# How do you track your calories?

Posts: 36 Member
So, when you are tracking your calories (for weight loss) on mfp, do you set your goal to see it hit zero, or do you set it to see 500 remaining? I.e. My BMR is 1481, should I set my goal at 1000 and look for zero at the end of the day, or set it for 1481 and look for 500 remaining at the end of the day?

I've never tracked calories before, so I'm not sure which way to do it.

Thx in advance for the help!

Steph

## Replies

• Posts: 16,023 Member
If you set your goal to lose weight, then your calorie goal already has your deficit in it and you are aiming for 0.
• Posts: 33,514 Member
edited March 2017
First, you don't want to eat at your BMR for weight loss...you want to create a deficit from your TDEE...

I would recommend starting with this one:

http://community.myfitnesspal.com/en/discussion/1080242/a-guide-to-get-you-started-on-your-path-to-sexypants/p1
• Posts: 41,693 Member
When you put your stats and goals into the calculator, it calculates a calorie target for you that is your goal...it includes your deficit...you eat to hit your calorie target the calculator gives you...it's already done the math.

You also don't cut from your BMR...your BMR is the calories you burn merely existing...you would burn them in a coma. You cut from your TDEE (Total Daily Energy Expenditure) or in the case of MFP, your NEAT (Non Exercise Activity Thermogenesis).
• Posts: 16,023 Member
So, when you are tracking your calories (for weight loss) on mfp, do you set your goal to see it hit zero, or do you set it to see 500 remaining? I.e. My BMR is 1481, should I set my goal at 1000 and look for zero at the end of the day, or set it for 1481 and look for 500 remaining at the end of the day?

I've never tracked calories before, so I'm not sure which way to do it.

Thx in advance for the help!

Steph

Sorry I didn't even look at your numbers. You shouldn't eat below your BMR, and you shouldn't eat below 1200. You need a 500 calorie deficit from your TDEE, not your BMR.
• Posts: 33,514 Member
So, briefly, you set your goals to "Lose 1 pound per week." You eat all the calories on your Food page until you reach zero.

Not your BMR - the calories on your food page. You eat to 0.
• Posts: 36 Member
Well crap, apparently I've been doing it all wrong. Thanks ladies and gents!

Steph
• Posts: 36 Member
Ok, so I went in and changed it, and it says 1200...so that's 1200 AFTER exercise? I'm probably overthinking this.

Steph
• Posts: 16,023 Member
edited March 2017
Ok, so I went in and changed it, and it says 1200...so that's 1200 AFTER exercise? I'm probably overthinking this.

Steph

No, MFP goal includes normal daily activity on top of your BMR. You need to log exercise, and can eat back some of those calories if you like. Calorie expenditures can be a little inflated, so many will eat back half to start and see how that works out.

Hang in there! It can be confusing at first, and you will probably have to tweak your plan a few times before it starts to click, but it will happen :drinker:

ETA:
BMR - in a coma
BMR + normal daily activity = NEAT (this is what MFP uses)
BMR + normal daily activity + exercise = TDEE (this is the number you want to eat 500 cals less than to lose @ 1 lb per week)
• Posts: 36 Member
edited March 2017
kimny72 wrote: »
Ok, so I went in and changed it, and it says 1200...so that's 1200 AFTER exercise? I'm probably overthinking this.

Steph

No, MFP goal includes normal daily activity on top of your BMR. You need to log exercise, and can eat back some of those calories if you like. Calorie expenditures can be a little inflated, so many will eat back half to start and see how that works out.

Hang in there! It can be confusing at first, and you will probably have to tweak your plan a few times before it starts to click, but it will happen :drinker:

ETA:
BMR - in a coma
BMR + normal daily activity = NEAT (this is what MFP uses)
BMR + normal daily activity + exercise = TDEE (this is the number you want to eat 500 cals less than to lose @ 1 lb per week)

Ok, this leads me back to my first question. MFP says 1200 with my stats and goal, but it also has you include exercise into your daily journal. So what number am I looking for? 1200 with exercise included or 1200 without exercise included? Or somewhere in-between?

Ex: I eat 1300 calories and burn 350 with exercise, MFP shows my daily goal at 250 remaining. Wouldn't eating more just void the exercise I did?

OR does it mean that if I go over my 500 calories of exercise, I eat back any extra?

Ex: I eat 1300 calories and burn 650, I would need to eat back 250 to get to 1700 since 1200 is 500 less than that.

• Posts: 33,514 Member
edited March 2017
When you exercise, you put that in the Exercise tab. You will "earn" more calories. Eat to 0 at the bottom of the Food page.

