# Calorie Counter

You are currently viewing the message boards in:

# Net Calories

I u understand that net calories are calories eaten-exercise calories. Correct me if I'm wrong.

My real question though is this: what should my net calorie goal be? Should net calories be above, below or at zero at the end of the day?

## Replies

Your net calorie goal should be whatever your goal is. For example (in simplified numbers), my calorie goal is 1,500. But, I burned 300 working out so I ate 1,800 total in order to meet my goal.
I wanted to post an image but I'm not able to...
edited September 12
Well, you could just use the MFP Goals too, which will ask you a few questions and then tell you how much to eat. But that tool assumes you will eat back your exercise calories. In other words, if it tells you to eat 1700, that's supposed to be a NET 1700 - if you work out 300, then you add that to the MFP number and eat 2000.

If you don't want to do that, another way to do it is to search on "TDEE calculator" and use one. It'll tell you your approximate "break even" burn rate. Subtract 250 from that number for each half pound you want to lose per week. That's your net calorie target. Then eat and exercise accordingly to hit that number. Example: it tells you your TDEE is 2500. You want to lose 1 lb per week, so you aim for a net 2000. Tomorrow you do 200 calories of workout, so you eat 2200. Rinse and repeat until you reach your goal weight.

Using MFP's goals tool is a bit easier, but either way will work. MFP's goal tool has been very accurate for me - my weight loss has precisely tracked what MFP said would happen based on their algorithms, for 50 pounds.
My total calories yesterday were 1206, my net calories were -384, and my goal was 1200.
Per what I'm understanding here I should have eaten an extra 1500 calories to meet my goal of 1200.
That makes no sense. I can't possibly eat 2800 calories in a day and still lose weight.
• Posts: 13,729Member Member
Audj246 wrote: »
My total calories yesterday were 1206, my net calories were -384, and my goal was 1200.
Per what I'm understanding here I should have eaten an extra 1500 calories to meet my goal of 1200.
That makes no sense. I can't possibly eat 2800 calories in a day and still lose weight.

What exercise did you do to get credited with 1,584 exercise calories?
Are you using a food scale to measure your portions? Double checking that the entries you are using in the database have the correct calorie info (most are user entered and can be wrong)?
Audj246 wrote: »
My total calories yesterday were 1206, my net calories were -384, and my goal was 1200.
Per what I'm understanding here I should have eaten an extra 1500 calories to meet my goal of 1200.
That makes no sense. I can't possibly eat 2800 calories in a day and still lose weight.

Well actually you can, easily, have lost weight eating 2800 calories per day ****IF**** you in fact lost 1590 calories through exercise. But that's a big IF. To get to 1590 calories of exercise you'd have done multiple hours of aggressive, sweaty working out and, yes, if you did that the fat would melt right off you while eating 2800 calories.

You gotta trust the formula. I don't know what else to say about that. The formula works for everyone. It might be 6 % off for one person and 13 % off for another, but it's always at least "ballpark" correct. So yes, if you worked out 1590, and your calorie target is (a probably too low) 1200, you should be eating 2800 and you will lose the weight.

I've lost 50 pounds following MFP's formula like a dumb beast. I just do it, and then I lose exactly as much weight as it says I will lose. Give that a try. It works.
• Posts: 119Member Member
Audj246 wrote: »
My total calories yesterday were 1206, my net calories were -384, and my goal was 1200.
Per what I'm understanding here I should have eaten an extra 1500 calories to meet my goal of 1200.
That makes no sense. I can't possibly eat 2800 calories in a day and still lose weight.

This is my breakdown so far today:

Calories remaining is GOAL - (food - exercise). So 1500 - (359-227) = 1368.

So was your calories remaining at 1206 yesterday? It should be close to 0.
Audj246 wrote: »
My total calories yesterday were 1206, my net calories were -384, and my goal was 1200.
Per what I'm understanding here I should have eaten an extra 1500 calories to meet my goal of 1200.
That makes no sense. I can't possibly eat 2800 calories in a day and still lose weight.

There seems to be some confusion here. Were your exercise calories 390 yesterday? If not, what were they?
I'm not tracking my exercise calories. But I have a Fitbit adjustment of 1458 (which I know accounts not just for exercise but also for just being)

To be clear, I'm not looking at the net calories shown on my diary (that number shows that I have eaten all my calories)...I'm looking at those shown on the pie chart page. There you have total calories, net calories and goal calories.

Yes I weigh everything and I double check everything that I'm not already sure about.
• Posts: 119Member Member
What's your activity level setting in MFP?
My experience with adjustments from apps is that they are way off and should not be logged. Especially if it's putting in a number that high.
hmhill17 wrote: »
What's your activity level setting in MFP?
My experience with adjustments from apps is that they are way off and should not be logged. Especially if it's putting in a number that high.

I'm set at sedentary
Therein lies the problem. You're counting a chunk of your BMR as "exercise" due to the FitBit's way of counting cals. A generic hour of cardio is around 400 cals. That's what you should be adding to your calorie budget to figure out what to eat. So if you're doing 1/2 hr of cardio, you should really only be adding around 200 cals, and so on.
• Posts: 119Member Member
At sedentary, it assumes we're rocks I think. Less than 2k steps a day, butts in a chair most of the time. Which is basically true for me.
edited September 12
hmhill17 wrote: »
At sedentary, it assumes we're rocks I think. Less than 2k steps a day, butts in a chair most of the time. Which is basically true for me.

My understanding is that "Sedentary" multiplies your BMR (i.e. the calories you'd burn doing autonomic stuff like breathing, while in a coma) by 1.25, whereas "lightly active" multiples it by 1.4 So the difference is significant but not a total game changer - 300 calories.

Put another way, MFP is not assuming we Sedentary ones are "rocks" but people who are a little less active than "lightly active".
edited September 12
• Posts: 16Member Member

An adjustment of 1458 from Fitbit means you burned that many more calories in your day (according to Fitbit) than MFP expected. If you regularly see big adjustments like that, then you most likely have the WRONG activity level setting. Its fine to assume some error - but that is a lot.

I will make up some numbers because I don't know anything about you. I will assume you to be female if your default goal from MFP is 1200.

Lets say your BMR is 1500 and you put in MFP that you are sedentary and want to lose 2 pounds per week. Someone above suggested MFP assumes 25% of BMR for sedentary calories. It might be 20%, I don't know. But lets go with 25%. So MFP expects you to burn 1500 x 1.25 = 1875. Subtract 1000 to lose 2 pounds per week - but MFP won't go below 1200. So you're assigned 1200.

Now lets say you are NOT sedentary and your Fitbit tracks movement as well as estimates BMR. But it does not use a 25% multiplier - instead uses your movement. Exercise, running errands, moving thru your day. Lets say Fitbit says you burned 3333 total for yesterday. (This would give you an adjustment of 1458, as 3333 is higher than 1875 by 1458.) We can even assume Fitbit is not perfect and is off by 10%. Perhaps you really burned about 3000. Well, if you're eating 1206 and burning 3000 daily: you're going to be feeling worn out, fatigued, deprived in a pretty short amount of time. Your body simply needs more fuel.

So consider using 1/2 the Fitbit adjustment - in this scenario about 725. Eating 1931 and burning 3000 would actually put you about where you want to be, approximately 1 pound average loss rate per week.

Ps-you can also adjust your activity level in MFP if you're regularly moving 10k-20k steps per day, which will increase your normal daily goal and decrease your Fitbit adjustment. Because MFP will then expect you to burn more, so the difference between expectation and actual will be smaller.
edited September 12