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Decent way to calculate calories burned cycling, not too expensive?

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Decent way to calculate calories burned cycling, not too expensive?

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Old 07-11-17, 02:52 PM
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tesn
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Decent way to calculate calories burned cycling, not too expensive?

So no power meters I guess. I am looking into a heart rate set up. I suppose a Wahoo TICKR or Polar H7 does the trick. A lot of people say they use that + strava, which I don't understand cause Strava doesn't use HR to calculate calories burned. Does the Wahoo and Polar have their own respective phone apps that use the HR to show calories burned?

Maybe the Polar HT7, which does calculate calories burned, is of better use while cycling?
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Old 07-11-17, 03:23 PM
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Originally Posted by tesn View Post
So no power meters I guess. I am looking into a heart rate set up. I suppose a Wahoo TICKR or Polar H7 does the trick. A lot of people say they use that + strava, which I don't understand cause Strava doesn't use HR to calculate calories burned. Does the Wahoo and Polar have their own respective phone apps that use the HR to show calories burned?

Maybe the Polar HT7, which does calculate calories burned, is of better use while cycling?
Heart rate monitors aren't needed to estimate calorie output. People use Strava to track distance, speed and elevation. Those can be used to estimate calorie output.
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Old 07-11-17, 03:28 PM
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Originally Posted by memebag View Post
Heart rate monitors aren't needed to estimate calorie output. People use Strava to track distance, speed and elevation. Those can be used to estimate calorie output.

I hear these are very inaccurate without heart rate factored in. I'm looking for a reasonably cheap way to find calories that factor in heart rate.
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Old 07-11-17, 03:34 PM
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+1 to the above. Heart rate is poor way to measure calories burned because it's too dependent on your condition. However it can be used as a very rough guide to compare effort from one ride to another.

There are all sorts of calorie calculators based on speed and distance, some factoring hills climbed and your weight, some not.

The truth is that there's no real precision to this science, even with the best of hardware, because humans vary in efficiency, so different people have different ratios of miles to calories burned. Many calculators use a simple assumption of the ratio of heat to output, assuming that you'll burn 3 calories for every 1 calorie of work done, but that's just a guideline.

