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Strava Calorie Burn with and without HRM data

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Strava Calorie Burn with and without HRM data

Old 07-03-15, 07:19 AM
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Jarrett2
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Strava Calorie Burn with and without HRM data

I've stated in the past that for me (with my bike weight and body weight accurately entered) that Strava gives me fairly accurate calorie burn estimates as compared to when I wear my heart rate monitor. In fact, Strava's estimate would be a little more conservative that when I wore my HRM. Based on this, I quit wearing my HRM a while back.

Many folks told me that they did not see the same results. So today I decided to break out my old HRM and do a retest. Here are a couple of screen grabs from very similar routes/rides I did a month apart. Friday is typically my take it easy day in terms of my morning rides. I usually go a little slower and smell the roses a bit.

Here is one from a month ago without the HRM where Strava estimates the calorie burn:



Here's one from today where I wore my HRM and Strava pulled calorie burn info from it:


The HRM came in with 100 more calories burned than Strava's estimate for 7 more minutes of ride time at the same average speed.

What's the point? Strava's calorie burn estimates are fairly accurate and good enough for me.
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Old 07-03-15, 08:43 AM
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Originally Posted by Jarrett2 View Post
Strava's calorie burn estimates are fairly accurate and good enough for me.
How do you know they're accurate?
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Old 07-03-15, 09:25 AM
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How is Strava getting calories from your HRM? Strava doesn't use HR data to calculate calories, they do it entirely off of estimated (or real) power.
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Old 07-03-15, 09:33 AM
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Hmm, interesting. So it accepts HRM data, but doesn't use it for calorie estimates? Where did you read that?
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Old 07-03-15, 09:55 AM
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There's an old saying: A person with 2 watches never knows what time it is.

When using two measurement devices there are 4 possibilities: both right; both wrong; one right and the other wrong; one wrong and the other right. And that's for something that can be accurately and directly measured like a kilometer.

Given that something like calories burned can't be directly measured, the best you can hope for is a good approximation. Also given how the calorie content measurement of food is different than the calories consumed, I don't worry about these numbers very much. Ride Lots (as Eddie Merckx said) and Eat Less.
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Old 07-03-15, 11:31 AM
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Even with the HRM active, I've found Strava to read out consistently higher than the data from Garmin Connect, in terms of both elevation gain and calories burned. This day in June, for instance:

Strava:


Garmin Connect:


Over the rides number of rides I've exported to Strava, I'm consistently ~150 more kcal/hr burned by Strava's estimate compared to Garmin's estimate.

My Hwy.38 climb from a few days ago,

3002ft^, 1683kcal on Garmin
3465ft^, 2071kcal on Strava

So, you know... shrug.
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Old 07-03-15, 11:31 AM
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The only way to have a fair comparison is to use the Strava app on a smart phone while measuring your ride with a bike computer. upload both rides and note the differences. I've not done this but Strava may default to the ride being a duplicate..... if that is the case you could start a second free account, enter all the same metrics in and do it that way. That way you are comparing the same effort, weather conditions and bike. The problem then will be which number will you believe. if you are using the burn estimate to budget your calorie intake and your goal is weight loss use the smaller number.
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Old 07-03-15, 01:40 PM
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Originally Posted by Black wallnut View Post
if you are using the burn estimate to budget your calorie intake and your goal is weight loss use the smaller number.
That's what I do. It just so happens that the smaller number is Strava's estimate instead of Garmin's calculation using my heart rate info.
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Old 07-03-15, 09:08 PM
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Originally Posted by Jarrett2 View Post
Hmm, interesting. So it accepts HRM data, but doesn't use it for calorie estimates? Where did you read that?
The Strava website:

https://strava.zendesk.com/entries/2...ie-Calculation
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Old 07-03-15, 09:26 PM
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Well looky there. No heart rate info used after all. Interesting.

So their algorithm not based on HRM provides a close but more conservative number of calories than Garmin does using my HRM data.

I guess their algorithm rocks

My Garmin said 943 today by the way. Strava said 949. That's the first time I've seen Strava over Garmin w/HRM. But within 6 of each other. Interesting data for sure.
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Old 07-03-15, 09:31 PM
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Originally Posted by DrIsotope View Post
Even with the HRM active, I've found Strava to read out consistently higher than the data from Garmin Connect, in terms of both elevation gain and calories burned. This day in June, for instance:
Do you have your weight and bike weight in Strava correctly? Strava seems to think you're putting out an average wattage of 260W, which although you're clearly doing some decent climbing, seems high.
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Old 07-03-15, 10:34 PM
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Yessir, I just double-checked that today. It's actually a little low, as it's my "weigh-in" weight and "dry" bike weight. On the road, my rolling combo is 10-12lbs heavier that what's in Strava (clothes, shoes, helmet, water bottles, Shimano Unzen6 full of... stuff.)

