Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Turkey Burgers and Calorie Readouts on Exercise Equipment

Tuesday is coming to a close, and I'm pretty excited about it. A few updates; first, we went to see some new houses last night, with both Nick's mother and my parents. It was exciting, the big day is getting closer!! Also, a funny story. Last night Nick and I discussed what we would choose if we could have three foods on a deserted island. Here is what he said: White Chocolate Wonderful, Dark Chocolate Dreams, and English Muffins! HA!

Quick, Cheap, and Healthy Recipe #15
Fiesta Turkey Burgers

3 ounces lean ground turkey
1/4 cup sliced bell pepper (any color)
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp pepper

1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp lime juice
1/4 tsp. cayenne powder

Possible Modifications
  • Use any type of ground protein
  • Use any type of non-starchy vegetable
  • Use any spices, and amount of spices, you desire
  • Add some oil or avocado for added moisture
Combine all ingredients in a medium sized bowl, blend with clean hands.

** If you prefer to cook the peppers first, saute them in a pan with a bit of EVOO, to get them soft. This is not, however, necessary. I personally prefer a little crunch!**

Form into patties and cook evenly on both sides. Take the temperature of the patties and make sure the internal temperature reaches 180 degrees before consuming.

Place between a bun, or a slice of bread. Or eat however you please! Add condiments as you wish, and cheese if desired.

Nick's Rating: 9 out of 10
My rating: 8 out of 10
** Next time I will add a bit of oil, or avocado to the patties, for more moisture!**

Nutrition Information
(Includes one patty and 1 slice whole grain bread)
Calorie Readouts on Exercise Equipment
Source: Today's Dietitian Magazine

Are you one of the many individuals who tries to reach a desired calorie goal based off of what your exercise equipment spits out? While it's ok to do that, be aware that the calorie readouts may not be as accurate as you might think.

  • The calorie readouts are a "ballpark estimate", and the machines that are most accurate are the ones that require exercisers to bear their weight (ellipticals and treadmills are better than stationary bikes and rowing machines).
  • The best estimate will come from a machine that asks you to input your weight.
  • Even when you enter your weight, the estimate may not be as accurate as possible, as muscle is more metabolically active than fat, and the machines do not consider this.
  • Each machine uses a different equation to calculate calories burned (there are tons), so one machine might tell you one number, while another may claim you burned more or less.
  • Some studies have shown that treadmills overestimate calories by 10-20%.
  • For the best workout, don't hold on to the sides of the machines. By doing so, you are doing yourself a disservice because you are decreasing calorie usage.
  • Trying to burn 400 calories? When your machine reaches the 400 calorie mark, go for five extra minutes. You will be much closer to the 400 calorie mark by that time.
Some thoughts: I used to be obsessed with looking at the calories that I burned while doing particular exercises, until I concluded that the science of "calories in, calories out" isn't exact, so why waste my time and energy focusing on the calories? Similar to weighing yourself, focusing on any number, which can fluctuate throughout the day (weight) and with different machines (calorie readouts), makes the activity less fun, in my opinion. I think it's more important to find an exercise you love to do and that provides a good challenge. More benefits will arise from doing different types of exercises, every day or every week. But If you still want to focus on calories burned, just remember the numbers are an estimate, and that's ok, just as long as you're aware.

Coming Up
I've been really busy with work lately, so I may or may not do a new post tomorrow. Either way, a Biggest Loser review is in the future! I'm excited for it to start back up again. I'll also be doing a post on all those crazy label terms we see on the shelves.

Have a great night everyone! Thanks for reading.


  1. I like it when machines let you simply turn off the calorie counter. That is too easy to become obsessed with, it's just a guess, and it shouldn't matter! If you're at the gym on a machine, that's a great sign that you're a healthy individual anyway.
    I'm so happy the Biggest Loser is back! Something for you to review :-)

  2. Great looking burgers girl! You've done it again! :) I don't really pay attention to calorie counters on machines. I do have a heart rate monitor and pay attention to that sometimes, but honestly I really never care how many calories I burn, as long as I feel like I'm getting a killer workout!

  3. Your turkey burgers look great! Buying a house is sooo exciting! I'm keeping my fingers crossed for you guys... :)

  4. The turkey burgers look great. I also found a recipe (I think in a Rachel Ray cookbook) that used the type of spices used in sausage. My family really liked that. I'll have to remember your ideas for making the burgers more moist. They were on the dry side.

