Harder to reach a calorie deficit when working out?

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  • everydayisbeautiful
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    I used to be a marathon runner PB 3:54 & based all my training on stress & recovery..... one day of stress (serious training followed by a day of lighter training/rest day once a wk - that way your fat burning/metabolic rate remains high 24/7 and your body recovers on the lighter days by repairing & building muscle...you might find that this approach will mean your weight loss journey will be easier, I certainly did - ate just as much as I needed/what I liked & remained a size 8, super easy & no calorie counting! May be worth a try with your high level of cardio.....Good luck on your journey :-)
  • everydayisbeautiful
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    In addition to the above, if your training hard 7 days a week, chances are your body is continually tired and is compensating for this by a greater appetite requirement & increased hunger. By having a recovery day/lighter cardio day, both your mind & body rests & your appetite should stabilize without the increased need for a higher level of calories/food intake over the week. The bonus is that you reduce your likelihood of injury, achieve a higher level of fitness & strength long term & lose weight, all the best!
  • ap1972
    ap1972 Posts: 214 Member
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    I find the intensity/timing of exercise often determines my hunger levels. A high intensity workout in the morning and I'm often struggling all day, a low intensity workout in the evening and I often find I don't even want my evening meal. You just need to find a pattern that works for you.
  • NicoleHaki
    NicoleHaki Posts: 55 Member
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    katlady33 wrote: »
    I have heard from a trainer that this is largely due to cardio, and focusing on strength training alone will provide a lower heart rate and better results for fat loss. Continue cardio, but your fast walking to work is probably enough.
    This is why I personally gained weight training for a marathon. Insatiable cardio appetite!
    Good luck! I am using this technique as of late and have found less is more.

    Makes total sense, thanks. I think this may be true for me. My Vo2 max is also not that good so I was hoping to improve it - I hope my interval training is enough to help with this.
  • NicoleHaki
    NicoleHaki Posts: 55 Member
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    If I'm feeling starving then I know I'm not eating enough or what my body needs. A bagel or donut would only make me feel unsatisfied and probably a stomach ache, but that's me. I need lotsa protein ..and carbs from rice, potatoes, and fruits. I think I forgot your question... I have a lot of high protein/carbs prepped snacks for when I'm instantly starving.

    What do you have you activity level set to on mfp?

    So I actually have it at the lowest activity level (I think I put sedentary but don't remember) to be on the safe side.
  • NicoleHaki
    NicoleHaki Posts: 55 Member
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    NicoleHaki wrote: »
    cwolfman13 wrote: »
    In my own personal experience, I do better cutting weight when I'm doing a moderate amount of exercise vs a lot of exercise. I've tried cutting weight while training for endurance cycling events where I easily do 8-10 hours per week or more of exercise and it's an exercise in futility because I'm hungry and my body wants the recovery more than anything.

    I do best cutting weight with moderate exercise of 4-5 hours per week because I'm not constantly hungry and recovery is easy.

    Totally makes sense and I'm glad I'm not the only one who thinks this! I can totally manage macros when I don't work out or get minimal activity, but it's close to impossible to choose an egg or a piece of fruit over a bagel after an hour at Equinox and a half hour walk to work - what usually happens after a workout is that my body wants a bigger breakfast, a bigger lunch and ALSO a snack (instead of just a protein shake). Maybe I should incorporate rest days? Or maybe I should start taking the subway instead of walking so much - I think the walking is a big part of the reason why I can't just stick to the normal formula (calorie deficit + 1/2 of calories burned)

    I think moderate vs 'a lot' of exercise can certainly make a difference, but this bagel thing could too....

    You're comparing a single egg/piece of fruit which is maybe 70-100 calories to a, what, 300+ calories bagel?
    If the calories were equal you would probably find that eggs with fruit, for example, would be more satisfying than the bagel. Of course you are still hungry if you are trying to eat a single egg or piece of fruit.

    Like others suggested, I would try to make different food choices which will give you more food volume/satiety for equal or slightly less calories. You could eat a pretty decent meal for equal or less calories than a bagel.

    For me, not choosing the bagel could be key to achieving my calorie deficit without hunger. Planning meals in advance helps, and then acting on those plans. (A bagel will always sound good, but if I want to achieve my goals I may have to say no to them some days. It's difficult, but not impossible.)