Originally Posted by Jarrett2 View Post
So their algorithm not based on HRM provides a close but more conservative number of calories than Garmin does using my HRM data.

...That's the first time I've seen Strava over Garmin w/HRM. But within 6 of each other.
My experience is the mirror opposite of yours. This morning's outing with the wife was a leisurely, non-training type of ride-- 27 miles in 2 hours with only moderate climbing. My avg. HR was 121bpm (and I'm typically 148-152 avg.)

Garmin: 871kcal
Strava: 1,356kcal

Last edited by DrIsotope; 07-03-15 at 10:38 PM.
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Old 07-04-15, 05:28 AM
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Originally Posted by DrIsotope View Post
27 miles in 2 hours with only moderate climbing. My avg. HR was 121bpm (and I'm typically 148-152 avg.)

Garmin: 871kcal
Strava: 1,356kcal
That's interesting. So you averaged 13.5 mph for 2 hours and you say Garmin says you burned 871 calories. That seems fairly realistic.

But in this post you said you averaged 14.73 mph for 2:18 and you say Garmin says you burned 2,338 calories.

That's a difference of 1,467 calories between the rides. That's a pretty big leap in calorie burn for 1.2 mph average difference. It seems that Garmin is giving you some radically different numbers for some reason. My Garmin and Strava outputs are much more consistent than that.

Originally Posted by DrIsotope View Post
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Old 07-04-15, 09:04 AM
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Strava's guesstimate for that ride was 1,923kcal, 206w avg. power, 836kcal/hr. Since I got the HRM, I've been averaging 780kcal/hr on solo rides via Garmin. Strava is usually about 10% over that.

I also do not compare calorie burn, power, or any other number across different rides. I have some routes that show 1800ft of climbing in 25 miles, but do all of that climbing in the first 9 miles of the ride. The one I posted above climbs 1600 feet in less than 40 minutes, less than 8 miles. This is where the calorie/power estimators go out the window. They all seem to think speed is king-- they'll show a higher burn/power output when I'm going down a grade at 30mph with my HR ticking along at 130bpm than they will chugging up a 7% grade @ 10mph with my HR at 170bpm. Hey, maybe that's true, maybe they're right. But all I know is going up the hill is really, really hard, and going down it... not so much.
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Old 07-04-15, 05:17 PM
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Originally Posted by dr_lha View Post
How is Strava getting calories from your HRM? Strava doesn't use HR data to calculate calories, they do it entirely off of estimated (or real) power.
KJ should = calories but on my rides with power it doesn't, not even within 10%
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Old 07-04-15, 06:19 PM
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Originally Posted by Jarrett2 View Post
That's what I do. It just so happens that the smaller number is Strava's estimate instead of Garmin's calculation using my heart rate info.
I get different results not just from Garmin and Strava but also from the same data fed over to MyFitnessPal.

For example, this morning as part of training for the STP (Seattle to Portland) ride next weekend, I rode from Everett, WA to Seattle.

Garmin says 41 miles, 1530 feet climbing at 2043 calories burned.

Strava, off the Garmin device data upload, says the same ride was 41 miles, 1654 feet climbing and 2144 calories burned.

Then, the same data fed over to MyFitnessPal calls the same activity a 1738 calorie burn.

Same data fed into Lose It! calls the same activity a 2144 calorie burn.

So while Lose It! seems to pull the calorie value directly from Strava, MyFitnessPal is using some other algorithm entirely, probably based off cycling time and average speed and nothing else.

As the above poster suggested, I always take the lowest number, which is usually MyFitnessPal's version.

The altitude gain difference I've seen consistently too, and what it seems to be is, if you go over a bridge, and then look at the Strava elevation chart, Strava seems to not realize there was a bridge there, and gives you credit for climbing as if you had gone all the way down to sea level and then climbed back up the other side.

This bug is especially entertaining when going over high elevation bridges like the Golden Gate and the Tacoma Narrows Bridges.

Last edited by ShortLegCyclist; 07-04-15 at 06:20 PM. Reason: corrected typo
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Old 07-04-15, 06:58 PM
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Myfitnesspal has various "types" of cycling based on speed. Some days I fall into 14-16 mph zone, others 16-20 mph. 16-20 is a fairly broad range, IMHO calorie burn is a lot higher at 20 than 16....on flat level ground, no wind, etc. Not sure what all the avail ranges are but I see a 12-14 too.

Looks like there is a >20 mph zone too, worth 1293 cals per hour.
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Old 07-04-15, 09:19 PM
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There are more than a few threads on this if you look here and there. In addition, there is a fairly in-depth writeup by DC Rainmaker regarding how various devices estimate calories consumed.

As recently as 2014, Strava posted that they do not use HR data in their estimate, even if you wear a HRM and give Strava the data. So based on that, I would tend to go with the Garmin number as being the more accurate estimate provided it is bolstered by a HRM.

Last edited by ZippyThePinhead; 07-04-15 at 09:23 PM.
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