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Explaining Calorie Counting Confusion

Why Nutracheck figures and gym equipment figures often disagree!

Occasionally you may find a difference between the calorie burn figure on gym equipment, and the figure given by Nutracheck's exercise diary. Here are some of the reasons why....

Intensity of exercise

Fat-burner programs that you find on exercise bikes, X-trainers and treadmills work specifically to maintain a very manageable, comfortable heart rate, approximately within a range of 45%-65% of a person's maximum heart rate.

The purpose of this range is to optimise the percentage of fat used as fuel during the workout. At a fat burner heart rate (45%-65%) you would burn calories within a range of 350-380 per hour.

The Nutracheck figures are based on 'intense' bouts of cardiovascular activity (for example, cycling) and the word intense is the crucial component here. Although the mileage may be similar, the work rate to achieve it would be very different. Fat burning programs ensure the resistance you pedal against is not so difficult for the individual that it would raise their heart rate above 65% of MHR (Maximum Heart Rate).

With 'intense' cycling (as Nutracheck describes), the speed would be achieved working against a much higher resistance that would demand the person to work very hard, requiring a heart rate well above 65% (65%-95% of MHR) for the duration of the distance/time.

Remember, the higher your heart rate - the more calories you burn!

Bodyweight and fitness

Gym equipment can vary a lot in terms of calorie estimates and tend to give slower calorie expenditure, as they only take weight into consideration and not the rest of the additional effects of the exercise (like increased metabolic rate and muscle activation).


The walking, running and cycling figures within the Nutracheck exercise listings are based around outside activities (although they can be adapted for gym sessions). They are slightly higher because with outside exercise there is a greater potential for calorie burning that relates to the propulsion phase, where we push off the ground to move forwards.

Also, exercising on rough rather than flat, artificial terrain means that your muscles have to move in different ways. This can add to your calorie expenditure.

Don't overestimate!

It is frustrating when calorie approximations vary. However, you should never go with the higher of any two differing figures for calories burned as this may lead to over-estimation and subsequent false calculations. Play it on the safe side and take an average of two figures. Otherwise you'll only be short-changing yourself!

You are advised to seek medical advice before making any changes to your diet or lifestyle with an aim of weight loss. This website and the content provided should not be used by persons under 18, by pregnant or nursing women, or individuals with any type of health condition, except under the direct supervision of a qualified medical professional. The information contained in these articles, and elsewhere on this website, is provided for educational and entertainment purposes only, and is not intended to replace, and does not constitute legal, professional, medical or healthcare advice or diagnosis and may not be used for such purposes. Continue...

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