Fit Friday: calorie burning

Friday, September 25, 2009

If you are looking to gain or lose weight one thing you need to track is calories consumed vs calories expended. This needs to be tracked in order to promote the required results. I'm not really looking to lose anymore weight, but I am more interested in losing fat and then promoting muscle growth. To that end I bought a heart rate monitor (HRM) this week, a Polar F4.

On my cardio days I am doing intervals, and other than keeping a mental note of mph and time splits it's very hard to track the details for that, whereas with a HRM I just slip it on, click a button and just view it at the end :) Simple. Wednesday was my first cardio day with the HRM and I thought I'd do a little comparison of the HRM vs Treadmill calculation vs online calculation. I worked out for around 45 minutes. In that time I walked for 1 mile @ 4mph and ran for 3 miles with intervals ranging from 5 - 7 mph. I recorded the information from the HRM, from the treadmill and then rough estimate on calculations.
  • HRM = 345
  • Treadmill = 636
  • Livestrong = 344
As you can see the Treadmill was WAY off, almost double the amount I actually burned! Now IF I were tracking calories to lose weight that 300 calories the treadmill was over would be enough to throw my numbers totally out of whack! It takes a 500 cal deficit daily to lose 1lb each week. The treadmill overestimated enough reduce my weight loss by 50%! Instead of losing 1lb a week, I'd only lose 1/2lb, if that! Basically it would have taken me twice as long to lose any weight using their calculation! Yikes! The Livestrong site calculated pretty close (with my weight information) but it was quite a pain to go in and input all the data for 4-5-6-7 mph!

The other reason for a HRM is that as mentioned last week I am doing P90X workouts 3 days a week, and yoga 3 times a week and I had no way of tracking the calorie expenditure of those workouts. Even on Livestrong they overcalculate my actual calorie expenditure:
  • Yoga 40 mins HRM: 128
  • Yoga 40 mins Livestrong: 200
  • P90X HRM: 219
  • Weights* livestrong: 390
*(nearest thing to P90X on the site)

As you can see, the online calculations are WAY off! Again this could have serious implications for weight loss/gain. In all I am totally 110% happy with my decision to get a HRM! I'd advise anyone to get one if they are serious about losing weight.



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