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How much attention do I pay to exercise calories

n4rley84n4rley84 Posts: 7Member, Premium Member Posts: 7Member, Premium Member
Hey all I’m trying to maintain weight but also exercising 5times a week which includes 30mins of cardio. I notice mfp adds calories to my day total during these workouts, which til now I’ve been adding to my tally (although not hitting them all the time) is this going to maintain my weight or put me into bulking category? Any tips on how much go over maintenance calories or if I should even be going over maintenance?


  • LietchiLietchi Posts: 413Member Member Posts: 413Member Member
    If the calorie burn is estimated correctly, then eating back those calories will lead to weight maintenance as is your goal.

    The accuracy of those estimates is something you will need to monitor your weight over a longer period, to adjust if necessary.
    edited March 9
  • n4rley84n4rley84 Posts: 7Member, Premium Member Posts: 7Member, Premium Member
    Thank you! Yes I should also say i’m still trying to keep my macro’s in the right percentage, so not treating them as “free calories” but yeah I will keep weighing weekly to make sure I’m not putting on weight or losing weight!
  • sijomialsijomial Posts: 16,105Member Member Posts: 16,105Member Member
    To maintain you must find a balance (over an extended period of time...) between your energy intake and output and that output includes exercise.

    The daily goal set by MyFitnessPal is only for a day when you do no exercise, do some exercise and your energy needs go up so your goal increases from the base setting. So if you have set your goal to "maintain current weight" and exercise some days the you should be eating at a higher level than your base level on those days.
    Your weight maintenance calories vary, eating back correctly estimated exercise calories doesn't put you in a surplus.

    Are you adding the exercise sessions yourself? (Or using a connected device?)
    How are you coming by your exercise estimates?
    Are you eating to a MyFitnessPal suggested calorie goal or did it come from another source?
    What have you been doing to date and what results did you get?

    "Any tips on how much go over maintenance calories or if I should even be going over maintenance? "
    If you want to maintain weight then don't go into a surplus!

  • gallicinvasiongallicinvasion Posts: 775Member Member Posts: 775Member Member
    If you don't feel like you want to constantly be hitting a moving target of exercise-day-calories versus non-exercise-day-calories (and you don't get ravenously hungry on your exercise days), I would recommend looking into finding your average overall TDEE over a period of 4-6 weeks or so, then you can just use one number to hit for instead of calculating those exercise calories separately.

  • n4rley84n4rley84 Posts: 7Member, Premium Member Posts: 7Member, Premium Member
    Hey! Thanks for the response!
    So I’m getting my maintenance goal from MFP but I also did a double check by multiplying my 138lbs by 15 which is 2070 about 30cals more than what MFP has recommended.
    Also re inputing my calories... yes and no, I have an Apple Watch which logs my calories burned for my cardio which i start up in there workout app, I do 15min of Weighted Jump ropes every session and either a 2500m row session (11min) or 18min cycle session on a watt bike. Generally my watch is a bit lower on the calorie count than what the rowing/bike machines read out to me,
    The rest I have to plug manually into MFP aka reps of body weight exercises or weights. Although doing that often adds 400+ calories to my daily total which I’m sceptical of 🧐

    I’m also a gardener so I usually hit my step goal of 10k somewhere around 2-3pm, usually i average about 15k steps, I don’t add calories burnt during my day though ( bit difficult to calculate how many calories are burnt chopping trees down and dragging them 200meters to the wood pile 🤓)

    I’m VERY new to MFP and also wanting to really focus on nutrition because up til now I’ve not really calculated macros 😅 but even after doing this for just over week I’ve already seen a BIG difference not just in physique but also energy levels are through the roof so I feel like my body is liking all the extra attention I’m paying to what I’m feeding it.
    Saying that... I did drop 3lbs my last weight in which was Friday, but I’ll have to weigh again tomorrow morning to see if that’s jumped back up or dropped again. Ideally I want to keep to my weight as it is now and not drop too low.
  • sijomialsijomial Posts: 16,105Member Member Posts: 16,105Member Member
    Your steps and job should be accounted for in your activity setting rather than exercise.

    Beware the Wattbike calorie estimates as they use a completely bonkers algorithm - their power meters are extremely accurate but they them do some very bizarre mathematics to give an ego boost calorie number.
    I use one a lot and simply multiply average watts per hour by 3.6 to get a very accurate net calorie estimate - or link it to my Garmin which does the same maths for me. (ave watts X 0.06 for minutes for shorter rides)

    Using a heartrate based method for cycling estimates when power meters are used is extremely sub-optimal especially if you do interval training on the bike.

    For rowing indoors - if it's a Concept2 their website has a calorie estimator which corrects for weight against the machine's estimate which is based on a standard bodyweight (175lbs I think??).

    Overall though precision is nice but not essential for purpose as long as you are consistent and make adjustments based on long term results. Precision helps you get closer quicker though!
  • n4rley84n4rley84 Posts: 7Member, Premium Member Posts: 7Member, Premium Member
    That’s really good to know re-concept and watt bike! I don’t really pay too much attention to their readings generally, I guess happier to underestimate my calories burned so usually take my watches lower reading. But I will still look up their websites as you’ve got me curious how far off the machines are now. And yes I do interval timing on the watt bike, usually either 1min/30sec rest but more recently I’ve been doing 4min/2min rest hill work.
    And good to know re-job and steps! I guess because it’s just been my job for the last few years I just assumed it didn’t burn too much into my maintenance calories 😅 I’ll do some research on that and what adjustments I need to make!
  • sijomialsijomial Posts: 16,105Member Member Posts: 16,105Member Member
    Power is generally a better metric than heartrate when estimating energy burns as there's huge variations in people's heartrate for the same energy expenditure.
    I did manage to calibrate a fairly good HRM to be accurate for steady state cycling but even so it was miles off if I did intense intervals.

