HomeMobileiPhoneActive Calories vs Total Calories on Apple Watch: What's the Difference?

Active Calories vs Total Calories on Apple Watch: What’s the Difference?

Fitness enthusiasts often find themselves puzzled by the terms Active Calories vs Total Calories. If you are an Apple watch user, you might have noticed these two categories on your device. Understanding Active Calories vs Total Calories terms can be beneficial for tracking your health and fitness goals. So, let’s delve into the topic and clarify the distinction between Active Calories vs Total Calories.

Active Calories vs Total Calories
Active Calories vs Total Calories on Apple Watch: What's the Difference? 2

What are Active Calories?

Active calories refer to the calories your body burns during physical activities. This could include walking, running, swimming, or any other form of exercise. The number of active calories burned depends on the type of activity and your personal health data, such as your weight, height, and age.

Active Calories on Apple Watch

The Apple Watch features an inbuilt Workout app that calculates the number of active calories you burn during an exercise session. It displays this information in real-time, just below your timer. You can review this data later in the Fitness app on your iPhone.

How to Access Active Calories Data on iPhone

Here’s a step-by-step guide to access your active calories data on your iPhone:

  1. Open the Fitness app on your iPhone. You’ll land on the Summary tab.
  2. Locate the Workouts heading. Here, you’ll find your three most recent workouts, with additional entries available by date when you select Show More.
  3. You can scroll through each workout or tap All Workouts in the top right corner to filter by type.
  4. Find the workout you’re interested in and open it to view your stats, including active calories, which appear in red below the total time.

Total Calories: The Bigger Picture

While active calories represent the energy you burn during workouts, total calories encompass the energy burnt during the entire day. This includes the calories you burn while resting, also known as resting calories.

Total Calories on Apple Watch

The Apple Watch doesn’t directly display total calories. However, you can access this data through the Health app on your iPhone.

How to Access Total Calories Data on iPhone

Follow these steps to find out your total calories burned:

  1. Open the Health app and go to the Browse tab.
  2. Select Activity.
  3. Scroll down and find the Resting Energy total.

To get the most accurate number, ensure that your personal health data is up-to-date in the Watch app. Navigate to the Watch app, scroll down to Health, and select Health Details.

Active Calories vs Total Calories: A Comparative Overview

To put it simply, active calories are the ones you burn, or earn, as you exercise. These count towards your red Move ring on the Apple Watch and do not include resting calories. On the other hand, total calories comprise both active and resting calories, providing an overview of the total number of calories burned during a specific time frame.

If your objective is to burn additional calories through movement, keep an eye on your active calories to monitor your efforts accurately.

You can always visit the Apple Support if you have any other queries.

How Accurate Are the Caloric Measurements?

It’s worth noting that the total and active calories displayed by your Apple Watch or any other fitness tracking device are estimations. The device uses equations to make these calculations, which may not be 100% accurate but are usually close enough for practical purposes.

Maximizing Your Calorie Burn

Embrace High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)

One effective way to increase your calorie burn is to incorporate High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) into your routine. HIIT workouts are designed to burn a significant amount of calories during the workout and continue to do so for up to 38 hours post-workout due to the ‘afterburn effect.’

Optimize Your Diet

In addition, maintaining a balanced and nutritious diet is crucial for achieving your fitness goals. It not only fuels your workouts but also helps control your calorie intake.

Increase Your Daily Steps

Another simple approach to up your total calorie burn is to increase your daily step count. Small changes, like taking the stairs instead of the elevator or parking farther away, can contribute to a higher calorie burn.

Active vs Total Calories Formula

Formula for calculating active calories:

Active calories = METs * weight * time

  • METs: Metabolic equivalents of task, a measure of the intensity of physical activity
  • Weight: In kilograms
  • Time: In hours


A 70-kilogram person who goes for a 30-minute run at 5 mph would burn the following number of active calories:

Active calories = 8.0 METs * 70 kg * 0.5 hours = 280 calories

Formula for calculating total calories:

Total calories = Active calories + Resting calories

Resting calories can be estimated using the following formula:

Resting calories = BMR * activity level


A 70-kilogram person with a BMR of 1,600 calories who is moderately active would burn the following number of total calories per day:

Total calories = 280 active calories + 1,600 resting calories = 1,880 calories

Final Thoughts

Understanding the difference between Active Calories vs Total Calories can be a game-changer in your fitness journey. It allows for a more nuanced approach in tracking your health and fitness progress. Remember, the goal isn’t just to burn calories, but to lead an active, balanced lifestyle. So, keep moving, eat healthily, and let your Apple Watch assist you in achieving your health and fitness goals.

Anupriya Jain
Anupriya Jainhttps://www.androidhire.com
Hi, I'm Anupriya and I'm a content writer and digital marketing manager. With a passion for both storytelling and data-driven marketing, I bring a unique blend of skills to my work. I have experience crafting compelling content that engages and informs audiences, as well as developing and executing marketing strategies that achieve business goals. My diverse client portfolio has included startups, nonprofits, and established corporations across different industries. When I'm not working, I enjoy travelling and like to practice various forms of dance which helps to unwind and create positivity around me.

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