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Exercise calories - do I eat these? A video explanation.

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  • SideSteelSideSteel Posts: 11,079Member Member Posts: 11,079Member Member
    olyamhc wrote: »
    This video was very helpful and right on time, thank you! Just yesterday I did 30min on Elliptical and while logging my dinner, I noticed that my overall calories for the day were 1500 (as opposed to 1200). I thought that I made a mistake somewhere :blush:

    I'm glad you enjoyed the video!
  • Annie_01Annie_01 Posts: 3,115Member Member Posts: 3,115Member Member
    I think most people have a reasonably good understanding of the "CI" side of the equation. It is the "CO" side that many of us struggle with...at least it is for me. I have tried several different ways hoping to find the way that works for me. So far...it has been hit or miss. It will seem to work for a while...until I increase my activity...or in some cases when I am losing weight too quickly. I keep searching for that balance.
  • als522als522 Posts: 1Member Member Posts: 1Member Member
    Thanks for the video - very helpful! I used MFP to lose 135 lb, I've been able to maintain 100lb but unfortunately let myself gain some back by not logging/tracking. I'm now back to logging again to try to lose at least 20-25lb. To complicate matters more, I have PCOS and hypothyroidism - I take metformin and low dose synthroid. I try to workout 4-5 days per week, usually 3 days cardio (walk/run) with 1-2 days strength. I've been wondering about not eating back calories during the week then "saving" the extra for weekends? Of course this would require tracking/not over indulging. I know this is allowed on weight watchers. I'd love some input on if this would work for weight loss. Thank you!
  • HornsbyHornsby Posts: 10,372Member Member Posts: 10,372Member Member
    You the man, Patrick.
  • annacole94annacole94 Posts: 997Member Member Posts: 997Member Member
    Thanks for this!
  • psuLemonpsuLemon Posts: 35,229Member, MFP Moderator, Greeter, Premium MFP Moderator Posts: 35,229Member, MFP Moderator, Greeter, Premium MFP Moderator
    als522 wrote: »
    Thanks for the video - very helpful! I used MFP to lose 135 lb, I've been able to maintain 100lb but unfortunately let myself gain some back by not logging/tracking. I'm now back to logging again to try to lose at least 20-25lb. To complicate matters more, I have PCOS and hypothyroidism - I take metformin and low dose synthroid. I try to workout 4-5 days per week, usually 3 days cardio (walk/run) with 1-2 days strength. I've been wondering about not eating back calories during the week then "saving" the extra for weekends? Of course this would require tracking/not over indulging. I know this is allowed on weight watchers. I'd love some input on if this would work for weight loss. Thank you!

    You can "save" calories or have different calorie goals by each day. Looking at things in a weekly fashion might be beneficial
  • 191353191353 Posts: 14Member Member Posts: 14Member Member
    thanks! your comments are extremely helpful! So i went back and took a look at my settings on MFP. To lose 2 pounds per week without exercise I can only consumer 1200 calories per day (I would faint!). I am working out 6 days a week and burn 350-450 calories per workout....so I definitely need to be eating those calories. I think.
  • Joolsc80Joolsc80 Posts: 1Member Member Posts: 1Member Member
    Brilliant, thank you so much for the video, answered all of my questions clearly.
    I have been using MFP for a few months now and am late to the party- I only just realised there was a 'community'
    edited April 2017
  • kay1977newmekay1977newme Posts: 35Member Member Posts: 35Member Member
    I've set mfp to inactive but I work out 4-5 times a week at the gym my job is on my feet most the day up and down the stairs etc but I wear a Fitbit and eat a few of the cals back! Is this correct? Or should I up the mfp activity?
    edited April 2017
  • rileysownerrileysowner Posts: 7,848Member Member Posts: 7,848Member Member
    I've set mfp to inactive but I work out 4-5 times a week at the gym my job is on my feet most the day up and down the stairs etc but I wear a Fitbit and eat a few of the cals back! Is this correct? Or should I up the mfp activity?

