Can You Trust It? How Accurate is Apple Watch Calories Tracker
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Can You Trust It? How Accurate is Apple Watch Calories Tracker

How Accurate are WATs? Science Says WATs are Moderately Accurate

UniSA researchers found that WATs encourage people to walk up to 40 minutes more each day or approximately 2,000 more steps, which contributed to significant weight loss. Activity trackers also bring a positive change in physical activity, as “they are a form of external feedback, which we know is beneficial for motivating positive health changes,” UniSA Ph.D. candidate Ty Ferguson, told Healthline.

“What was a nice surprise is just how helpful they were for such a wide variety of people, including all ages, healthy people, and those living with a variety of chronic conditions.”

Yes, WATs definitely encourage people to exercise more, but how accurate are they? 

Dr. Brian Quebbemann, founder of the N.E.W. Program and author of “Dietary Rebuild,” defined WATs as “moderately accurate, ” explaining:

“They help you track trends, consistency, approximate intensity level, and effort.” He further explained that “they are good at comparing the intensity of your exercise; meaning they can tell you that your run today was more intense than your run yesterday. But they are less accurate at comparing one exercise, push-ups for example, to another, say bicycling.”

Apple Watch 7 offers quite a few advanced tracking features – noise warning, cycle monitoring, emergency services call – but on the daily, most of us just want to see how many calories we’ve burned. So, can you trust your Apple Watch with an honest calculation? How accurate is Apple Watch Series when it comes to calorie counters?

Smartwatches from Apple use a variety of indicators to track the calories a user burns. First of all, the obvious ones: are age, height, and weight. This data is required by the Health app when you sign in. The more accurate info you provide, the better will the watch track your calories.

How Does Apple Watch Track Calories Burn?

Then, Apple Watch Series takes into account heart rate and movement. These two matter A LOT when Apple considers AMR and BMR, active metabolic rate, and basal metabolic rate, respectively.

Basal metabolic rate is the speed at which humans burn the calories ingested in resting mode while the active one looks in detail at the calories expended through exercise.

This, in turn, is translated to active calories and basal calories making up for total calories. Apple Watch Series shows your total calories and activity, which are calculated by subtracting the basal (resting) ones from the total measured.

A 12-Week study of the accuracy of the Apple Watch’s Calorie Counter conducted by Medium showed that the EE numbers from the Apple Watch are pretty accurate. You can read the whole study here.

How Accurate is Apple Watch Calories Feature?

Apple Watch should be pretty accurate when counting calories.

For one, the BMR is pretty standard to measure, since it uses internationally agreed-upon measurements in the scientific world. On the other hand, there has been at least one study concluding that the Apple Watch was one of the best in its class out of 60 other competitors for energy expenditure tracking.

However, it’s worth remembering that the Apple Watch is, well, a consumer smartwatch not a medical device. So, it’s not as accurate as a medical device and its results could be slightly off at times.

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When lifting weights, depending on the weight chosen, a user’s body will expend more calories or less. However, because the smartwatch considers only the movement of the wrist, it won’t be able to tell the different weights to make.

This is a piece of data the user will have to input separately, instead of relying on the general calorie counter.

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How to Improve Apple Watch Calories Tracker

If you are less than happy with the data the smartwatch shows, there are a couple of things you can try to improve its tracking.

Calibrate the watch. While you’re wearing the Apple Watch, move towards an outdoor area with flat ground that has good GPS reception. There, open the Workout app. Select Outdoor Walk or Outdoor Run from there and set a goal by tapping the three dots. Then, walk or run – depending on the option chosen – for around 20 minutes.

Make sure the Health app has updated, accurate info about you. If you haven’t used your Watch or opened your Health app in a while, now it might be time to do so. Make sure the app has real and accurate height and weight so it can monitor your BMR correctly.

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Be careful how you move your hands. Since Apple Watch relies on the movement of your wrist, check from time to time that you don’t move rigidly, with your arms stiff. If that happens, the smartwatch might not consider its movement at all and thus, refrain from tracking it. The same applies if you’re on a walk with a stroller. Your saving grace in the second case is the Workout app – this one takes into account the accelerometer, heart rate sensor, and GPS. Just use that one instead!

Now it’s your turn! Are you an Apple Watch Series owner? If so, how has calorie tracking been working out for you?

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Can You Trust It? How Accurate is Apple Watch Calories Tracker
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