What did you set your goals at? "Lose 2 pounds per week" will give you very few calories. Unless you are very obese, that's really aggressive. It's hard to stick with 1200 for very long, so don't get upset with yourself if you find it really hard. Take a walk for 45 minutes, earn a couple hundred more.

I would set my goals at "Lose 1 pound per week," AND eat the "earned" exercise calories. That's why exercise is so handy on this site.
• Posts: 16,023 Member
kimny72 wrote: »
Ok, so I went in and changed it, and it says 1200...so that's 1200 AFTER exercise? I'm probably overthinking this.

Steph

No, MFP goal includes normal daily activity on top of your BMR. You need to log exercise, and can eat back some of those calories if you like. Calorie expenditures can be a little inflated, so many will eat back half to start and see how that works out.

Hang in there! It can be confusing at first, and you will probably have to tweak your plan a few times before it starts to click, but it will happen :drinker:

ETA:
BMR - in a coma
BMR + normal daily activity = NEAT (this is what MFP uses)
BMR + normal daily activity + exercise = TDEE (this is the number you want to eat 500 cals less than to lose @ 1 lb per week)

Ok, this leads me back to my first question. MFP says 1200 with my stats and goal, but it also has you include exercise into your daily journal. So what number am I looking for? 1200 with exercise included or 1200 without exercise included? Or somewhere in-between?

Ex: I eat 1300 calories and burn 350 with exercise, MFP shows my daily goal at 250 remaining. Wouldn't eating more just void the exercise I did?

Nope . The 1200 already has your 500 calorie deficit in there. So if you burn 350 cals with exercise and don't eat them, your deficit is now 850 calories. Which is more than you need and could leave you hungry and short nutritionally.

If it were me, I would start out eating back at least half the exercise calories for a couple of weeks to see how it goes and tweak from there. 1200 calories is just super low, unless your diet is really well planned and on point, it is difficult to stay satiated and get all your nutrition in that amount, but you have to find what works for you.
• Posts: 33,514 Member
Don't make up your own math.

If your daily goal is 1200 and you do 250 of exercise, put that in the Exercise tab.

Now your daily goal for today is 1450. Eat 1450.
• Posts: 33,514 Member
edited March 2017
I think people get confused by looking at the "dashboard" - that is the little summary at the top on your "MY HOME" page...

Just eat to Remaining = 0 on your FOOD page.
• Posts: 13,345 Member
Eat what MFP tells you and half your exercise calories on top of that
• Posts: 33,514 Member
so, I'm invested now. I'm going to address this "eat half your exercise calories."

I ate every delicious exercise calorie given to me by just using the numbers on this site when I was actively losing my weight. It worked fine when I was really heavy...however, some people have heart rate monitors or they exercise on a treadmill or elliptical and get these crazy 1000+ calorie exercise numbers. I couldn't exercise that hard for an hour if my life depended on it. I think that's where you have to use a little common sense. Anything over 400-500 for an hour of pretty strenuous exercise is pushing it. Now that I have been at my goal weight for many years, I know how much to enter for exercise, I KNOW how much to eat etc. I only learned this by keeping good records.

That said, the best thing is to keep good records and adjust if you aren't getting the results that should be happening based on that data. We are all a bit different.
• Posts: 36 Member
I think people get confused by looking at the "dashboard" - that is the little summary at the top on your "MY HOME" page...

Just eat to Remaining = 0 on your FOOD page.

THIS! This is exactly why I'm so darn confused!

Kimny, that's what it gives me for both -1 lb a week AND -2 lbs a week. I'm 5'4"/160 lbs with a pretty sedentary life due to my job...desk jockey 4x a week for 12 hrs at a time.

I'm struggling to get up to my caloric intake requirements, I feel full all the time.

• Posts: 33,514 Member
edited March 2017
I think people get confused by looking at the "dashboard" - that is the little summary at the top on your "MY HOME" page...

Just eat to Remaining = 0 on your FOOD page.

THIS! This is exactly why I'm so darn confused!

Kimny, that's what it gives me for both -1 lb a week AND -2 lbs a week. I'm 5'4"/160 lbs with a pretty sedentary life due to my job...desk jockey 4x a week for 12 hrs at a time.

I'm struggling to get up to my caloric intake requirements, I feel full all the time.

haha.

Yeah, so on the MY HOME dashboard, eat the "Remaining" green calories.

On FOOD, eat till "Remaining = 0"

You want "Remaining" to always = 0 at the end of the day on both displays.

They are one and the same, written in two different ways. It's Trig class nightmare all over again.

• Posts: 36 Member
Lol, ugh, trig! Thank you all so much, I was close to ripping my hair out trying to figure it out!