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How to Track Calories with the Apple Watch

The Apple Watch is one of those tech devices with several uses and benefits, especially for health and fitness. This light-weight accessory is a fantastic tool for those trying to manage their fitness and activity.

Fortunately, the Apple Watch can help you reach your goals in a number of ways, including serving as a handy calorie counter.

So what’s the best way to get an idea of how many calories you should consume in a day? There’s not really an easy answer to that question, because a lot of factors play into your personal caloric needs.

If you’ve got an Apple Watch [1], you can actually pair your iPhone to check your stats, which you may find to be more accurate since it’s tracking your actual activity levels rather than relying on estimates that you plug into a TDEE calculator.

The Apple Watch and iPhone have become a very popular calorie counting combination because you can track both incoming and outbound calories with the very same device you wear every day and use for tons of other applications. This means no additional investment of anything but the time it takes to sneak a quick look at your device!

So, without any further ado, let’s get started!

How to Read the Apple Watch Calorie Tracker

Your Apple Watch can help you keep track of your health by tracking things like your heart rate, physical activity, and, of course, your calories.

When you’ve been wearing your Apple watch all day, you’ll be able to access your daily stats from the Health App on your iPhone. Here’s how to access this information:

Open the Health App on your iPhone

On the iPhone that’s paired to your Apple Watch, open the Health [19] app.  Make sure you’ve got all of your stats loaded.  If not, tap the profile icon in the top right-hand corner and update your information.

iphone calories [20]

Tap on the Today tab if you’re not already there.

View your Active and Resting Energy

Check the numbers for Active Energy (the calories you’ve burned while working out) and Resting Energy (the calories you’ve burned at rest). If you add those together, you’ll get a good estimate for the total number of calories you’re burning each day.

If you’d like a more comprehensive explanation for what Apple means by “Resting” or “Active,” the health app will show you a description if you tap on either of those categories.

So, for example, if I were as active every day as I was on October 25th, my Apple Watch thinks I could consume almost 2600 calories per day and still maintain my weight. Of course, if you would like to be even more accurate with these numbers, you could add up a week’s worth and divide by seven to get an average for how you performed over the course of the week.

iphone calories active resting [21]

Finally, it’s important to know that your Apple Watch is using the age, height, weight, and gender info that you’ve provided to calculate these numbers. If your personal information is inaccurate, then your Apple Watch cannot accurately calculate any of this data.

Setting up that information on the iPhone is important, but the Apple Watch can monitor that information directly.  To make sure that information is correct, or to change it as your weight or age changes, follow these instructions:

Launch the Apple Watch app on your iPhone

Tap My Watch

Next, Tap on Health

Tap on ‘Health Profile’ then ‘Edit.’


iphone apple watch health stats [22]

Tracking Calories – The Watch Face

If you want to easily analyze your caloric data using the Apple Watch, you can use one of the many faces that display this information. Simply open the Apple Watch App on your iPhone and follow these steps:

Tap on the watch face that you like

Toggle on the Activity Options you’d like to display

Tap ‘Set as current Watch Face’

Now, all you have to do is tap on the Activity icon on your watch face to see your Calorie data.

How Does the Apple Watch Track Calories?

One of the most important things to check is that the Wrist Detection setting on your Apple Watch is turned on. This helps your Apple Watch determine if you’re moving, how much you’re moving, and then calculate calorie usage.

To double-check that Wrist Detection is turned on, open the Apple Watch app on your iPhone. Tap “My Watch,” then tap “Passcode.” Make sure that Wrist Detection is on.

Next, make sure your watch is tight enough. You’ll want the heart rate sensor to be snug against your skin, but of course, make sure you still have feeling in all of your fingers! Make sure you don’t put your watch in Power Save Mode during your workout, either, or that will turn off the Heart Rate Monitor feature.

You’ll also want to calibrate your Apple watch. To do this, take it and your iPhone outside on a nice clear day.  It’s important to have excellent GPS signal during the calibration process.

Open the Workout app, and choose “Outdoor Walk” as your activity. You’ll then walk at your regular pace for 20 minutes. This exercise will help your Apple Watch understand your pace, acceleration, stride, and thus refine the calculations of your calorie burn.

Apple’s Activity Tracker

Your Apple Watch has an activity tracker ready and available. If you’re really trying to keep track of your calories throughout the day you can set the face of your watch to display:

Does the Apple Watch Have a Food Tracker?

The short answer is: it can, but you’ll need to get an app for that. There are many apps available today that coordinate with not just the iPhone, but can also pair with your Apple Watch as well. Apps like MyFitnessPal [23] or LoseIt [24]! allow users to monitor overall daily stats such as calories, nutrients, and more. They also both have a “quick add” feature which allows you to quickly add a meal or snack.

MyFitnessPal for Counting Calories

UnderArmour developed MyFitnessPal for those who want to keep track of their fitness and stay motivated. With several apps available, the MyFitnessPal app lets you input the calories that you’ve eaten throughout the day.

Setup the application on your iPhone then visit the Watch app on the same device. Scroll to the bottom of this app and ensure that MyFitnessPal is installed on your watch.

Once your account is set up and the app is active on your Apple Watch, the application will pull the health data right over. There’s no need to input your workouts or calories into the application because your watch does this for you.

If you need to add a meal or snack you ate simply navigate to the app drawer and locate MyFitnessPal. Swipe over until you see the option to add food or drinks.

As a free app that’s downloadable from the App Store, this simple addition to your Apple Watch makes it possible to count calories with ease.

Can I use an Apple Watch without an iPhone?

Unfortunately no. An iPhone is required to at least set it up. If you have an older iPhone that still connects to wifi, then yes you can use that to set up and maintain your Apple Watch.

How accurate is the calorie counter on the Apple Watch?

Compared to other calorie counting wearables on the market, Apple seems to do a great job in the accuracy department. The watch measures your heart rate as well as pre-set workout options. For example, if you tell your watch that you’re rowing a boat, it understands what normal rowing activities burn then factors in your heart rate to provide a calorie count.

Your Apple Watch isn’t able to determine what you’ve eaten just from wearing it (yet!), but by inputting details regarding what you’ve eaten, the app will keep track of everything, allowing you to access the details quickly from your Apple Watch or iPhone.