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Calorie calculators

Old 07-12-19, 01:03 PM
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gnappi
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Calorie calculators

Biking calorie calculators take as input, age / sex? Yup, weight? 4 sure, distance, time OK. Result = ~ calories burned.

Nice.

Pretty clearly (IMO) a svelte 18 pound road bike is going to take substantially less effort than my 40 pound fully fishing equipped mtn bike at 40 pounds. Where I ride my road bikes are clearly not usable and the mtn bike is just more fun.

I know "a body in motion tends to stay in motion" and some postulate that a heavy bike is no more difficult to keep rolling than a lightweight, but then SUV's should get the same gas mileage as a runt car and manufacturers of vehicles would see no benefit to weight reduction year after year in vehicles :-)

I for one KNOW I work my butt off FAR more to keep 15 mph up on my Mtn bike than my road bikes.

So, bike weight / effort theology set aside for this discussion is there a way to take into account the (IMO) extra exertion it takes to use a heavier bike for distance?
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Old 07-12-19, 01:09 PM
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Yes. A power meter will tell you how much energy you are expending.
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Old 07-12-19, 01:39 PM
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The simple answer is to add the difference between the bike weights to what you enter for your weight.

But that assumes a lot of stuff. For example, we don't know what sort of bike the algorithm has assumed you are riding (how heavy, wind resistance, etc.).

FWIW, I think the calorie counters are of limited value. Mine sez I am burning somewhere near 700 calories an hour. But I know that can't be the case because if it were, I'd be a whole lot thinner than I am. I'm not sure why they are so far off, but I believe it probably has something to do with the body adapting to the exercise that it does. While I might have burned 700 calories an hour riding at my speed when I first began, I am in better shape and more efficient than I used to be, so my body is probably only consuming 400 or so calories an hour.

So my advice is to try to calibrate your calorie counter to your body. Consider your weight (including gain and loss) and calories in, and from there, you should know your calories out and from that, figure out how many calories you are consuming with your exercise. I've done that, and I think the number is something in the range of 350-400 calories per hour of bicycle riding.

Or, like caloso said ... get a power meter or maybe a heart rate monitor.
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Old 07-12-19, 01:57 PM
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The Strava app uses my weight and heart rate monitor to calculate calories burned. My Apple Watch does the same thing. The Apple Watch is always lower. I usually stick with that one and delete the Strava calories. I also try to not eat back my exercise calories as I am still trying to lose weight.
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Old 07-12-19, 02:27 PM
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Pushing a heavier bike will increase your heart rate, which will register as more calories burned.

Many of the fitness wearables and bike computers use algorithms developed by Firstbeat to estimate calorie consumption, based on heart rate data.

Tests indicate that the Firsbeat algorithm is within 7% of laboratory measured calorie consumption.

This page lists devices that use Firstbeat algorithm

Here's an article on accuracy: Firstbeat Gets Calorie Counts Right
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Old 07-12-19, 02:40 PM
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Originally Posted by terrymorse View Post
Pushing a heavier bike will increase your heart rate, which will register as more calories burned.

Many of the fitness wearables and bike computers use algorithms developed by Firstbeat to estimate calorie consumption, based on heart rate data.

Tests indicate that the Firsbeat algorithm is within 7% of laboratory measured calorie consumption.

This page lists devices that use Firstbeat algorithm

Here's an article on accuracy: Firstbeat Gets Calorie Counts Right
I got a Wahoo Kickr a couple years ago and its my first experience training with power numbers. Calories based off power meter numbers are still an estimate, but about as close of an estimate as you can get outside of a lab. Anyway, point being that I can expect to burn about 600-650 calories an hour with a good solid effort. To burn 700 or more calories is an extremely hard workout.

So now I have a pretty good idea of what those efforts feel like, which means that the estimates I get from Strava or my Wahoo out on the road (where I don't have a power meter) are always way, way too high.

Granted, this is still all guesswork, but at least now that I have some sort of idea of what 700 calories/hour feels like, I know that the relaxed coffee ride I did with friends did not actually burn 800 calories per hour.

So for my own calorie-tracking purposes, in my head I just automatically adjust every outdoor ride to roughly 600 calories/hour.

Anyway, so I've had a Fitbit for a few months. I don't wear it when I'm riding but I have it synced to Strava, so my rides eventually show up in my activities.

If I talk a 30-minute walk, I think Fitbit comically exaggerates the amount of calories I've burned. There is absolutely no way I'm burning 350 calories in a 20-30 minute walk.

However, when a bike ride syncs from Strava, Fitbit disregards Strava's calorie estimates and uses its own calculations. Based on my own 600-650 calories/hour estimate, Fitbit's estimates are very close to that every time.

