Difference Between Active and Total Calories (With Table)

People staying conscious about daily health often talk about calories. Losing calories can help in weight loss, and gaining them can result in weight gain. Yet there’s still a certain amount of calories that is considered healthy for an individual. Active and total calories are two different types of calories one must know about while performing day-to-day activities. These calorific numbers could be easily tracked with the help of an apple watch or any other such device.

Active Calories vs Total Calories

Main difference between Active Calories and Total Calories is that Active calories refer to the calories burned while performing any activity or exercise. Generally, these are called active because they get counted while the body actively participates in any bodily activity. On the other hand, the total calories refer to adding active calories and resting calories. Even when a person rests, calories continue to get burnt. These were called the resting calories. These are burnt naturally without even performing any activity.

The active calorie burn indicates the calories a person burns while performing different daily activities. For example, running, walking, and working out are all responsible for active calorie burns. A person doing a daily heavy workout or gym exercise or involved in sports needs to track this parameter. But calorie burns are also possible while you are not performing any activity or resting on your couch. These were not tracked under active calories.

The total calories are the combination of active and resting calories of an individual. It is also the total calorie burn count in the human body. This is a separate parameter from active calories as it also includes the calories burnt while the body is inactive. A person sitting on a chair or sleeping burns calories in the form of resting. This is counted along with active calories in total calories. These are required to maintain a healthy lifestyle, moreover focussing on a person’s well-being.

Comparison Table Between Active Calories and Total Calories

Parameters Of ComparisonActive CaloriesTotal Calories
DefinitionCalories burnt during body activities like running, swimming, etc.Combination of active and resting calories
Body activity involvedMovement of body parts such as running, walking, etcWhen the body is at rest or during sleeping.
  Common useNecessary for weight loss and body fitness.Necessary for both normal body functioning and weight loss.
 Units A single unit of active calories is involvedMeasures both active and resting calories
Examplescalorie loss during body workouts, walking, running, swimming, cycling, etc.Calorie loss during all actively done activities + activities at rest like sitting on a couch.

What are Active Calories?

In day-to-day life, the human body stays engaged in various activities. Walking, running, riding a bicycle, or doing exercises burn calories. These calories are called active calories. These calories can be tracked using smartwatches that are other such devices. It’s a common popular feature in apple watches. 

These calorie losses account for the loss in the weight of the body. Also, these can help you to stay more fit. Individuals going to the gym, engaging in sports activities, or working normally need to track these calorie losses. Excess of these calorie losses is also not good. Proper monitoring of active calorie losses is necessary.

When a person loses much of their calories, it’s necessary to eat accordingly and drink water too. A proper diet consisting of proper calorific values which could cover up the entire caloric needs of the body is suggested. Proper monitoring of active calorie burn can help you plan your daily calorie intake. There are mobile applications too that can calculate your calorie burns. 

If you have a random messed-up schedule, maintaining the calorie intake and losing the proper calories could be a challenge. In short, the daily activities during which your body stays highly active are responsible for active calorie losses. 

What are Total Calories?

The total of active calories and the other resting calories of an individual indicates the total calories. Resting calories are mostly unnoticeable as a person just sitting on his couch scrolling mobile can burn calories. A smartwatch or mobile application can track these. These calories are also necessary while counting the total calorie measure of a day. 

Total calories target losing weight and monitor a person’s well-being. Active calories are the most significant part of total calories as they get burnt more in day-to-day activities. The resting calories are often ignored by people but can bring about a difference too.

The total calories don’t differentiate much from the active calorie diet part of the diet part. But suppose a person spends more time on the couch than outside; the calorific value differs here. 

Weight loss comes as a result of workouts and body activity. But when a body is at rest, it tends to gain some weight as a result of regular calorie intake and less burnout. 

In this case, Body activities must be performed to keep a balance between body weight, calorie intake, and lifestyle. All these parameters, when combined, account for a healthy lifestyle.

The Main Difference Between Active and Total Calories

  1. Active calories are the calories burnt during the general workout of the human body. These are calculated based on calorific burns due to running, walking, cycling, etc. In contrast, the total calories account for the active and resting calories combined.
  2. Burning out active calories can help in significant weight losses, but total calorie burns are responsible for both weight loss and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
  3. Active calories are singular units and don’t depend on any other unit. In contrast, total calories are a sum of active and resting calories.
  4. Body activities such as walking, running, hiking, cycling are involved in the case of active calories. While total calories also include the calories burnt while the body is in a rest mode.
  5. Examples of active calorie burn outs are swimming, gym workouts, sports, etc. Total calories include these as well as the calories you but just sitting on a couch.


In today’s era of technology, one can easily track their daily health stats. Both active and total calories need to be tracked properly if you are a fitness enthusiast. For normal people, it’s like something they will generally ignore. The food habits must run parallel to your exercises and your daily routine. 

Applications in mobile phones and smartwatches are helpful to track these calorie burns. They monitor your body activity even when your body is at rest. These can figure out your resting calorie burn outs. In the end, what remains important is a healthy lifestyle.


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