How does Garmin calculate resting calories?


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Page last updated: 27/09/2022

How does Garmin calculate resting calories?

In this guide, we will talk about how Garmin calculates resting calories. Also, we will talk about some of the basic concepts such as activity calories, calories consumed and calories remaining, resting calories, the science behind tracking calories and two of the best apps to calculate calories. 

How does Garmin calculate resting calories?

If you are wondering, how Garmin calculates resting calories, here we have the answer. Resting calories consist of the minimum calories required to support your body’s normal functioning or basic physiological needs. Also, your age, height, weight and gender, plus an estimate of the calories required for activities like digestion, breathing or being alert.

There are a few concepts we need to define to understand how Garmin calculates resting calories. The first concept we need to talk about is active calories. Active Calories are the calories burned daily only while doing physical, non-sedentary activities such as walking or working out. Garmin devices calculate active calories based on the activity level, the type of the activity performed and personal characteristics such as age, height, weight, gender and heart rate (when available).

I was one of those who used to measure the calories of everything I was eating but counting calories is not for everyone. However, I used to feel very motivated when I went to my spinning class and saw the total calorie count when I stepped down from the bicycle. However, it becomes a little bit confusing when we talk about resting calories since we are not really doing much to burn them when in fact, we are not doing anything and we are just burning calories by existing. 

Measuring calories has become essential for many users, especially when starting a weight loss journey or even if you are trying to maintain your weight. It is not necessary to become obsessed about counting calories since it is just an estimate, your desired results can be evidenced through things like seeing how you keep losing weight over the weeks.

Activity Calories 

According to Garmin Support, these are the total of active and resting calories calculated during the activities recorded by your device from the moment you start the timer for the activity to the moment you stop the timer.

These calories are the calories we burn at the end of your workout, Zumba or aerobics class. However, you could be walking for 30 minutes every day and still you will see the calories burned from that activity. 

Calories Consumed and Calories Remaining

This must be the most known concept when we have started our fitness journey. Calories consumed can be tracked daily from food intake and you can see them on Garmin Connect.

In contrast, calories remaining are how many daily calories you are above or below a calorie goal. If we do the math, we need to subtract your Calorie Goal from the Net Calories, which equals calories remaining. 

Resting Calories 

Most users feel curious about Resting Calories since we are not used to thinking we could be burning calories just by breathing or digesting our food. Resting Calories are also known as Resting Metabolic Rate, which are the calories we are always burning, even when we are doing nothing, watching TV while sitting on our favourite couch, sleeping, and many other activities we could think of.

As mentioned by Garmin Support, some watches which have an optical heart rate sensor will also take into account heart rate and your VO2 Max estimates information to provide the most accurate resting calorie measurement possible. 

From resting calories, we can also find the total calorie count by adding your active and resting calories, if you would like to do it manually. 

How does Garmin calculate resting calories?

The Science behind calculating resting calories

The market is full of devices that are said to be able to calculate even your daily ‘stress’ so calculating calories must be one of the most known features across devices. However, we find that there are more and more built-in sensors and algorithms that measure calories, steps, distance, floors, etc., more accurately. 

Let’s take a look at how Fitbit calculates or tracks resting calories. Fitbit takes into consideration your Basal Metabolic Rate which indicates the calories you are burning when you are resting to maintain vital body functions like breathing and/or your heartbeat. Resting calories usually account for at least half of the calories you burn in a day and it is also based on the physical data you enter when you set up your account. 

As indicated on, “The calorie burn estimate that Fitbit provides takes into account your BMR, the activity recorded by your tracker, and any activities you log manually. If your tracker measures heart rate, the calorie burn estimate also takes heart rate into account”.

Best Apps for Calorie Counting

There are also many Apps for calorie counting such as MyFitnessPal. You may have seen a lot of reviews online about this app and most of them are very positive, especially when it comes to calorie counting. You can personalize the information on the app such as your vitals and what you would like to achieve such as losing, gaining or maintaining your weight. What MyFitnessPal does with this information is to estimate how many calories your body burns at rest or without additional exercise. 

Getting the best of the app is simple, just log your daily activity which can be done manually or by syncing the information with devices such as fitness bands or smart scales. 

Additionally, we need to mention another app called LifeSum, which is often regarded as the best health and fitness app available. LifeSum has basically the same features MyFitnessPal does but the difference is that even if it is a very simple app to use it also has a great design compared with competitor apps.

Why is this blog about How does Garmin calculate resting calories important?

As we have discussed how Garmin calculates resting calories, we can conclude that resting calories consist of the minimum calories required to support your body’s normal functioning or basic physiological needs. Also, your age, height, weight and gender, plus an estimate of the calories required for activities like digestion, breathing or being alert. People normally think about total calories burned during physical activities but we also burn daily calories while resting.

Finally, Garmin is not the only device available for calorie counting since there are also some popular apps like MyFitnessPal and LifeSum that can become quite useful when tracking calories. However, some users believe Garmin is very accurate when counting calories due to the technology, sensors and algorithms. 

Please feel free to leave any comments or thoughts about the content of this article!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about How does Garmin calculate resting calories

How does Garmin work out resting calories?

Your resting calories are the calories based on your Basal Metabolic Rate or BMR. They are the calories burned by your body through vital activities and functions such as breathing or digestion, meaning the processes that allow you to stay alive. Calories burned through activities are not included in this number. Garmin sets your BMR depending on your age, height, weight, etc.

Is the Garmin calorie counter accurate?

The accuracy of the Garmin calorie counter depends on the device and the type of activity performed during the day. Garmin uses Fitbeat’s technology to estimate calories outside activities and it is only as good as the Hear Rate Variability accuracy. 

How is resting calories calculated?

Resting calories are calculated through the following Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR) equations:

(RMR) kcal/day: (males) = 9.99 x weight (kg) + 6.25 x height (cm) – 4.92 x age(years) + 5; (RMR) kcal/day: (females) = 9.99 x weight(kg) + 6.25 x height (cm) – 4.92 x age (years) – 161.

What is Garmin Connect calorie adjustment?

Garmin Connect’s calorie adjustment amount is the number of calories that your Garmin device thinks you have burned minus the number of calories that MyFitnessPal thinks you have burned (or any other connected app). If you consistently get negative adjustments, it may mean that Garmin is estimating your calorie burn at less than MyFitnessPal thinks you have burned.

Do Garmin watches track calories?

Garmin watches can calculate and track active calories based on your activity level, type of activity, age, height, weight, gender and heart rate (if it is available in your device).


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