Counting the number of calories burned during the day is an important part of achieving fitness goals.
Your weight loss plan is based on eating fewer calories and increasing total daily energy expenditure (TDEE), as it allows the body to utilize stored fat. Knowing how many calories you are burning through activity helps devise a diet and workout plan for fast and sustainable weight loss.
In this post, we discuss the calories burned calculator, its variables, working, and limitations. Additionally, we explain how you can use the estimated calories burned to attain a healthy body weight.
What Is Calories Burned Calculator?
Calories are units of energy that are produced via metabolism (breakdown of food products). This energy is utilized to carry out all the functions and physiological processes of the body.
As we discussed, the calories burned calculator is an online tool that estimates how many calories your body uses for a specific activity.
Each calculator is optimized for only a standard set of basic physical activities like walking, jogging, running, different intense gym and at-home exercises, etc.
A calories burned calculator is built with estimated MET values, which are then substituted in a formula to check the amount of energy expenditure.
Variables Of Calories Burned Calculator
Here are the variables of a calories burned calculator:
The choice of exercise is an important determinant of the number of calories burned.
Your heart rate during an activity affects energy cost, and this defines how many calories you burn through the particular exercise.
For example, jogging is more strenuous than brisk walking, which is why the latter burns fewer calories than jogging on the same surface. Similarly, cardio is more intense than resistance exercise (strength training) and, therefore, uses up more calories.
Exercise duration is proportional to intensity, which directly affects the number of calories burned through activity.
Given the direct relationship between the two factors, longer workout routines understandably burn more calories. It is essential to mention that sustained workout duration is often more important than its intensity.
This is why moderate but frequent exercise plans are often considered better than a high-intensity workout that is difficult to perform for longer periods.
Your body weight is an important deciding factor for the number of calories burned in an activity. This is because things affecting calorie consumption, like basal metabolic rate (BMR) and total daily energy expenditure (TDEE), are defined by weight.
Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR)
Basal metabolic rate or BMR is the minimum amount of energy you need for survival. It is essentially the caloric expenditure when your body is physically, and mentally inactive, in the state of absolute fasting.
For someone having more weight and body surface, energy requirements will be high, which implies high BMR.
Total daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE)
Total daily energy expenditure (TDEE) is the total number of calories burned in a day. For a person having more body mass, calorie needs will be higher, and so will the TDEE.
Other Factors Affecting Calories Burned
Here are some factors not considered by the calories burned calculator that affects your caloric expenditure:
Your body’s metabolism and composition change with age. In growing children and young adults, energy needs are high, which is why the metabolic rate (the speed at which food products are broken down) is also higher.
Other than that, young individuals also have higher lean muscle mass and comparatively lower fat percentage. Muscles need the energy to contract and relax, even when at rest, which also determines how many calories are burned.
In contrast to young individuals, older adults and seniors have a slow metabolism, as the metabolic rate starts decreasing by 2 to 3% every ten years once you hit 20.
The slow metabolic rate, coupled with naturally high body fat percentage leads to lower energy use. This is one of the main reasons why middle to old age is one of the risk factors for obesity.
Gender and Body Composition
Body composition and metabolic rate vary with gender.
Men tend to have more muscle mass and low body fat in comparison to women. Additionally, they also have a comparatively higher metabolic rate, which enables a fast breakdown of fats. This prevents excess fat from depositing in the body.
In contrast, women have slower metabolism, low lean muscle mass, and higher body fat percentage. Therefore, they need and burn fewer calories than men.
Weather is another factor affecting metabolism and calories burned.
At low temperatures, your body increases its metabolic rate to generate heat. This heat is part of the natural homeostatic mechanism of the body, which keeps your internal organs and intracellular structure intact and functional.
Homeostasis system always maintains body temperature within the optimal range, and this is made possible by variations in metabolic rate.
Your fitness level and physical activity also affect calories burned. In two people performing the same exercise, the one in better shape will need to use less calories due to stamina.
What you eat affects your metabolism. People eating protein-rich foods tend to have better metabolism because proteins have the highest thermic effect of the three macronutrients (proteins, carbs, and fats).
The thermic effect of food is the number of calories required to break it down.
Fats have the lowest thermic effect of food, which is why it often slows down the metabolic rate.
Body needs rest to keep the organs functioning optimally. Lack of sleep causes fatigue which slows down metabolism, decreasing the number of calories burned with activity.
How To Calculate Calories Burned In An Activity?
Calories burned in an activity are estimated via the MET value of the said activity.
Metabolic equivalents of task (MET) refers to the number of calories burned during an activity in relation to your resting metabolic rate (RMR).
The resting metabolic rate or RMR is the calories burned when your body is physically at rest. Although it appears closely related to BMR, the two are different because BMR is the minimum number of calories you need for survival.
