Keeping count of how many calories you’re burning every day can be a helpful way to stay on top of your health and fitness goals. But accurately tracking calories burned has always been a challenge.
That’s why people use wearable devices like the Oura Ring to check on their daily calories burned. But how accurate are these devices when it comes to calculating calories burned? Let’s take a closer look at how the Oura Ring measures calories, how precise its estimates are, and what affects its accuracy. You may also like to learn, does Oura ring tracks blood pressure and is Oura ring waterproof.
Does Oura Ring Track Calories? How Is Its Accuracy?
Yes, the Oura ring provides estimates of calories burned through its activity-tracking feature. The smart sensors in the ring monitor motion, heart rate, and body temperature. It then uses proprietary algorithms to estimate active and total calories burned based on your physical activity and resting metabolic rate. However, these estimates may not be as accurate as dedicated calorie tracking through other methods.
How The Oura Ring Calculates Calories
The Oura Ring uses its array of sensors and proprietary algorithms to generate a daily estimation of calories burned based on your personal profile and activity. It starts by factoring in your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR), which is the minimum number of calories your body needs to perform essential functions like breathing, blood circulation, and organ function. Your BMR is calculated from age, biological sex, height, and weight.
On top of your BMR, the Oura Smart Fitness Ring adds in calories burned through any activity detected by its 3D accelerometer and infrared LED heart rate sensors. It continuously tracks your heart rate, movement, and sleep cycles, feeding this data into equations to estimate calorie expenditure. The more active you are, the more calories it will add to your daily total above your baseline BMR.
So by combining your estimated BMR, heart rate measurements, and activity tracking, the Oura Ring provides a total “Calories Burned” number each day meant to represent your total daily energy expenditure.
Accuracy Testing Of Oura Ring
Independent studies assessing the Oura Ring’s accuracy for calorie tracking have found mixed results. One study from the Mayo Clinic compared the Oura Ring to a metabolic chamber, which is considered the gold standard for measuring calories burned. They found the Oura Ring overestimated calories burned by an average of 9%, though the deviation varied significantly between individuals.
Other smaller studies have also observed inconsistencies in the Oura Ring’s calorie estimates. A 2018 study had participants wear both an Oura Ring and ActiGraph activity monitor for one week. They found substantial variability in accuracy both day-to-day and among subjects. While some days showed less than 10% difference between devices, other days had up to a 28% overestimation by Oura.
In general, research has found wrist-worn devices like the Oura Ring are limited in accurately measuring calorie expenditure compared to chest straps and metabolic chambers. But they can still provide reasonable estimates for casual users looking for general fitness insights.
Using Oura Ring For Weight Loss
If your main goal is counting calories for weight loss or a nutrition plan, the Oura ring has some clear limitations. You’d probably be better off using an app like MyFitnessPal or LoseIt to track calories more accurately.
That said, the Oura ring can still provide useful activity and health data to give you a better picture of your overall habits. And it can help motivate you to move more and improve daily behaviors that influence your weight and energy. But for super precise calorie tracking, you need a dedicated calorie-counting app.
Causes Of Oura Ring Inaccuracy
So what leads to the Oura Ring struggling with precise calorie tracking? There are a few inherent challenges with this kind of wrist-based sensor:
- Difficulty capturing extra calories burned from small movements and non-exercise activities throughout the day. Arm motion doesn’t reflect whole-body movement.
- Potential inaccuracies in heart rate data, which is critical for estimating calorie burn. The wrist can have sporadic readings.
- Differences in individual physiology and fitness levels affect how many calories are burned at a given heart rate. Standard formulas don’t capture this well.
- Challenges estimating Basal Metabolic Rate and calories burned at rest. The Ring may over or underestimate some users.
- Trouble accounting for other factors like age, sex, muscle mass, and hormones that influence metabolism.
- Together, these limitations make it difficult for any wrist-worn tracker to be highly accurate at calculating calories burned for all users in every situation.
How To Improve Oura Ring Calorie Tracking Accuracy
There are a few ways Oura could potentially improve accuracy for calories burned:
- Enhanced algorithms that better account for individual traits over time as more data is collected. The Ring is constantly learning your physiology.
- Additional sensors like skin temperature or galvanic skin response could provide more data points for the calorie estimation model.
- Allowing user calibration through periodically entering actual calories consumed to “tune” the algorithm to your body.
- Providing custom calibration modes where you provide details like fitness level, muscle mass, and weight loss goals to refine the estimates.
- Making the calorie tracking adaptable based on which hand you wear the Ring to account for dominance.
- Through refinements like these, it may be possible to incrementally improve accuracy. But fundamentals like wrist location and reliance on optical heart rate will always be limiting factors.
How does the Oura Ring calculate the basal metabolic rate (BMR)?
The Oura Ring estimates your BMR using your age, biological sex, height, and weight to plug into standard metabolic rate formulas. It provides a baseline level of calories burned if you do no activity.
Can I improve the accuracy of the Oura Ring’s calorie estimates?
You can improve accuracy by regularly entering your calories consumed to help calibrate the algorithm over time. But wrist-based optical sensors have limits. Chest straps or dedicated fitness trackers will provide better calorie data.
What workout activities does the Oura Ring capture best for calories burned?
The Oura Ring is best suited for walking, running, cycling, and other rhythmic aerobic activities. Less accurate for calorie burn from weight training, interval training, and activities involving more arm motion.
Does wearing the Oura Ring on my dominant vs non-dominant hand affect its accuracy?
Yes, wearing the Oura on your dominant hand can improve accuracy slightly since your dominant hand moves more regularly. But for most users, the difference is minor and won’t significantly change calorie estimates.
Can I rely solely on the Oura Ring to track my calories for a diet?
No, the Oura Ring alone is not recommended for tracking calories burned for a weight loss diet plan. Use it as a supplementary estimate, but rely on other methods like a food diary, smart scale, etc., for more accuracy.
Is the Oura Ring calorie tracker accurate?
The Oura Ring provides a reasonable estimate of calories burned but is not extremely precise. Studies show it can over or underestimate daily calorie expenditure compared to more accurate lab methods. It is most accurate for relatively inactive days without much exercise.
How does the Oura ring calculate calorie burn?
The Oura Ring calculates calorie burn by combining your estimated basal metabolic rate (based on profile stats) with the calories burned from physical activity tracked via the accelerometer and heart rate sensor. It uses proprietary algorithms to estimate calories from your movement and heart rate patterns.
At the end of the day, the Oura Ring provides a useful rough estimate of your calories burned that can help those looking to maintain their health. But if your goals require highly precise calorie tracking for weight loss or a strict training diet, the Oura has significant accuracy limitations to be aware of. For casual users, it’s a convenient way to get insights into daily activity levels and overall energy expenditure trends. But precision calorie tracking will require more robust methods of calibration tailored to the individual. Until then, wearable estimates like the Oura Ring are best considered general guidelines rather than gospel.