pounds a week...
    I believe you also weigh 50 lbs. more than Patriot and me. That makes a big difference. See Patriot's post about his wife who can run faster yet burn 30% less calories than me.

  13. #13
    Semper Paratus coastie1975's Avatar
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    Hey thanks everyone for fillin me in, I have never been one to really pay attention to calorie intake and calories burned, but as I get a little older I know my metabolism will start to slow, so my attention to detail will start increasing in these areas. I was just surprised to see how much I actually burned in that time frame, normally I just pay attention to mileage and speed.

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    Quote Originally Posted by joejack951
    According to my Polar, I need to be going over 17 mph (calm day, with wind it's obviously slower) to hit that wonderful 1000 calorie/hour mark. I'm also a few pounds lighter than you (170 lb.) and I don't include the weight of my bike in my weight on the monitor. My 30 minute jog the other morning supposedly burned right around 500 calories and I was going about ~6 mph.
    New guy here, but this is interesting - it seems the numbers above are exactly what I see. 189 #'s - 6 MPH = 500 Calories/.5 Hour on the treadmill.

    Also, to Patriot's comments on weightloss. I'm about the same age (33) and I was up to 207 at the end of October. I started working out for an hour daily and staying away from "empty calories" (soda, fastfood, etc.). I've still been able to eat somewhat normally - loaded up at Thanksgiving, had pizza now and then. My weightloss has been directly proportional to my eating habits with all things considered (exercise, etc.). It can fluctuate daily. I can drive it down with light meals like salads and sandwiches or stay stable by continuing to exercise and eating regular meals with no snacks inbetween.

    Great forum - I'm looking forward to reading up since I'm just getting back into riding.

    Jay

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    Pat
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    [QUOTE=Patriot]Calorie counters on machines are a result of some direct power production, and some estimated values to provide you with an indication of calories burned.

    For example, to run 7mph for one hour requires a very specific amount of work. But, to calculate the total amount of power needed, you also need the total amount of mass moved from point A to B.
    The weight value is a value that is pre-programmed into many machines. I think they use about 155# or something, which is an average between most men and women.

    Well strictly speaking Patriot is in error. Humans are not 100% efficient. We are about 38% efficient which means you burn 100 calories to produce about 38 calories of work, the excess comes off as heat. Most of the energy you burn in exercise is heat which is why you get hot when you exercise. Interestingly enough, humans and other organisms and even machines seem to have very similar efficiencies.

    Now they could have come up with the figures by 2 ways. They could have calculated the work required and then gotten the calories burned by correcting for the efficiency which I guess you would take from the literature which would have to be derived by direct measure using the methods I will describe next. Or they could have taken people and stuck them on the treadmill and directly measured their calorie expenditure. Well, it is impractical to measure energy expenditure directly (it can be done by measuring the generation of heat but that requires sticking the person and apparatus into a chamber and measuring the heat given off usually by surrounding the chamber by a bath of water, you can do this for a mouse but for a person, you get scale problems). You can measure CO2 production and then know how many calories are generated by burning the fuel. The problem here is that people can burn 2 basic kinds of fuels: fats and carbohydrates and the amount of CO2 generated per calorie generated is a bit different.

    Now, in practice, estimating daily calorie expenditure is tricky. Even a small calorie deficit, can over a year provide a surprisingly high change in weight. I read an anecdote once of it being noticed that typists who switched from manual typewriters to electrics gained weight . Who would have thought that such a small thing would have had such a significant impact over the course of a year?

    Now Lance Armstrong does estimate his daily expenditure and consumption of calories and it seems to work for him. I would think that many people get a little too optomistic to put it mildly. It is not a good thing to burn 1000 calories and then eat to compensate because the common tendency is for many people underestimate consumption (oink, oink). Now some people are objective enough to do this but not many.

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    The Question Man
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    [QUOTE=Pat]
    Quote Originally Posted by Patriot
    Calorie counters on machines are a result of some direct power production, and some estimated values to provide you with an indication of calories burned.

    For example, to run 7mph for one hour requires a very specific amount of work. But, to calculate the total amount of power needed, you also need the total amount of mass moved from point A to B.
    The weight value is a value that is pre-programmed into many machines. I think they use about 155# or something, which is an average between most men and women.

    Well strictly speaking Patriot is in error. Humans are not 100% efficient. We are about 38% efficient which means you burn 100 calories to produce about 38 calories of work, the excess comes off as heat. Most of the energy you burn in exercise is heat which is why you get hot when you exercise. Interestingly enough, humans and other organisms and even machines seem to have very similar efficiencies.

    Now they could have come up with the figures by 2 ways. They could have calculated the work required and then gotten the calories burned by correcting for the efficiency which I guess you would take from the literature which would have to be derived by direct measure using the methods I will describe next. Or they could have taken people and stuck them on the treadmill and directly measured their calorie expenditure. Well, it is impractical to measure energy expenditure directly (it can be done by measuring the generation of heat but that requires sticking the person and apparatus into a chamber and measuring the heat given off usually by surrounding the chamber by a bath of water, you can do this for a mouse but for a person, you get scale problems). You can measure CO2 production and then know how many calories are generated by burning the fuel. The problem here is that people can burn 2 basic kinds of fuels: fats and carbohydrates and the amount of CO2 generated per calorie generated is a bit different.

    Now, in practice, estimating daily calorie expenditure is tricky. Even a small calorie deficit, can over a year provide a surprisingly high change in weight. I read an anecdote once of it being noticed that typists who switched from manual typewriters to electrics gained weight . Who would have thought that such a small thing would have had such a significant impact over the course of a year?

    Now Lance Armstrong does estimate his daily expenditure and consumption of calories and it seems to work for him. I would think that many people get a little too optomistic to put it mildly. It is not a good thing to burn 1000 calories and then eat to compensate because the common tendency is for many people underestimate consumption (oink, oink). Now some people are objective enough to do this but not many.
    but isn't it also dangerous to have to too big a deficiency? We go by the caolries we burn while exercising but a lof ot us completely ignore the calories we need to function throughout the day. My doctor did a rough calculation that I was at at 2400 a day caloric deficit and said it could contribute to weight gain b/c as I have said in other threads (I'm still a little curious on the science of this), my body compensates for the deficit by storing more fat. Is what I described also the case?

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