Most cardio machines nowadays show an estimate of how many calories you have burned during your training. There are also a lot of different lists available, which activity burns how many calories over a defined period of time.

I wonder if those values include the resting burn rate. Lets assume for simplicity reasons my basal metabolic rate allows me to burn 2400 calories each day or 100 calories each hour. If I sit on my bike for one hour and it shows that I burned 600 calories, are the 100 I would have burned anyway included? Did I burn 3000 or 2900 calories that day?

This is an important question, especially for easy training, lets take walking as example. According to this calculator, one hour of walking burns 245 calories. Lets say I walk a little more than 2 hours, I have burned 500 calories. I might think I should/can eat 500 calories more that day, while I only might have burned 300 more than I would have without walking.

To make a long question short - is the resting burn rate usually included when the calories burned during training are calculated?

3 Answers 3


Check out this runner's world article. The main subject is whether you burn the same number of calories walking versus running the same distance, but there is also a discussion about total calories burned (TCB) during an activity versus net calories burned (NCB). In general, people talk about TCB because it's a higher number so it seems like you did more work, but in order to get the actual number of calories burned because of the exercise you have to subtract the "resting metabolic calories your body would have burned, during the time of the workout, even if you had never gotten off the sofa."

This doesn't tell you whether the cardio machines give you TCB or NCB, but if you go by their calculation guidelines, I personally should have a NCB of .63 x 130lb = 82 calories per mile. However, when I run 3 miles on a treadmill, it tells me I burn around 350 calories, or 116 calories per mile. So, if their guidelines are correct, it looks like the treadmill I'm using is giving me TCB, which includes the resting calories. They do say that these guidelines are for up to 4 mph, and I run around 6mph, so maybe that accounts for some of the difference, but I don't think it accounts for all of it.


Those lists typically calculate total calories expended during the activity. Those lists are better used as a guide for what types of activities you should be doing, but for any detailed daily tracking, you would need individual monitoring tools.

By the same token, using the calorie listing from a package of food only tells you what an average item offers up and doesn't address the complexities that cause the body to retain or pass nutrients.


Gross Calorie Burn includes both how many calories you burn being alive AND how many extra calories above that you burned doing an activity.

Net Calorie Burn is the number of calories burned above the amount you need to stay alive.

Use Net Calorie Burned to figure out your progress in a calorie count situation like weight loss.

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