The crucial component of weight loss

People who are striving to shed their extra pounds are constantly bombarded with various dietary plans online. Healthy approaches and fad diets, vegetarian options and juice cleanses – this line of glitzy multiplicity of options is poised to spin the head of the average newbie. Yet in this ocean of proposals there is at least one common denominator – caloric deficiency. You should burn more calories than you eat – this axiom is universal for all weight loss programs. This may sound easy, but without significant modifications in your lifestyle and menu, as well as regular training, weight reduction may be almost impossible. This is why you absolutely need to know not only how many calories to consume, but also how many calories you spend throughout the busy day. Only by realizing this and sustaining a significant difference between the two numbers will you be able to get closer to the body you are dreaming about. That’s exactly why you need a calories burned calculator – to get the number that is essential for successful weight loss. 

What does total energy expenditure consist of?

If you wish to understand precisely how many calories you burn a day, you need to calculate your total energy expenditure (TEE).  This index consists of 3 components: physical activity-related energy expenditure (PEE), which includes non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT) and exercise activity thermogenesis (EAT); as well as two other components – basal metabolic rate (BMR); and diet-induced thermogenesis (DIT). 

NEAT and EAT

Your body is always working to sustain your functions, and, contrary to popular belief, never rests completely. Even when you sleep and dream sweet dreams, your complex organism diligently works to help you restore your energy sources and prepare for the day ahead. In short, your body is always burning calories, even when you think you’re totally inactive. The fact that even sleeping causes calories to burn highlights the truth that all other basic daily activities like sitting, standing at the bus stop, walking down stairs, as well as cooking a delicious meal, burn a good portion of your calories. And it goes without saying that one’s involvement in sports intensifies calorie burn. For instance, a human being weighing 155 pounds (70kg) can burn calories in 30 minutes while doing the following daily routine activities:

  • Computer work – 50 calories
  • Cooking – 93 calories
  • Reading sitting – 42 calories
  • Standing in line – 47 calories
  • Food shopping with cart – 130 calories
  • Mowing lawn – 205 calories

The number of calories spent while performing these basic activities complies NEAT, along with EAT, add up to PEE which makes up 15-30% of your total energy expenditure. 

BMR and DIT

Two other components of the TEE are resting or basal metabolic rate and diet-induced thermogenesis (DIT). The BMR is what you need to remember as it is an essential component in a calories burned calculator and makes up about 60% of the TEE. The DIT accounts for about 10-15%. Your BMR differs significantly from other people’s, as it accounts for your gender, height, weight, and age. You can also calculate your BMR using the Mifflin-St Jeor equation. Equations for calculating BMR date back to 1918 with the Harris-Benedict equation, but the 1990 Mifflin-St Jeor equation is most recent and is likely to be most accurate. 

Here is how the Mifflin-St Jeor equation goes:

Your BMR if you are a woman = 10 × your weight in kg + 6.25 × your height in cm – 5 × your age in years – 161

Your BMR if you are a man = 10 × your weight in kg + 6.25 × your height in cm – 5 × your age in years + 5

Or you can use the original Harris-Benedict equation from 1918:

Your BMR if you are a woman = 655 + 4.35 × your weight in lbs + 4.7 × your height in inches – 4.7 × your age

Your BMR if you are a man = 66 + 6.2 × your weight in lbs + 12.7 × your height in inches – 6.76 × your age

Calculate the TEE

To calculate the TEE, you use the BMR you calculated with the Mifflin-St Jeor or Harris-Benedict equation, and multiply it by your physical activity level (PAL), and this is what it looks like:

TEE = your BMR × your PAL.

You can say that it includes NEAT and partly EAT, which you will find out how to calculate a bit later in this article. 