    Yeah, so the bagel thing is only once a week, obviously bothered me enough to mention it though! On days when the bagel isn't in front of me it's easy to choose 300 calories worth of healthy food (ex: some mornings I'll have a hard boiled egg with a piece of ezekiel bread, and a couple of hours later I'll have a Larabar).

    I think the other aspect here is that I keep my carb intake on the lower side (maybe between 80-100 mg a day), not on purpose but because of the kinds of food choices I make (ex: I have a lot of eggs, quinoa, tempeh, legumes, vegetables with olive oil, salads, etc.) So when I do see the bagel after working out, I think my body gets excited about the opportunity to eat carbs.
  • artbyrachelh
    artbyrachelh Posts: 338 Member
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    Yes! I can totally relate to your predicament! I've often felt so so frustrated by this concept. Thanks for posting this and for all the awesome ideas people responded. I hate exercise anyways, and then add to it the fact that I'm RAVENOUS because of it, forget it!!! But the alternative is not an option, either! Just feels like the cards are stacked against me sometimes. The only thing I can think is just have half a bagel.
  • flowerhorsey
    flowerhorsey Posts: 154 Member
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    NicoleHaki wrote: »
    If I'm feeling starving then I know I'm not eating enough or what my body needs. A bagel or donut would only make me feel unsatisfied and probably a stomach ache, but that's me. I need lotsa protein ..and carbs from rice, potatoes, and fruits. I think I forgot your question... I have a lot of high protein/carbs prepped snacks for when I'm instantly starving.

    What do you have you activity level set to on mfp?

    So I actually have it at the lowest activity level (I think I put sedentary but don't remember) to be on the safe side.

    I'm still learning too. I've had mine set sedentary before too but was eating "over" . Recently I set it to lightly active, which is still on the safe side for me.. I'm pretty active.. But this, logging my exercises, walks, active work, and planning what to eat helps so much. And I eat back most of the calories.
  • TonyB0588
    TonyB0588 Posts: 9,520 Member
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    NicoleHaki wrote: »
    RoxieDawn wrote: »
    However you need to meet your 'weekly' calorie deficit to lose weight do that. So if you need more calories on workout days and less on non workout/less activity days that is fine, also known as calorie cycling.

    I've never really looked at my weekly deficit - any thoughts on why I should use that number instead of looking at my daily deficit?

    Also, my bigger point is that it's significantly harder for me to reach a calorie deficit when I do work out than it is when I don't work out. Has anyone else experienced this?

    No. For me it's easier to reach a deficit when I work out because the workout creates an extra calorie allowance, which ultimately I don't use, therefore resulting in a deficit by default.
  • xxzenabxx
    xxzenabxx Posts: 935 Member
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    I have the same issue too, that's why I cycle my calories. A total weekly deficit works wonders for people. I was listening to one of Lyle McDonalds podcast and he said high protein, moderate exercise like strength training and a 20% deficit where calories are cycled is a successful fat loss formula. Also, assuming you're a female, have you ever noticed you are more hungry just before your period? How much weight have you got to lose by the way? What are your stats so height weight and age etc would be helpful. You need to look at hormones too. If leptin is low then ghrelin is high which is the hunger hormone. Just thought I'd put that out there.
  • NicoleHaki
    NicoleHaki Posts: 55 Member
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    Update: I have been working out a lot in the gym and my cardio fitness has significantly improved and I’ve also gotten stronger. But I feel hungrier than ever all day long - it seems like as I ramp up the intensity of my workouts I become exponentially more hungry. I haven’t been losing weight and I’ve been having between 1700-2000 calories a day, and that’s with difficulty - every hour of not eating seems brutally difficult. I swear it would be easier for me to have 900 calories if I wasn’t working out or leaving my home. Even though I am getting more fit, I am not losing weight or getting more lean, which is clearly because of the cals. Before anyone brings up macros either: my macros are on the low-carb side but otherwise pretty good. I eat a lot of salads, greek yogurt, quinoa and other pretty healthy foods.

