Why are Calories So Low on Peloton? Here’s the Scoop

Let’s be honest here – I’m there with you. You’re putting in the hustle on your Peloton spin bike, breaking personal records, accumulating miles like they’re going out of style, yet the calories seems so low

It’s one of those questions that keeps popping up in fitness circles: “Why are calories so low on Peloton?” Well, my friends, it’s about time we demystify this!

apple watch with heart rate display

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Keeping up with accurate calorie tracking is essential to our fitness journeys. It’s the keystone that holds together our understanding of energy output, guiding our choices about what to eat, when to rest, and how hard to train

But there’s an issue here – your Peloton, or any aerobic exercise equipment, might not be telling you the entire story. 

So, let’s navigate the intricacies of calorie counting together and figure out how to squeeze the most accurate results out of your Peloton workouts!

Why Are Calories So Low on Peloton?

Here’s the scoop: gym machines, including your beloved Peloton, estimate calories burned based on a concoction of pre-set averages and your inputted information. Essentially, these machines employ algorithms that consider different factors like your body weight, age, and gender. 

However, these algorithms are based on generalized estimates, and not everyone fits neatly into these average molds. For example, a 200-pound man and a 200-pound woman of the same age will burn calories at different rates due to muscle mass and metabolism differences.

Moreover, if you haven’t configured your machine to include your specific details, it’s likely using a ‘default’ profile—often a 150-pound male. Consequently, the calorie count you’re seeing could be vastly different from your actual burn rate. 

image of a smart watch with text that reads "why are calories so low on Peloton? Here's Why"

Additionally, some machines, especially those without chest strap heart rate monitors, are notorious for inaccurately tracking heart rate—a key component in determining energy expenditure. 

Wrist heart rate monitors, for example, are generally less accurate and can skew your calorie burn stats on the lower side. These factors can combine to paint an inaccurate picture of the calories you’re torching during your aerobic workout. 

How Does Peloton Know Calories Burned?

Peloton calculates calories burned using a complex algorithm that incorporates the output (a measure of your resistance and cadence) and your personal information (height, weight, and age). 

With these parameters, Peloton can estimate the amount of work you’re doing. However, remember that, unlike an exercise bike at the gym, A Peloton bike also factors in your resistance level. This means that if two people have the same output, but one uses a higher resistance, the person with the higher resistance will burn more calories, according to Peloton’s calculation. 

However, we return to our original caveat: these are all estimates. Like any fitness equipment, Peloton is not 100% accurate in estimating caloric burn, especially without an accurate heart rate input. 

peloton bike in my home gym

This is why many fitness experts recommend using a chest strap heart rate monitor, which can more accurately gauge your heart rate, allowing your Peloton to provide a more accurate estimation of the calories you’ve burned. 

Nonetheless, it’s crucial to remember that the precise number of calories burned should not be your only measure of a successful workout routine. Pay attention to how you feel, how your strength and endurance are improving, and how your health is benefiting overall from your Peloton workouts. 

Role of Personal Information in Calorie Calculation

Personal details, such as age, weight, and gender, are pivotal in estimating calories burned during a workout. These factors directly impact how your body metabolizes energy, and hence, not having them configured accurately in your machine can lead to significant discrepancies in the calorie calculation. 

Age, for instance, influences our metabolism rate. As we age, our metabolic rate generally decreases, meaning older people may burn fewer calories than younger ones given the same workout. Weight plays a part, too- the more you weigh, the more calories you may burn during physical activity because you’re moving more mass. 

peloton treadmill screen

Gender is also a key factor, mainly due to the differences in body composition between males and females. Men typically have a higher percentage of muscle tissue, which burns more calories than fat tissue – even at rest. Therefore, a man may burn more calories than a woman of the same weight during a workout. 

By inputting these details accurately into your Peloton or any other workout machine, the algorithm can more precisely estimate the calories you burn during a workout.

So, the next time you hop on that Peloton, ensure your profile is all set up with your latest information for the most accurate calorie count!

The Impact of Heart Rate Monitors on Calorie Count

Heart rate monitors are indispensable tools in the realm of fitness, providing real-time data about your heart’s activity during a workout. They detect and record the electrical signals your heart generates each time it beats. This data is then translated into your beats per minute (BPM), measuring your heart rate.

The two most common types of heart rate monitors are chest straps and wrist monitors. Each type has its own merits and demerits.

apple watch and garmin in front of peloton bike

Chest Strap Monitors

Chest strap heart rate monitors are typically lauded for their accuracy. They capture the heart’s electrical activity directly from the chest – very similar to an EKG. This direct contact and proximity to the heart enable them to provide highly precise heart rate readings. 

If accuracy is your top priority, a chest strap might be your best bet!

