At what point do I up my calories?

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Hi, recently new to MFP. I joined about 3 weeks ago and have lost 6 pounds so far. The first couple of weeks, I was strictly doing 30 minutes of cardio, 4-5 times a week, not very active. I recently started using a personal trainer who I will be working with on strength training 3 times a week for an hour each session on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. I will still do my 30 minutes of cardio on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I will also be taking a pilates class on Sundays for one hour (first class is this Sunday.) I plan on having Saturday as a rest day.

So my question is this, I haven't been eating back all my exercise calories with the just cardio (because I do not burn that many) on a consistent basis. Sometimes I do, sometimes I don't. But now, with starting this brand new exercise regime and routine, I am wondering if i should up my calories to maybe 1400/per day, or stick with the 1200 and eat those calories that I can track back. I have been having some trouble eating the full 1200 calories on some days, but I started adding more calorie-enriched items to my diet (PB, avocado, almonds, etc) and that has helped.

For what it's worth, I'm short. Only 4'11', so I don't think I should up them too much. Thoughts?

Thanks in advance!

Replies

  • jasonp_ritzert
    jasonp_ritzert Posts: 357 Member
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    Why would you want to up your calories? Is your ultimate goal to lose fat or gain muscle?
  • MariaYaremchak
    MariaYaremchak Posts: 58 Member
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    Um... a little of both. When I joined MFP my 1200 calorie goal was based on a low activity level (desk job.) Because I am working out and doing strength training, wouldn't I want to up them a little to help fuel my body and muscles? Or should I stick with my 1200 original goal?
  • shrinkingsusie
    shrinkingsusie Posts: 40 Member
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    Good for you! It sounds like you are very active! There is a group on here called "In place of a road map" or IPOARM that promotes strength exercise, eating and reaching your goals. I think you would like it. I will try to find the link for you but in the meantime feel free to add me. HelloitsDan and Heybales are good friends to add as well. They will even help you calculate your numbers to see how many calories you should be getting.
  • jasonp_ritzert
    jasonp_ritzert Posts: 357 Member
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    Well, there are two trains of thought that you could follow:

    1. As long as you are working out 6x/week, you could probably change your activity level to light and not log your exercise.
    2. Keep your activity level at sedentary and log your exercise.

    Honestly, it's a lot of trial and error. Don't get discouraged if things don't change the way you want to, we all constantly have to re-evaluate our diets/exercise to help us meet our goals. For myself, at the beginning I was eating at a deficit, but I was still able to put on muscle and lose fat, but I've gotten to the point now where I had to re-evaluate what I want my fitness/health goals to be because I plateaued. If you have some extra fat to burn, your body can/will use that as fuel for a while, so I would say stick with the calories you have right now for a month and see how things go. If after a month you aren't seeing the improvements you want, then it's time to try something else diet/fitness wise. While it is true you need to fuel your muscles and consume extra calories to build muscle, it's not a huge expediture unless you are bodybuilding or powerlifting. Good luck and don't get frustrated if/when things start progressing slowly or stop. It just means it's time to change or maintain depending on your goals.
  • MariaYaremchak
    MariaYaremchak Posts: 58 Member
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    Thank you both for the feedback! I will stick with the 1200 calories for awhile (since I still have some fat to lose) and see how that goes. Since I have been struggling some days to eat the full 1200, I just don't know how I would fit in the other 200 plus exercise calories right now.

    Thanks again!:happy:
  • psuLemon
    psuLemon Posts: 38,397 MFP Moderator
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    Here are basic guidelines for what your per week goal should be.

    If you have 75+ lbs to lose 2 lbs/week is ideal,
    If you have 40-75 lbs to lose 1.5 lbs/week is ideal,
    If you have 25-40 lbs to lose 1 lbs/week is ideal,
    If you have 15 -25 lbs to lose 0.5 to 1.0 lbs/week is ideal, and
    If you have less than 15 lbs to lose 0.5 lbs/week is ideal.


