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MOTIVATED@LAST Posts: 15,443
11/28/12 6:42 P

You should always be sceptical of any claim of burning more than 800 calories in an hour - only very fit people can support this level of intensity for that length of time.

I always get worried by people who place blind reliance on HRM's. Those with high blood pressure or on certain medications can get an increased heart rate, which leads to an HRM overestimating calories burned. Poor contact between the skin and the unit can also cause problems.

But when I see an HRM (especially a new one) reporting about double what you might otherwise expect, my suspicion is the units of measure. Check the settings and manual on your HRM. Some seem to default to using your weight in kilograms (1 kg = 2.2 lbs), which leads to a calorie estimate of about double what you are actually burning.

Spark's calorie counter assumes that calorie burn is proportional to your weight. This holds true for weight-bearing activities like running, walking, etc. But for activities like the elliptical, where you are working against the resistance of the machine rather than your bodyweight, this can lead to an overestimate for heavier people. (No personal judgement intended here - just describing how the math works).

The calorie counters on ellipticals aren't always the most accurate, but in this case, it seems like its the only one that is producing an even vaguely feasible estimate.


KRISTEN_SAYS SparkPoints: (81,428)
Fitness Minutes: (47,632)
Posts: 5,092
11/28/12 3:24 P

I always trust what my HRM says, but wow, that seems awfully high!

VBCABELLO72 Posts: 105
11/28/12 3:19 P

I'm having a little bit of the same issue with my Fitbit and SP. My Fitbit is giving me a calorie burn of more than 100 than what SP estimates. My main concern is the number of calories SP is allowing me per day. I think it is too high, since I have only lost about 5 lbs in 6 weeks and all 5 of those were in the first week. I haven't lost since. I have chosen to eat fewer calories this week. I hope that it will help instead of hurt me.

KJELLYBEAN15 Posts: 240
11/28/12 3:06 P

Thank you very much for your time. I will check my user's manual and see if I can get it adjusted.

SPARK_COACH_JEN Posts: 65,540
11/28/12 3:00 P

If I had to guess, I'd say a realistic number would be somewhere between what the elliptical and SP are telling you. The HRM number sounds way too high, so you might want to double-check the settings on it to make sure it's giving you accurate information.

Coach Jen

KJELLYBEAN15 Posts: 240
11/28/12 2:26 P

Sorry. It's for 65 minutes.

SPARK_COACH_JEN Posts: 65,540
11/28/12 2:25 P

How long is the workout?

Coach Jen

KJELLYBEAN15 Posts: 240
11/28/12 2:24 P


Elliptical - 718 cals
Spark People - 1006 cals
Heart Rate Monitor - 1284 cals

SPARK_COACH_JEN Posts: 65,540
11/28/12 2:17 P

What kind of differences are you seeing? Can you give an example?

Coach Jen

11/28/12 1:54 P

If you are looking for accuracy I suggest you use none since all are based on averages which automatically excludes 50% of a given population and are only marginally accurate for a minority of the other 50%. Chose one and use it consistently to give you some sort of number if you want/need a number to post.

It is more accurate to monitor the calories you take in since those values are laboratory research based. The only caveat with those values is that portion sizes are often less than what is normally consumed to lower the calorie number.

KJELLYBEAN15 Posts: 240
11/28/12 1:07 P


I often see a significan difference in the calories that the elliptical says that I have burned compared to what Spark People says I have burned. I have been using the one from the elliptical because it is considerably less and I didn't want to overestimate what I was doing.

Last weekend I purchased a heart rate monitor with chest strap. This has recorded even higher than Spark People. Now the wheels are turning and I now have even more questions.

Which one would you use?

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