3 Reasons You May Be Burning Fewer Calories Than You Think

October 03, 2017

How many calories are you burning each day? If your weight loss has stalled, you're probably burning fewer calories than you think. Common mistakes, such as eating hidden sugars and sitting for long hours, can hamper your progress. Calorie counters are rarely accurate, so don’t rely on them.

The truth is that most people overestimate the number of calories burned. At the same time, they underestimate the calories consumed. This can lead to plateaus and frustration. Fortunately, it's never too late to get back on track.

Here is why you may be burning fewer calories than you think:

Your Fitness Tracker Might Be Lying

Research shows that most fitness trackers are getting readings wrong by a whopping 40 percent. This goes for trusted brands like Jawbone and Fitbit. The fitness trackers on gym machines are even worse.

Other studies have found a degree of inaccuracy ranging from 20 percent to 93 percent. The elliptical trainer appears to be the least accurate when it comes to tracking calories.

The whole point is that you can not trust fitness trackers. For instance, let's say the treadmill shows you've burned 550 calories. In this case, you'd say: "I've had enough exercise for today, now I can eat more." So you go home and have a big meal.

Seek other ways to track your progress. Take before and after photos, measure your waist and thighs, or use skin calipers. Fitness trackers are not an indicator of how hard you're working toward your goals.

You’re Getting Fitter

As you lose weight and get fitter, your body begins to burn fewer calories. According to science, fit people have a lower energy expenditure during exercise. This explains why you lose weight faster when you're just starting a workout program.

Keep your training varied to burn more calories. Change workout variables, such as the number of reps and sets, intensity, and duration.

Tweak your eating habits and load up on protein. This will boost your metabolism and increase fat burning. Drink CLICK before or after exercise to get more protein into your diet.

You're Overestimating Your Calorie Burn

Not all exercises are created equal. Some increase muscle size and strength, while others work better for weight loss. On top of that, the number of calories burned during exercise varies from one person to another. Thus, it's easy to get confused and overestimate your calorie burn.

Most people burn 250 to 300 calories per hour when lifting weights. Steady state cardio burns anywhere from 300 to 600 calories per hour. Tabata and high-intensity interval training (HIIT) can burn about 500 calories in 30 minutes.

As you see, exercise doesn't torch a ton of calories. Just because you’re working out, it doesn’t mean you can eat a whole pizza later in the day. Be realistic and watch your diet. Not even the best training program can compensate for bad eating.

These are just a few of the reasons why you’re burning fewer calories than you think. Consider your age, weight, fitness level, body composition, and resting metabolic rate. All of these factors impact your calorie expenditure. If your goal is to slim down, clean up your diet. What you eat accounts for over 80 percent of your results.

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