Many athletes use the "calories burned" feature of various pieces of exercise equipment, heart rate monitors and fitness tracking websites as a way to monitor calorie output versus intake. It has been over 15 years since I've closely tracked calories and macronutrient percentages. About a month ago, I decided to start tracking daily food intake on MyFitnessPal as part of a project I'm working on.
MyFitnesPal is a handy tool with an enormous library of foods. I found that once I tracked just a few days of intake, it was super easy to keep my food journal. That's because the program remembers your foods and you can store meals as well.
Before I launch into data, know that I just happened to use this particular tool for this test, but there are other tools available for nutrition and exercise tracking. Additionally, I'm not picking on any of the sites mentioned in the column, rather I'm using all of them to point out differences so you can be more informed about your reliance on the numbers.
Early in the logging and tracking process, I was using the MyFitnessPal exercise library to input workout time and intensity. However, it seemed it was overestimating my calories burned during exercise.
For example, I classified a solo bike ride I did as "Bicycling, 10-12 mph, light (cycling, biking, bike riding)" and MyFitnessPal credited the ride with burning 725 calories. It was a ride with a relatively tough climb and a big descent. ! averaged 14.6 miles per hour on the ride. Garmin data, which I believe was based on my power meter and not heart rate, gave me a calorie burn of 441 calories. That's a huge difference!
It came to my attention from a fellow rider I could synchronize popular fitness tracking tools such as GarminConnect, Strava or TrainingPeaks to MyFitnessPal. When the programs are connected, exercise is automatically downloaded from one of the other applications into MyFitnessPal.