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Exercise calories in maintenance

sofrancessofrances Member, Premium Posts: 82 Member Member, Premium Posts: 82 Member
I'm looking for advice on how to deal with exercise calories in maintenance.

I haven't been eating back my exercise calories while losing, but I'm now ready to maintain.

However, I'm worried about the inexactness of exercise calorie estimates. Most of my exercise calories come from walking, measured by MapMyWalk, with some cycling (MapMyRide) and some HIIT and yoga. The apps usually record 600 - 1100 exercise calories per day. I have had at least one MFP friend suggest my exercise calories are unlikely to be accurate (I.e. the apps are overestimating).

However, it would still be good to be able to scale food intake on days with more exercise, even if I don't trust the absolute numbers.

Also, if the numbers are accurate, it suggests I need to increase calories quite a lot to maintain (or decrease exercise, but I would rather not), but I'm rather frightened of adding so many calories at once.

Does anyone have any advice for how to deal with all this?

Replies

  • sofrancessofrances Member, Premium Posts: 82 Member Member, Premium Posts: 82 Member
    Thanks @sijomial. I have opened my diary up to friends, if you want to take a look.

    I don't know uf that let's you see my rate of loss, but Im happy to share more details if it doesn't.

    I had assumed that MapMyWalk took body weight into account. Is that not so?

    The HIIT are some "easy on the knees" Jo Wicks YouTube videos.

    I'm entering HIIT as high intensity calisthenics, and yoga using the generic yoga entry.
    edited July 18
  • SummerSkierSummerSkier Member, Premium Posts: 1,374 Member Member, Premium Posts: 1,374 Member
    As a runner some days I get "massive" amounts of exercise calories on the app. Some days not so much. One thing I have found is that even though there is some measure of "you can eat more on active days", think of it more as a longer term thing. I prefer to fuel my workouts ahead of time so that I expend energy already banked. That means I find a level load TDEE method of eating and not some sort of reactive one to calories burned. I personally think that eating back some of your exercise cals while losing is a great idea, but I do not like the mindset that oh gee I overate today so I need to go out and work another 200 cals type response. Maintenance has got to be a really long term approach so for me it works better to just figure out what my TDEE is and work within those #s on a daily bases vs high/low days depending on exertion. The biggest thing is to figure out what works for you personally. And unfortunately none of us can help you too much there.

    There is an excellent sticky on here as far as methods of adding back calories when you get close to your goal or are there. For me I liked the add 100 every week or so until things level out. That method means you might continue a small weekly loss for a few more weeks but things will gradually level out. I liked it because there was not a huge jolt on the scale but others have just ripped the bandaid off and added all at once. The biggest thing is that maintenance is not some magic. Things change and #s change so it's sort of something you are a crocodile about and you keep one eye open (whether logging or weighing etc) for a few months to make sure things are ok. Even long time maintainers will sometimes stumble over their range and have to rein back in. But it's easier to know and return to a small deficit at 10 pounds over vs say 20 or 30.
  • sijomialsijomial Member Posts: 16,718 Member Member Posts: 16,718 Member
    "I had assumed that MapMyWalk took body weight into account. Is that not so?"

    It does - but it's giving a gross calorie estimate for your bodyweight walking which includes what you would have burned just by being alive.
    A rough estimate of that hourly difference is 1/24th of your maintenance calories - for simplicity if my non-exercise day maintenance calories were 2,400 then the difference for net and gross estimates per hour would be 100cals.