    Also, if you exercise, you need more than 1200 calories. Probably around 1600 is better. But if you post your current weight, we can run the numbers or look over the roadmap.
  • MariaYaremchak
    MariaYaremchak Posts: 58 Member
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    My starting weight was 135. My current weight (as of last Sunday) is 129. I would ideally like to get between 110-115.
  • Erica_theRedhead
    Erica_theRedhead Posts: 724 Member
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    First thing is go to a BMR calculator and see what the bare minimum caloric intake you should consume. (check the roadmap link previously posted)

    Since you are smaller, the 1200 cals may be ok to start with on your rest days, but eat back your exercise calories on the days that you work out. You don't want to have too big of a net negative to put you below 1200, which could slow down your metabolism.

    It is a lot of trial and error though. If you exercise as much and hard as you say, you may have to up your calories eventually if you find yourself plateauing after a few weeks. Best of luck!
  • AJ_Pete
    AJ_Pete Posts: 863 Member
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    Well, there are two trains of thought that you could follow:

    1. As long as you are working out 6x/week, you could probably change your activity level to light and not log your exercise.
    2. Keep your activity level at sedentary and log your exercise.

    Honestly, it's a lot of trial and error. Don't get discouraged if things don't change the way you want to, we all constantly have to re-evaluate our diets/exercise to help us meet our goals. For myself, at the beginning I was eating at a deficit, but I was still able to put on muscle and lose fat, but I've gotten to the point now where I had to re-evaluate what I want my fitness/health goals to be because I plateaued. If you have some extra fat to burn, your body can/will use that as fuel for a while, so I would say stick with the calories you have right now for a month and see how things go. If after a month you aren't seeing the improvements you want, then it's time to try something else diet/fitness wise. While it is true you need to fuel your muscles and consume extra calories to build muscle, it's not a huge expediture unless you are bodybuilding or powerlifting. Good luck and don't get frustrated if/when things start progressing slowly or stop. It just means it's time to change or maintain depending on your goals.

    You're wildly wrong. On many levels. You better research IPOARM, yourself.
  • DebbieLyn63
    DebbieLyn63 Posts: 2,650 Member
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    According to the calculators I use, your BMR is around 1250 and lightly active would put your TDEE around 1700, so anywhere in between those numbers should result in weight loss.
  • sandradev1
    sandradev1 Posts: 786 Member
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    Why would you want to up your calories? Is your ultimate goal to lose fat or gain muscle?

    Eating at correct number of calories (i.e. above your BMR) but at a deficit of your TDEE = healthy weight loss

    Eating at correct number of calories & doing strength training but at a deficit of your TDEE = healthy weight loss and retention of lean muscle mass.

    Bulk eating well above your TDEE and lifting heavy stuff and putting it down again = gaining muscle

    Eating below your BMR number for any great length of time = unhealthily losing weight which will be around 50% of your body fat and 50% of your lean body mass.
  • roguex_1979
    roguex_1979 Posts: 247 Member
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    You have to try what's best for you. If you're working out and only consuming 1200 cals a day and are feeling good, energetic, not tired and grumpy and are still losing weight, then stick to what you're doing.

    If you are grumpy and not losing weight, something needs to change and I suppose you could do one of the following:

    Leave cals at 1200, but eat back your exercise calories.
    Up your cals to about 1400 and NOT eat back your exercise cals.
    Up your activity level to light/moderate activity (not sedentary) and then not log your exercise at all.

    Being almost as short as you (only taller by *this* much practically), I found 1200 cals was too little. My BMR is over 1400 and my TDEE is over 1700. 20% under TDEE is 1360, so I upped my cals from 1200 to 1330 and I eat back as many of my exercise cals as possible without going over. I hardly ever feel hungry or grumpy when I do exercise and eat back the cals, although I have started struggling on 1330 and NOT exercising, and have gone over my allowance quite often, but still under my BMR and I have been losing weight slowly and steadily.

    Good luck, and add me if you like! :flowerforyou:
  • MariaYaremchak
    MariaYaremchak Posts: 58 Member
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    Thank you so much for checking.

