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Measure your energy consumption when you exercise

Cardiovascular_training

Written by:
Birgitte Nymann ( www.nymanns.dk )
Author, speaker and educator within Exercise, health, nutrition and motivation. Concept – and seminar developer at Pro Academy, Denmark. Educated and trained in sport from University of Copenhagen.

When you want to lose weight….

The energy consumption must be higher than the energy intake. This means that you must be in shortage of calories before the body starts eating its fat stores. This is a fact regardless of which diet direction you incline towards. Some sorts of food satiates more than others, so if you want to lower the energy content in your food, it is sound to eat satisfying food. As a rule of thumb, the less the food is processed and cooked, the more satisfying it is. Raw carrots are more satisfying than boiled, boiled potatoes are more satisfying than baked and so on. Unhealthy food is as well almost always processed a lot, for example wine gums, chips, pizza, white bread etc. The most appropriate is to choose as unprocessed food as possible and cook it yourself as you like it the most. However, remember to prepare it gently in order to maintain vitamines, minerals and dietary fibres.

Besides eating satisfying food, it is also a good idea to increase your energy consumption when you want to lose weight. You can start measuring your calorie consumption yourself in connection to your exercise. The accurate way of measuring your calorie consumption takes place in a lab, where your inhalation and exhalation is measured. Hereby, you can measure the amount of oxygen in the body and thus how many calories that are consumed.. Only few people can get a such measuring, but fortunately there are other ways of estimating your calorie consumption in connection with different activities.

Heart rate monitor

You can measure your energy consumption during your exercise by using a heart rate monitor that estimates your daily calorie consumption. Most heart rate monitor manufacturers produce heart monitors with a calorie counter. You only have to enter your weight in the monitor which then calculates your energy consumption in relation to your heart rate. If your heart rate is falsely high, like if you for example had too much coffee, the heart rate monitor is tricked to believe that your heart rate is high due to increased activity. But if you don’t move more than you use to, the number of calories that you consume (despite the high heart rate) is the same as usually. Hence, you cannot count on the calculation completely, but it is close. Some heart rate monitors take your condition into consideration and can provide even more correct results on your energy consumption.

Measurers on circulation equipment

You can also find circulation exercise equipment (exercise bikes, stair machines, running machines etc.) that tells you how many calories you consume. If you enter your weight in the machine, you will get the most accurate estimate on your calorie consumption. If you don’t enter your weight, the measuring machine takes an average consumption and calculates it on the basis of the intensity of your exercise. Usually, this result is far from the actual number of burned calories. If you exercise on a running machine, your weight has a great influence on your energy consumption. It has a great difference whether you weigh 50 or 100 kilos since you don’t consume the same amount of energy on walking 1kilometre, but most machines don’t take this in consideration.

Calorie counters lie – maybe!?

Most modern circulation equipment, running machines, stair machines, rowing machines etc. have included a programme that inform you about the amount of calories that you consume on the exercise performed on the machine. This number can and should vary depending how heavy you are, but often the shown calorie consumption is very misleading since this is not taken into account. In order to calculate the number of calories that you consume, there are many things to take in consideration before the result is correct. Your body weight, your condition and technique are important factors for the calculation of your calorie consumption at a given piece of work and the machine cannot ake these factors in consideration. If you exercise on a stair machine and ”hang” with your entire body weight on your arms, you don’t consume much energy as standing on the machine. The machine cannot “feel” that , therefore it gives you a wrong indication of how much or how little energy you actually consume.

The one thing that you can actually use the calorie counter for, is to see if you consume more or less energy on the machine than the last time you used it. However, this has many sources of error as well. The better you are at a given activity, the less energy do you actually need to perform it. It is said that you get a better economy in your body when you get in a good shape, and unfortunately this is connected in such way that the better you are at a given activity, the less calories are burned at the same load. If you run 10 km/h today and it costs you 75 calories per km, it might only cost you 70 calories to run at the same speed in 6 months. However, don’t despair. It is only about very small differences in the body’s economy that it will not have any importance – the better condition you obtain, the more you will move automatically in your everyday life and this makes up for the more economical burning of calories.

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