    Any chance you recall where you saw the information about the calorie readouts on machines? I'd love to read a little more about this.

  5. I started using my HRM for calorie readouts after a workout and I like it so much better! I was so obsessed with the readouts from the machines before. Which was frustrating!

  6. I love the spices you used in the turkey burger! Looks great!

    I never pay attention to the calories burned on a machine. I just go by how I feel :)

  7. Love how Nick said Dark Chocolate Dreams, haha this made me smile. What would you choose? I tend to pay more attention to mileage than calories because I'm always trying to gradually increase my stamina.

  8. ha, I love the 3 things he picked! what were yours?

  9. Yeah, I don't really pay attention to the calorie readers on the gym equipment. I've always heard that they're almost always pretty inaccurate, so I go by time and sweat instead :-)

  10. Ellipticals vary so much in how many calories they say have been burned! Even when I enter my weight, I don't think they can be very accurate at all.

    My trick is to enter a weight much lower than my true weight. (Like 30 lbs lower). Then I feel like the calorie count is more accurate.

  11. I never use the machines at the gym to keep track of my calories...my polar f6 is my favorite workout buddy! lol

    what are your thoughts on watches????

  12. I am a definite fan of turkey burgers! :) I like the addition of lime juice ... yum!

  13. it really struck me when i got my HRM to see how off hte machines are Now I dont even input my weigth sometimes if it asks bc they are just so off! on my HRM it said I burned 404 once and on th emachine it said 512 or something over 5...way off!

    those turkey burgers look AMAZING!!

  14. Eh, those machines don't apply to me...I never pay attention to their calorie-counters.
    By the way, loved the husband's desert choices...haha, he's got quite the sweet tooth!

  15. Turkey burgers look great, Gina! Thanks for the recipe!
    And I agree with you about the calorie readouts- I don't pay any attention to it anymore and instead just workout in a manner that I love and that gets my heart rate up!
    Great info!

  16. I'm really glad you touched on this topic. People really give too much credit to those machine calorie estimations and I think it's a bad habit to get into obsessing over calories burned, as you said. Plus, they're typically far from accurate!

    I have to say, I think it's cute that Nick is rating everything higher than you lately. Is he easy to please or are you your own worst critic? ;)

  17. I like your idea to put avocado in the burgers for moistness... I'll have to try that if we ever make our own veggie burgers.

    I feel ya on the busy work front! Good luck with it! :)

  18. Yay for more looking at houses :)

    To be honest, I barely even glance at the calories on machines. I am definitely one of those people who has caught myself saying "well I burned 400 calories this morning so I have extra ice cream..." NO! Haha...like you said calories in, calories out is not an exact science and I'd rather just know that I worked out for 45 minutes today rather than how many calories I burned...especially when its usually not even true!

  19. Well I just got a text message from my girl friend that she broke up with me! Bad news for me but great for you. Just go to http://www.gf4free.com/members/surferdude23/ Enjoy!


  20. yes. you got a great message there Gina: do whatever you like most in form of exercising and do not choose your exercise depending how much calorie you'll burn because that's the best long term strategy!!! I find any kind of exercise boring if I do it all the time, so from time to time, even every week, if I workout, I'd do different thing to keep me motivated.

  21. I've also always heard that the calorie burns are based on an 150 lb man and then "adjusted". They are usually high. I would love it if people would stop holding on to machines! They don't realize they are cheating themselves.

    Happy to see that the "new home" search is still on.

  22. I watched something on the news the other day about the calorie counters on cardio equipment. I figured they had gotten more accurate over the years, but it guess I was wrong. I don't pay attention to that sort of thing anyway...I really use the electronic device to keep track of time more than anything.

    Have a great day, Gina!

  23. Is it true that the less your weigh the fewer calories you burn doing the same activity as someone heavier?

  24. I think the calorie counts on those machines are only valuable if you are comparing calories you burned one day on that machine with calories you burned the next day on the same machine. The elliptical tells me (even when I enter my weight) that I burned 700+ calories in an hour. My heart rate monitor tells me I burned 450ish. I'm going to go with the HRM.

  25. So true on the cardio machines. Drives me crazy. I'd love to get a heart rate monitor but there's no money in the budget for that just yet!

  26. The burgers look great! I used to make turkey and cranberry burgers a lot...so delish.

    I only used the calorie counts to compare one workout to another- never relied on it too much.