    I appreciate everyone's responses. I think after a week or two of starting this new program, I am going to up my calorie goal slightly. Or at least make sure I am eating those calories back. It seems to make sense, considering my activity level will be higher. I just don't want to up them too much, maybe aim for 1300 and monitor my progress from there.

    Good luck to everyone! Feel free to add me as a friend. :-)
  • SarahBeth0625
    SarahBeth0625 Posts: 685 Member
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    I just customized the daily caloric intake to 1700 (from 1200) because 1200 was too few of calories. I have a small weight loss goal (a few pounds as of today, started off a few weeks back with a 6 lb goal weight loss). I do 30-35 minutes of cardio (ellitpical) most days of the week plus I am tandem nursing and I felt so hungry on MFP's "standard" recommended caloric intake. I would say if you are finding that you are losing too much weight or feeling too hungry or you have reached the point where you simply want to maintain, try adding 300 calories a day and go from there. It's definitely trial and error! I am shooting for 1700 calories a day right now to see how that goes. I was dropping about a pound a day at 1200 calories and I reached a point about a week ago where I felt hungry ALL the time. You DEFINITELY want to make sure that you are eating back the calories that you burn working out or your body is going to be running on little calories. IME, it burns you out fast and suddenly you feel like eating everything. Says the girl who ate not one but two Chocolove bars yesterday. :/
  • jasonp_ritzert
    jasonp_ritzert Posts: 357 Member
    Options
    Well, there are two trains of thought that you could follow:

    1. As long as you are working out 6x/week, you could probably change your activity level to light and not log your exercise.
    2. Keep your activity level at sedentary and log your exercise.

    Honestly, it's a lot of trial and error. Don't get discouraged if things don't change the way you want to, we all constantly have to re-evaluate our diets/exercise to help us meet our goals. For myself, at the beginning I was eating at a deficit, but I was still able to put on muscle and lose fat, but I've gotten to the point now where I had to re-evaluate what I want my fitness/health goals to be because I plateaued. If you have some extra fat to burn, your body can/will use that as fuel for a while, so I would say stick with the calories you have right now for a month and see how things go. If after a month you aren't seeing the improvements you want, then it's time to try something else diet/fitness wise. While it is true you need to fuel your muscles and consume extra calories to build muscle, it's not a huge expediture unless you are bodybuilding or powerlifting. Good luck and don't get frustrated if/when things start progressing slowly or stop. It just means it's time to change or maintain depending on your goals.

    You're wildly wrong. On many levels. You better research IPOARM, yourself.

    Actually, if you read it, as I stated, that is my personal situation that I have gone through/am going through and have found what works for me. Please feel free to point out anything I wrote as being 'wildly wrong'. I believe that the in place of a road map is fine for some people, but for other of us it is not necessarily the way. I did read the article you reference and found it to be somewhat helpful but it is by no means the gospel as some people make it out to be.
  • wmoomoo
    wmoomoo Posts: 159 Member
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    If you are worry about over eating and under calculating calories burn, then maybe just stick with 1200 calories but eat back the exercise calories. It wouldn't help your lean muscle (toning) if you are eating less than your BMR while you are doing strength training.
  • psuLemon
    psuLemon Posts: 38,397 MFP Moderator
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    Thank you so much for checking.

    I appreciate everyone's responses. I think after a week or two of starting this new program, I am going to up my calorie goal slightly. Or at least make sure I am eating those calories back. It seems to make sense, considering my activity level will be higher. I just don't want to up them too much, maybe aim for 1300 and monitor my progress from there.

    Good luck to everyone! Feel free to add me as a friend. :-)

    So lets put this in perspective. Based on your stats, your estimated BMR is around 1356 calories. This is the amount of calories you would burn in a coma for 24hrs. Lets say you have a desk job and you burn on average 300 calories per workout. Your TDEE would be

    =1356*1.2+300 = 1927

    From here you create a deficit. With little to lose, it's generally recommend between 1/2 - 1 lb per week or 20% less than TDEE.

    Calorie Needs = 1927 * (1- .2) = 1541


    So ideally, 1500 calories a day might be more beneficial. Additionally, you want to ensure you get adequate protein to help retain lean body mass.