Last updated: September 7, 2021

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Do you know how many calories you spend when you're walking, running, or biking? These are everyday sports or recreational activities, but we generally know very little about their impact on our health. Fortunately for us, there is always a product on the market that can come to our rescue. Have you ever heard of calorie counters?

If this is the first time you hear this name, don't worry; you have come to the right place. Whether you want to lose weight, start a new fitness plan, or just want to live a healthier lifestyle, calorie counters are essential to your self-knowledge. Keep reading our guide to learn more about these electronic devices.

Key Facts

  • Found in certain sports watches and other fitness trackers, calorie counters are a function that monitors your physical activity to calculate the number of calories burned. Fitness trackers with this feature are worn on the wrist and are often compatible with a mobile application.
  • Calorie counters allow you to keep a daily, weekly, and monthly record of your physical activities, as well as the calories you eat during each meal. It is an excellent tool for setting personal goals and keeping a proper record of your activities and diet.
  • If you plan on purchasing a calorie counter, there are various vital criteria that you should keep in mind when looking at the model available on the market. These factors include the data recorded by the device, its additional functions (e.g., GPS), design, autonomy, compatible applications, and connectivity, among others.

Our Selection: The Best Calorie Counter Devices

When it comes to physical activities and fitness, knowing your body, limits, and capacities is fundamental. However, some data can be more difficult to record. Today's technology allows you to wear a fully functional calorie counter on your wrist. If you don't know which model to choose, have a look at our selection of the best products currently on the market.

Shopping Guide: Everything You Should Know About Calorie Counters

Big data has brought about great technological innovations, the latest of which allow us to record virtually any activity we do. Calorie counters are part of the set of functions that smartwatches offer their users. In the following section, we will answer the most frequently asked questions regarding this feature.

Calorie counters help you keep track of the calories you spend during different activities.
(Source: Maridav: 54454566/

What are calorie counters exactly?

Integrated into many smartwatches and fitness trackers, calorie counters are a function designed to record and measure the physical activities you do during the day. They will count the number of calories you burn while performing a specific exercise or playing sports, later producing reports and statistics so you can keep a record of your progress.

What are calorie counters used for?

Calories are units used to measure the energy contained in food. The total calorific value is calculated by adding the calories from the macronutrients in your diet – proteins, carbohydrates, fats, and alcohol. The human body consumes energy from food, later expending it during physical activity, among other things.

Calorie counters are therefore designed to keep track of the number of calories you burn during your different daily activities – from walking to intense sports like mountaineering. Once you know exactly how many calories you expend, you can create your own program to lose weight, to reach a specific goal, or simply to stay in shape.

Euan AshleyProfessor of Cardiovascular Medicine, Genetics, and Biomedical Data Science at the Stanford University, California
"There is also a very wide difference in calories burnt between one person and another. For example, 10,000 steps could equate to anything from 400 kilocalories to 800 kilocalories lost, depending on a person's height and weight alone."

How do calorie counters work?

Fitness trackers or smartwatches that include calorie counters use different algorithms that calculate the number of calories expended during each physical activity based on data provided by the user. Different algorithms have different methods of obtaining calorific values, as you can see in the following table:

Algorithm Degree of reliability How it works
Distance, weight, and height Low The algorithm uses equations to provide an estimate of the calories the user loses doing a certain activity.
Heart rate Medium By adding the heart rate to the data mentioned above, the algorithm calculates the effort that each activity requires of you.
Oxygen consumption and heartbeat variability High An external pulse sensor is added to assess the time between your heartbeats, giving a more accurate estimate of your metabolic equivalent.

During which activities can I use my calorie counter?

Most calorie counters found in trackers or watches can measure a large number of sports and activities. Every model has a pedometer to measure the steps you take in a day and can calculate the calories you expend while walking and running. This function can also evaluate the following activities:

  • Walking
  • Running
  • Uphill running
  • Cycling or spinning
  • Football
  • Tennis
  • Basketball
  • Dancing
  • Mountaineering
  • Functional training

How do calorie counters work?

