How Accurate Is Your Fitness Tracker’s Calorie Estimate?

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Many people are using fitness trackers and fitness applications to help them deal with or lose weight but how will you know the calories burned estimate is accurate for your workouts? Every fitness tracker I have used provides me a different estimate for the same workout. Some email address details are outlandish as is the case with Google Fit downright.

It usually suggests I’ve burned a good 200 calories from fat more than my Garmin Fenix 5s or Samsung Gear Sport. Then there’s also an improvement between the Fenix and the Gear Sport as well, with the Fenix estimating greater than the Gear Sport. The Fitbit Blaze gives me a lower estimate than both.

So which one must i believe? Fitbit Surge, Basic Peak, Microsoft Band, Mio Alpha 2, PulseOn, and the Samsung Gear S2. Its estimated error for EE was 27.4%. The PulseOn was off by 92.6% in the study. Interestingly, the cheapest relative mistake for all of the devices was for walking and working calories and worse for rest calorie consumption.

Also, the error rate for heart rate was higher for males than for females which can throw off energy costs estimates even more. As the Stanford research doesn’t help me with regards to the trackers I’ve, it does point out the wide discrepancies between calorie estimates between fitness trackers. While most do a good job with heartrate estimates, they still aren’t so great with calorie estimations. Well, to possibly help you regulate how accurate your particular fitness tracker is you’ll need to do some math. It’s important to comprehend what MET is.

It is basically defined as the ratio for calories burnt per hour when you’re at the job (walking, working, chopping wood, cleaning dishes, etc.) to your resting metabolic rate (when you’re sitting down or sleeping). Every activity has their own MET value which is what can be used in the computation to determine how many calories you’re actually burning. Fitness trackers likely use these in their algorithms to estimate energy costs (calorie burn off) but also use other factors to higher or lesser degrees.

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For example, sitting has a value of one MET, and therefore you burn 1 calorie per kilogram of weight per hour. So if you weigh 145 pounds (about 66kg), you burn off at rest 66 calories from fat each hour. Activities that you perform will certainly have a higher MET value than 1 because you’re expending more energy to perform the experience than when you’re just sitting down still. So if you know the MET value for whatever particular activity you’re doing then you can plug that into the following equation.

Of course you’ll need to find out the MET value for the activity and you can find that by visiting the Compendium of Physical Activities site. If you hover over Activity Categories in the top menu a list of different activities appears. For my estimate, I decided to go with walking since I walked on the fitness treadmill last night.

According the website the MET value for walking at an average speed of 3.5 mph is 4.3. There’s several different METs for walking because not absolutely all walking is the same! So here we go for my calorie estimate! 189.2 calories from fat (Remember I must divide by 1.5 since I strolled 40 minutes not 60) And now you also understand how much I consider, well if you understand the metric system that is. Thank heavens Americans don’t know it very well. Tonight, I’ll try to walk at 3.5 mph for 40 minutes and find out what the difference is. Shcherbina A, Mattsson CM, Waggott D, Salisbury H, Christle JW, Hastie T, Wheeler MT, Ashley EA.

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