    Are you losing at the expected rate, or faster, or slower?
  • malibu927malibu927 Posts: 17,648Member Member Posts: 17,648Member Member
    I've set mfp to inactive but I work out 4-5 times a week at the gym my job is on my feet most the day up and down the stairs etc but I wear a Fitbit and eat a few of the cals back! Is this correct? Or should I up the mfp activity?

    It's up to you. If you up your activity level you'll get a higher amount of calories to start with but a lower adjustment, and it will still equal what you get on sedentary in the end.
  • bad_dog_nybad_dog_ny Posts: 22Member Member Posts: 22Member Member
    I am afraid I might be slowing up my metabolism. MSP says I can eat 1840 calories per day to lose my target of 2 pounds a week. I have been going to the gym everyday, resistance and treadmill every other day, and then another form of cardio on the alternate days. Each day I do 45 minutes of cardio, including treadmill days, getting my heart rate up to Target of 138 BPM for at least half an hour. I didn't lose any weight this week, but I'm wondering if I could have gained muscle. I rarely even make my 1840 calories. Usually I clock in somewhere around 1500 to 1600 calories and I'm not hungry. I have lost 50 pounds and still need to lose about another 100. I feel better than I have in a very long time. I used to be in great shape. Several years ago I developed diabetes and a few months ago it became difficult to control my blood sugar even with high amounts of insulin. I eventually went on a carb-free diet and it took almost a month of that to get my blood glucose under control, and that was taking 120 units of basal insulin a day. Now in just a few weeks back at the gym I am down to 35 units a day, with great sugar control. I do not eat my exercise calories, and I was wondering if at 1500 calories a day I am sabotaging my metabolism. I could probably make it to the 1800 a day, but with the types of Foods I am now choosing I seem to get plenty of volume with a lot fewer calories. This week could just be an odd thing, too much salt and retained a little bit of water, or whatever. I would really like to stay at 2 pounds loss a week, because even then this is going to take me another year. I had read somewhere not to eat fewer than 900-1200 calories or your metabolism would go into starvation mode. But everybody is different. 1500 sounds like a decent diet plan. Even 1800 at my size. Should I be trying to force myself to consume all my calories even if I'm not hungry? Should I really be eating the exercise calories, or should I let them be extra weight loss? My progress at the gym has also been surprisingly fast. At first I couldn't even maintain 3 miles an hour on a 2 incline, and I'm already doing 3.5 at an 8 incline to keep my heart rate in the right Zone. I don't want to go any faster because then I begin to jog and I don't think that would be good for my knees. My wife is amazed that I can do 45 minutes on the elliptical, also maintaining my target heart rate. Could all this extra exercise and extra earned calories actually be sabotaging my metabolism instead of making it higher?
  • malibu927malibu927 Posts: 17,648Member Member Posts: 17,648Member Member
    bad_dog_ny wrote: »
    I am afraid I might be slowing up my metabolism. MSP says I can eat 1840 calories per day to lose my target of 2 pounds a week. I have been going to the gym everyday, resistance and treadmill every other day, and then another form of cardio on the alternate days. Each day I do 45 minutes of cardio, including treadmill days, getting my heart rate up to Target of 138 BPM for at least half an hour. I didn't lose any weight this week, but I'm wondering if I could have gained muscle. I rarely even make my 1840 calories. Usually I clock in somewhere around 1500 to 1600 calories and I'm not hungry. I have lost 50 pounds and still need to lose about another 100. I feel better than I have in a very long time. I used to be in great shape. Several years ago I developed diabetes and a few months ago it became difficult to control my blood sugar even with high amounts of insulin. I eventually went on a carb-free diet and it took almost a month of that to get my blood glucose under control, and that was taking 120 units of basal insulin a day. Now in just a few weeks back at the gym I am down to 35 units a day, with great sugar control. I do not eat my exercise calories, and I was wondering if at 1500 calories a day I am sabotaging my metabolism. I could probably make it to the 1800 a day, but with the types of Foods I am now choosing I seem to get plenty of volume with a lot fewer calories. This week could just be an odd thing, too much salt and retained a little bit of water, or whatever. I would really like to stay at 2 pounds loss a week, because even then this is going to take me another year. I had read somewhere not to eat fewer than 900-1200 calories or your metabolism would go into starvation mode. But everybody is different. 1500 sounds like a decent diet plan. Even 1800 at my size. Should I be trying to force myself to consume all my calories even if I'm not hungry? Should I really be eating the exercise calories, or should I let them be extra weight loss? My progress at the gym has also been surprisingly fast. At first I couldn't even maintain 3 miles an hour on a 2 incline, and I'm already doing 3.5 at an 8 incline to keep my heart rate in the right Zone. I don't want to go any faster because then I begin to jog and I don't think that would be good for my knees. My wife is amazed that I can do 45 minutes on the elliptical, also maintaining my target heart rate. Could all this extra exercise and extra earned calories actually be sabotaging my metabolism instead of making it higher?

