How to use Apple Health’s calorie burn metrics

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If your New Year’s resolution is to get in shape, you have a good tool attached to your wrist. Here’s how to put Apple Health’s calorie burn metrics to good use.

When starting a fitness program that focuses on fat loss, many are left with the impression that exercise is the most important component. While it is important to your calorie deficit, exercise only makes up a small portion of your daily calorie burn.

In this article, we’ll look at resting vs. active calorie burn as noted by your device, dive into why resting energy makes up the majority of your daily calorie burn, and how you can turn your body into a calorie-burning machine.

How to find your total calorie burn for the day on iPhone

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Activity summary

Activity summary

Your total daily energy expenditure, or TDEE, consists of active energy and resting energy. It’s important to have a baseline for your TDEE in order to reach your fitness goals.

If you wear your phone or Apple Watch all day, the sum of your active and resting energy can give you a pretty accurate baseline. Make sure you include your height, weight and age in your iPhone to get an accurate reading.

Active calories

Active calories are those burned during training or prolonged activity, such as walking, spinning, hiking, playing sports, etc.

Many fitness beginners focus heavily on active calories—mostly calories burned in the gym—rather than paying attention to calories burned at rest.

Your active calories + resting calories = total energy expenditure for the day, or TDEE. If your goal is fat loss, you want to maintain a calorie deficit, meaning you burn more calories than you consume.

One way to track your daily calorie intake is to use a calorie tracking app like MyFitnessPal. Tracking calories may seem tedious at first, but it’s an important step in making sure you’re maintaining your calorie deficit.

Personal trainers offer a slow and steady calorie deficit of up to 500 calories per day. *** depending on what? ***

Since one pound of fat equals 3,500 calories, a daily deficit of 500 would result in the loss of one pound of fat over a one-week period.

This caloric deficit must be made possible either by increasing activity or by reducing caloric intake through food. Most choose a combination of the two.

For those who aren’t as active, it may feel easier at first to cut calories from your daily food intake than to break a sweat to burn those 500 calories through exercise.

To put that into perspective, running 5 km at 10 mph—a 30-minute workout—burns about 300 calories. If you are a walker, one hour of walking can burn about 270 calories.

Because of homeostasis, the body’s self-regulating system that focuses on maintaining physiological stability for survival, it’s important to eat a little less and exercise to keep your metabolism up.

If you drastically cut calories through dieting, the body will go into starvation mode, meaning your metabolism will slow down and you’ll reach those plateaus faster.

Active energy vs. resting energy

You may be shocked to find that your thirty minute jog—which makes up a portion of your active calories—doesn’t come close to the calories burned at rest.

Unless you’re a marathon runner, the resting calories listed on your iPhone will be significantly higher than your active calories.

Your total calorie burn consists of the graph below:

TDEE Chart (

TDEE Chart (

The smallest sections of the graph include calories burned during exercise thermogenesis (EAT), thermic effect of food (TEF), and non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT).

EAT: your calories burned during exercise.

TEF: the calories your body burns to digest food, usually about 10% of your caloric intake for the day. This means that if you ate 2000 calories today, 200 of them will be burned in the digestion process.

THE STOPPED: calories burned while walking around the kitchen to make dinner or dancing in the shower.

As you can see, your active calories (EAT, TEF, NEAT) are worth a very small fraction of your daily calorie burn.

Energy decay at rest

Your resting energy is made up of your basal metabolic rate, or BMR, and makes up the largest part of the graph. Your BMR is essentially the calories you burn at rest.

Your body takes a lot of energy to keep itself alive, even at rest, and this is reflected in your BMR.

Your BMR is configured based on your age, weight, and height. Use the BMR calculator here to configure yours and see if it matches Apple’s end-of-day resting energy calculation.

Most will find their BMR is 1200+ calories for the day. It is important to note that bodies with more muscle inherently burn more calories at rest.

Think of it this way: at idle, a V8 truck uses a lot more gas than a V4 Hyundai. The more muscle you have, the more calories you’ll burn at rest—and the better your metabolism will work.

That’s why it’s important to incorporate strength training into your fitness regimen. Weight training also helps mitigate other problems, such as osteoporosis.

Resting energy may be responsible for a higher calorie burn than active energy, but as indicated in the truck vs. car example, active energy—through habitual resistance training— i can affects calories burned at rest.

Some may think that the American Heart Association’s recommendation of 150 minutes of aerobic exercise per week is too difficult to achieve.

When it comes to fat loss, the goal here is to eat everything you love in moderation, while keeping track of portion sizes using the MyFitnessPal app and moving more.

As always, start small. If you can’t exercise, do more functional movement during the day, such as taking the stairs instead of the elevator or doing squats during TV commercials. everything movement counts.

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