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Activity Level Setting vs. Actual Daily Activities

sisu89sisu89 Member Posts: 38 Member Member Posts: 38 Member
I keep going back and forth on this so I thought I would ask here:

What do you have your activity level set to on here, and do you log your exercise?

My BMR as ~1600 cals/day. When set to "active,"(which is how I would describe myself at 6-ish hours of exercise a week) my calorie goal is ~1800 cals/day. I generally don't log exercise when I have it set this way, because it seems like double-dipping, if that makes sense. My issue with this is, it's not really accurate on a day-to-day basis. Some days I burn more than 200, other days I'm sedentary.

I wonder if it's better to set my level to sedentary, so I can log my actual daily exercise to get a better idea of my calorie goal. So, I'll ask again:

What do you have your activity level set to on here, and do you log your exercise? Why/why not?

Replies

  • robinaddisonrobinaddison Member Posts: 229 Member Member Posts: 229 Member
    I’ve done it both ways. And been successful both ways. It’s when I QUIT logging I get into trouble!
    I work at a desk 3-4 very long days a week (12-14 hour days). On my days off I’m extremely active - hiking, rowing, working in the yard, what have you. Because my calorie expenditure is so very different, right now I’m set at ‘sedentary’ and I count my exercise based off my garmin watch. And I eat pretty much every bite of those exercise calories. Doing it this way, I lost 60+ lbs 10 years ago. I then kept it off for another 7 by taking my maintenance and averaging in my weekly exercise calories so I ate about the same amount daily.
    Unfortunately, I thought I didn’t need to think about it any more...then some injuries and covid hit...and here I am back at the start.
    It will take some time, but I’ll get back there eventually!
  • lemongirlbclemongirlbc Member, Premium Posts: 373 Member Member, Premium Posts: 373 Member
    I set mine to active (roughly, I actual have really specific calorie/macro goals that I've calculated elsewhere) and don't enter any exercise as it's simply too much planning for me to adjust my calorie intake and enter every single exercise I do and adjust my intake accordingly. Some days my deficit is probably greater than others because I am more active on those day, but....meh. It all evens out in the wash. And my deficit is pretty mild, so it's not like I'm under fueling myself in any event.
  • MinTheKitCatMinTheKitCat Member Posts: 93 Member Member Posts: 93 Member
    I have mine set to lightly active and sync'd to my fitbit, which is suppose to track how many calories I burn more or less accurately.

    Unfortunately, there's a lot of conflicting information about how well fitbit tracks this and how much different exercises burn as well as how many calories similar folks burn while doing them (some folks just have a really slow or really fast metabolism).

    I'd recommend figuring out how you enjoy tracking (or not!) and what works for you for the LONG term (do you want to do xyz everyday/week for the next 3,5,10 years?) That way you'll be focusing on building a great habit(s) that work for you (exercise and nutritious food!)

    - in point, I've let my fitbit track my cardio, sleep, and calories burned, stuck to relaxed range of calorie intake with a focus on nutrition and a goal of losing weight and it's worked really well for me over the past year
    edited January 13
  • LietchiLietchi Member Posts: 1,598 Member Member Posts: 1,598 Member
    You're right: choosing a higher activity level because you exercise AND logging exercise would result in double dipping, so should be avoided.

    Using MFP as intended = using the activity level to reflect your daily activity not counting intentional exercise and then logging exercise separately (and eating back a reasonable estimate of the calories burned through exercise).
    Which doesn't mean you can't use MFP differently, of course.

    It will depend on several factors, the main one being: how regular is your exercise? If your exercise varies from week to week, using your current method might not be the best idea, if you are very regular in your exercise it can work. You don't need to have a deficit/the same deficit every day, as long as you're in a deficit on average.
    If you have an inactive week, you do need to watch out and eat less than your calorie goal.

    Personally, your current method is not for me. I'm quite irregular in my exercise burns (and step count) from week to week. And giving myself a fixed calorie goal would put pressure on me to exercice with a regular schedule, mental pressure I do not want in my life. Or if I simply was less active for a few weeks, I'd stop losing weight or even gain weight.

    My method is: I'm set at sedentary and my activity tracker is linked to MFP, which gives me extra calories based on extra general activity (steps) and exercise. And I eat every delicious extra calorie that gives me 🙂
    edited January 13
  • thisvickyrunsthisvickyruns Member Posts: 46 Member Member Posts: 46 Member
    I have mine set to sedentary (based on what I know my numbers to be, not MFP) and then I add and eat back exercise cals.

    I'm a runner, so my burn can vary massively from a walk on a rest day to 10 - 15 mile long runs so I prefer that my calories change with the exercise.

    I also work to my weekly goal, so I might not eat all my exercise cals one day, but I will eat above goal another day.

    its trial and error to find out what works for you.
  • sijomialsijomial Member, Premium Posts: 17,592 Member Member, Premium Posts: 17,592 Member
    You mention Sedentary and exercise in the same sentences but that's not how this site works. You could be Sedentary and run a marathon every day or Highly Active and do no exercise and every other possible combination as there is no overlap between the two things - when using this tool as designed.
    You haven't mentioned anything that would indicate what your activty setting should be (job, everyday movement patterns excluding purposeful exercise) so there's no way to answer if you should even consider Sedentary.

    I set mine to Lightly Active when I was working full time and despite a desk job that setting best reflected my total non-exercise activity. I ate back exercise on top of that.
    When I retired I bumped my activity setting to Active - because I am! And exercise calories on top.