So, decide what you really want to know, and how you'll use it, then decide on a calculator. Once you've picked one, stay with it so the ride to ride comparisons hold true. (roughly).
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Old 07-11-17, 03:43 PM
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Originally Posted by tesn View Post
I hear these are very inaccurate without heart rate factored in. I'm looking for a reasonably cheap way to find calories that factor in heart rate.
I believe you've heard wrong. Heart rate monitors monitor your heart rate, not your energy expenditure. I can make my heart beat faster or slower sitting perfectly still.
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Old 07-11-17, 04:01 PM
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Originally Posted by memebag View Post
I believe you've heard wrong. Heart rate monitors monitor your heart rate, not your energy expenditure. I can make my heart beat faster or slower sitting perfectly still.
Maybe I did not phrase it well. I never intended to claim that HRM measure energy expenditure. However, algorithms that deduce calorie expenditure during cycling are more accurate if they factor HR into the equation, as opposed to those that do not. Which is why a HRM while riding is something I am more interested in.
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Old 07-11-17, 09:13 PM
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Originally Posted by tesn View Post
Maybe I did not phrase it well. I never intended to claim that HRM measure energy expenditure. However, algorithms that deduce calorie expenditure during cycling are more accurate if they factor HR into the equation, as opposed to those that do not. Which is why a HRM while riding is something I am more interested in.
Where have you seen these algorithms? How can they use heart rate to improve accuracy?
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Old 07-11-17, 09:26 PM
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Given that all of the algorithms seem to be approximate, my preference would be to choose one that's good enough and doesn't require extra gear. Personally, I would try to find a number for something like "calories burned per mile of strenuous cycling," and just go with it.
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Old 07-11-17, 10:51 PM
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I guesstimate 40 calories per mile. 10 miles=400 or so calories. Close enough for me. I use that info to try and adjust the throttle on my calorie intake and weigh myself once a week. Then I adjust as needed to maintain my weight. It's all a guess with the scale being the moment of truth.
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Old 07-11-17, 11:37 PM
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I have the wahoo tickr and an app on my iPhone called motifit ride. It uses hr to calculate calories. The app and wahoo cost a total of $60, but you need an iPhone.
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Old 07-12-17, 12:19 AM
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Maybe an alternative question would be - why do you need to estimate calories?
Ride your bike. Eat sensibly (the hard one). If the weight isn't coming off, eat a little less (riding more isn't going to help much).
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Old 07-12-17, 12:22 AM
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Originally Posted by europa View Post
(riding more isn't going to help much).
Just how do you figure that?
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Old 07-12-17, 12:26 AM
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Originally Posted by europa View Post
(riding more isn't going to help much).
Originally Posted by MikeOK View Post
Just how do you figure that?
It just doesn't. If your diet is wrong, you'll consume far more unnecessary calories than you'll ever burn off. Getting the diet right is the most important thing and the first thing you need to do. The riding will take care of itself. Of course it'll help, but it's a bit player when it comes to weight loss.
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Old 07-12-17, 12:31 AM
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Originally Posted by europa View Post
It just doesn't. If your diet is wrong, you'll consume far more unnecessary calories than you'll ever burn off. Getting the diet right is the most important thing and the first thing you need to do. The riding will take care of itself. Of course it'll help, but it's a bit player when it comes to weight loss.
True diet is the biggest factor. But consider this- the tdf guys burn 5000-6000 calories a day. That works out to about 500 cal/10 miles. If you are riding 20 miles that's 1000 cal. If you double that and ride 40 miles that's 2000 cal. That's pretty significant.
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Old 07-12-17, 12:34 AM
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Originally Posted by europa View Post
Maybe an alternative question would be - why do you need to estimate calories?
Ride your bike. Eat sensibly (the hard one). If the weight isn't coming off, eat a little less (riding more isn't going to help much).
+1, forget micro-managing. Make a meaningful cut in calories by whatever method suits you. Shrink portions, cut down on certain foods, skip a meal now and then, shift from high calorie to low calorie foods, cut one item, ie. soda that accounts for a decent block of calories, or whatever you're able to live with.

That's the core of your strategy, and burning some off is a bonus.

The problem with losing weight by bicycling is that it's just too easy unless you're riding fast enough that you're seriously fighting wind drag, ie. 15+ mph. The other issue with trying to use exercise as a core weight loss strategy is that exercise makes you hungry and can easily sabotage your diet.

So, get the diet down, and develop a plan you can live with, then ride, not to speed weight loss, but to improve your overall health as you diet.
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Old 07-12-17, 12:38 AM
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Originally Posted by FBinNY View Post
then ride, not to speed weight loss, but to improve your overall health as you diet.
No, you ride for pleasure, the rest of the stuff is just a bonus

Oh lawd, how can I say I 'enjoyed' that 13km of climbing into a headwind I did this morning
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Old 07-12-17, 01:25 AM
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Originally Posted by tesn View Post
So no power meters I guess. I am looking into a heart rate set up. I suppose a Wahoo TICKR or Polar H7 does the trick. A lot of people say they use that + strava, which I don't understand cause Strava doesn't use HR to calculate calories burned. Does the Wahoo and Polar have their own respective phone apps that use the HR to show calories burned?

Maybe the Polar HT7, which does calculate calories burned, is of better use while cycling?
I use 100 calories for every 5 km ... or perhaps even 90 calories for every 5 km.
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Old 07-12-17, 01:28 AM
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And I agree with the others that heart rate is a poor way to measure calories burned.

I do wear a HRM, and interestingly, just before I climb a hill and actually exert myself, my heart rate goes up in anticipation (fear) of climbing. Am I burning more calories then? Nope. I'm riding along at a relaxed pace, not really exerting myself then. After a few minutes on the climb, my HRM drops ... but it does that at a time when I am actually exerting myself.

