Do you find that your Apple Watch often underestimates how many calories you’ve burned during a workout? This can be really frustrating, especially when you’re trying to lose weight or maintain your current physique.
Let’s look at why your Apple Watch calorie burned estimate is wrong and how to fix it in this guide. Let’s get going!
If you’re someone who often works out with an Apple Watch, you may have noticed that the calorie tracker is often inaccurate. This is because the Apple Watch relies on a number of factors to estimate how many calories you’ve burned, including your age, weight, height, sex, and activity level. However, these estimations are not always accurate, which can lead to your Apple Watch underestimating how many calories you’ve burned during a workout.
Fortunately, there is a way to improve the accuracy of your Apple Watch’s calorie tracking. By calibrating your Apple Watch, you can ensure that it is more accurate in estimating how many calories you’ve burned during a workout.
Why is my Apple Watch tracking calories burned incorrectly?
If the estimate of calories burnt on your Apple Watch is failing consistently to match your expectations for a while now, there could be a few reasons behind this. Let us explore them all.
● Confusion between Active and Resting Calories
When your Apple Watch is in “workout” mode, it will provide you with the active calories burnt during the workout session. But the “Activity” app on your Apple Watch will provide a sum of both active and resting calories burnt by you during your activities throughout the day.
So, if the numbers are higher, you should check for the active calories only and see if it meets your expectations.
● Incorrect position or fit of your Apple Watch on your Wrist
Apple Watch takes into account the heart rate to measure accurate calories burnt by you during your workouts and all other activities of the day. So, it doesn’t sit properly on your wrist, the heart rate measurements will be inaccurate which will lead to inaccurate calorie tracking.
You should make sure that your Apple Watch is fitting snugly on the top of your wrist and that the heart rate sensor is close to your skin. There is also a chance that your Apple Watch size might not be optimal for you as it might be loose on your wrist. You need to get a better wristband for your Apple Watch so that it fits your wrist perfectly.
● You have not updated your Apple Health profile for a while now
While generating the number of calories that you have burnt, your Apple Watch takes into account your weight information from the Apple Health app. So, if you have not provided the correct weight to the app or you have not updated your weight for a long time now, the calorie count can go way off your expectations.
You need to put incorrect weight and height information in the Apple Health app and check if the reading approaches your expectations.
● Keeping your expectations realistic, supported by correct information
While Strength training sessions can be intensive and exhaustive, the number of calories burnt during the period can be a lot fewer than your expectations.
You should be acquainted with the fact that losing weight with weight training is a long-term goal where you burn calories via increased muscle mass and elevated Basal Metabolic Rate. This means you will burn more calories throughout the day as an effect of the workout but a lot fewer than your expectations during the workout.
● Wrist detection is turned off
When the “Wrist Detection” feature is turned off on your Apple Watch, it won’t be able to read your background heart rate and standing progress. You need to make sure that it is turned on to increase the accuracy of calorie tracking on your Apple Watch.
● Incorrect Workout Tracking Mode activated
There are multiple workout modes available on your Apple Watch. These modes are tailored and designed in such a way that they can track a particular activity more accurately. So, if you have chosen an incorrect workout-tracking mode, chances are that the tracking is way off the charts including calorie tracking.
● Your Apple Watch is not Calibrated
Calibrating your Apple Watch from time to time is essential which allows the watch to read and understand your pace and style of activities. This increases the level of personalization and the watch will track all the measurements including calories more accurately. Especially, if you are into certain workouts that are not provided in the workout modes, you need to calibrate your Apple Watch for that particular workout for efficient and accurate calorie tracking.
How to turn on the Wrist Detection on Apple Watch?
Wrist detection is important as it allows your Apple Watch to take into account your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) during your workout sessions. This increases the accuracy of measurement.
For some reason or accidentally, you might have turned it off and this might result in inaccurate calorie counting.
Here are steps to turn on the Wrist Detection ( motion calibration distance) on your Apple Watch.
- Go to your iPhone and open the Apple Watch app on it
- Now, tap on the “Watch” option or tab
- Next, Enter your Passcode
- You will see the “Wrist Detection” feature
- Make sure that it is toggled On (Green)
How to choose the right workout-tracking mode?
You must choose the correct workout-tracking mode to allow your Apple Watch to assess your sessions accurately and register correct readings.
To choose the right workout mode you can follow the following steps –
- On your Apple Watch, Press the Digital Crown to see all the apps.
- Now, Find the Workout app and tap on it.
- Once the Workout app is opened, Turn the Digital Crown to browse all the workout modes available.
- Once you find the workout suited for you, tap on the menu button “three dots in the top right corner”.
- You can set your goals like calories, time, and distance for that particular workout. You can either turn the Digital Crown or tap on the “plus + or minus -” to set.
- You can simply start a workout by tapping on it without setting a goal as well.
What are the factors that affect the accuracy of the Apple Watch?
Several factors can affect the accuracy of your Apple Watch. The list of all possible factors is given below –
- Incorrect personal information like Height, Weight, etc on the Apple Health app
- When the Wrist Detection feature is turned off, the accuracy of calorie tracking and heart rate tracking can be inaccurate
- If your Apple Watch is not the right fit for you, it will register erroneous measurements
- Incorrect Workout modes can underestimate or overestimate your activities tracking
- Not calibrating your Apple Watch will hamper the accuracy of your Apple Watch
- Skin perfusion (the amount of blood flowing through your skin) is another factor that can compromise the heart rate reading. It varies from person to person and is also impacted by environmental conditions like temperature.
