Apple Watch Total Calories
Apple Watch Total Calories

When you’re using an Apple Watch to track your fitness and health, one of the key metrics you’ll encounter is “Total Calories.” It’s essential to understand what this figure represents, especially if you’re using your Apple Watch to monitor your fitness progress or manage your weight.

Apple Watch & Your Caloric Burn: It’s Not Just About Exercise

Your Apple Watch is a fantastic fitness companion, but it can be a bit confusing when it comes to tracking calories. It’s important to understand the distinction between active and total calories to accurately track your energy expenditure.

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Active vs. Total Calories: What’s the Difference?

  • Active Calories: These are the calories you burn through intentional exercise, like workouts, brisk walks, or runs. Your Apple Watch tracks these calories using its heart rate sensor and motion data. You can see your active calories in the red “Move” ring on the Activity app.
  • Total Calories: This encompasses all the calories you burn throughout the day, including both active calories from exercise and passive calories from your basal metabolic rate (BMR). BMR represents the calories your body burns at rest to maintain essential functions like breathing and digestion.

How to See Your Total Calories

While the Apple Watch doesn’t directly display total calories, you can easily find them in the Fitness app on your paired iPhone:

  1. Open the Fitness app on your iPhone.
  2. Tap on the Activity rings.
  3. Look for the “Total” section, usually located below the Move ring.

This “Total” number represents your overall caloric burn for the day, combining both active and passive calories.

Why Total Calories Matter

Understanding your total calorie expenditure is crucial for weight management and achieving fitness goals. It gives you a complete picture of your daily energy needs and helps you make informed decisions about your diet and exercise routines.

GoalFocus On
Weight LossTotal calories burned should exceed calories consumed to create a calorie deficit.
Weight GainTotal calories consumed should exceed calories burned to create a calorie surplus.
MaintenanceAim for a balance between calories consumed and calories burned.

By tracking both active and total calories with your Apple Watch and iPhone, you can gain valuable insights into your overall health and fitness journey.

What are Total Calories on Apple Watch?

Total calories on the Apple Watch represent the sum of all calories you’ve burned in a given period. This includes two main types of calories:

  1. Active Calories: These are calories burned during periods of physical activity. Whether you’re working out, going for a run, or simply moving around, your Apple Watch tracks these calories. Active calories are a measure of the extra effort you put in beyond your body’s resting state.
  2. Resting Calories: In contrast to active calories, resting calories are those that your body burns naturally, even when you’re not actively moving. These are the calories your body uses for basic functions like breathing, circulating blood, and cell production.

The formula to understand this is quite straightforward: Total Calories = Active Calories + Resting Calories. This means that your total calorie count includes both the energy expended during physical activities and the energy used for basic bodily functions​​​​​​.

How Does the Apple Watch Calculate These Calories?

Your Apple Watch uses various sensors and data points to calculate both active and total calories. For active calories, it considers your movement and exercise data. The watch uses your heart rate, the intensity of your movements, and the duration of your activity to estimate the number of active calories burned.

For total calories, the watch also takes into account your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR). BMR is the number of calories your body needs to perform basic life-sustaining functions. The Apple Watch calculates your BMR based on personal data such as your height, weight, age, and gender. The formula used by the Apple Watch is: Active Calories = Total Calories – BMR. This means that to get your total calorie count, your watch adds your active calories to the estimated number of calories you burn by just existing​​.

Why is Understanding Total Calories Important?

Understanding the concept of total calories is crucial for several reasons:

  1. Weight Management: If you’re trying to lose, gain, or maintain weight, knowing your total calorie burn can help you manage your diet more effectively. By understanding how many calories you burn in a day, you can adjust your calorie intake accordingly.
  2. Fitness Goals: For those with specific fitness goals, monitoring both active and total calories can provide valuable insights. For example, if your goal is to increase endurance or strength, focusing on active calories can help measure the intensity of your workouts.
  3. Overall Health Monitoring: Total calorie count is also a useful metric for general health monitoring. It gives you an idea of how active you are in a day and whether you need to increase your activity levels for better health.


  1. What’s the difference between total calories and move calories on Apple Watch? Total calories include all calories burned (active and resting), while move calories refer only to active calories burned through physical activities.
  2. How accurate are the calorie measurements on Apple Watch? While the Apple Watch provides a good estimate, it’s important to note that all wearable technologies have a margin of error in calorie tracking.
  3. Can I see both active and total calories on my Apple Watch? Yes, the Apple Watch displays both metrics, allowing you to monitor your calorie burn throughout the day.
  4. Does the Apple Watch adjust calorie calculations based on personal data? Yes, the Apple Watch uses your personal data such as age, weight, height, and gender to more accurately calculate your calorie burn.
  5. How does the Apple Watch track resting calories? The watch estimates resting calories based on your Basal Metabolic Rate, which is calculated from your personal data.
  6. Is it possible to set calorie burn goals on the Apple Watch? Yes, you can set goals for active calories burned, which can help in achieving specific fitness objectives.
  7. Do I need to manually start tracking for calorie counting on Apple Watch? For general activity, the Apple Watch automatically tracks calories. For specific workouts, it’s best to start the workout session on the watch.
  8. Can the calorie count help in weight loss? Yes, monitoring your total calorie burn can be a helpful tool in a weight loss program, especially when combined with dietary management.
  9. Does the Apple Watch calorie count include calories burned during sleep? Yes, the total calorie count includes all calories burned, including those during sleep.
  10. How often should I check my calorie burn on Apple Watch? Regular monitoring can provide insights into your fitness progress and health, but the frequency depends on your preference.

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