    An example of how far off Wattbike's estimates are I recently did a long steady ride for 90mins at 150w and that's a true 810 net calories, Wattbike displayed 1106 cals.

    Regarding your very physical job it doesn't matter how long you have been doing the job - dragging a tree is still dragging a tree....
    It feels easier when you are strong, fit and accustomed to heavy work but that means it's easier for you to burn a lot of calories - it doesn't mean you burn less calories.
  • PAV8888PAV8888 Posts: 6,715Member Member Posts: 6,715Member Member
    It sounds to me as if you're most likely in a caloric deficit and losing a bit of weight. This is not uncommon when someone starts logging food because they sort of automatically restrict a bit due to logging their food and seeing it in black and white.

    Your most accurate body weight results will come from plugging your daily readings into a weigh trend application and looking at your weight trend change over an appreciable period of time. Weekly changes can hide a lot of ups and downs and you also have to account for monthly hormonal water weight variations if they're a thing for you!

    You have probably denoted yourself as sedentary or lightly active on MFP--your activity level sounds closer to MFP's level of VERY active (15K steps of which a lot includes heavier work and which, by the sounds of it, you're not accounting for separately). Frankly, on re-read, you're actually above MFP's very active setting once you account for the bending and lifting.

    MFP integration with apple watch is very iffy. You can connect apple to pacer app and pacer app to MFP to get a better all day adjustment based on what your apple watch detects. other intermediary apps may also offer the same benefit.

    Caloric intake is also non trivial to measure accurately. You don't need to be super accurate to see success. You can just adjust by the little bit more / little bit less method looking at how your weight trend is reacting long term.

    You sound like someone for whom activity and exercise is valuable so you don't want to go too low in terms of caloric intake by accident and end up subtly reducing your energy availability for exercise.

    Many people do a combination of % and pure grams, not just %.

    For example I want to hit a minimum of 125g of protein (because that's almost 1g per lb of lean mass for me). I am, of course, OK with going higher and usually average around 150g. I would do that regardless of the percentage I would be set at.

    I aim for at least 0.35 to 0.45g of fat per lb (I am usually a good 30%+ higher, though I actually would not mind reducing my saturated fat intake a bit) and for more than 38g of fiber a day as a guy.

    The rest I don't worry too much about and it seems to shake out in general and over the years to 52% carbs, 27% fat, 21% protein, >50g fiber, around 2900 Cal. In spite of this I have left MFP set to the defaults of 50-30-20... and use that as a rough guideline knowing that I would usually want to be under on fats and over on protein.
    edited March 9
  • n4rley84n4rley84 Posts: 7Member, Premium Member Posts: 7Member, Premium Member
    Thanks so much! Yeah I’m starting to see that I may have entered my lifestyle in wrong! I can’t remember exactly what I chose but lightly active sounds quite familiar, I shall rectify that! I can’t believe I didn’t quite click that yeah despite always having a physical job (since I was 16 or so) I still burn calories doing said job 😑 what a numptie! I guess before I started tracking what I ate, I just ate a lot of empty calories my food has changed dramatically in the last few week. It’s actually the reason I started, I do value both my job and I LOVE working out, sounds weird but I just find it to be MY time for myself.
    Before my energy levels were pretty low, I just thought I was getting older but then someone suggested I check that my macros were in the right percentage and that’s sort of what started this deep dive into nutrition. Thanks everyone for replying and explaining to this noob! 😅
    I did weigh this morning and I’m 135.8 (138 when I started) which is what I was on Friday but I also know those “monthly hormonal water changes” are hanging around atm so it could be lower. It’s all a learning curb and you all taught me a lot! Thanks 👍
  • PAV8888PAV8888 Posts: 6,715Member Member Posts: 6,715Member Member
    The base, most important, widest part of the pyramid is calories. Healthy foods do count. Appropriate macros do count.

    But even the healthiest foods won't make a difference if you only end up eating 2500 Cal for days at a time when you actually need 3500! (well, other than a difference to your weight level!)

    If you've had persistent lower energy levels... did you also get a quick look at iron, vitamin B12, and thyroid levels? perhaps as part of an annual physical or what not?
    edited March 10
  • n4rley84n4rley84 Posts: 7Member, Premium Member Posts: 7Member, Premium Member
    I’ve haven’t checked my iron or b12 or thyroid lvls but it wasn’t really the kind of energy dip that would be too concerning, especially because since tracking macros my energy lvls have elevated. But I do actually want to get a physical since it’s been about a year since my last one.
    Saying that I haven’t just been eating my maintenance calorie goal, only day I hit it was on a rest day, every other day I’ve eaten approx 400 or so calories over to account for what the app was telling me re-exercise. With a slight deficit to account for inaccurate calorie burning, aka it typically tells me I’ve burnt 700+ calories so I would try to leave 300 calories to mitigate that,

    On my cheat day (Saturday) I deliberately consumed about 3000 calories. I guess I just wasn’t sure how much over I should eat re-exercise and work. If I reallocate my typical day maintenance then according to my tdee (just an online calculator, it’s approx 2135 -2300 for just maintenance, I’m thinking of doing the 2135 one to begin with and might up it during the summer to 2300 (some days in the summer my step count is about 25k) when my workload typically goes higher. My height is 5ft8 so I’m currently in my ideal bmi bracket sitting at about 20bmi
    I’m going to look into that app to see if my watch can better communicate with MFP and see if that helps me track and account for my daily work calories
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