Active Calories vs. RMR

Active Calories

On your COROS app dashboard you can see active calories burned throughout the day. This does not take into consideration what you burn throughout the day just to stay alive. This is the amount of intentional activity throughout the day and what your body has utilized as far as energy. Active calories are those the body burns during physical exercises such as walking, playing football, hiking and cycling

“… “Active Calories” measurement displayed on COROS watches and within the COROS app is an estimation of the calories burned during recorded workouts and times where your watch records a cadence over 130 steps/minute, most common when walking quickly.” 

(How are active calories measured?)

So what happens when you are cross training or doing a movement session that doesn’t increase cadence to that level? When doing so, simply log your workouts on your COROS device and allow COROS to do the thinking for you. Specific equations are built into your device. When you input a lower body strength workout it will calculate your estimated active calories during that workout. This information will contribute to your COROS Training Hub and active calorie burn. This allows you to continue to train hard and train smart – without having to do too much math!

Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR)

Resting caloric burn, also known as RMR or resting energy expenditure (REE), refers to the number of calories the body needs to function at rest. The caloric burn associated with RMR takes zero effort, this is what your body needs just to stay alive. Think of it like this – if you wake up and lay there doing nothing for an entire day you will still burn calories, that’s your RMR. 

You might be wondering why this is important information to have. People of different sizes, body compositions, genders, etc. burn calories at varying rates. Therefore their caloric intake should also vary depending on their goals. You could train and eat the exact same as someone else and your bodies would respond differently. We have to take that into account for your goals! 

This is all great information but now – how do you calculate your RMR? There are a few different ways to calculate this but largely preferred is the Cunningham equation 1

RMR = 22 * Fat Free mass (FFM) + 500 

Want to lose weight? 

If losing weight (fat and/or total weight) is in line with your performance goals, your active calories plus RMR need to be higher than your total caloric intake.

Active Calories + RMR > Caloric Intake = Weight loss

Goals of weight loss may be associated with improving race time, reducing risk of injury, and modifying technique for sport, etc. Weight loss can mean burning fat our manipulating muscle mass. Either way, it will effect how well you perform and how your performance changes.

Want to gain weight? 

If gaining weight (muscle and/or total weight) is in line with your performance goals your active calories plus RMR needs to be lower than your caloric intake.

Active Calories + RMR < Caloric Intake = Weight gain

Goals of weight gain may be associated with increasing muscle mass, reducing risk of injury, returning from injury and modifying technique for sport, etc. Gaining weight can refer to muscle or strategic fat gain. This will definitely take some time for your body to adapt to.

Want to maintain body weight? 

If weight maintenance is in line with your performance goals your active calories plus RMR needs to be approximately equal to your caloric intake.

Active Calories + RMR = Caloric Intake = Maintenance

Goals of weight maintenance may be associated with great performance, ideal competition weight and in season training, etc. When things are working well, we don’t want to mess with them! Injury or dietary changes may require you to change your diet or training levels but not necessarily mean that you want your body weight to change.  

Still unsure?

This is just the basics. If you continue to have questions about how to adjust your caloric intake, what your active calorie burn looks like, what your RMR might be and how to adjust your diet according to this information – contact a sports dietitian. 

All of this data and information is very personal. Understanding how and when calories are used can play a massive role in helping you reach your goals. If left untracked, you may be leaving some performance on the table.

Taylor Heppner
Taylor Heppner

Taylor Heppner is the Director of Total Performance at Elite Speed Sport Performance. She is a PhD Candidate at Rocky Mountain University in Health Science, Human & Sport Performance. While Taylor has several other industry certifications and educational background she truly just has a passion for helping people reaching the maximal potential through human performance. Her goal is always reducing the risk of injuries and protecting future movement while maximizing performance outcomes now. Taylor grew up as a multisport athletes competing in alpine ski racing, softball and rowing through high school and early college years before diving into coaching full-time. She gets her fix mostly from skiing and hiking in mountains.

Tinsley GM, Graybeal AJ, Moore ML. Resting metabolic rate in muscular physique athletes: validity of existing methods and development of new prediction equations. Appl Physiol Nutr Metab. 2019 Apr;44(4):397-406. doi: 10.1139/apnm-2018-0412. Epub 2018 Sep 21. PMID: 30240568.

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