What is the most accurate way to track your calories burned?

For context; I'm 19/F, about 171cm/5'7", and weigh about 74kg/163lb at the moment. I use MyFitnessPal to track calories and my streak is at 112 days now – I usually aim to eat 5,700kj/1300calories each day for a weight loss of 0.5kg/1lb per week. When I started tracking, I was about 81kg/178lb.

Cake Weight Loss

I find tracking my food/calories in fairly simple and I've lost a good amount of weight (around 7.5kg/16lb) over the past few months, solely from being in a calorie deficit each day without regular exercise.

However, recently I've started going back to the gym about 4 times a week for the past month, and my weight loss has dramatically slowed / plateaued during this time. It either seems to be at a maintenance or less than 0.2kg/0.5lb a week. At the gym I typically do about 30 minutes of strength/weight exercises, 20 minutes on the stair master at level 10-12, and 15 minutes on the elliptical trainer.

I suspect the weight loss plateau is probably due to a combination of muscle gain, and also overestimating the amount of calories I've burned during my workouts (which then leads me to believe I have more calories left in my budget for that day, eat more, and be in less of a deficit than I should be).

I know that MyFitnessPal and the number shown on the machines at the gym (what I've currently been using to estimate) is wildly inaccurate in determining how many calories I'm burning, but I've also heard that wearable fitness trackers or MET calculations can be inaccurate too.

So, what's the most accurate way to track the amount of calories I've burned so I don't accidentally overeat and slow down or stop my weight loss? Or is weight loss plateau when you start exercising normal, and I shouldn't worry about it?

Thanks for any advice 🙂

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