    First, starvation mode doesn't exist. Second, weight loss is not linear. It could be from excess sodium, but it's definitely not muscle. Third, 1500 is the lowest a male should eat. Ideally you should be eating to your goal after exercise. You want to fuel your body, and the video in the first post explains why. If you're having problems meeting your goal, add in some calorie dense items (nuts, nut butters, dairy, cooking oils, even a little treat if you have to).
    edited April 2017
  • diannethegeekdiannethegeek Posts: 14,831Member Member Posts: 14,831Member Member
    Just giving this a bump since the topic has come up so often today.
  • ElleHeart22ElleHeart22 Posts: 25Member Member Posts: 25Member Member
    I guess I'm a bit confused on the "need" to eat those calories. Do you need to? Or i can? I don't usually because I figure this will help my weight loss even more if I'm burning even more calories and just leaving them burned.
  • amusedmonkeyamusedmonkey Posts: 9,678Member Member Posts: 9,678Member Member
    I guess I'm a bit confused on the "need" to eat those calories. Do you need to? Or i can? I don't usually because I figure this will help my weight loss even more if I'm burning even more calories and just leaving them burned.

    It depends on your initial built in deficit and how steep it is. You can choose to eat or not eat your calories back if not eating them back would not put you at a deficit greater than 35% or even lower if already lean (some use a loss of 1% of body weight per week as an upper limit, but I don't like it because it can result in a calorie budget that is quite low for some people) or if your extra exercise is something like relaxed yoga or a short stroll which don't burn that many calories. You need to eat back at least some of your exercise calories if not eating them puts you at a steep deficit or if you are not obese (morbidly obese people can handle a temporary steep deficit better and may need to do so if the risk of staying fat is greater than the risk of losing fast). If you are lean, a steep deficit will cause greater muscle loss and hormonal imbalances that may affect your hunger levels leading to binges, your period, your energy, your gallbladder, and if your chosen starting calorie budget is already low, your nutrients, plus a host of other problems like greater metabolic slowdown and the like.

    Now if you want to burn calories and leave them burned you could use the TDEE method. It's essentially the same as eating back exercise calories, except your account for your exercise in advance. Here is an example person whose sedentary (no exercise) maintenance calories are 2000 and wants to lose at a 500 daily deficit:

    MFP method:
    Sedentary maintenance is 2000
    2000 - 500 = 1500 that's the starting budget
    The person exercises for 250 calories, their budget becomes 1500 + 250 = 1750, so they need to eat back their calories to keep their deficit at 500.

    The TDEE method:
    The person exercises daily for 250 calories putting their maintenance at 2250
    to achieve a 500 calorie deficit that means 2250 - 500 = 1750.
    Since exercise is already accounted for in the budget, this person should not eat back their exercise calories.
    edited June 2017
  • heybalesheybales Posts: 17,091Member Member Posts: 17,091Member Member
    I've set mfp to inactive but I work out 4-5 times a week at the gym my job is on my feet most the day up and down the stairs etc but I wear a Fitbit and eat a few of the cals back! Is this correct? Or should I up the mfp activity?

