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# Net Versus Gross Calorie Burn

Do you know the difference between net calorie burn and gross calorie burn? Tracking how many calories you burn while exercising, or performing any type of physical activity, can be a useful weight management technique (especially when combined with calorie consumption tracking) but if you don't know whether your calorie burn estimates are net or gross, or what the difference is, then you might not achieve the results you were expecting.

Typical calorie burn calculators, including those usually built into treadmills, stair climbers, bikes, elliptical machines, etc., provide gross calorie burn estimates, but some calculators provide net calorie burn estimates. Either type of estimate, net or gross, is okay to use so long as you know which one it is and what the numbers mean with respect to your overall caloric balance (read the Calories Explained article learn more about caloric balance).

## Gross Calorie Burn

Gross calorie burn is the absolute total amount of calories burned while performing any given activity. It includes the calories that your body burned specifically to perform the activity itself, plus the additional calories burned throughout the duration of the physical activity that your body must continually burn at all times to digest food, keep tissues alive, and support the function of vital organs. The extra calories burned in addition to those required for physical activity are collectively known as your Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR), and they represent the calories that your body would have burned anyway, even if you had just been relaxing on the couch and not performing any physical activity. Try our Resting Metabolic Rate Calculator to find out what your resting metabolic rate is.

## Net Calorie Burn

Now that you know what gross calorie burn is, net calorie burn is easily understood. Net calorie burn, for any given physical activity, is the amount of calories burned only to perform the physical activity, and no more. As opposed to gross calorie burn, net calorie burn does not include calories burned to support your RMR.

## Summary Equations - Gross Calorie Burn

We can summarize gross calorie burn with either of the following equations:

• Gross Calorie Burn = (calories burned to support physical activity) + (calories burned to support RMR)

or

• Gross Calorie Burn = (net calorie burn) + (calories burned to support RMR)

## Summary Equations - Net Calorie Burn

We can summarize net calorie burn with either of the following equations:

• Net Calorie Burn = calories burned to support physical activity

or

• Net Calorie Burn = (gross calorie burn) - (calories burned to support RMR)

## A Common Mistake Related to Net and Gross Calorie Burn

Now that you understand the meaning of net and gross calorie burn, you should be able to avoid one of the most common mistakes that people make when tracking their calorie burn, illustrated by the following scenario:

Let's suppose that you have decided to start a weight loss program to lose 10 pounds over 20 weeks (this is a weight loss rate of 1 pound every 2 weeks). Before starting this weight loss program you performed no regular exercise and you were neither gaining nor losing weight, so you must have been burning exactly the same number of calories that you were consuming. Rather than modify your diet to lose weight, you decide to continue to consume the same amount of calories while increasing your calorie burn through daily exercise. Since there are roughly 3,500 calories in one pound of fat, you decide to run on a treadmill every day until you've burned 250 calories according to the treadmill's calorie burn calculator. 250 calories per day will add up to 3,500 calories, or about 1 pound of fat, every 2 weeks, because 250 x 14 = 3,500. So, according to this strategy you should expect to lose about 1 pound of fat every 2 weeks, right? Wrong.