Don’t Be Fooled
You know that calories are the most important factor in weight loss. How can you know how many you are burning? If you step on any cardio machine, it will give you this little miracle number of how many calories you are burning. But is that accurate? If you aren’t completely sure, then you can’t be completely sure that you will lose weight.
The Treadmill Doesn’t Know You
The cardio machines don’t know you. Even if you put in your age and weight, it doesn’t know if your weight is mostly body fat or muscle. Muscle burns more calories than body fat because it is a high maintenance tissue, meaning that it takes more energy to maintain. Even if the total weight is the same between two people, the person with more muscle will burn more calories. That is why a 200 lb, 6 ft man that is mostly muscle will burn more calories than a 200 lb, 5 ft female that has more body fat. It also explains why men typically lose weight faster than women. They burn more calories because they have more muscle. So, when you put in your weight on a treadmill, it doesn’t know you and can’t give an accurate calorie burn.
Is It Really That Far Off?
Yes. University of California, San Francisco’s Human Performance Center tested the accuracy of various cardio machines. Treadmill’s were found to overestimate caloric burn by 13%. Stair climbers were found to overestimate caloric burn by 12%. The elliptical was the most shocking by overestimating caloric burn by a whopping 42%. The following table demonstrates the difference between what the cardio machines are telling you and what you may actually burning.
Equipment Estimated Caloric Burn Actual Caloric Burn
Treadmill 800 calories 696 calories
Stairclimber 800 calories 704 calories
Elliptical 800 calories 464 calories
If you are eating as if you are burning 800 calories when you are actually only burning 464 calories, you could be overeating by almost 500 calories every single day. This would result in GAINING 1 pound per week.
So What Can You Do?
Ignore what the cardio equipment is saying and get yourself a wearable tracker, like a fitbit or apple watch. By wearing a tracker, you can customize it to your own personal body as well as track your calories throughout the whole day. Most trackers allow you to input your height, weight, body fat percentage, health history, and lifestyle. This allows for a more accurate caloric burn estimate. Wearing a tracker also allows you to track all of your movement. Your workout is only 1 hour of your day. But what about the other 23 hours? What you do the rest of the day will make a significant impact on how many calories you burn. A wearable tracker is the best way to go.
The cardio equipment will fool you. It can often be as much as 42% over when estimating your caloric burn. This will greatly impede your weight loss goals. The best thing to do is get a wearable tracker, such as a fitbit, to determine how many calories you burn in a day. Take control of your caloric burn and take control of your life.