The metabolic equivalent (MET value) for a particular task is calculated via heart rate (the number of times your heart beats in a minute). In an average person, it is 70 bpm (beats per minute), however, individual values can vary due to health conditions.
MET value = Heart rate during the activity / maximum heart rate
Max heart rate is the highest number of beats your heart can reach in a strenuous exercise. Here’s how it is calculated:
Maximum heart rate = 220 – age
By substituting the required values, you can calculate the MET value for any activity. 1 MET is roughly equivalent to 1 calorie per kilogram of the body weight.
Once you have your own MET for a task, you divide it with the
While heart rate is used to calculate MET, it is not a precise measure of metabolic equivalents of task (MET) because resting heart rates and maximum heart rates vary for each individual.
Therefore, for a more accurate depiction of MET, a person’s oxygen consumption during the exercise is considered, since it has a linear relationship with intensity.
MET values for several physical activities have been determined by collecting results from studies on heart rhythms and oxygen consumption. This data is pre-fed into a calories burned calculator.
Calculating Calories Burned
Here’s the formula used by a calculator to estimate calories burned during an activity:
Calories burned = (Time x MET x Body Weight) / 200
In the above equation, time is the duration of exercise in minutes, and body weight is to be entered in kg.
Note that you don’t have to calculate the MET for an exercise since a calculator is developed with MET values for specific exercises based on data. You just have to select the activity you’re performing from the whole list of options available on display.
Limitations Of Calories Burned Calculator
The calories burned calculator has certain limitations because variations in heart rate imply that MET is not 100% accurate. Additionally, several factors, like age, gender, environmental temperature, etc., are not factored in when calculating the number of calories burned.
While the calculator can give you a rough estimate, you need to get lab tests done for accurate calculation and personal result.
How To Lose Weight Using Calories Burned Calculator?
Knowing how many calories your body burns in an activity is helpful in weight loss.
Estimating How Many Calories You Need In A Day
Weight loss goals are usually set by estimating how many calories you need to lose in a day. This can be done by a BMR, a TDEE, and a calorie calculator.
If you want to lose weight, your total calories intake should be lower than your energy expenditure or TDEE. However, to avoid a calorie deficit, it is crucial to ensure your BMR needs are met (BMR is generally 60 to 70% of TDEE).
Type and Intensity Of Workout Plan
Once you decide on your daily calorie intake, check which exercises are feasible for you. Even if you cannot afford the gym, at-home workouts like squats, planks, lunges, etc., also help with sustainable weight loss.
Check the calories burned for your chosen exercises, as well as for your general activity level, and incorporate them accordingly in your plan.
Here, it is crucial to mention that the type and intensity of exercise affect the type of calories burned. For example, high-intensity workouts like HIIT training tend to break down proteins for energy, whereas mild to moderate exercises help burn fat.
Since most people aim to reduce body fat percentage for fitness, it is better to go for low-impact exercises for longer durations. Some examples include:
- Swimming (with speed intervals)
- Jumping jacks
Other Weight Loss Tips
Apart from exercise, there are certain other practices that help lose weight.
When it comes to eating, you can consider the IIFYM or If It Fits Your Macros plan. Contrary to other low-calorie diets, this meal plan is based on the idea that you can eat anything you want as long as you are tracking your macros.
Macronutrients are what make up most of your body weight. They are of three types, i.e., proteins, carbs, and fats. A gram of proteins and carbs each yields four calories. However, a gram of fats is metabolized to produce nine calories of energy.
Due to their different body distribution, metabolic rates, and functions, the recommended quantity of each macro in their daily food intake is different.
For proper nutrition, an adult diet should ideally comprise of:
- 45 to 65% carbs
- 10 to 35% proteins
- 20 to 35% fats
All three of these macros are essential for the body. Proteins are an important energy source that help build lean muscle mass. Additionally, they are also required to synthesize enzymes, which are crucial to regulate metabolism.
Carbohydrates, on the other hand, are an instant source of energy. Glucose solutions are often given to athletes to quickly restore stamina. They are extremely important for cognitive development, which is why lack of carbs in diet can cause mental disabilities, fatigue, brain fog, memory disturbances, etc.
Fats are also a critical part of nutrition. They are essential for absorption of vitamins A, D, E, and K. Additionally, they are also an important energy reserve in fasting state. brain development, especially in children is dependent on body fat, which is why adequate fat intake should always be ensured.
To prevent any health complications, it is crucial to ensure your weight loss meal consists of all three macros within the healthy range.
Apart from IIFYM, some other general tips for weight loss process include:
- Avoid drinking
- Quit smoking
- Have an active lifestyle
- Ensure most calories in your diet are healthy. For example, avoid margarine because it contains trans or saturated fat that can lead to unhealthy weight gain.
- To feel full for long hours without gaining weight, consider increasing the fiber content in your meals
- Drink adequate amounts of water
- Eat regular meals
- Do not skip breakfast