When it comes to correctly measuring one’s calorie consumption during exercise, there are a number of myths floating around the Internet. Dr. Hande Hofmann from the Technical University of Munich explains it – and gives tips on how to effectively calculate the burn, and how apps and wearables help. Part 2 of the ISPO.com interviews.
The search engine "Google" alone offers over 4.9 million results to the question: "How many calories do I burn while exercising??". The calculations are, like the results sometimes very different.
Dr. Hande Hofmann is a research assistant at the Technical University of Munich (TUM). Her specialties at the School of Sport and Health Sciences, are nutrition and health, sport and the immune system, and nutritional supplementation and sport. It clarifies the possibilities of measurement in the consumption of calories.
Calculating calories: An important factor
Change the diet and do a lot of exercise – these are the principles of any diet. In 2021, you’ll be better informed about quality foods and know which sports really help you lose weight.
A bigger challenge is tracking consumption, because if you want to lose weight, you have to reach a calorie deficit. To have an overview of this deficit, the calories burned during sports must be measured. The bad measurability is often the reason why some people don’t see any progress – no wonder, because if you don’t have an overview of your consumption, you don’t know how much you are allowed to eat per day.
The following interview with expert Dr. Hande Hofmann provides answers to important questions about the intensity of sports, the measurability of calorie consumption and what to consider in general when losing weight.
A formula for calorie consumption
ISPO.com: Mrs. Dr. Hofmann, is there then a rule of thumb with which I can calculate my calorie consumption for the respective sport itself?
Hande Hofmann: Yes, this rule of thumb exists, but in the first step before calculating it, we are guided by an old rule, which is: How well can I entertain myself when I’m doing a sport? Let’s take a hike as an example: If I can talk normally during the tour and don’t really sweat, then we’re talking about the lower moderate load here.
When I notice that I have to concentrate on walking and the pace is above my normal intensity, so that I have to take a break from talking every now and then and I start to sweat, then I am in the moderate range, i.e. in my comfort zone. It is already exhausting, but I don’t have to exhaust myself yet. And if I then increase the pace even more, so that conversation is no longer possible, then I am in an intense load.
Three categories of burning
Can you categorize this?
You can divide the load into three categories, and then it depends on what I personally want to achieve:
- Category 1 "lower moderate load": Enjoy nature, the calories don’t matter
- Category 2 "moderate exertion": this includes light exercise. In this category my body already burns more calories than in the everyday load.
- Category 3 "intensive load": In this category training effects are achieved. It is a matter of increasing one’s own fitness and load capacity. In order to achieve this, you have to set a stimulus in the body and challenge it, i.e. go into intensive strain.
In the intensive load I not only do sports, but I train. Say: I set a stimulus that is beyond my personal norm and that I don’t always have, which is why the body has to adapt. With this I achieve effects. In the long run I lose weight, build up more muscle mass. There are different approaches, because it all depends on what you personally want to achieve.
How do I calculate my calorie consumption?
Once I have determined the categories, how can I then calculate my personal calorie consumption?
Let’s play this out for jogging: I jogged for one hour, I assign the intensity to the middle category, i.e. feel-good range. Then I can assume 1 kilocalorie per kilogram of body weight per hour. That would mean 600 kilocalories for a 60 kilogram person.
If you jog in the first category, i.e. lower moderate load, then you can use 0.7 to 0.8 kilocalories per kilogram of body weight per hour. In the intensive load/category 3 the factor is between 1.2 to 1.4.
App to measure calorie consumption
A very honest calculation .
Absolutely. This categorization helps very well to sharpen one’s own perception. If I arrive home with a few beads of sweat on my forehead after 30 minutes of jogging, then I have not burned 600 calories and therefore have not eaten a full meal.
With 30 minutes of jogging I have consumed about 250 calories as a woman. Then you have to be honest and say: It was nice, I moved, but I didn’t burn much.
Now I have a good formula to provide my sport units with calories, but with the food it becomes difficult again. How can I help myself here?
There are great apps for this, for example, that can help you calculate calories. Then I can estimate whether I go out with a minus, a plus or in balance. If the calorie consumption is balanced, it must be clear that you do not lose weight.
Apps: free calorie counter for newbies
And this is where apps can actually help?
Yes, I think so. Especially for people who have no idea what, for example, 100 or 200 calories are, these apps are ideal. I’ve also noticed this when working with our students, who are so intensively and almost playfully engaged with the apps that they get a feel for their content relatively quickly.
It’s not a question of having to be accompanied by an app for a year or having to monitor everything with the help of an app. From my perspective, apps should be considered more of a learning tool.
Wearables like a smartwatch also help with body weight
Can you recommend one app in particular?
I do not want to single out any, here everyone can filter out the most suitable for themselves. In addition to apps, there are now other good gadgets that track movement, for example, or fitness bracelets and smartwatches.
Here you can then have your average speed measured. These digital solutions then calculate the calories consumed based on body weight, gender and age. This works well. Of course, results may vary from app to app, but the differences are marginal.
To conclude the interview, we have answered the most frequently asked questions related to calorie tracking.
How many calories do you have to burn a day to lose weight??
you need a calorie deficit of 7.000 calories to lose one kilogram of weight.
What is the best app for calorie counting?
The most popular and one of the best fitness apps on the market is MyFitnessPal.
Smartwatch to lose weight: Does it work?
Smartwatches provide information about how many calories you burn while exercising. The most popular models include the Wear OS 3, Galaxy Watch 4 and the Xiaomi Mi Watch.
How many calories do you consume a day?
Men between the ages of 19 and 25 consume approx. 2.500 kcal. Women between 19 and 25 consume approx. 1.900 kcal. The rate decreases with increasing age.
How many calories to burn a day?
To lose 1 pound of body weight, you need to lose about 3.burn 500 calories (average).
Conclusion: calorie consumption during sports
There are more and more ways to measure your own calorie consumption and make your diet more efficient. Apps and smartwatches offer arguably the best assistance, although here too caution is advised – only a few providers perform convincingly in tests and can guarantee accurate measurement.
The key to success in dieting continues to be in the constant progress. If you exercise regularly and pay attention to a healthy diet, you will see success in the long run. The goal, after all, should not be a temporary diet, but the turnaround to a constant healthy lifestyle with plenty of exercise and quality foods.