    Think you first need to decide if you prefer a variable daily goal (MyFitnessPal) or a same every day goal (averaging out both your activity and exercise, average TDEE method). Over an extended period of time they should work out fairly similar. If you do choose the TDEE method beware that fudging MyFitnessPal by rolling your activty and exercise together won't use the correct BMR multiplier. Not a problem if you are using your own data rather than a calculator.

    My main exercise is cycling and that gives me a hugely variable daily, weekly and even seasonal amount of calories burned so the MyFitnessPal method is far superior for me and I'd also find a same every day calorie goal to be like a never ending restrictive diet. Apart from the mathematics how you feel also makes a difference for adherence.

  • callsitlikeiseeitcallsitlikeiseeit Member Posts: 6,935 Member Member Posts: 6,935 Member
    I have mine set to sendentary simply because on any given day, if I am at home, and not really doing anything.... I get in fewer than 5000 steps.
  • ridiculous59ridiculous59 Member Posts: 1,984 Member Member Posts: 1,984 Member
    I am set to sendentary and eat back 50-75% of my earned calories. I exercise in some manner every day but the intensity changes i.e. some days its a dog walk and yoga, other days its a heart pumping cross country ski, other days its weights and a hike with dogs. Most days I hit 10,000 steps. I have found this way works best for me.
  • janejellyrolljanejellyroll Member, Premium Posts: 24,571 Member Member, Premium Posts: 24,571 Member
    Before I got my Fitbit, I set myself to sedentary (as I work a desk job) and logged my intentional exercise. This wound up underestimating my calorie needs a bit, as I live in an urban area and do most of my errands by walking.

    I then got a Fitbit and synced it and that wound up giving me a better idea of my baseline.

    You're right that if you set your activity level based on exercise and THEN log your exercise and eat back the calories, you would be double-dipping. This is why MFP expects users to set their activity goal based on their lifestyle apart from intentional exercise.
  • heybalesheybales Member, Premium Posts: 18,385 Member Member, Premium Posts: 18,385 Member
    I am less than Sedentary but obviously have it set to sedentary.

    After the Garmin syncs and I have calories taken away is when I get the less than applied.
    Unless I exercised that day, in which case I might gain 300 in workout, but still lose 150.

    While winter isn't as variable for workouts as other seasons nor the huge calorie burn, and I could attempt your method - I prefer the reminder daily that it's important to know the fact that when you do more you can eat more, but when you do less you sure better eat less.

    The MFP activity levels really don't ramp up enough to cover workouts unless they are low intensity low calorie burn - just like extra daily activity might be.
    As suggested you can watch and adjust after a month.

    But then you have turned MFP into most other sites where exercise is accounted for in your daily eating goal really.
    So to actually lose weight at desired rate - you better do the exercise.
    That's what causes the confusion with many people thinking you have to exercise to lose weight.

    If you are knowledgeable & experienced as many of the prior posters are on the matter - it still works.
    But if not, it can leave you confused as to results.
    And if life changes (daily or exercise) - it can take a month of results to then have an amount to tweak.
    So again knowledgeable on why weight can change, what's valid and actionable, what's not.
  • cwolfman13cwolfman13 Member Posts: 38,471 Member Member Posts: 38,471 Member
    sisu89 wrote: »
    I keep going back and forth on this so I thought I would ask here:

    What do you have your activity level set to on here, and do you log your exercise?

    My BMR as ~1600 cals/day. When set to "active,"(which is how I would describe myself at 6-ish hours of exercise a week) my calorie goal is ~1800 cals/day. I generally don't log exercise when I have it set this way, because it seems like double-dipping, if that makes sense. My issue with this is, it's not really accurate on a day-to-day basis. Some days I burn more than 200, other days I'm sedentary.

    I wonder if it's better to set my level to sedentary, so I can log my actual daily exercise to get a better idea of my calorie goal. So, I'll ask again:

    What do you have your activity level set to on here, and do you log your exercise? Why/why not?

    Used as designed, MFP is a NEAT method calculator...meaning your activity level is set to whatever your day to day hum drum life is. Exercise is logged and additional calories allotted with MFP because, as designed, exercise isn't included in your activity level and is unaccounted for...so yes, if you included exercise in your activity level and also logged it, you would be double dipping.

    When you include exercise in your activity level, this is called the TDEE method...nothing wrong with it, and apples to apples it's 6 of one, half dozen of the other. I personally use TDEE...this means that yes, I will have days under maintenance, at maintenance, and maybe even occasionally over maintenance depending on that particular day...but everything averages out over the week and I don't concern myself with the day to day. If you go the TDEE route, I would recommend using an actual TDEE calculator as the algorithms used will be different since MFP's algorithms, even for "active" are going to assume relatively lite activity, not vigorous training or workouts. You can then customize your calorie target on MFP with that TDEE number.
  • spiriteagle99spiriteagle99 Member Posts: 2,963 Member Member Posts: 2,963 Member
    I spend most of my day sitting, either in front of the computer or reading or watching TV. For about 2 hours a day, I exercise - walking, running, biking, yoga, etc. What I do and how long varies by the day. Some days I run 6 miles, some 12, some none. My walks can be anything from 1.5 miles to 5 or 6. It has worked well for me to set my activity level at sedentary and then eat back all my exercise calories. I actually burn more calories than MFP gives me for my exercise, perhaps a bit of afterburn or maybe just inaccurate logging of my food. (I don't weigh what I eat and since I split meals with my husband, my half isn't always exactly half.) In any case, I lost weight when I was trying to do that and have now maintained that loss for several years.
  • kshama2001kshama2001 Member Posts: 23,138 Member Member Posts: 23,138 Member
    Like others have said, how MFP works is that you set your activity level based on your JOB and log non work-related exercise separately.

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    edited January 14
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