Does someone know the plain formula which calculates the energy needed while running, based only on body weight and speed?

I googled around a lot but don't find this exact formula.

1 Answer 1


There is no “exact formula”, just estimations that generally seem to be more reliable than others. The following formula is one such example. While I don’t possess a peer reviewed study to pair with this formula, I personally trust the source. It comes from researcher Lyle McDonald’s “The Women’s Book Volume 1” (the formula is for males and females).

The formula is simply 2-3 kCal per pound of body mass for jogging and 3-4 kCal per pound of body mass for something like a six minute mile (both are on a per hour basis). These formulas are only considering the additional energy expended by the activity being performed, meaning that they aren’t including BMR or any other background metabolic process.

formula chart

  • There must be an exact formula. If you move a mass of 80kg by 10 km per hour, it must be possible to calculate the energy needed.
    – askolotl
    Commented Dec 14, 2020 at 13:19
  • 2
    @askolotl - If only it were that simple. There are more factors to include in a theoretical formula that simply cannot be generalized. Lever lengths, form considerations, footwear, wind resistance, and no doubt more that isn’t immediately coming to mind. Commented Dec 14, 2020 at 13:58
  • 2
    @askolotl - Unfortunately, there really isn't. Even measuring direct and indirect calorimetry on an exercising individual has an error rate, and is about the only way to truly get an individual's calorie expenditure. Also, efficiency and training play a part. If I were to run the same pace as a person my weight, I would probably burn slightly less because I am a more efficient runner (due to many years in x-country). The charts referenced are pretty much the accepted standards for estimating lots of individuals.
    – JohnP
    Commented Dec 14, 2020 at 15:02
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    @askolotl You can exactly calculate how much energy is needed to accelerate 80 kg to 10 km/hour. It's 0.5*m*v^2 = 0.074 kcal. This ignores friction and inefficiencies of converting chemical energy to motion. It tells you nothing about the energy transformed for a person to jog at that speed for an hour since friction and conversion inefficiencies are hugely important for running (without friction you would keep moving at 10 km/hour forever if you stopped accelerating). These depend on a huge number of factors (aerobic/anerobic metabolism, shoe/ground elasticity, air resistance, leg length...) Commented Dec 14, 2020 at 20:35

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