Physical activity levels and their numeric value are classified as follows:

  • Sedentary or light activity lifestyle: 1.40 – 1.69

A sedentary or light activity lifestyle means that you’re not involved in physical work and your daily regimen does not include additional physical activities. That is, you mostly move around by vehicle transportation, don’t walk long distances, and don’t work out regularly. Most of your leisure time is spent sitting or standing with few physical movements like when you’re lying on the sofa scrolling through Instagram. An example of a common person with such a lifestyle is an office worker, who may be involved in occasional (not regular) physical activities like playing tennis with his colleague once a month. Another widespread example is a housewife or househusband, who spends most of their time doing household chores and caring for children.

  • Active or moderately active lifestyle: 1.70 – 1.99

These types of lifestyles are reflected in those who have occupations which imply certain amounts of physical work and more energy expenditure than those ones described in the previous point but are still not involved in strenuous energy demands. This also describes people who generally follow a sedentary lifestyle, but devote some regularly scheduled time to exercising. For instance, if you lead a sedentary lifestyle with a PAL 1.55, but regularly spend one hour running, cycling, swimming, or working out, your PAL might actually rise to 1.75. This would mean that you are among those people who lead a moderately active lifestyle. People with occupations such as construction workers, farmers who walk long distances, etc. are all examples of those with moderately active lifestyles too. 

  • Vigorous or vigorously active lifestyle: 2.00 – 2.40

These types of lifestyles are led by the most physically active people, those who burn a great number of calories daily. People who lead such a lifestyle are engaged in regular strenuous work or strenuous leisure activities for several hours per day. This category includes, for instance, agricultural workers in the wilderness areas who work with a machete, hoe, or ax for several hours daily and repeatedly walk long distances while carrying heavy loads, as well as athletes and dancers who spend a lot of time energetically with training and practicing their movements.

So, for a woman aged 32, weighing 155 pounds, is 67 inches tall, working at an office and who doesn’t perform any additional physical activity in her leisure time, the required daily number of calories will be calculated as follows:

(655 + 4.35 × 155 + 4.7 × 67 – 4.7 × 32) × 1.40 = TEE = 2,091.25 calories.

Calories Burned Calculator: Exercises

As you’ve just learned, various types of activities burn different numbers of calories. This is why each activity has its particular metabolic equivalent for a task (MET), which is determined by how much energy your body uses during a certain activity. This number is standardized so that it can be effectively used by people with different physical parameters. It is also easier to compare different types of exercises to each other using such a method. One MET might be defined either as 1kcal per kg of bodyweight per hour and is approximately equivalent to the energy you spend sitting at rest or in the form of oxygen uptake, where 1 MET equals 3.5 ml per kg per minute. 

Similar to physical activity lifestyles, which have their numeric equivalent, there are different groups of physical activities and are divided according to their METs, such as:

  • Vigorous-intensity activity

As you might have guessed, this type of activity involves vigorous and strenuous exercising and registers a 6.0 or greater MET. Some of the common examples include walking with the speed of 4.5 to 5 mph (around 7.2 to 8 km/h), running, doing aerobics, carrying heavy loads upstairs, shoveling snow or soil by hand, etc.

  • Moderate-intensity activity

This type of activity requires fewer METs than the vigorous-intensity type of activity, but is still significantly energy-consuming. It measures a 3.0 up to 6.0 MET. Walking with the speed of 3 to 4 mph (4.8 to 6.4 km/h), cleaning by mopping or vacuuming, and the like belong to this group.

  • Light-intensity activity

In the range of 1.6 and up to 3.0 METs, light-intensity activity examples include walking at the speed of 2 mph or less (3.2 km/h or less), as well as standing in line, cooking, and other similar routine activities.

  • Low-intensity activity

The least vigorous physical activity is only 1.0 to 1.5 METs and is commonly called “sedentary activity”. This type of activity is ubiquitous in our modern society, and includes sitting, lying, and reclining, as well as standing, all with an energy expenditure of no more than 1.5.

Now that you have learned all the things you need to know about METs, it is time to get back to counting calories.

The equation for the Exercise Calories Burned Calculator is:

Duration of physical activity in minutes × (MET × 3.5 × your weight in kg) / 200 = Total calories burned.

