Calories Burned, How many a day?

Calories Burned, How many a day?

As of this writing, if you go to and type in “calories burned”, the calories burned calculator will appear as the number one, non-paid listing.  While we have a great list of over 120 different activities, it is not telling you the whole story.  What I want to do today is walk you through the process of finding out how many calories you burn in a day.


Step 1, we are not even going to start at the calories burned calculator, let’s start at the Daily Energy Expenditure calculator (this will popup in a new window so you can follow along with the instructions, we will refer to this as the popup window).  This calculator will tell you how many calories each day are burned by your body just to keep your respiration, blood flow and the most basic body systems running.  Many health websites refer to this as a Basal Metabolic Rate calculator or BMR calculator, and uses a standard formula.  Health Trivia: This calculator was originally developed so doctors would know how many a calories a day should be given to coma patients.  Write the result from your calculation down on a piece of paper.

Step 2, OK, now in the popup window, click the calculators button under the main menu on the left side, then click Calories Burned link in the middle of the page.  Enter your weight in the box at the top of the activity list.  A lot of people want to know why we ask this question when a lot of the other websites don’t ask it.  The answer is simple, they use an average weight usually 150 pounds to compute the calories you burn.  That is great if you weigh 150 pounds, if you don’t you should use our calculator, because it is a lot more accurate.  Go down the list and enter the number of minutes each day you spend doing each activity, but as you do consider a few things;  I play basketball a couple of times a week, one night with a bunch of high-school age guys, another night where the average age is about 40, even though I am on the court the same amount of time both nights, I can tell you I burn a lot more calories with the high-school kids than I do with the older guys.  The high-schoolers play with more intensity, they run more, they are quicker, and so on.  You need to consider this intensity level when you are putting in your minutes.  In the three hours that we have the court, I am actually playing only about two hours, so even though I am at the gym, in my basketball gear, I am only playing two hours and the other hour is broken out amongst either walking, standing or sitting.  For my high-school ball night, I count 120 minutes of full-court basketball, and 45 minutes of sitting and 15 minutes of walking.  For my older guy night of ball, I count 100 minutes of full-court basketball, 45 minutes of sitting (my sitting intensity remains constant), 20 minutes of jogging (to offset the less intense basketball action) and 15 minutes of walking.  I am adjusting my minutes down if I didn’t do the activity with full intensity.   Almost everything you do you can tell whether you are really being intense about it, just going through the motions or somewhere in between.  Don’t give yourself credit for a full calorie burn when you are just putting out a partial effort.  When you go dancing for a couple of hours, and are only on the dance floor for twenty minutes, don’t put 120 in the calculator on the dancing line.  Got it?  OK, enter your minutes for one day (not an average day, just what you do in one day), try to account for a full 24 hours (1440 minutes) and click total, now put that number down on your piece of paper and add the two numbers together.  This is the number of calories you burned.

Step 3.  Repeat this process for everyday in a week, add your daily totals together and divide by seven.  Now you have an idea of how many calories you burn each day.  If you are trying to lose weight, you want to eat fewer calories than you burn, if you are trying to gain a few pounds, then eat more calories.  As you lose or gain weight your calories burned will change, you may want to re-run your computation after every 5 pound weight change you experience (if you are less than 120lbs you may want to recalculate every 2 pounds gained or lost).

In general people tend to overestimate their activity and their intensity.  This process  and these calculators do not take into account issues such as overactive or underactive thyroid or those with very fast metabolism or very slow metabolism.  These are estimates and a good place to get you started.  Your health providor can give you advice on losing or gaining weight and your ability to do the activities listed.

You can use our calculator to determine your ideal weight.