So in conclusion: Fitbit: bad at auto-detecting activities and estimating calories for walks, but good at estimating calories for bikes.
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Old 07-12-19, 03:00 PM
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I don’t worry about it there are too many factors. Charts say 700-800 an hour maybe pedaling a gravel grinder uphill. But then I coast downhill.
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Old 07-12-19, 10:20 PM
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The only time I’ve seen 700kcal/hr is in a race.
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Old 07-13-19, 12:39 AM
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Originally Posted by caloso View Post
The only time Iíve seen 700kcal/hr is in a race.
Thatís ~195W. Unless youíre a lightweight you must see that in training?
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Old 07-13-19, 10:02 AM
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Originally Posted by gregf83 View Post
Thatís ~195W. Unless youíre a lightweight you must see that in training?
I guess youíre right. I only searched TP for segments of 1hr+. Now if I search for VO2 max intervals, there are 1200kcal/hr. But by definition, those efforts are not sustainable.
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Old 07-13-19, 12:56 PM
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Even without a power meter, and ignoring the HRM, Strava will calculate kj which are pretty much the same as calories. Not as accurate as with a PM, but a much better idea than from some HRM software, which relies on your inputs for zones and probably wouldn't be accurate even if your inputs were correct. You have to have a device on your bike which records GPS and elevation information and which will upload to Strava. And your inputs to Strava regarding your weight and your bike's in-use weight have to be correct. Of course this doesn't work for stationary bikes.
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Old 07-15-19, 08:07 AM
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I've tried most of the methods out there. Results are all over and doubtful. These days I just ride the bike.
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Old 07-15-19, 08:41 AM
  #13  
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Originally Posted by gnappi View Post
Biking calorie calculators take as input, age / sex? Yup, weight? 4 sure, distance, time OK. Result = ~ calories burned.

Nice.

Pretty clearly (IMO) a svelte 18 pound road bike is going to take substantially less effort than my 40 pound fully fishing equipped mtn bike at 40 pounds. Where I ride my road bikes are clearly not usable and the mtn bike is just more fun.

I know "a body in motion tends to stay in motion" and some postulate that a heavy bike is no more difficult to keep rolling than a lightweight, but then SUV's should get the same gas mileage as a runt car and manufacturers of vehicles would see no benefit to weight reduction year after year in vehicles :-)

I for one KNOW I work my butt off FAR more to keep 15 mph up on my Mtn bike than my road bikes.

So, bike weight / effort theology set aside for this discussion is there a way to take into account the (IMO) extra exertion it takes to use a heavier bike for distance?
You're ignoring aerodynamics. A large suv is pushing a lot more air than a small econobox. Then there's acceleration. Heavy cars and heavy people on bikes need more energy to accelerate up to speed than their lighter counterparts.
I think if you took your road bike up to a certain speed on a flat road and suddenly added several pounds to it you wouldn't notice much difference.
If you are mountain biking on rough terrain there's probably no way to quantify that. I know when I climb a rutted out hill with holes and rocks all over it drains me.

Last edited by big john; 07-15-19 at 08:46 AM.
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Old 07-15-19, 08:44 AM
  #14  
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Originally Posted by terrymorse View Post
Pushing a heavier bike will increase your heart rate, which will register as more calories burned.

Many of the fitness wearables and bike computers use algorithms developed by Firstbeat to estimate calorie consumption, based on heart rate data.

Tests indicate that the Firsbeat algorithm is within 7% of laboratory measured calorie consumption.

This page lists devices that use Firstbeat algorithm

Here's an article on accuracy: Firstbeat Gets Calorie Counts Right
Haven't seen you around here in ages! We met a few times years ago.
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Old 07-15-19, 09:31 AM
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Originally Posted by big john View Post
Haven't seen you around here in ages! We met a few times years ago.
Hi Big John! It has been too many years. I'm just now getting on the bike again, after a 3-year dry spell (sold the bike touring/rental business and was burned out). Crawling slowly out of the fitness well.

Fitness permitting, I plan to do the three "king of the mountains" centuries in Southern California early next year. Will you be there?
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Old 07-15-19, 10:20 AM
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Originally Posted by terrymorse View Post
Hi Big John! It has been too many years. I'm just now getting on the bike again, after a 3-year dry spell (sold the bike touring/rental business and was burned out). Crawling slowly out of the fitness well.

Fitness permitting, I plan to do the three "king of the mountains" centuries in Southern California early next year. Will you be there?
It's possible I may do one of them but I haven't done a century in a while. I'm trying to crawl out of that well myself. I retired in April and have been trying to do lots of climbing. We'll see how I progress, if at all. I always loved that Heartbreak Century route, did it solo when I lived up there.
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Old 07-15-19, 10:50 AM
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Originally Posted by big john View Post
It's possible I may do one of them but I haven't done a century in a while. I'm trying to crawl out of that well myself. I retired in April and have been trying to do lots of climbing. We'll see how I progress, if at all. I always loved that Heartbreak Century route, did it solo when I lived up there.
I enjoyed Heartbreak when I was fit, too. Hoping the thought of doing it again will entice me into some good training. Watching all the Clydesdales pass me by is further motivation. Embarrassing.

Starting easy, Iím going to try Tour de Tahoe this September. 75 miles, mostly flat.
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Old 07-15-19, 07:08 PM
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Calorie calculators are bogus as far as accurate calorie measurement for virtually everyone. Too many factors for a real number to materialize. They can help you understand relative adjustments. So yes, for ANY individual a heavier bike WILL burn more calories IF ALL OTHER factors remain consistent.

Plus after you'll need to record how many calories you're consuming. It ends up being a huge effort that's hard for most, to maintain.

If you're interested in calories to LOSE WEIGHT (or gain) the scale is what you want to look at. Measure daily but record weekly.
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