Are OrangeTheory Calories Accurate? [Test]

Just like me, you’ve probably randomly heard about OrangeTheory, whether it’s from a friend, a close relative, or even during your ordinary workout session at the gym. For some reason, everyone wants you to join. “Hey man, wanna come to try out this OrangeTheory thing with me? I heard they use science in their workout classes”, that was what one of my guy friends told me one time when he was interested in joining them. These scientific claims intrigued me, so I decided to dig around for more info. As it turns out, during these classes, they use a device that calculates the number of calories burned, and this got me thinking, are OrangeTheory calories accurate?

Generally speaking, If you don’t have any factors negatively or positively affecting your heart rate, then your calorie burn estimation is relatively accurate. It’s true that calculating calorie burn using heart rate isn’t perfect, but it’s usually a fair estimation.

In this article, we’ll verify whether or not OrangeTheory calories are accurate, and talk about the best way to increase the accuracy of your burned calories estimation.

Is OrangeTheory Calories Accurate?

are orangetheory calories accurate?

While it’s hard to assess the accuracy of OrangeTheory’s calories burned estimation, we can still figure it out to a somewhat approximate degree.

The best way to do that is by comparing it to other accurate (in this case, an Apple Watch) calorie-counting devices to see if they share the same results.

The following comparison will be based on the average of multiple experiences of OrangeTheory members that I managed to find in various forums (source).

Here is what these members have to say:

  • “My Apple Watch is always 150’ish calories lower”
  • “OTF says ~500, Polar always runs about 100 more”
  • “My Apple Watch is consistently 100 to 125 calories below my HR monitor”
  • “My Apple Watch is consistently at least 200 calories higher”
  • “I burn 350-400 through OTF and typically 500 active calories on my watch”
  • “My Apple Watch Activity calories vs OTF Burn are almost the same”

As you can see, everyone has a unique experience that differs from everybody else. Whether their apple watch estimates numbers that are higher than their OTF calories counter or the complete opposite. Here is a graphic representation of all these experiences:

comparison of otf calories and apple watch

Looking at this graph, we can tell that the Apple Watch’s calories burned estimation is usually lower than the OTF calorie counter, but that’s to be expected. The main reason behind that is the fact that Apple Watch measures active and total calories.

Active calories are the ones that your burn during a workout session while total calories add into consideration the calories that you burn while breathing air and basically just living.

OrangeTheory calorie estimations are total calories, meaning that they factor in all the calories that your body burns and not just the ones burned from the workout. And that’s exactly why OTF calorie estimation is usually higher than Apple Watch.

People who said that their Apple Watch indicates more calories burned than their OrangeTheory calorie counter usually don’t have the latter one set correctly or there is some sort of malfunction. And people that claimed to have the same results counted total calories as well.

Additionally, Calorie burn estimates based on heart rate alone are okay when doing steady-state cardio. However, they are grossly inaccurate when doing HIIT workouts such as the ones that you do in an OrangeTheory class.

So as a final verdict, OrangeTheory calories aren’t 100% accurate due to the fact that they factor in total calories burned and not just active ones, however, they’re considered a fair estimation that you should take with a grain of salt.

Best Way to Estimate Calories Accurately During an OrangeTheory Class

As I mentioned earlier, OrangeTheory calories aren’t 100% accurate, and I know what you’re thinking: “What’s the alternative? How can I count my calories accurately?”. Well, there are two alternative options that you can try.

Using multiple devices

The first and most accurate way of calculating your calories during an OrangeTheory workout is to use multiple calorie-counting devices at the same time including your OTF one and calculate their average after you finish your class.

These devices include an Apple Watch, FitBit, chest straps, and so on.

For example, after finishing your workout, if your OTF counter tells you that your burned 600 calories but your Apple Watch indicate a 400-calorie burn, just take the average of the two which is 500 and that should be your most accurate estimation.

Subtracting Active Calories

As we’ve established earlier, the OrangeTheory calorie counter calculates your total calories, meaning that it also includes the calories that your burn while living.

According to The Healthy Eating Guide, on average, your burn about 1800 calories per day while doing nothing (just from living), that’s 75 calories per hour, but that varies from one person to another. So to generalize, let’s just say that you burn 100 calories per hour from doing nothing. 

An OrangeTheory class is usually 1-hour long. This means that if you don’t have the possibility of using multiple devices, the best way to estimate calories accurately is by subtracting 100 calories from your final result shown in your OTF calorie counter. 


What we’ve learned today is that OrangeTheory calories aren’t fully accurate, especially since there are a lot of factors that can influence your heart rate. However, you can always do these alternative options to increase their accuracy:

  • Use multiple calorie counting devices and calculate their average.
  • Subtract the calories that get burned simply by living which is 100 per hour from the total calories in your device.

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