    If there was no Fitbit involved - of course the setup would be wrong because you are no where near sedentary.

    But with MFP trying to correct itself with better estimate of activity from Fitbit - you are merely trying to counter that correction by your ignoring the extra calories.

    You don't need to increase the MFP activity level since you have Fitbit - but take the correction that is being done - eat your calories.

    Sounds like you are trusting MFP more than Fitbit.

    And here MFP is trying to correct itself with the Fitbit data.

    In which case - keep trusting what MFP is attempting to do to save you from yourself.
  • CopperB73CopperB73 Posts: 39Member Member Posts: 39Member Member
    Great video!
    I suppose it *also* depends on how much exercise a person is doing.

    If I've set a modest weight-loss goal and do a modest bit of exercise, the effect of ignoring my exercise calories ought to be pretty much the same as temporarily setting MFP to a larger weight loss goal. So it's low stakes.

    But if I've set a very ambitious goal (e.g. the fastest weight loss MFP will allow) and then done a lot of exercise, then effectively I've pushed things beyond what MFP considers safe - probably a bad idea!
    A further problem in this drastic scenario is probably that "exercise calories" are really "exercise nutrients" - if I exercise a lot, I need protein to repair and upgrade my muscles. So I should eat extra protein! It probably will be used for body repair/upgrade rather than burned as calories. If I'm refusing to provide the protein my body needs, then it can't respond healthily to the strain I'm putting it under.
    I suppose a lot of this comes down to Patrick's sensible advise - be guided by how you are feeling!

    The final point of confusion I repeatedly see is whether you have to eat the exercise calories that very day. I often don't, but I monitor my intake over a week, and catch up if I feel more hungry in the days following a lot of exercise.
  • ElleHeart22ElleHeart22 Posts: 25Member Member Posts: 25Member Member
    I guess I'm a bit confused on the "need" to eat those calories. Do you need to? Or i can? I don't usually because I figure this will help my weight loss even more if I'm burning even more calories and just leaving them burned.

    It depends on your initial built in deficit and how steep it is. You can choose to eat or not eat your calories back if not eating them back would not put you at a deficit greater than 35% or even lower if already lean (some use a loss of 1% of body weight per week as an upper limit, but I don't like it because it can result in a calorie budget that is quite low for some people) or if your extra exercise is something like relaxed yoga or a short stroll which don't burn that many calories. You need to eat back at least some of your exercise calories if not eating them puts you at a steep deficit or if you are not obese (morbidly obese people can handle a temporary steep deficit better and may need to do so if the risk of staying fat is greater than the risk of losing fast). If you are lean, a steep deficit will cause greater muscle loss and hormonal imbalances that may affect your hunger levels leading to binges, your period, your energy, your gallbladder, and if your chosen starting calorie budget is already low, your nutrients, plus a host of other problems like greater metabolic slowdown and the like.

    Now if you want to burn calories and leave them burned you could use the TDEE method. It's essentially the same as eating back exercise calories, except your account for your exercise in advance. Here is an example person whose sedentary (no exercise) maintenance calories are 2000 and wants to lose at a 500 daily deficit:

    MFP method:
    Sedentary maintenance is 2000
    2000 - 500 = 1500 that's the starting budget
    The person exercises for 250 calories, their budget becomes 1500 + 250 = 1750, so they need to eat back their calories to keep their deficit at 500.

    The TDEE method:
    The person exercises daily for 250 calories putting their maintenance at 2250
    to achieve a 500 calorie deficit that means 2250 - 500 = 1750.
    Since exercise is already accounted for in the budget, this person should not eat back their exercise calories.


    This was really helpful thanks. I guess I probably should be eating more in this case.. my calorie intake is 1,380 and honestly, I only usually get to 1,000 at the most a day. I assume that's probably bad.
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