19120 N Pima Rd #100, Scottsdale, Arizona 85255

Tracking Calorie Burn During Your Workout

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How many calories should you burn in a workout? I often hear people say things like, “I burned 600 calories during that workout!” With the increasing popularity of tools like the Apple watch and Fitbit, people are tracking their workout metrics more than ever and calories is usually one of the main things they look at. The problem, tracking calories isn’t accurate.

Several years ago, Stanford did a study where they tested the most popular fitness tracking tools. They found that while all we’re pretty accurate at measuring heart rate, none could accurately measure calories burned. In fact, the most accurate was off by 27 percent and the worst was off by over 90 percent. That’s huge, especially if you’re relying on that data to make dietary decisions.

Now that we’ve established that there is no way for the average person to accurately track calories burned during a workout, allow me to say, it doesn’t matter anyway!

If you love looking at data and seeing the colors and graphs motivates you, then awesome! Who am I to stop you!? I would suggest you start using heart rate as your primary metric though. Heart rate is accurately tracked by these tools and there are a lot of cool things you can do with your training, when focusing on target heart rate zones. However, if you find you work harder by seeing the calorie burn, then great. Keep doing it! Just don’t make dietary decisions based on the numbers.  

Nutrition and calories often get tied together. Similar to how working out and calories often get tied together. They shouldn’t be though. Focusing on nutrition, means focusing on nutrients, not calories. I wouldn’t go as far as saying the calories don’t matter at all, but they really don’t if you’re focusing on the right things. The same goes for working out.

If you’re working out to burn calories, then you’re doing it wrong. You’d be much better off working out to get stronger, move better, and increase your aerobic capacity. Doing so, increases your basal metabolic rate, which means you’re burning more calories 24/7, even when you’re sleeping.

I guess to sum it up, eat right and exercise!

Tools, metrics, and graphs are great. They can be helpful tools to get you to continue to push yourself and up your game. Plus, the community features many of them now have is great to keep you motivated and connected with friends. However, I want you to focus on the right things. So if you love these tools, then keep using them, but focus on the things that actually matter. 

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