As most people know calories are a measure of energy. Calories in food come from carbohydrates, protein and fat (and some calories from alcohol). When we ingest calories we use them for our metabolism to do physical activity and every day activities such as breathing, talking etc. Calories that we don’t use in these processes get stored as fat until they’re used later.
When the calories that we don’t use are stored it is because they were not used immediately to carry out our activities, but if calories are burned through physical exercise or other forms of activity they will be used immediately and therefore calories will not accumulate in fat stores.
There are a few ways that can be assessed:
- By calories in vs calories out (this is the most common way people lose weight)
- Through indirect calorimetry (exercise machine as seen at the gym, usually only found in hospitals and clinics though.)
The ‘calories in calories out’ method is where calories are calculated by calories consumed in food and calories expended through physical activity. The calories burned have to be above calories ingested so that they don’t accumulate in fat stores, calories accumulated in a day is a good way of measuring whether weight loss has been successful.
Unfortunately this method doesn’t take into account calories expended by an individual during different types of exercise or activities.
To do this calories burned calculation, the calories expended for each activity would need to be measured separately and then added together. This can get very tedious and becomes difficult if people carry out different types of exercise every day or week (which is recommended).
Indirect calorimetry measures burn calories through indirect means which also takes into account calories expended through different types of exercise and activity. For example calories burned during yoga would need to be measured separately and added together with calories burned during weight training in order for the total burn calories to accurately reflect calories consumed.
This is an accurate way of measuring calories but it can get pricey when buying machines for home or when having enough equipment to estimate calories expended for a number of activities.
Little think about energy
There are many ways to track energy expenditure. Traditionally people used the Harris-Benedict Equation which is reasonably accurate for sedentary people but nearly useless for athletic people. To measure energy expenditure more accurately, scientists and physicians use the energy in kilojoules (kJ) which is energy per volume or energy per mass. The energy in kilojoules is then multiplied by the number of hours that the activity lasted in order to find energy expenditure in kilojoules per hour.
How do you calculate that how many calories burned accurately?
The most accurate way calories can be measured is through indirect calorimetry. This is because calories burned are measured indirectly and calories consumed are not the only factor which influence weight loss or gain. Other factors such as types of physical activity also play a role, but this article focuses on calories burned accurately.
This method takes into account calories expended through different types of physical activity and therefore calories burned are calculated more accurately. Also this method is very time consuming (and costly) when it comes to measuring calories for numerous activities because each activity would need to be measured separately.
Most people who lose weight or track calories burned use the ‘calories in calories out’ method, however calories expended through different types of exercise are not taken into account.
This method is inaccurate because calories burn through different types of physical activity are not made up for with calories consumed in food and therefore weight loss goals or gain will be affected. This article did not compare calories in calories out with calories expended during specific activities, but this would require another article to do that!
To conclude, daily calories burned can be most accurately measured through indirect calorimetry. This is because calorie burn during different types of exercise are taken into account and this method is not time consuming or costly compared to calories in calories out methods.
However calories expended can only be fairly accurate if someone carries out numerous activities with enough equipment to expend and the calories expended for each activity. Therefore calories in calories out is an easier and less costly way of measuring calories although it’s not as accurate.
Which app is most accurate for track calorie burn?
There are plenty of calories trackers on the market for both Android and iOS devices. The most commonly used calorie tracker is MyFitnessPal which can be used to track calorie intake throughout the day as well as calories burn. However it has been found that this app doesn’t measure calories burn accurately and its calorie burning measurements vary from one person to the next and from one day to the next.
However, Fit Notes is a very accurate way of fitness trackers through different forms of physical activity. The app works by inputting various types of exercises and tracking the calories expended during each specific activity. This app has been featured in many health journals and websites such as Time, NY Daily News and NY Business Journal.
Another app which is fairly accurate for fitness tracker is Nike+. This app tracks how much you run/walk and calculates the amount of more calories burned through this activity, however it’s fairly inaccurate when it comes to other forms of physical daily activities.
Fit Notes has proved that it accurately measures energy expended through different types of physical activity. It has been featured in countless journals and websites for this reason.
However there are many other apps on the market which measure energy expenditure through various activities so it’s important to do your research before committing to an app!
MyFitnessPal currently doesn’t accurately track more energy expenditure but they have announced that they will be updating their data to include more sports, exercises and activities as a result of recent updates and also check the basal metabolic rate. This means that MyFitnessPal may become a more accurate way of measuring energy expenditure over time measure heart rate, and fitness level.