Fitness TipsWeight Loss

The Skinny on Burning Calories

By November 4, 2012 February 27th, 2015 No Comments

If your fitness goal is weight loss, here’s an excellent example of how misperceptions can derail your best effort:

On Thursday, I decided to go the gym to get in a cardio workout. I hopped on the revolving stairs, aka the “gauntlet” for 45 minutes. I know, I know…it’s a little maniacal, but the calorie-burn-to-perceived-exertion on the gauntlet is equivalent to that of running.

I didn’t input any personal information into the machine, such as weight or age, nor was I wearing a heart rate monitor. I programmed my time for 45 minutes on ‘manual’ to control the level/steps per minute myself.

Below is a picture of the workout summary. The StairMaster calculated my workout burned 515 calories for 45 minutes. Based on my perceived exertion, I know the caloric expenditure was too generous, perhaps 25-30% too generous.  Had I been wearing my Polar heart rate monitor (programmed to my age, current weight, resting heart rate and maximum heart rate), I’m guessing my HR monitor would have estimated a caloric expenditure closer to 375 calories.

Here’s my personal trainer advice to you:

If you are counting calories (energy in) and estimating caloric expenditure (energy out) to lose weight, OVERESTIMATE the amount of calories you consume and UNDERESTIMATE the amount of calories you expend. My clients who have met their weight loss goals have done so by reading food labels, measuring portions, keeping a daily nutrition journal, and investing in a programmable heart rate monitor in order to get the most accurate representation of their calorie intake and expenditure.

Need more guidance? Check out AMC’s new Fit & Fab Small Group Postnatal Training program. Share the cost of having your own personal trainer and reach your goals in a motivating, supportive small group environment.