There's nothing easier! Most fitness trackers and smartwatches simply need you to enter some personal data to create a profile. They commonly ask for your height and weight, but you may have to provide other information such as your average number of sleep hours or how many cups of coffee you drink per day. The more data it gathers, the more efficient the counter will be.

Once you have entered your data, select the training mode of the sport you are about to play. That's it! You can start your activity, and the calorie counter will do the work for you. Once you're done, you can view a report with all the information gathered directly on your fitness tracker or the mobile app of the device.

These trackers analyze the variations of acceleration and movement they register.
(Source: Maridav: 90920620/

Keep in mind that most models allow you to create different calorie plans: to lose weight, to follow a specific fitness program, or to monitor your health, for instance. You can usually put together these plans daily, weekly, or monthly, to measure your progress and set new goals.

What functions come with calorie counters?

Calorie counters are a fantastic function to manage your body and improve your overall health. If you really want a holistic approach, you should know that fitness trackers and smartwatches can integrate all sorts of features to complement calorie counters. We have listed the main ones in the table below:

What they do: Found in:
Pedometer It measures the number of steps you take. Every model
Heart rate monitor It recognizes your heartbeat and tells you what your heart rate is at a specific moment or throughout a given exercise. Several models
Sleep monitor It reports the number of times you wake up at night, as well as your hours of deep sleep and light sleep. Few models
Sedentary alert This feature reminds you to move your body and burn calories. Few models
GPS  It tracks your real-time location and the distance you travel during each activity.  Every model
Chronometer, alarm clock, reminders, calendar, watch  These classic functions allow you to manage your time and keep records of your activities. Every model

Shopping Criteria

Calorie counters are becoming increasingly popular among people who want to live a healthier life. Knowing how much energy you spend during your physical activities allows you to get to know yourself better and set challenging yet achievable goals. In the following section, we will discuss a series of purchasing criteria to keep in mind as you search for the right calorie counter watch.

Design and Weight

Since you wear the calorie counter on your wrist, it will quickly become a permanent accessory. This is why you should look for a compact and attractive design that fits your style and matches your personality. Try to keep the weight to a minimum to avoid discomfort. Note that most fitness trackers and smartwatches don't exceed 2 ounces.


You don't want your calorie counter to give up on you when you most need it. Make sure that the tracker or watch you purchase includes a battery with enough autonomy so you don't have to charge it every day. As a general rule, a battery of 100 mAh should last you at least 5 days with all its functions turned on. Some models can even last up to 10 days.

Additional Functions

As we explained earlier, the calorie counter is a fundamental feature of fitness trackers and smartwatches. That being said, it is far from being the only one. If you want to have a truly holistic approach to your health, analyze the additional functions that the model you are interested in offers.

Look for heart rate and sleep monitors, as well as pedometers.


Your smartphone apps can add a lot of value to your calorie counter. For this to be efficient, you need a stable and immediate connection with your fitness tracker or smartwatch. Bluetooth remains the most effective and common connectivity method for these devices, allowing you to have all the available tools at hand.


Since virtually all calorie counters are linked with mobile applications, you will need to make sure that the device you purchase is compatible with your smartphone. Android and iOS models are generally suitable, but not all versions will work. Read the product description carefully to avoid unpleasant surprises later on.


Calorie counters are used to calculate the energy you expend while playing sports or performing physical activities. This function tends to be built into devices such as fitness trackers and smartwatches. Worn on the wrist, they record your movements and workouts through algorithms that receive your data.

Nowadays, calorie counters can track all kinds of activities: walking, running, football, tennis, basketball, and yoga, among many others. In addition to them, fitness trackers integrate other useful features like heart rate and sleep monitoring, and pedometer. Calorie counters can also be linked to mobile apps for more comfortable viewing of the data.

If you liked our guide on calorie counters, feel free to share it on your social media so other people can learn more about this function. We're sure your friends and family can also make the most of them! You can also leave us a comment in the section below, and we will be happy to get back to you as soon as possible.

(Source of featured image: Barysenka: 103365199/

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