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Tips for Measuring Calorie and Fat Burning in Running, Jogging, Hiking

The Myth of Calorie Consumption Part 2: How Many Calories Do I Really Burn?

If you want to measure your own calorie consumption during sport correctly, there are some myths. Dr. Hande Hofmann from the Technical University of Munich explains about this - and gives tips on how to calculate combustion effectively, and how apps and wearables can help. Part 2 of the ISPO.com interview.

Apps can also be a help when counting calories.
Apps can also be a help when counting calories.

The search engine "Google" alone offers over 1.3 million results on the question: "How many calories do I burn during sport? The calculations, like the results, are sometimes very different.

Dr. Hande Hofmann is a research assistant at the Technical University of Munich (TUM). Her specialties at the Faculty of Sports and Health Sciences are Nutrition and Health, Sport and Immune System, Nutritional Supplements and Sport. She explains the measurement possibilities.

A Formula for Calorie Consumption

ISPO.com: Dr. Hofmann, is there a rule of thumb that I can use to calculate my own calorie consumption for a particular sport?
Hande Hofmann: Yes, there is a rule of thumb. But in the first step, before the calculation, we orientate ourselves on an old rule which reads: How well can I entertain myself when I practice a sport? Let's start from the hike: If I can talk normally during the tour and don't sweat properly, then we're talking about the lower moderate load.

If I notice that I have to concentrate on walking and the pace is above my normal intensity, so that I have to take a break from talking now and then and I start to sweat, then I find myself in the moderate range, in my comfort zone. It's exhausting, but I don't have to work myself out yet. And if I then increase the speed even further, so that a conversation is no longer possible, then I find myself in an intense strain.

Dr. Hande Hofmann.
Dr. Hande Hofmann.

Three Categories of Burning

Can you categorize that?
You can divide the burden into three categories, and then it depends on what I personally want to achieve:

  • Category 1 "lower moderate load": enjoy nature, calories don't matter
  • Category 2 "moderate load": this includes light sport. In this category, my body is already burning more calories than in everyday life.
  • Category 3 "intensive load": In this category training effects are achieved. The aim is to increase one's own fitness and resilience. In order to achieve this, one must set a stimulus in the body and challenge it, i.e. go into intensive stress.

In the intensive load I do not only sport, but I train. In other words, I set a stimulus that goes beyond my personal norm and that I don't always have, which is why the body has to adapt. I use it to achieve effects. In the long run I lose weight, build up more muscle mass - there are different approaches. It all depends on what you want to achieve personally.

The Correct Calculation of Calorie Consumption

Once I have defined the categories, how can I calculate my personal calorie consumption?
Let's play this out for a jog: I jogged for an hour, the intensity I assign to the middle category, i.e. feel-good area. Then I can assume 1 kilocalorie per kilogram body weight, per hour. That would mean 600 kilocalories for a person weighing 60 kilograms.

If you jog in the first category, i.e. lower moderate load, then you can set 0.7 to 0.8 kilocalories per kilogram body weight, per hour. In the intensive load/category 3, the factor is between 1.2 and 1.4.

Calculation for Eating with Apps

A very honest calculation ...
Absolutely. This categorisation helps very well to sharpen one's own perception. When I arrive home after 30 minutes of jogging with a few beads of sweat on my forehead, no 600 calories are burned, and therefore no full meal.

With 30 minutes of jogging as a woman I consumed about 250 calories. Then you have to honestly say: It was nice, I moved, but I didn't burn much.

Now I have a good formula to give my sports units calories, but when it comes to eating it gets difficult again. How can I help myself?
For example, there are great apps that can help you calculate calories. Then I can estimate whether I go out with a minus, a plus or a balance. When calorie consumption is balanced, it must be clear that you are not losing weight.

Apps as a Learning Tool for Beginners

And here apps can actually help?
Yeah, I think so. Especially for people who have no idea what 100 or 200 calories are, these apps are ideal. I also noticed this when working with our students, who deal with the apps so intensively and almost playfully that they get a feeling for their content relatively quickly.

The point is not that you have to be accompanied by an app for a year, or that you have to monitor using an app. From my point of view, apps should rather be seen as a learning tool.

Wearables Also Help with Body Weight

Can you recommend an app?
I don't want to pick one out, here everyone can filter out the suitable one for himself. In addition to the apps, there are now also other good gadgets that track movement, for example, or fitness bracelets and smartwatches.

Here you can have your average speed measured. These digital solutions then calculate the calories consumed based on body weight, gender and age. It works fine. Of course, the results may vary from app to app, but the differences are marginal.

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