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How I Calculate my Net Calories

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

A lot of people have been asking me this so here we go! Here is how I calculate my net calories...
I don't remember what website I found this formula on but you need to calculate your BMR

Base BMR = 655 + (4.35*Weight) + (4.7*Height) - (4.7*Age)
Weight is in lbs, Height in inches
But you have to account for a sedentary lifestyle so...
BMR = Base BMR * 1.2 (also from that website)

I prefer my burned calories to be negative so we'll show it as such.
Net Calories = Calories Eaten - Calories Burned - BMR

So for yesterday, my BMR was 1768, I ate 1541, and I burned 317 in a workout. So...
Net Calories = 1541 - 317 - 1768 = -544
So that is an excess of 544 calories burned! -500 calories per day = -3500 per week which is 1 pound lost! So to lose 1-2 pounds per week, you want to burn between -500 and -1000 per day on average. Easy!

I have to tell you all that I've been tracking this on a spreadsheet for over a year now. When I don't track my food, I estimate or just put in 2000 calories eaten. The spreadsheet says that I should have lost 40.1lbs over the time I've been tracking. I have actually lost 42.5 lbs so that is pretty darn close!

As for measuring calories during a workout, I have a heart rate monitor for workouts like Group Power, Zumba, workout DVDs. As for runs, I just use what my CardioTrainer, Nike+ sensor, SP, or the treadmill tell me (since its hard to get a reading with my HRM when running). I'd like to get a HRM with a chest strap. Maybe for Christmas hun??? (I know he reads my blogs!!!) I didn't think I would like it but I think it would be easier to use. Maybe I will get used to it? Does anyone have one and can tell me what they think?

By the way, if anyone has Microsoft Excel on their computer and would like a blank copy of my Net Calories Spreadsheet, I can email it to them. Just send me a sparkmail with your email address!

I hope this helps and was easy to understand! It is the same type of calculations that SP uses to figure out your ranges but my weekly calories burned varies so much I wanted something I could adjust myself. This has worked great for me. Also, in times of plateaus, its easy to see what is going on. If you are in the negatives, you are burning and should lose but if you had a lot of days in the positives, you are overeating and not burning enough! Its all black and white and no arguing! Let me know if you have more questions everyone! And like I said, feel free to ask for a copy of the spreadsheet!

Edit: Found the website I used:

But remember that if you use the "active lifestyle" calculations, you shouldn't add in again the calories you burned that day. That is how SP calculates it for you. It estimates how many calories you typically burn and then gives you your ranges. I want to go day by day without assuming I burn the same amount of calories each week which is why I use the sedentary lifestyle BMR. That way, when I burn calories, I just put them in the formula for Net calories for the day! That is a little confusing I'm sure but its the best way I can explain it!
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    I do something similar, but since I don't have an HRM I use Spark's estimates for exercise and my own numbers for food ranges... As long as I burn an average of at least 417cal. on exercise/day over a week, I am fine.
    2769 days ago
    i have a polar F6 and LOVE it! it has absolutely changed the way in which i work out (seeing numbers works for me). at first it was weird to have the chest strap but now i don't even notice it [i've kept it on for 24 hours a few times to double check my BMR]. i got it in my favorite color (bright green) so i wear it as a watch every day too =) .

    i would love a copy of your excel spreadsheet! i'm messaging you my email now!

    keep up the great work girlie!
    2769 days ago
    Interesting....thanks for sharing. You are doing amazing on your weight loss.
    2769 days ago
    Thanks for the formulas...I like your idea of the spreadsheet! I have a cheap-o chest strap that I picked up for $30 on amazon. The biggest catch with most chest straps is that you have to sweat before it will read your HR....or you can put some water or petroleum jelly on it to increase conductivity. It is super comfy and sits just under my sports bra...I rarely remember its there until I'm jumping in the shower. Its also motivating when I have to readjust the band to a smaller size! I am going to spring for a more advanced one that tracks net calories per workout because I haven't figured out how to calculate calories burned from the heart rate data. It'll be my reward for running my first 5k next month (yikes...I have some work to do!) emoticon
    2769 days ago
    Ohhhh.Interesting! Complicated but definitely intersting
    I calculated my BMR, but I used the calories for "moderately active"... Maybe your way is better--calculting what you actually burn each day.. BTW--how many calories do you typiclly burn with Zumba??
    2769 days ago
    Nice one thankyou...
    2769 days ago
    Thanks for sharing Ang...Might need a new experiment for a couple of weeks....

