How Accurate Are Cardio Machine Calorie Counters
Treadmills, ellipticals, stationary bikes … oh my! These days, there are so many cardio machines to play with at the gym. Most of these machines have a calorie counters on them that most people use as a way to gauge their workout. But how accurate are these calorie counters? Should you take these into account as your daily calorie burn?
Side tip: Don’t eat back the calories from exercise.
I’m here to clear things up, as I have many clients who say the following:-
“I burned 700 calories on the treadmill everyday this week, I should of lost more weight?!”
Sorry Karen, I have some bad news. The calorie calculator on these machines are off by 15% to 20%! The reason why they are so off, is because it’s impossible for each machine to take into account all the individual factors that come into play when it comes to how many calories an individual burns.
These factors include:
- Body composition (Fat to muscle ratio)
- Experience & efficiency: New runners usually burn more calories than more experienced runners, even at the same pace and distance. This is because beginners tend to be inefficient, running with a side-to-side movement and lots of bouncing up and down. These extra motions expend more energy than the experienced runner's efficient stride.
- Technique: If you are using the handrail on a treadmill or stepper, you may reduce your calorie burn because you're making the workout easier. You won't be swinging your arms naturally with your stride.
Well, what do we then?!
The good thing about these machines is that they are consistently inconsistent. So if you use the same equipment each time, don’t take the calorie burn as gospel but take it as a guide for how you’re doing compared to the last time you used the machine. For example, if you set a goal to “burn” 400 calories on the treadmill each time you go on it, aim for that every session even though it may not be exactly 400, but at least you have a target for each session.
Here are some other tips
Use your fitbit or apple watch as a guide
Aim for km instead
If the treadmill says that you burned 300 calories, take at least 20% off that total
Put your weight into the machine where possible (this make it a little more accurate)
Hope that helps! If you liked this blog you might also like this one I did, it has tips on how to make your Fitbit or apple watch more accurate too!