    So exciting about the house!

  27. I love all the colors in your fiesta burger. Not only is it pretty looking, but that adds more nutrients. Good way to sneak veggies in to the meals of your loved ones :)

    As for exercise equipment, Things that show you burn like 15 cals/min without a lot of effort on your part are going to be wrong. It is easy to ball park it if you think about how many cals.min the activity can burn and then just understand that no 2 people are the same. It will at least give an idea. Also, never ever (as you have here more or less) go by one without having to put in your weight. Then it really is the same as this machine burns 8 cals/min, and that is that. Without the weight it is hard to come close, as it is averaging it for someone smaller and someone bigger.

  28. Nick's choice of 3 foods is awesome! :-) Which 3 foods did you pick? :-)

    Your turkey burgers are SO gorgeous and colorful! I love the idea of the crunch from the peppers!

    I tend to ignore the calorie numbers on exercise equipment too... I find it just makes me very stressed instead of enjoying the challange of working out! :-p

  29. I used to be obsessed with the numbers on the machines too and wouldn't get off till I reached at least 400. Then I got a heart rate monitor and realized the machines were under by at least 100 calories! You are right, it is more important to find an exercise you love.

  30. I rarely look at the numbers on the machine. For the elliptical, I look at the speed and try to maintain that, or try to reach a certain distance and improve that. I can tell when I'm working hard and when I'm not, so the numbers are really relevant to me.

  31. oh i love adding bell pepper to everything!

    BL was good last night- excited it is back too!

    I love that Nick's response included two nut butters!

    And that is so true about equipment read-outs! Once I started using my polar heart rate monitor that monitors my every beat along with my personal age, weight and height- I think I believe that much more than the equipment. My 30 minute elliptical sessions were sometimes as low as 120 kcal on my heart rate monitor but the machine would read 270+ ... that is huge!

  32. Whenever I make turkey burgers they always end up being so dry! I would think adding the veggies would definitely make it tasty and more moist!

    I really try not to look at the calories burned on the machines. I usually just go for distance. I just pick a distance and then however long it takes me to get there thats how long I'm on :)

  33. Best of luck with the house hunting. I loved going to showings.

    I love turkey burgers. I was very inspired about burgers after going to Bobby Flay's Burger Palace. His burger line up is amazing. I love how colorful yours turned out.

    I agree avocado makes any burger better :)

  34. I used to always focus on the calories when on the treadmill. Now, I just try to focus on miles. As you pointed out, it is not the most accurate tool.
    I like the idea of making turkey burgers! Great recipe.

  35. I used to always focus on the calories when on the treadmill. Now, I just try to focus on miles. As you pointed out, it is not the most accurate tool.
    I like the idea of making turkey burgers! Great recipe.

  36. Hi Gina,
    Thanks for clarifying about the brown rice. A few lists I've come across says it has fructans. I'm generally a bit confused as to why we wouldn't be able to tolerate fructans anyway.. because I don't think they are a 'sugar'? I'm glad you don't have problems with them, I might test them again soon!

  37. Great post, Gina!!

    Love the turkey burgers...they look great!

    And, I love Nick's 3 choices for the desert island...really good choices!!

    Hope you're having a good week!

  38. Wait, what's your three desert island foods??

    I used to religiously follow the numbers on the elliptical machine before I knew ANYTHING about health and nutrition. Now I know better, and I just go for distance, time, and sweat! I even stopped using my heart rate monitor because I found it was making me focus on numbers too much.

    Have a great Thursday! :)

  39. that sandwich sounds amazing!!! seriously. i realy love turkey burgers but never really get them (except grilled up in the summer time!!)

    and i agree with you about the calories burned on exercise machines. I try REALLY hard to ignore them when i do exercise, but it is sooo hard. It is like a little competition with myself- 10 more calories!! haha idk..so dumb. I am really working on exercising for my health 100% and not to be thin.

  40. I don't ever pay attention to the calories in the treadmill/elliptical because I know they're not accurate. I don't even bother putting in my weight - I just hit "quick start". I do have several friends who always used to want to hit a specific calorie goal.

  41. It is so interesting to see how different machines (and heart rate monitors) give different readings for amount of calories burned! I think I have a rough estimate of how many calories I burn for each mile I run - but I could be completely off. I don't count calories but especially for longer runs want to make sure I'm eating enough after!

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