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Whose Calorie Tracker is Right, Anyway? A Case Study in why it can be Difficult to Lose Weight using Fitness Tracker Data

For the longest time I relied, loosely, on data I got from Endomondo to watch what I ate while balancing a ridiculously active cycling habit. There once was a time I couldn’t eat enough “good” food to keep weight on so I added a little fast food on occasion. McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s… they were all on the table. I didn’t overdo it, of course, maybe a couple of times a week, but I didn’t shy away, either. It was a good problem to have.

Two years later it got to a point where I was eating two value meals after a Tuesday night ride to keep my weight up. And that’s about the time everything caught up to me. My problems started when I didn’t taper down the extra food and fast food after DALMAC (typically our “end of the season” tour – after that, we tend to ride a little easier). I kept eating as if I were putting in 250 mile weeks. I didn’t put on a lot of weight, but I got a little mushy, and I didn’t like it.

This year, I’m down at my fighting weight and I’m smarter going into fall. I’ve already started to taper and I’m saving fast food for big ride days only.

However, it seems I may have been using bad information all along. Take yesterday’s 54 mile ride: Endomondo gave me 3,307 calories to make up for. That’s a lot of chips and salsa, folks! Strava, for the same ride: 1,803.  Where the extra 1,500 calories went, I don’t know.

Let’s look at another. Last Saturday’s 101 mile effort at 20.2-mph, the last two hours of which were in the rain. Endomondo: 6,559 Strava: 3,832. Even a short 20-miler. Endomodo: 1,216 vs. Strava: 616 calories.

Folks, I have no doubt in my mind that Endomondo is too high in their estimate, and I paid for it.  That led to my troubles regulating my weight over the last couple of years.

User beware.

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