Eating on a day with lots of exercise

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When I was in college, I gained about thirty pounds because I exercised vigorously about 3 days a week for several hours, and ate to meet the calorie requirements of that kind of exercise all seven days :) Now I'm serious about losing weight, and have a question about research/science to answer a question I have. On days when I exercise a lot, like today (40 minute fast Nordic walk, 2 hour bike ride pulling a 50 pound child, will be doing yard work the rest of the day), should I eat like a healthy person (1700ish calories), or should I eat back everything I burn (which might be wildly inaccurate, and I feel like it's harder to go back to eating normally after eating a lot on heavy exercise days.) I can tell that my stomach size has shrunk since watching my calorie intake 35 days ago and I do not want to extend it again (not sure if that affects satiety signals or not.) I'm going to try to eat my normal amount and drink at least double the water I normally do. Thanks in advance!

Replies

  • kimny72
    kimny72 Posts: 16,012 Member
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    Are you using mfp's calorie goal or did you enter your own from a tdee calculator?
  • PAV8888
    PAV8888 Posts: 13,978 Member
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    Logic should indicate that when you burn more you eat more and when you burn less you eat less otherwise your deficit will vary a lot and a larger deficit is not always better.

    If this is not possible then you can proceed and eat at maintenance for no exercise every day and let exercise create your deficit.

    Some people can do that, however success will depend on whether you can see past water retention and/or generate an appropriate deficit that is neither too small nor too big.
  • sijomial
    sijomial Posts: 19,809 Member
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    I'm going to do a long cycle ride Sunday and will eat a lot - probably way over 4000 cals.
    On Monday I'll just be doing a low calorie burn gym strength workout and will eat about 2500 or maybe less.

    I'm not really understanding why you feel you need to eat for a high day when you are having a low day.
    What exactly is preventing you from stopping eating when you meet your (variable) daily goal?
  • littlebear0121
    littlebear0121 Posts: 1,073 Member
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    kimny72 wrote: »
    Are you using mfp's calorie goal or did you enter your own from a tdee calculator?

    I'm using MFP's calorie goal. It seems to be a good one-- I'm losing 1.5 lbs a week.
  • kimny72
    kimny72 Posts: 16,012 Member
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    kimny72 wrote: »
    Are you using mfp's calorie goal or did you enter your own from a tdee calculator?

    I'm using MFP's calorie goal. It seems to be a good one-- I'm losing 1.5 lbs a week.

    Ok, well mfp gives you a lower calorie goal assuming you will log your exercise and eat back at least some of those calories. Calorie burns can be innacurate so many folks start eating back half and adjust from there.

    It's important to fuel your workouts. And if you're doing only cardio and losing weight quickly, you might be sacrificing more muscle than you need to. So when you work out, log it and eat back some of those cals.
  • littlebear0121
    littlebear0121 Posts: 1,073 Member
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    sijomial wrote: »
    I'm going to do a long cycle ride Sunday and will eat a lot - probably way over 4000 cals.
    On Monday I'll just be doing a low calorie burn gym strength workout and will eat about 2500 or maybe less.

    I'm not really understanding why you feel you need to eat for a high day when you are having a low day.
    What exactly is preventing you from stopping eating when you meet your (variable) daily goal?

    I'm sorry, I didn't explain myself very well. I currently do not have a problem eating my normal calorie amount (about 1700 calories) on days when I burn 2000 calories exercising (this is at most once a week.) I don't have a need to eat for a high day on low days. My question is better stated, will my appetite increase on days following a high exercise, high calorie intake day like I think it does? I believe in the past that I was just as hungry on the low days as the high when I ate like I was burning 2000 calories a day in exercise alone. Also, is there any reason NOT to eat my normal amount on high exercise days? If I'm done eating for the day today, I will have a more than 2000 calorie deficit, but I haven't been unusually hungry today.
  • PAV8888
    PAV8888 Posts: 13,978 Member
    edited April 2018
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    sijomial wrote: »
    I'm going to do a long cycle ride Sunday and will eat a lot - probably way over 4000 cals.
    On Monday I'll just be doing a low calorie burn gym strength workout and will eat about 2500 or maybe less.

    I'm not really understanding why you feel you need to eat for a high day when you are having a low day.
    What exactly is preventing you from stopping eating when you meet your (variable) daily goal?

    I'm sorry, I didn't explain myself very well. I currently do not have a problem eating my normal calorie amount (about 1700 calories) on days when I burn 2000 calories exercising (this is at most once a week.) I don't have a need to eat for a high day on low days. My question is better stated, will my appetite increase on days following a high exercise, high calorie intake day like I think it does? I believe in the past that I was just as hungry on the low days as the high when I ate like I was burning 2000 calories a day in exercise alone. Also, is there any reason NOT to eat my normal amount on high exercise days? If I'm done eating for the day today, I will have a more than 2000 calorie deficit, but I haven't been unusually hungry today.

    I believe that your question as to whether and why exercise calories should be eaten back has already been addressed above.

    The reality is that whether you **SHOULD** eat them really boils down to whether you end up generating an actual excess deficit that impacts you in one of multitudes of ways* or not.

    Whether you get hungry and **WANT** to eat depends on your own hunger signals and body and may or may not be a reliable guide in terms of whether you **SHOULD** eat.

    * excess lean mass lost, hormonal impact & psychological impact (perceived difficulty of compliance, propensity to generate binge/restrict cycles), sub-optimal workouts, sub-optimal recovery from exercise leading to compensatory reduction of NEAT expenditure and further sub-optimal workouts, are just some of the ways you I can think off that you could be impacted.

    Or maybe you won't be particularly impacted. In the big scheme of things an extra 500 Cal deficit in the context of a 3500 Cal deficit and sufficient available fat available to lose is not a big deal. An extra 2000 Cal deficit in the context of a 1750 Cal deficit and insufficient available fat to lose might be a much bigger deal.
  • sijomial
    sijomial Posts: 19,809 Member
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    "I'm sorry, I didn't explain myself very well. I currently do not have a problem eating my normal calorie amount (about 1700 calories) on days when I burn 2000 calories exercising (this is at most once a week.) I don't have a need to eat for a high day on low days.
    My question is better stated, will my appetite increase on days following a high exercise, high calorie intake day like I think it does?"
    Might do, might not - that's personal, I don't have a carry over appetite after a big exercise day but it sounds like YMMV. But appetite doesn't mean you HAVE to eat more, that's really the point of calorie counting. Eating for what you need rather than what you want.

    "I believe in the past that I was just as hungry on the low days as the high when I ate like I was burning 2000 calories a day in exercise alone.
    Also, is there any reason NOT to eat my normal amount on high exercise days? If I'm done eating for the day today, I will have a more than 2000 calorie deficit, but I haven't been unusually hungry today."

    Lot's of reasons why under-fuelling a big exercise routine is a bad idea: poor performance, poor recovery, increased risk of loss of lean mass, decreased NEAT from feeling fatigued and of course increased hunger!
  • Lillymoo01
    Lillymoo01 Posts: 2,865 Member
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    There are days when I burn a lot more than normal. These days I let my body decide. If I am hungry I eat. If I am not hungry I don't. However, if I don't eat many of them back I can the hungrier the next day so eat those extra calories then. Just look at your overall calories over a week rather than a day.