    The only thing I can think of is that I only get 6-7 hours of sleep every night and I heard that can increase your hunger hormone. But can that be jeopardizing me so dramatically?
  • tammie614
    tammie614 Posts: 48 Member
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    i personally eat more on TD than NTD, naturally due to working out and the "need" to "fuel" my body. i do find myself hungrier on days i do workout/fairly active than when i'm not working out. i try to be mindful of being in a deficit but also not eating "too" little which can cause an issue as well. i notice that can cause me to binge and then trying to get my body back to "normal" can be a 2-3 days journey
  • deannalfisher
    deannalfisher Posts: 5,600 Member
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    maybe consider, rather than using the MFP calculations if you think they may cause binge eating - look at using a TDEE calculator which factors in exercise and you don't eat back calories
  • LivingtheLeanDream
    LivingtheLeanDream Posts: 13,342 Member
    edited May 2018
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    cwolfman13 wrote: »
    In my own personal experience, I do better cutting weight when I'm doing a moderate amount of exercise vs a lot of exercise. I've tried cutting weight while training for endurance cycling events where I easily do 8-10 hours per week or more of exercise and it's an exercise in futility because I'm hungry and my body wants the recovery more than anything.

    I do best cutting weight with moderate exercise of 4-5 hours per week because I'm not constantly hungry and recovery is easy.

    ^^ this
  • NicoleHaki
    NicoleHaki Posts: 55 Member
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    pondee629 wrote: »
    "Harder to reach a calorie deficit when working out?" NO. It takes the same discipline and dedication to keep you calorie intake in check whether you're working out or not. Since you're burning more calories working out, and can, therefore, eat more, it should be easier. If it was easy, we would all be in great shape.

    Anecdotally that's just not true. A few years ago, I lost 10-15 lbs by having 1200-1300 calories a day with very light exercise (30 minutes of strength training including warmup and cooldown). That was MUCH easier than trying to have 1600 calories a day with 60-75 minutes of high intensity exercise and walking 15,000 steps a day. The calorie deficit theoretically isn't that different but it's much harder with exercise.
  • NicoleHaki
    NicoleHaki Posts: 55 Member
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    maybe consider, rather than using the MFP calculations if you think they may cause binge eating - look at using a TDEE calculator which factors in exercise and you don't eat back calories

    I don't think the MFP calculations cause binge eating, I think the vigorous exercise makes me feel hungry all day and this would be the case regardless of whether I was using MFP calculations or TDEE. If I was sitting in a couch all day I would have no problem eating half of what I eat now.
  • HoneyBadger302
    HoneyBadger302 Posts: 1,982 Member
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    cwolfman13 wrote: »
    In my own personal experience, I do better cutting weight when I'm doing a moderate amount of exercise vs a lot of exercise. I've tried cutting weight while training for endurance cycling events where I easily do 8-10 hours per week or more of exercise and it's an exercise in futility because I'm hungry and my body wants the recovery more than anything.

    I do best cutting weight with moderate exercise of 4-5 hours per week because I'm not constantly hungry and recovery is easy.

    ^^ this

    I'm finding this to be true for me as well. When I'm working out HARD 10+ hours/week, trimming back is just plain old difficult. The hangries are real! But, on a slightly easier workout schedule (similar hours but lower intensity workouts) I'm finding it MUCH easier to trim back my calories and focus on losing the weight.

    I won't skip working out as I need my fitness for my sport, plus I like that I can eat more with working out, but the intense workouts were making weight loss nearly impossible. As soon as I'd trim my calories to a slight deficit (about 1/2lb week loss rate) my workouts would suffer.

    Now that I've lowered the intensity (lighter cardio and more ST), I'm finding it easier to trim back on the meals and NOT see my all day energy levels suffer.
  • pondee629
    pondee629 Posts: 2,469 Member
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    NicoleHaki wrote: »
    pondee629 wrote: »
    "Harder to reach a calorie deficit when working out?" NO. It takes the same discipline and dedication to keep you calorie intake in check whether you're working out or not. Since you're burning more calories working out, and can, therefore, eat more, it should be easier. If it was easy, we would all be in great shape.

    Anecdotally that's just not true. A few years ago, I lost 10-15 lbs by having 1200-1300 calories a day with very light exercise (30 minutes of strength training including warmup and cooldown). That was MUCH easier than trying to have 1600 calories a day with 60-75 minutes of high intensity exercise and walking 15,000 steps a day. The calorie deficit theoretically isn't that different but it's much harder with exercise.

    For YOU, perhaps.