How does Strava calculate calories?

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In this guide, we will talk about how Strava calculates calories, how calories are calculated, How can I change the units of measurement and what you can do if you have issues with the measurements. However, let’s remember not to rely solely on calorie count if you have some fitness goals such as losing weight. Also consider the type of activity and intensity, your heart rate measurements, etc. 

How does Strava calculate calories?

If you wonder how Strava calculates calories, here we have the answer. To get the calorie count for runs, Strava requires that you enter your weight since it uses this measurement plus elevation, data and distance of your run to give you an estimate of your total calories burned.  Calories are measured by the energy you burn during an exercise or workout. 

As indicated by Strava Support, “Strava shows Calories as they were provided to us from upload partners. If no value is sent, or you record with the Strava mobile app, we use our own calculations. At this time, Strava only performs a calorie calculation on the ride, run, walk, and hike activities”. For all the other activities, Strava will not display a calorie count unless you upload the information from a third party device or app.

We must add that many Strava users really love it and we would dare to say that it has gained a lot of popularity among athletes and those trying to keep a track of their fitness goals. Either if you would like to improve your running pace, distance, time or log your cycling progress, distance, time and routes, Strava is the perfect option. It has a simple interface and it is very easy to set up and read. 

Finally, here is a tip, it doesn’t really matter how many calories you’ve burned during the day. This will not represent much if you are not burning more calories than the ones you are consuming. So, if you would like to lose some weight remember to also consider the calories of your food intake and the ones you burn.

How are calories calculated?

We understand how important it is to see how many calories you’ve burned during your workouts. However, to do this, it is important to enter your weight when setting your profile. To do this you need to hover over your profile picture on the top-right of the window and then select ‘Settings’ from the dropdown menu. Finally, choose ‘Weight’ and input the information but don’t worry, this number is just for you and no one will be able to see it. 

Moreover, if you would like to estimate calories burned during a run, consider that Strava will use the weight you input, the elevation and distance of your run to give you an estimate of the calories burned. As indicated by, “Calories for runs are a function of speed (grade adjusted), weight and moving time. Multiply these together with a scaling factor and that’s the estimate”. 

In contrast, if you need to estimate the calories burned while cycling then, consider that Strava will use your power output and a coefficient for human efficiency. The Power can be estimated after entering your weight and how much your bike weighs. However, if it is easier for you, you can use a power meter to get a more accurate reading of your power output. 

How can I change the units of measurement?

If you are like me then, you may want to set up kilometres instead of miles. It is just a matter of preference and what makes you feel more comfortable but you can always change it back to miles at any given time. To change the units of measurement from the app:

  • Select ‘Profile’ located at the bottom of the screen.
  • Select the ‘Settings’ option, which is represented by the cogwheel at the top-right corner of your screen.
  • From here, just select ‘Units of Measurement’ so you can toggle between miles and kilometres. 

However, you can also make the changes through the website by visiting and selecting ‘Settings’ located underneath your profile picture at the top right corner of the screen.

From here, select ‘Display Preferences’ right from the menu on the left and hover over the option ‘Units and Measurements’ and click on the pencil to start editing. Finally, use the dropdown menu to select ‘Kilometers and Kilograms’.

What can I do if I have issues with the measurements?

Usually, the problems related to measurements on Strava may be due to the GPS or location services. You can do basic troubleshooting by powering the phone off and on and also by disabling the GPS and enabling it again. 

However, consider how the GPS signal can be obstructed when training indoors. In this case, you can manually pause it to ensure better and more accurate measurements. Additionally, you can try removing the app and reinstalling it. Also consider that, if you are using a third-party app for calories burned, those apps tend to have a different algorithm for such calculations. 

Finally, make sure you have updated your user settings and input your correct weight and your bikes weigh if you are using it while cycling. This will allow for more accurate readings but there is also an option to leave a generic bike weight if you don’t have this information.

Why is this blog about How does Strava calculate calories important?

As we have discussed how Strava calculates calories, we can conclude that, to get the calorie count for runs, Strava requires that you enter your weight since it uses this measurement plus elevation, data and distance of your run to give you an estimate of your total calories burned.  Calories are measured by the energy you burn during an exercise or workout.

Remember always to keep your information updated so the algorithm can calculate the estimate of how many calories you have burned while running or cycling. However, if you are trying to lose weight, it is not enough to keep track of the calories you have burned but also the calories from your food intake. 

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about How does Strava calculate calories

How does Strava calculate calories burned?

Strava calculates calories burned for runs, it requires that you enter your weight. Strava will use your weight and the elevation data and distance of your run to estimate calories burned. Most devices and apps have their own algorithm which will automatically calculate the information and will display it for you to see. 

Is Strava accurate for calories?

Some might say Strava is always wildly off on calorie measurements, occasionally it is said to be twp times the Garmin estimated amount. Going by the general rule of thumb of ~125 calories per mile for my weight, Garmin seems to be right and Strava seems to be wrong. However, consider that the number you see for calories burned is not the exact number, it is just an estimate that can help you plan your training goals or achieve them. 

Why does Strava overestimate calories?

Strava overestimates calories or determines the calorie count from speed and time elevation alone. The problem with this is that it doesn’t take into consideration how hard you train or workout. For instance, it will not detect if you are riding at 20 mph because it was a recovery ride or if you were riding into a headwind.

How accurate are bike calorie counters?

The bike calorie counters are said to base their measurements on technical data such as METs or Metabolic Equivalents, and watts. The calorie readout can be very accurate and in fact, some researchers have found under lab conditions that they can become quite accurate when tested in stationary bikes. Some athletes and fitness professionals recommend getting an additional device to count the calories instead of relying on an app on your phone. 

Does Strava show your weight?

Strava doesn’t explicitly list your weight but does keep in mind that some segment filters will display your results by weight range, depending on your activities, privacy settings, etc. Your weight is private and you may need to input the information while going through the initial settings as well as to be able to get some measurements such as the calories burned.


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