- Tattoos (permanent or temporary) can also affect the heart rate sensor accuracy. The pattern, ink, and saturation will block the light coming from the sensor which makes it difficult for the sensor to take reliable measurements.
- Movement with rhythm (like running or cycling) will give better heart rate reading compared to irregular motions like boxing or tennis
- You can get a Bluetooth Chest strap for better accuracy of your Apple Watch during irregular workouts that involve sudden jumping and movements.
How to Update the Personal Data on Apple Watch?
Your Apple Watch is smart enough to take into account all of your Personal information including height, weight, gender, and age to count the number of calories you burn and many other metrics. So, you should make sure that your personal information is always up to date.
To update your personal information, you can follow the given steps –
- Open the Apple Warch app on your iPhone and tap on the “My Watch” tab
- Next, tap on the “Health” option
- Now, tap on the “Health Profile” option
- Tap Edit
- Now, tap on the info you want to update or change.
How to Calibrate the Apple Watch?
Calibrating your Apple Watch from time to time will improve the accuracy of your Apple Watch and it will measure distance, pace, and calories more precisely. It will also allow your Apple Watch to learn about your fitness level and stride. This will further improve the accuracy of your Apple Watch when the GPS is not available or you are working out indoors.
For Calibrating your apple watch for improved workout and location services you can follow the steps given below –
Check the Settings on your iPhone
- Open the Settings app on your iPhone
- From there, Tap on Privacy and then on “Location Service”
- Ensure that the “Location Services” is toggled on
- Now, scroll down and find “System Services”. Tap on it
- Also, make sure that Motion Calibration and Distance are toggled on
- Now you can continue with calibration
Calibration of your Apple Watch
- Wear your Apple Watch on the correct wrist
- Go to an open and flat area outdoors where the GPS reception is good and the skies are clear
- If you have Apple Watch Series 1 or older, you will need to carry your iPhone with you for the GPS. You can hold the iPhone in your hand or attach it to your arm or waist using an armband or waistband.
- If you own an Apple Watch Series 2 or newer, your Apple Watch alone will do.
- Now, open the workout app on your Apple Watch.
- To start the calibration, tap on Outdoor Run or Outdoor Walk workout mode
- Set a goal for the workout by tapping on the three-dot icon at the top right corner of the watch screen
- Now, you need to run or walk at your natural pace for 20 minutes
- If you cannot finish the workout in one go, you can complete the 20 minutes workout session over more than one outdoor workout session.
- If you workout at a variable pace or speed, you need to calibrate for each speed by performing the workout for 20 minutes at that particular speed.
- Your Apple Watch will keep on calibrating the accelerometer sensor every time you walk or run outdoors using the steps given above,
- Your Apple Watch will learn about your stride length and variable speeds.
Can Apple Watch Track Calories?
Your Apple Watch when paired with your iPhone, can track your calories in and calories out along with many other biometrics of your body. A calorie tracker is provided on the watch that gives you a legible readout about the calorie count. You can also use the Watch faces to track your calories.
Counting calories might not be the primary reason to buy an Apple Watch, but it can come in handy to maintain a healthy eating habits and during weight loss programs. Further, with the iPhone, the health stats are available quite easily.
Reading the Apple Watch Calorie Tracker
You can use the Health App (before iOS 14) or the Fitness app (iOS 14 and later) to track your calories on your iPhone.
On iOS 14 or later –
- Open the Fitness app on your iPhone and tap on the “Move category”
- Here you can see through all the information regarding your calories in and calories out
On iOS 13 or older –
- Open the Apple Health app on your iPhone
- Next, tap on the “Today” tab
- You will be able to see Active calories (calories burnt during workout) and Resting Calories (calories burnt due to BMR or resting) here
- You can add both the calories to learn about the total calories burnt during the day
Tracking your calories using the Apple Watch Face –
- Open the Apple Watch app on your iPhone and tap on any face you like
- Toggle on the activity options you want to see
- Now, tap on the “Set as Current Watch face” option
- Tap on the “Activity icon” on the watch face and you will be able to see your total calories burnt data.
How does the Apple Watch track calories?
Apple Watch uses your personal information like age, height, gender, and weight along with the readings from heart and activity sensors (like an accelerometer) and feeds them to an advanced series of algorithms to estimate or track your calories.
The estimate made by this sophisticated algorithm is relatively accurate as there is much vital information that it has taken into the calculation. Further, it also uses the wrist detector to measure your BMR and standing metabolic rates.
And, when specific workout modes are turned on, the accuracy increases as these modes have been calibrated over several thousand hours and loads of data to give out the most accurate estimate.
Apple Watch does not count a workout as exercise:
If your Apple Watch is not counting a particular workout as an exercise, your Apple Watch may be failing to recognize the activity. Additionally, if that particular workout is not present in the list of workout modes, it can be more difficult for the Apple watch to count it as an exercise.
It is also possible that the pace of your workout is not matching the calibrated pace and this can result in further complications. You need to recalibrate your Apple watch for the workout and start the workout again. The Apple Watch should learn your strides and speed and will start registering the workout as an exercise.