How many of you track the calories or macros you eat daily? Whether you are trying to lose weight, gain weight, put on muscle, or change your body composition, chances are you have an app on your phone to track your intake. Regardless of the end goal, this is one of the most common (and important!) parts of any fitness plan. Now-a-days fitness apps track a lot more then just how many calories you are eating; tracking things like how well you’re sleeping, how many ounces of water you’re drinking, and how many calories you are burning can help you reach your goals even faster. Many things factor into how many calories you burn, like your gender, age, height, weight, lean body mass, fitness level, and intensity and type of activity. This means that no two people burn the same number of calories, even if they are doing the same activity. While you can estimate how many calories you burn by doing the math yourself, it can get pretty complicated. On average women burn 12 calories per pound and men burn 15 calories per pound; add in the calories burned by exercise (for example, walking at 3-4 mph burns about 0.3 calories per pound of body weight) and you have an estimation for how many total calories you burned. Every type of activity burns a different amount of calories and our starting numbers are an estimate to begin with, so we know that this isn’t 100% accurate. Plus, math isn’t everyone’s cup of tea 😉 So it’s lucky for us that there are a lot of fitness trackers on the market that can do the hard work for us… but how accurate are they? Over the years, technology has definitely come a long way; depending on the wiggle room in your budget, options range from a simple pedometer style tracker to devices that monitor your heart rate and much more. Studies have shown that the accuracy between tracking devices can range anywhere from 80 to 90%, but the good news is that they are consistent. This means that if you do the same thing two days in a row, your tracker should tell you that you burned about the same number of calories. The only way to be completely sure you’re measuring your calorie expenditure accurately is to go to a lab and get hooked up to machines that measure everything from heart rate to the maximum amount of oxygen your body is using. The important thing to remember is that stressing over calculating accurate numbers will drive you crazy, not to mention that it’s not realistic as a long term plan. Tracking how many calories you burn can help you establish a baseline knowledge of your activity level, while helping you learn how different activities affect your caloric burn, which will put you on the right track to reaching your fitness goals!
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