    2770 days ago
  • KITKA82
    Thanks for the info!
    2770 days ago
    Thanks for this info! I hope it is okay if I send you my email address... thanks!
    2770 days ago
    I got the "micoach" from Adidas to track my running. It has a chest strap that sits under the band of my sports bra and I NEVER realize I'm wearing it. I can actually forget to take it off when I get back if I don't change ASAP :)

    Super duper comfy :)
    2770 days ago
    Neat to know!
    2770 days ago
    I have a Polar HRM with chest strap and absolutely love it - you don't even notice it is there at all. Occassionally I get HR drop out - where it isn't measuring - I'm not sure if my HR is too high at that point or it is position (I think it is the latter of the two). I highly recommend the Polar HRM - it calculates calories burned for you and it doubles as a sport watch.
    2770 days ago
    Interesting info. Thanks! emoticon
    2770 days ago
    You are such a nerd! (Which is totally cool in my book!) I definitely need to start keeping better track.
    2770 days ago
    Thanks for sharing!!! I have been trying it out and really like "knowing what's going on with the numbers" - I would check out Craigslist for a garmin (I have been keeping an eye out lately and you can get a great deal). Also if you are really mistrustful of how much SP says you should eat (uh yeah that's me ) you can search under calorie 101 under nutrition or just on Google and it shows you every formula they use to come up with the numbers t hey suggest!

    2770 days ago
    awesome! So do you adjust the activity level by what you did each day or do you just call yourself the same lightly or moderately or whatever active person all the time? Thanks for such a good tool, Ang!
    2770 days ago
  • LAYNIE428
    I just stumbled on your blog.. I would love a copy of the excel spreadsheet! What a great idea... Thank you!!
    2770 days ago
    You are so organized! I love it!!! Thanks for sharing!

    I've been considering getting the PolarF6 for awhile now, but just haven't put down the money. All the reviews on Amazon rate it pretty high. But, like you, I'm a little leary of the chest strap. I've heard good things about the BodyBugg too, and that would be excellent so I could see how much I'm burning during normal daily activity. That's even more expensive though!
    2770 days ago
  • SUZEQ09
    Thanks for breaking this down. I'll be sending my email to you so that I can get a copy.
    2770 days ago
    That's great info -- and while it's hard for me to do maths, I figured that out several months back then tossed my hands in the air when I switched to SP's app/ nutrition tracker (which is NOT my fave but they sync and I'm here all the time...).

    So, I use theirs. I don't think it's best, as I mentioned but I do love my HRM w/ chest strap. It cost about $70 at Target. It's comparable to the Polar F6 (I *believe* from memory a longggg time ago when I was compare-pricing). Since it matched the BodyMedia for my workouts, I feel a LOT better about that el-cheapo HRM! Why pay more when it does as good of a job? Well, look, if somebody wants to give me this:

    I'll be MORE than happy to accept!

    (ps: the Sportline allows you to replace batteries in monitor AND chest strap, unlike POLAR!!)
    2770 days ago
    I have a polar HRM w/a chest strap..........I LOVE IT! LOVE LOOOOOVE LOVE IT. Seriously, it rivals the love I have for my hsuband. Just kidding. Sorta. It's a different kind of love. LOL. All kidding aside, I got it with some xmas money last January (I think it all came to $115 or something incl. tax) at Dick's Sporting Goods. It's the Polar FT4 with the not-plastic strap - supposed to last longer before breaking down, etc.

    It is HONESTLY the BEST (can you sense the love here) fitness investment I have ever made - I'm pretty sure it has to have paid for itself in uses now, too. It was really good to see how much my calorie burn was (sadly) being overestimated on my recumbent/stationary bike. A bummer because I had to cycle longer to reach my goal, but good insight on why I'm not losing more weight - I'm not working very hard! :)

    But yeah, if you spend a good deal of $$ on anything, I recommend the chest strap HRM - AWESOME.

    Now to finish up this love story of a HRM, thanks for sharing how you calculate your net - I think I need to start doing that fo' reals. lol.
    2770 days ago
    Thanks again. I need to figure out my burn though, hmm. I don't have a heart rate monitor or anything like that. Maybe that explains why I can never figure this stuff out.
    2770 days ago
    Thank you for sharing this. I need to figure out how to get out of this plateau and I know my eating hasn't been the best and my exercise varies because I've gotten frustrated that I can't get the scale under 146 for months! I'd love a copy of your spreadsheet. I'll mail ya my email address. thanks again for sharing this!
    2770 days ago
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