Wrist Monitors

On the other hand, wrist monitors – often integrated into smartwatches and fitness trackers, like the Apple Watch – use a method called photoplethysmography. They shine a light onto your skin and measure the light that bounces back. Since blood absorbs more light, the device can determine your heart rate based on how much light is reflected back. 

However, these monitors can be prone to inaccuracies, particularly during high-intensity workouts, as movement can interfere with the light sensor’s ability to capture a reliable reading.

activating broadcast in activity

In the context of calorie estimation, the more accurately your heart rate is tracked during a workout, the more accurate the calculation of your energy expenditure will be. So, if you’re serious about getting precise calorie burn stats, considering a chest strap heart rate monitor could be a worthwhile investment.

Tips to Improve Calorie Count Accuracy

Getting the most accurate calorie count from your Peloton or gym equipment is within your reach! It starts with personalizing your device settings for the best results. Here’s how:

  1. Configuring Your User Profile: Be meticulous about inputting your details in your user profile. Your age, weight, and gender should be up-to-date for the most accurate calorie count. Remember, even small weight changes can lead to significant differences in calories burned, so keep your profile up-to-date.
  2. Using a Heart Rate Monitor: While wrist monitors are convenient, they can lack accuracy. Consider using a chest strap heart rate monitor, especially during high-intensity workouts, to give you a more accurate reading. 
  3. Consistent Equipment Use: Try to use the same machine for each workout. By using your Peloton you can ensure you get a consistently accurate readout. 
peloton bike next to peloton tread in a home gym

Personalizing your equipment settings is no mere detail—it’s a game-changer for getting a more accurate assessment of your calorie expenditure. By taking the time to make these adjustments, you’re investing in a more accurate and informative fitness journey. 

Making Sense of the Numbers: Interpreting Your Calorie Count Data

Now that you have a grip on fine-tuning your workout equipment for the most accurate calorie count, it’s a great time to understand what these numbers mean for your fitness goals.

Remember that the number flashing on your screen after a sweaty Peloton session is more than just digits – it’s a key to understanding your body’s energy expenditure and performance. 

Everyone’s body and metabolic rate are unique, and thus, the exact number of total calories burned during a workout can vary from person to person. Instead of comparing your calorie burn to others, focus on your individual progress. 

woman running on a trail

Monitor how different types of workouts affect your calorie burn – perhaps you burn more calories during a high-intensity interval training (HIIT) session than during a steady-state cardio workout.

The bottom line is this data can help you tailor your exercise regimen to meet your specific fitness goals, whether that’s weight loss, muscle building, or improving cardiovascular health. 

Calorie Tracking FAQS

Why is my calorie count on Peloton different from other fitness apps?

Different fitness apps use different algorithms and various factors to estimate calorie burn, which can lead to discrepancies. It’s important to remember that these are estimates, and fluctuations are normal. Stick to one reliable source for consistency in tracking your progress.

Can diet affect the accuracy of calorie burn on Peloton?

Yes. Your diet can influence your metabolic rate and, hence, your calorie burn. Consuming a balanced diet helps maintain a healthy metabolism, which in turn can affect the accuracy of calorie burn.

Does the type of workout on Peloton affect the calorie count?

Absolutely! Different workouts target different muscle groups and can vary in intensity level. High-intensity workouts or those that engage larger muscle groups tend to burn more calories. However, remember no matter the intensity of your workout, it will contribute to overall health and well-being.

How often should I update my personal information on Peloton to ensure the most accurate calorie count?

It’s recommended to update your personal information every time a significant change occurs, such as current weight loss or gain. Updates are the best way and can be done on a regular basis every month, which can help ensure the most accurate count.

If I don’t sweat much during a workout, does that mean I’m burning fewer calories?

Not necessarily. Sweating is your body’s way of cooling down and doesn’t necessarily correlate with the number of calories burned. Factors such as hydration level, room temperature, and genetics can affect how much you sweat. Maintaining a steady heart rate and challenging yourself in the workout is the most important thing.

More Peloton Resources

One of the best ways to get a personalized workout is to do Peloton Power Zone Training. This style of training customizes the workouts to your individual fitness level.

To get the most accurate calorie burn, you want to make sure you sync a heart rate monitor with your bike or treadmill. Here’s how to sync a few different types of watches:

If you’re trying to decide on a watch to get, you’ll want to read my comparison of Apple vs Garmin for Peloton.

There are so many options for cardio workouts – how do you know which one to choose? Here’s our guide to the Peloton Bike vs. Elliptical and how they stack up.


  • Ali Van Straten

    Ali Van Straten is the founder and journalist of Champagne and Coffee Stains. She is a Peloton expert, certified running coach and certified nutrition coach. Champagne and Coffee Stains provides information and resources on Peloton Interactive, running and recipes.

    View all posts https://www.champagneandcoffeestains.com

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