    I would burn an extra net 200cals for walking an hour at 4mph but a gross calorie estimate from MapMyWalk or MyFitness Pal would be 300cals.
  • The_EnginerdThe_Enginerd Member Posts: 3,881 Member Member Posts: 3,881 Member
    sijomial wrote: »
    I far prefer to use a mass moved over distance calculation to give a modest net cal estimate (bodyweight in pounds X efficiency ratio of 0.3 X miles walked). Once you work it out you have a decent per mile estimate - mine is around 50cals per mile that is very easy to use.
    I will second the recomendation above. Even with running with a higher end Garmin (Fenix 5) and the Garmin Run HRM that uses the First Beat algorithm that is claimed to be better, I still use distance instead of the HRM estimated calories for my runs (for running: net calories = distance in miles * weight in lbs * 0.63) The Garmin data seems to match an average, but it varies between runs pretty significantly due to weather and training load. It's worked well and matched the results for me over 5 or years with weekly running distances varying from 10 miles to over 60 miles.
    For biking, I tend to just go with the HRM calculated burns since I do use it for cross training and am not serious enough to invest in a power meter, which would provided more accurate data for calorie estimates. It's close enough, although it seems to underestimate based on my long term results as I've started to slowly lose weight as I've adding in more biking and needed to adjust my calorie intake upwards a couple of hundred per day to maintain long term.

    As suggested in a couple of other posts, using long term trends to find your maintenance number will be necessary. When I first started maintaining, I had to adjust my calorie intake upwards 100-200 calories per day or I slowly lost. MFP gives me 2100/day to maintain, but I need to maintain 2300 net to prevent further weight loss and that's worked for the 7 to 8 years of maintenance thus far. I use a food scale whenever I'm home and am brutally honest in my logging.
  • The_EnginerdThe_Enginerd Member Posts: 3,881 Member Member Posts: 3,881 Member
    As a runner some days I get "massive" amounts of exercise calories on the app. Some days not so much. One thing I have found is that even though there is some measure of "you can eat more on active days", think of it more as a longer term thing. I prefer to fuel my workouts ahead of time so that I expend energy already banked. That means I find a level load TDEE method of eating and not some sort of reactive one to calories burned. I personally think that eating back some of your exercise cals while losing is a great idea, but I do not like the mindset that oh gee I overate today so I need to go out and work another 200 cals type response. Maintenance has got to be a really long term approach so for me it works better to just figure out what my TDEE is and work within those #s on a daily bases vs high/low days depending on exertion. The biggest thing is to figure out what works for you personally. And unfortunately none of us can help you too much there.

    I use a weekly calorie goal and tend to eat more evenly across the week, but still higher on my active days. My daily calorie goal tends to range from 2500 on a light bike day to over 4000 on a long run day. I will eat more on the more active days, but tend to eat "over" on the light days and "under" on a very active day when looking at net calories. I find that works better for me as far as eating patterns and fueling my workouts adequately.
  • sofrancessofrances Member, Premium Posts: 82 Member Member, Premium Posts: 82 Member
    Does anyone know of an app that does the more accurate sort of estimate for walking calories?
  • PAV8888PAV8888 Member Posts: 7,388 Member Member Posts: 7,388 Member
    Here is the most factually correct formula for finding the actual calories you get to spent during your walk: https://exrx.net/Calculators/WalkRunMETs

    And it won't help you eat back the correct number of calories by itself.

    --MFP has already assigned a number of calories to your day and this includes the time of your walk.
    --this level of calories varies according to the activity level you've selected
    --this level of calories varies between 1.25*BMR/1440*minutes of activity and 1.8*BMR/1440*minutes of activity.

    So you're back to making a few guesses.

    How many Calories a day are you showing as your paper deficit?
    What percentage of these calories come from your walks?
    What deficit does your weight trend change suggest you have been achieving?

    Between the deficit you think you have and the deficit you have evidence you've achieved, and the percentage of the total deficit attributed to your walks... now you're getting closer to how many of these calories are probably real.

    Or, because you're human, it might be easier to use one of the suggestions above as your starting point.

    Or to consider that since MFP assigns at least 1.25 * BMR for each sedentary minute. And since 3.5 to 4* BMR seems a reasonable average for reasonably fast walks.... 65% to 70% of the total activity calories seems a reasonable first approximation assuming obsessively good logging and generally having achieved results that indicate your body tracks close to average.

    Your approximation then gets validated over several weeks based on results. And you adjust up or down.

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