Take for example the following activities:

  • Calories burned calculator: Biking

There are different types of biking, with various intensities and time ranges. The table below was published in the Harvard Heart Letter, from the Harvard Medical School and has the data on how many calories people of different weights burn during 30 minutes of performing this activity:

Type of activity

125lb (56kg)

155lb (70kg)

185lb (84kg)

Bicycling: 12-13.9 mph (20-22km/h)

240

298

355

Bicycling: BMX or mountain

255

316

377

Bicycling: 14-15.9 mph (22-25 km/h)

300

372

444

Bicycling: 16-19 mph (25-30 km/h)

360

446

533

Bicycling: > 20 mph (>32 km/h)

495

614

733

However, if you want to know the exact number of calories that you burn personally, then use the above-mentioned equation, putting in the MET of the type of activity that you performed, which would be:

Bicycling: 12-13.9 mph (20-22km/h) – 8 METs

Bicycling: BMX or mountain – 8.5 METs

Bicycling: 14-15.9 mph (22-25 km/h) – 10.0 METs

Bicycling: 16-19 mph (25-30 km/h) – 12.0 METs

Bicycling: > 20 mph (>32 km/h) – 16.0 METs

  • Calories burned calculator: Stationary bike 

Here is the data presented in the Harvard Heart Letter:

Type of activity

125lb (56kg)

155lb (70kg)

185lb (84kg)

Bicycling, Stationary: moderate

210

260

311

Bicycling, Stationary: vigorous

315

391

466

Moreover, here are the METs for the types of stationary cycling:

Conditioning exercise bicycling, stationary, 150 watts, moderate effort – 7.0 METs

Conditioning exercise bicycling, stationary, 200 watts, vigorous effort – 10.5 METs

  • Calories burned calculator: Yoga

Yoga is a more static exercise than bicycling and therefore requires less energy from your body. Harvard Medical School states the following:

Type of activity

125lb (56kg)

155lb (70kg)

185lb (84kg)

Stretching, Hatha Yoga

120

149

178

And here is its METs:

Stretching, Hatha Yoga – 2.5 METs.

List of METs of the most popular exercises

Just like with the three above-stated activities, you can count how many calories you individually burn during your personal workout.

To do so, all you need is the formula, which you’ve already learned, and the METs. So, here is the list of METs of the most popular exercises:

  • Calisthenics (e.g. pushups, sit-ups, pullups, jumping jacks), heavy, vigorous effort – 8.0
  • Circuit training, including some aerobic movement with minimal rest, general – 8.0
  • Weightlifting (free weights, nautilus or universal-type), powerlifting or bodybuilding, vigorous effort – 6.0
  • Stair-treadmill ergometer, general – 9.0
  • Mild stretching – 2.5
  • Jog/walk combination (jogging component of less than 10 minutes) – 6.0
  • Jogging, in place or 5 mph (8 km/h) – 8.0
  • Running, 8 mph (around 13 km/h) – 13.5
  • Running, 10 mph (16 km/h) – 16.0
  • Running, 10.9 mph (17.5 km/h) – 18.0
  • Running, stairs, up – 15.0
  • Basketball, game – 8.0
  • Boxing, in the ring, general – 12.0
  • Football, competitive – 9.0
  • Judo, jujitsu, karate, kickboxing, taekwondo – 10.0
  • Rope jumping, fast – 12.0
  • Rope jumping, moderate, general – 10.0
  • Soccer, casual, general – 7.0
  • Softball or baseball, fast or slow pitch, general – 5.0
  • Tennis, general – 7.0
  • Volleyball – 4.0
  • Volleyball, beach – 8.0
  • Wrestling (one match = 5 minutes) – 6.0
  • Walking for pleasure – 3.5
  • Walking, 3.5 mph, (5.6 km/h) uphill – 6.0
  • Walking, 4.0 mph, (around 6.5 km/h) level, firm surface, very brisk pace – 5.0
  • Walking, 5.0 mph (8 km/h) – 8.0
  • Swimming laps, freestyle, fast, vigorous effort – 10.0
  • Swimming laps, freestyle, slow, moderate or light effort – 7.0
  • Swimming, leisurely, not lap swimming, general – 6.0
  • Swimming, sidestroke, general – 8.0

Factors affecting calorie burn during the training period

Sometimes it’s painful to recognize that people on the same diet performing exactly the same activities can receive different results. Yet there are factors that affect your performance, including the ones you can and cannot change. 

