Total Calorie Burn v Extra Calorie Burn

Most of our daily energy expenditure comes from simply keeping our body going. Breathing, circulation, digestion, regeneration, thinking etc. This is known as our resting metabolic rate.

Add physical activity and we can burn extra calories on top of our resting metabolic rate. So in any given period of time;

Total Calorie Burn = Resting Metabolic Rate + Physical Activity

This is the reading most exercise machines and trackers will provide but it’s misleading because you would have burnt the resting metabolic rate portion regardless of whether you were exercising or not.

A more accurate way to gauge the impact of an exercise regime on energy balance would be to use extra calorie burn as a measure.

Extra Calorie Burn = Total Calorie Burn - Resting Metabolic Rate

Splitting hairs but it is interesting how most machines and trackers by default provide a false representation of calorie expenditure (cynically this is probably because its a larger number!)

A more important question is should we bother tracking calorie expenditure at all? Personally I’m happy in the knowledge whatever I’m doing will be burning a few extra calories and prefer to focus my attention on fitness improvements as a more positive exercise benefit to keep track of.

What about you?