Runners World Calorie Counter

Well, for me @ 80kgs five miles burns 667 cals. However my Suunto T4 reckons about 447 cals ?

Does the Suunto use heart rate to work it out. Which figure do you reckon is right for me ?

<scratches head>

I'm confused !


  • My guess is that the Suunto shows only the extra calories you have burnt through running. The RW one includes your base metabolism - i.e. the calories that you would have burnt anyway if you had not gone running - which nearly all of these calorie counter things do even though it's daft.

  • ...although the base metabolism wouldn't make more than 100 calories difference, so I may be talking carp as usual.

  • Hmmmmmmm ? Thanks, I can see the logic but looks like I am still none the wiser.
  • Calories burnt get worked out from the Hr on sunnto's, I think, not entirely sure but it's all relative.

    If you burn 3500kcals a week in excercise on your sunnto and you are not losing any weight at a constant food intake, incr your excercise to 3750kcals etc. You are just mesuring the difference.

  • " Working from your personal fitness profile, the Suunto t1 displays real-time average heart rate and real-time calories burned with excellent accuracy. When the Suunto t1 says you've burned 238 calories, it's not a rough estimate, but rather, a number you can trust. "

    Bu@@er, if this is right then I can't eat quite as many pies as I had thought. But then if the Suunto is right the RW calc is way out ?
  • Go for the higher number and then you can eat more pies.
  • Definately some logic with HR influence. It can't be right to go on weight alone. I would go for a figure in between the two and have a smaller pie!
  • We've had this discussion before - and its a bit tricky.

    I dont think the HR makes any difference.  You run a mile or walk a mile - you will burn the same calories in that time. The only difference being that your body will carry on burning a few extra calories after the run until you recover.

    Try not to think about it too much.

  • Cheers cougs, my brain hurts!

    <don't say "I did warn you!>

  • Is it the same princaple as

    Walk or run a mile in the rain, you get just as wet doing either?

  • More like work, energy and power 101

    The energy developed to move you that mile is what is being used for the calorific burn.

    It's not quite true that running a mile is the same as working. Gross work is the same but the delta V requires more energy as well.

  • walking even
  • English please stump!

    We burn x amount of cals just being "in neutral" so then when we slip into gear more fuel is burnt on top?

  • And therefore the way to measure this difference is to measure your heart rate.

    If I run on a treadmill for 20 minutes at max heartrate I'm going to burn more calories than walking for 20 minutes!

    There still seems some confusion between the 2 methods, miles done calculator done by weight and the haert rate done by most HRM. I personally would go by the HRM calcualtor and add the static calories mentioned by Kryten. It seems more accurate.

    At 12 stone, on an hours steady state run(about 7 miles) I usually burn around 700 calories. The RW calc says 891 calories. I'd now go for about 800, as I mentioned earlier, in between the two.

  • JF - if you run at max hr for 20 mins - you will have covered a lot more distance than by walking 20 mins ? 

    Well I hope anyway for your sake !

  • running a mile uses more calories than walking a mile as you bob up and down more when running so more energy is required to lift your body each time. Heart rate doesn't make much difference. Only true way to find out is to do it on a tread mill wired up like on a VO2 max test. As a rough guide, running a mile uses about 100 calories for an average sized bloke, bit less for a smaller skinnier person. My new Garmin reckons it takes climbs into account but I seem to use the same number of calories running 1000ft up a mountain as coming back down again, so that certainly can't be right
  • CW I've always worked on the approx 100 calories per mile scenario, but then add the calories you would have burnt anyway, as mentioned by Kryten, this then makes sense.

    Point taken Cougie!

  • So does this mean that if I run 5 miles very very fast that I burn the same amount of calories as if I'd run it slowly?  Sounds a bit odd to me.

    Sure the calculator helps me see what I've burned on my run, but unless I know my burn rate on other activities, do I really know how many 'extra' calories or pies I can eat?

  • If we assume 2500 cals per 24 hours, say twice as much in the day as at night, means about 120 cals an hour in the day just doing normal stuff.  At 8 minute miling for 1 mile you should get about 16 cals for living and 100 cals for the running.  

    Trouble is that the more training you do, the more weight you lose and a lighter body takes fewer calories to run the miles so you can't eat as many pies as you used to !

  • hmm.... seems to me that the calculator isn't that helpful after all!

    I think that I'll just keep on running and occasionally jump on the scales to check how things go.  Or an alternative is the 'trouser test':  if your trousers start feeling tight you need to eat less and/or exercise more; if your troursers feel more comfortable or lose then you can either by a smaller pair or indulge in more pies!

  • Surely how fast you run needs to be considered?

  • Apologies - I've just seen the text below - saying that it is a rough guide only.
  • I always understood that as a very rough guide you burn the same number of calories per mile, notwithstanding your running speed. As previosly mentioned walking is slightly less because you don't leave the ground like you do in running. 

    Therefore if I run very slowly for a mile, I would burn the same calories (roughly) as if I ran it very quickly (if that were only possible!).  But, the slow mile would take longer in time to burn the same amount of calories, eg one might take 11 minutes to burn 120 calories, and the other would take 8 minutes because I am working harder but I still only cover the same distance. 

     The RW calculator says 132 cals per mile for me, but I usually estimate it somewhere between 110 and 120.

  • One thing this calorie counter doesn't tell you is what difference running up or down hills make or what difference the terrain makes. Can anyone answer these questions?

    1 If you run a mile up a 10% gradient then 1 mile down the same gradient do you burn the same number of calories as 2 miles on the flat?

    2 If you run over a muddy field does this burn more calories than on a tarmac path?

  • My garmin showed that when I ran 5 miles yesterday I burnt off 874 calories!( I also had a heart rate monitor on!) To me that seems a bit high, however, where I run is quite hilly and I was averaging 9 min a mile.  I imagine the Garmin knows when you are you running up a gradient and the terrain, I've entered all my stats in like age and weight so this should be correct ...... or not?
  • Simon - probably the uphill and downhill will cancel each other out. And yeah - a muddy field will be harder than running on a path.

    Its impossible for a calorie counter to cope with all this complexity - so I'd only use it as a guide and you adjust for the conditions. Although I dont even think that serious calorie counting is a healthy mindset to be in.

  • Coughie,

    Running a mile and walking a mile do not actually burn the same number of calories. Running actually puts far more stress on the body than walking. Look at a photo of someone running. Invariably they will have both feet off the ground. When you run you propel your body upwards as well as forwards. As you push up and against gravity you are working much harder than you would be if you were walking, and this is why you burn far more calories by running than you would walking the same distance. Elite runners tend to opt for running styles that minimise the upthrust and are therefore far more economical.

  • There was an article on why running burns more calories than walking in RW a few months back - it might even be on this site somewhere??
  • Until recently, I used a Polar HRM which gave the calorie count on all runs as pretty much 100 per mile.  I'm now using a Garmin which gives 130 cals per mile = 30% more pies!  Result!

    I ran 13 miles on Monday night and the calorie count was 1701.  There was a good mix of flat, climbs and descents.  As a result of this discrepancy between Polar and Garmin, I am not worrying too much about calories - it doesn't affect my eating decisions, anyway.

  • My view is that serious calorie counting is for people who run a lot more than me - say 50+ miles a week. When you actually have to start eating extra to be healthy.

    If you are counting to lose weight then it's best to watch what you're eating and drinking. For me running a mile is about the same as 1/2 pint of beer or 1/2 a mars bar!

    If you want to lose weight by exerciserunning is probably not the best way. Mainly becuase for most of us it isn't physically possible to run for more than an hour a every day.  

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