The Truth on Calorie Counting Products

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Sitting in a coffee shop last week, I overheard a male employee ask a regular customer, who also happens to be a personal trainer, how many calories he would burn if he walked on a treadmill at an incline for approximately one hour. Of course my ears perked up and I was eager to hear how this fellow trainer would respond now that my opinion of his competence hinged on his response. I glanced at my husband who also overheard the question and who obviously knew why I awaited the answer to the question. We then heard him say, “How would I know?”

You’re probably thinking that coming from a trainer, the response was inadequate.  The truth is, it was the perfect answer.

I immediately arose from my chair and clapped while I clearly agreed with this fellow trainer, introducing myself to him and stating congratulations for the honest and correct response. I was relieved to hear that his advice was sound.

To clear up why, he followed his response with the fact that no piece of equipment, regardless that it advertises the ability to monitor caloric burn for the user, can be totally accurate. We then shared the fact that everyone is different and there are too many variables such as an individual’s metabolism that affect caloric burn.

While there are many products on the market that claim the ability to measure your calorie burn while you work out, the truth is they are not accurate and offer an estimate at best. Most often, the computer is basing its calculations on a user’s current weight, height, age and gender.

Since people who are heavier tend to burn calories a bit faster as well as younger people, the numbers reflect only these variables but are not necessarily correct. The most important factor that affects calorie/energy burn is an individual’s metabolic rate.

There is no way these products factor this in except for the common belief that metabolic rates of males and younger people tend to be higher and that they decrease with age. But recent science is finding out that it is much more complicated than this.

I am not trying to say that these products have no value. I am just letting you know that the numbers may not be as accurate as you thought and that looking at them as an estimate is a better idea.

I also suggest, like I did in a previous article, that the best way to approach a sound fitness and healthier lifestyle should not be built around counting calories but instead should revolve around healthier food choices and increased activity that you enjoy. Choosing NUTRIENT dense foods over CALORIE dense foods and incorporating 40 minutes to an hour of moderate activity at least 5 times a week will work just as well if not better than trying to count calorie burn off rates.

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