So my HR doesn't really reflect my exertion.
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Old 07-12-17, 08:19 AM
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Originally Posted by europa View Post
It just doesn't. If your diet is wrong, you'll consume far more unnecessary calories than you'll ever burn off. Getting the diet right is the most important thing and the first thing you need to do. The riding will take care of itself. Of course it'll help, but it's a bit player when it comes to weight loss.
Disagree. I started riding and didn't change my horrible diet. I lost 1 pound every week for 40 weeks. That was 6 years ago and I've kept it off by riding as much as I want and eating whatever I want. I probably eat more calories now than I did back then.

Calories out are just as important as calories in. The difference between them determines weight loss or gain.
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Old 07-12-17, 08:22 AM
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Originally Posted by Machka View Post
So my HR doesn't really reflect my exertion.
Agree. I wear a HRM because it was cheap and I like to target certain specific hear rates for certain rides. I'm doing a flat 100 miles next Sunday in 90-100 degree temperature and I think 155-160 bpm will be a good level of exertion to finish feeling good. But like I said above, I can make my heart rate go up or down while I'm sitting perfectly still. My caloric output difference is tiny, since the only muscle working more or less is my heart.
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Old 07-12-17, 11:11 AM
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Originally Posted by MikeOK View Post
True diet is the biggest factor. But consider this- the tdf guys burn 5000-6000 calories a day. That works out to about 500 cal/10 miles. If you are riding 20 miles that's 1000 cal. If you double that and ride 40 miles that's 2000 cal. That's pretty significant.
I would not use this as the basis for estimating my own caloric expenditure.
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Old 07-12-17, 11:19 AM
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Originally Posted by caloso View Post
I would not use this as the basis for estimating my own caloric expenditure.
That's probably a little high for us mere mortals. However I have used about 20 online calculators and for me at 270 lb's the average is about 80 cal/mile. My bike app uses hr and speed to calculate calories, and it shows over 100. I think that's a little high so I've adjusted the multiplier and we'll see if it's closer when I do my afternoon ride in a bit. Ugh, it's hot here in OK, supposed to be 95 and 70% humidity here.

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Old 07-12-17, 11:21 AM
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Originally Posted by MikeOK View Post
True diet is the biggest factor. But consider this- the tdf guys burn 5000-6000 calories a day. That works out to about 500 cal/10 miles. If you are riding 20 miles that's 1000 cal. If you double that and ride 40 miles that's 2000 cal. That's pretty significant.
Yes, but it's apples and oranges.

Just as cars significantly lose fuel economy at higher speeds, so do people. Once you pass 10mph or so, wind becomes the main source of drag. Since wind is proportional to the square of speed, racers riding at 20+ mph, are using 4 times the energy of those riding at 10 or so. So, that 50 calories per mile drops considerably.

In any case, it doesn't matter what you believe, what numbers or calculator you use or anything else. Your body will decide if you're eating more or less than what it needs to maintain weight, and that's all that counts.
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Old 07-12-17, 11:30 AM
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After using a power meter for a while, I've found I burn 8-10 calories a minute on a ride. Whether its 8 or 10 depends on intensity/effort.

I've also found that (at my current age/weight) if I net (eat-burn) more than 2,400 calories a day, I gain weight. If I net less than 2,400 calories a day, I lose weight.

I've also found that if I set my age, weight, bike weight, etc. very accurately on Strava, their guesstimation algorithms come back with similar calorie burn numbers as my power meter.

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Old 07-12-17, 11:38 AM
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Originally Posted by Jarrett2 View Post
After using a power meter for a while, I've found I burn 8-10 calories a minute on a ride. Whether its 8 or 10 depends on intensity/effort.

I've also found that (at my current age/weight) if I net (eat-burn) more than 2,400 calories a day, I gain weight. If I net less than 2,400 calories a day, I lose weight.

I've also found that if I set my age, weight, bike weight, etc. very accurately on Strava, their guesstimation algorithms come back with similar calorie burn numbers as my power meter.
That's 480-600/hour, about what I'm seeing online for a 170 lb person. I sent an email to Motifit asking what parameters they use to calculate calories and I'll report back here what they tell me. It's a great little app but I find the elevation is way off.
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