How to get Strava to calculate and show calories burned?

CooSpo Cadence Sensor for bikes

As one of cycling’s leading apps, Strava also provides its users with a handy calorie counter to calculate their workout efforts in the form of calories burned.

For those who aren’t as familiar with calorie counting, calories measure the energy that you produce or “burn” during a particular activity. They’re especially helpful for those wanting to monitor overall power output and energy expenditure from a given workout.

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How accurate is Strava’s calorie counter?

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Strava uses several factors to determine your power output during a ride or run to produce an estimated number of calories burned.

Now estimated is the keyword here. 

Strava’s capabilities to do this should get you in the ballpark of a realistic number, but the app can’t always account for every factor that may skew your efforts.

For example, group rides where you are drifting and using less energy results in Strava overestimating your actual calories burned.

Equally so, Strava won’t know if you’re riding straight into a headwind for the majority of your ride. It likely underestimates your calories burned there.

Some users have compared Strava’s internal calorie counter with other external power meters, and the results vary. Some rides have been spot-on, and some have been a bit off.

Keeping that in mind, getting some idea of your energy expenditure is never a bad idea.

How do you set up Strava to show calories burned?

If you’re new to Strava, you likely missed these next several steps to ensure that Strava is recording your power output.

Check to see that your body weight and your bike model are recorded within the app.

Other users have noted that adding a few extra pounds to your personal body weight (to account for shoes, helmet, water bottles, and other gear) increases Strava’s accuracy of calories burned.

From either Strava’s mobile version or the desktop version, go to:

My Profile > Weight > Input weight in pounds Strava weight profile for calories burned

From the desktop version only, go to:

Settings > My Gear > My Bikes > Input bike type, brand, and weight Bike info for calories burned

And that’s it! Strava uses your weight, bike’s weight, distance covered, and elevation gained to create an overall power output to help calculate estimated calories burned.

If you prefer to run rather than bike, Strava still calculates calories burned. Instead, it uses your body weight, speed, and moving time to do so.

When viewing your post-ride or post-run statistics, you’ll see your calories burned in the bottom right corner. Strava calories burned

And perhaps the best part about Strava’s calorie counter is that you don’t need the paid, premium version of the app. Enjoy this perk for free!

Does adding a power meter improve Strava’s calorie counting accuracy? moot cadence bike sensor calories burned

The quick answer is yes.

Regardless of your activity, one of the most reliable and accurate ways to determine metabolic energy expenditure is to use a power meter.

You can usually attach the sensor to your bike’s crank arm, pedal, rear hub, or crank spindle. In addition to the overall distance traveled, this setup directly measures your force generated to propel the bike forward.

By giving Strava this fine-tuned data coming straight from a sensor built specifically to measure your cycling efforts, you’re guaranteed a much more accurate estimation of calories burned.

Does Strava’s calorie information sync to other connected health and fitness apps?

Strava’s interface supports sharing information between a variety of other health and fitness apps, such as Samsung Health, Google Fit, ROUVY, and the Apple Health App. This is not an exhaustive list, and not all of these sharing capabilities work for iOS and Android, though.

If you’re working with an Android device, you can easily pair the Samsung Health and Google Fit apps with Strava.

If wanting to connect with the Apple Health App, grab your iOS device and head to Strava’s mobile app to set that up.

Open your settings from the gear icon:

Select Applications, Services, and Devices > Health > Select the plus sign icon > Connect.

From here, you’ll be directed to the Health Access page, where you can enable data sharing from Strava. Strava to Health Connect

Wrapping Up

If you’re looking to get an idea of the total calories burned from a workout, your best bet is to use an external power meter that adds more accurate information to your logged workouts in Strava.

If you forego the extra expense of purchasing a power meter, Strava does have its own internal capabilities. Just keep in mind that the calories burned are a true estimate – Strava’s best guess of how hard you worked.

I am an occupational therapist and kinesiologist with a long history in the health and fitness industry. Plus, I'm also an avid cyclist with a passion for writing and travel that have helped shape my interest in the fitness tech world. You can catch me in a nearby cat café planning for my next road route or bucket list destination!

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