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Are the calorie burn counters on ellipticals and other cardio machines at the gym accurate?


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After putting your weight in, do you think the calories the machines say you burn are the calories you have actually burned? I have wondered this for a while. I weigh 105 pounds and I will go on the elliptical for 25-30 minutes at around 75-80% and burn around 250 calories. I just feel like I am not really burning that much.

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The machines usually say I burned less than what cc says, so I think they're probably close. 10 calories/minute seems a little high for you. That's around what I burn on machines and i'm like 200lbs

They go by body weight, the same a CC, so both are limited. Either way, what the machines tell you, what CC tells you, they are only meant to be approximations, guides, but I'd say they are both accurate enough to believe what they say. At the same time, it depends on the quality of the machine. I burn more than 10/min and I weighed 170, but at the same time I am advanced trainer and work on really high levels. But I think 10/calories per minute is about average, but for that low a weight, you are probably at like 7/calories per minute, unless your heart rate 180 plus the entire workout. 

Most machines are designed to read a calorie count based on the assumption that the person using it is of average weight (150 lbs).  Which means that it's basically not accurate for most people.

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Original Post by rystastic:

Most machines are designed to read a calorie count based on the assumption that the person using it is of average weight (150 lbs).  Which means that it's basically not accurate for most people.

Even on machines where you put your weight in?

No clue.  None of the ellipticals at my gym have you put in your weight.  I assume that if they do, they use the standard calculator using your weight, which is only as accurate as the calculator to estimate your burn/day.  A good estimate but not very exact.

My heart rate monitor usually says I burn 6-7 calories a minute while the elliptical is tell me I burn 10-12 calories a minute.  This is even on the machines that I am able to adjust for age and weight.   CC is usually in  line with the machine. I trust my hrm more in this particular instance I have decided. I am just really efficient on the elliptical.  I can go hard without actually working too hard... if that makes any sense.

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Original Post by jdzoga:

I'm really worried by this as well. I have a high end elliptical at home that I can enter my weight into and the calories burned is way off from what cc says in its activity logger, even when I use the light effort option. I'm 5'7 and 260lbs, my elliptical says I'm burning about 260 for a 30 minute workout but cc puts it at nearly 500. I don't know what to go by and I really don't want to over eat as a result when I'm trying to keep my deficit between -500 and -1000.

Go by your heart rate. Sounds complicated, but it isn't. Of course this is subjected to fitness level, but it's fairly accurate. Working out at a heart rate of 150 burns about 500 calories an hour. 

Original Post by dannyc249:

Original Post by jdzoga:

I'm really worried by this as well. I have a high end elliptical at home that I can enter my weight into and the calories burned is way off from what cc says in its activity logger, even when I use the light effort option. I'm 5'7 and 260lbs, my elliptical says I'm burning about 260 for a 30 minute workout but cc puts it at nearly 500. I don't know what to go by and I really don't want to over eat as a result when I'm trying to keep my deficit between -500 and -1000.

Go by your heart rate. Sounds complicated, but it isn't. Of course this is subjected to fitness level, but it's fairly accurate. Working out at a heart rate of 150 burns about 500 calories an hour. 

It sounds complicated, because it is (at least there is more involved than you state here). There are a couple of ways of using heart rate to get to calories burned, but a blanket rule like 150 bpm burns 500 cal/hr for everybody isn't one of the ways. BTW, I burn 60% more than that, when my heart rate is at 150 bpm.

 

Original Post by oldguysrule:

 than you state here). There are a couple of ways of using heart rate to get to calories burned, but a blanket rule like 150 bpm burns 500 cal/hr for everybody isn't one of the ways. BTW, I burn 60% more than that, when my heart rate is at 150 bpm.

 

I won't argue, when I'm wrong, I'm wrong. Part of the reason I use this site. Thanks for pointing that out. I'm not really sure where I came up with that number to begin with. My burn number is around 850?

Anyway, for the sake of correctness, here is an approximate calculator for calories based on heart rate. Still is subjected to fitness level, but should give you an idea about how much you burn. 

http://www.shapesense.com/fitness-exercise/ca lculators/heart-rate-based-calorie-burn-calcu lator.aspx

Original Post by dannyc249:

Original Post by oldguysrule:

 than you state here). There are a couple of ways of using heart rate to get to calories burned, but a blanket rule like 150 bpm burns 500 cal/hr for everybody isn't one of the ways. BTW, I burn 60% more than that, when my heart rate is at 150 bpm.

 

I won't argue, when I'm wrong, I'm wrong. Part of the reason I use this site. Thanks for pointing that out. I'm not really sure where I came up with that number to begin with. My burn number is around 850?

Anyway, for the sake of correctness, here is an approximate calculator for calories based on heart rate. Still is subjected to fitness level, but should give you an idea about how much you burn. 

http://www.shapesense.com/fitness-exercise/ca lculators/heart-rate-based-calorie-burn-calcu lator.aspx

cool site, with lots of information. For me (178 lbs) it gives over 900 cal/hr at 150 beats per minute, and I used the the two different calculators. That is a bit higher than I actually burn. The error comes from the fact that that calculator estimates my max heart rate from my age, so it thinks 150 bpm is closer to my max than it actually is.

 

Thank you for that link, Danny! That's really helpful.

Thanks for sharing the link!

I am going to play around with it some more, but the results I was getting based on using the 20 second approximation were rather generous to me in terms of suggested calories burned.

I plan to try to be more precise when I use the calculator again.

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