The factors, which affect the number of calories you burn during the workout, include:

  • Age

Older people find it more difficult to perform the same physical activity which they easily performed during the days of their youth. With age, you spend more effort to reach a higher intensity level of physical activity.

  • Body composition

This explains in part why buffed people eat tons of food and not gain a pound of extra fat – the more muscle mass you’ve got, the more calories you burn.

  • Intensity of breathing

This seems like a really minuscule factor, and yet it matters. Your oxygen intake indexes the difficulty in performing a certain exercise and shows how much effort you spend on nailing it. If you breathe heavily and fast you burn more calories. In fact, every liter of oxygen you breathe in makes your body burn 5 calories.

  • Fitness level

This aspect partially explains why you should always gradually increase the number of exercise repetitions, and the difficulty of your workout. The higher fitness level you have – the fewer the calories you burn performing exactly the same activity.

  • Amount of sleep

Lack of sleep can not only significantly worsen your wellbeing by causing insulin resistance, leading to increased risk of type 2 diabetes and obesity, but also reduce your metabolism and make your body burn fewer calories.

FAQs

How many calories should I burn to lose 10 pounds?

1 pound (around 0.5 kg) equals approximately 3, 500 calories. Cutting 500 to 1, 000 calories a day will make you lose 1-2 pounds a week, which is a recommended amount and pace for a steady and healthy weight loss. So, to lose 10 pounds, you need to burn about 35, 000 calories.

How many calories do I burn sleeping?

Even when you sleep, your body requires energy for maintenance of the proper functioning of your whole body. You burn calories to support breathing, heartbeat, blood circulation, etc. Sleeping equals 0.9 METs.

So, to find out how many calories you burn while sleeping use the following formula:

Duration of your sleep (in minutes) × (0.9 × 3.5 × your weight in kg) / 200 = Total calories burned. 

How can I increase the number of calories I burn a day without going to the gym?

Training in a gym is not required if you wish to burn more calories and shed excess pounds. All you need is to add a little bit more movement to your daily routine. Simple things like taking the stairs instead of an elevator, going for a short stroll through the park after work, or using a bicycle to get to work instead of a car will make a significant difference in the number of your calories burnt daily. You can burn a bit more calories even by walking across the room while talking on a phone, watching TV, or reading a book. And, of course, you can practice many exercises at home. 

Conclusion

Despite the vibrant variations of dietary plans, they are all based on the same essential principle of a successful weight loss – burning more calories than you consume.  To make this thesis your everyday reality you need to know how many calories your body burns during your usual life as well as during your regular exercising routine. You can find this out using the calories burned calculator. Your total energy expenditure (TEE) equals your basal metabolic rate (BMR) multiplied by your physical activity level (PAL). Having calculated that, you will know how many calories your body requires every day. Then all that’s left is to calculate how many calories you spend during your training, and finally you should look at how to cut your general daily caloric intake by 500 to 1, 000 calories, and don’t forget to stick to your new routine. There are however some additional factors that may also affect the number of calories you spend, and this explains why your calculations may not be 100% accurate.

Keep in mind that you will still want to consult a specialist before making any drastic changes in your diet or workout plan.

DISCLAIMER:

This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!

Cite this article as:
Editorial Staff, "Calories Burned Calculator: Calculate Precisely Without Much Effort," in Medicalopedia, November 20, 2020, [Permalink: https://www.medicalopedia.org/9388/calories-burned-calculator-calculate-precisely-without-much-effort/].