How to get the correct calorie deficit

RiseHigher
RiseHigher Posts: 64 Member
Hi! I have seen reference to MyFitnessPal not giving a high enough deficit to people who are small etc but I'm wondering if there is any way to correct this?

I want to lose 1.5 lbs per week. I am 5 ft 4 female, 43 years old, 138 lbs, sedentary but I run 6-10 miles a day, longer on the weekends. My BMR as measured in a lab is 1395 calories per day.

If I do not exercise, MyFitnessPal sets my calorie goal at 1200 calories a day. That is still not a rate of 1.5 lbs lost per week, but I get the reasoning there.

However, considering my running, I WOULD be able to have a deficit of 750 calories a day easily, but all MyFitnessPal does is add my exercise calories to the 1200, which STILL then does not give me 1.5 lbs of loss per week.

Is there anyway to correct this?? Thanks!
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Replies

  • SimoneBee12
    SimoneBee12 Posts: 268 Member
    edited June 2015
    If your BMR is 1395, and you exercise each day to make it 1950 a day you can eat, and you eat 1200, then you have 750 x 7 = 5,250, which is 1.5lbs a week.

    Just look at your net calories, that might make it easier for you.

    Oh, when you said 750 calories deficit, I assumed you included the 195 from 1395-1200.
  • RiseHigher
    RiseHigher Posts: 64 Member
    Yes, that's what I mean, but say I burn enough calories in exercise to total 1950 calories, MyFitnessPal does not say to eat 1200. It just adds the exercise calories to 1200 and tells me to eat that.

    In actuality my total daily burn without exercise would be my BMR of 1395 * 1.2 to account for the sedentary activity level above my BMR. So without exercise my total calorie burn would be around 1674/day. So my deficit at 1200 would be just 474 calories, just under 1 lb a week.

    But even if I burn 1000 calories in exercise on that day, MFP will simply add the 1000 calories to 1200, and so my deficit would STILL be just the 474 calories if I ate the amount MFP told me.

    I have been manually calculating how much I eat daily but it sort of defeats the purpose.
  • malibu927
    malibu927 Posts: 17,568 Member
    The way MFP is set up, you are supposed to eat your exercise calories back. Not doing so, especially at 1200 calories, can result in muscle loss and other serious health problems from lack of nutrients to fuel your body.

    You're also at a healthy weight already, so 1.5 pounds a week is going to be a bit aggressive for you. You'll be better off choosing .5-1 pound a week (which may still give you 1200).
  • RiseHigher
    RiseHigher Posts: 64 Member
    Really my daily burn is so high I can afford that deficit. As an example today I burned around 2,724 calories. A 750 calorie deficit would put me at around 1,974 calories per day. A person really isn't supposed to eat below 1200-1600 calories a day because it is difficult to get enough nutrients at that level. But at almost 2,000 calories per day that isn't really an issue.

    I've also read you're pretty safe in losing around 1% of your weight per week. That for me is ~1.4 lbs per week, which isn't far off from my target, and is in the safe weight loss range of 1-2 lbs per week.

    I really just want to know if there is a way around the miscalculation of MFP for the desired calorie deficit, or not.
  • RiseHigher
    RiseHigher Posts: 64 Member
    Ok I figured it out for anyone with the same issue. On the days I exercise, MFP is off of my desired deficit of 750 by a constant number every day - 276.

    This is because the difference between what I actually burn when I don't exercise - 1674 - and what MFP gives me when I'm sedentary - 1200 - is 476 calories. So when it simply adds back in all my exercise calories to eat, the deficit is still just 476 calories.

    750 calories (my desired deficit) - MFP's constant 476 calorie deficit = 276.

    So I just eat until I have 276 calories left to eat for the day and so be it. I don't see any other way of correcting this besides changing my height/weight/age, which would then most likely mess up the calories I burned exercising as well.
  • SueInAz
    SueInAz Posts: 6,585 Member
    edited June 2015
    So you think you can afford the deficit but how much of your weight loss is going to end up being muscle because your deficit is too aggressive? There's a definite downside to being impatient.

    If you seriously want to work around the calorie goal just factor for it. Create yourself a food entry to subtract the calories you don't want to eat.
  • RoxieDawn
    RoxieDawn Posts: 15,491 Member
    edited June 2015
    SueInAz wrote: »
    So you think you can afford the deficit but how much of your weight loss is going to end up being muscle because your deficit is too aggressive? There's a definite downside to being impatient.

    If you seriously want to work around the calorie goal just factor for it. Create yourself a food entry to subtract the calories you don't want to eat.

    None of this matters... She wants a 750 calorie deficit period and she figured out the way to work around the numbers not matching up..

    edited to add: @sueinaz edited the last sentence out of her post apparently at the same time I posted...
  • StaciMarie1974
    StaciMarie1974 Posts: 4,138 Member
    Sounds like you're better off calculating TDEE and deducting from there, setting a manual goal.
  • RiseHigher
    RiseHigher Posts: 64 Member
    That's a good idea SueinAZ thank you.

    Losing 1.5 lbs per week is not "too fast." Especially for an active person who can afford the calories to burn. I have lost 4.5 lbs so far. This is actually 5.5 lbs of fat lost and 1.5 lbs of lean mass GAINED through this and calorie cycling. I am only in this position as I was sick and injured while traveling in foreign countries, which led to a 12 lb weight gain. I am a former personal trainer and a distance athlete. I was using Sparkpeople successfully before, but I switched to MFP because you can more easily track sugar.

    If I go with MFP's deficit then I would not even lose 1 lb a week. It would be 0.8 lbs per week; given the well-known inaccuracies in food measurement and exercise calorie calculation, it would probably not even be that. So yes, I can afford to target 1-1.5 lbs per week over the next 5-6 weeks, it is a healthy amount to lose per week in the widely recommended 1-2 lbs of weight loss per week window.

    Please go with what makes sense and learn what your bodies can do, versus living in fear and just going with what an automated calculator happens to spit out.
  • StaciMarie1974
    StaciMarie1974 Posts: 4,138 Member
    edited June 2015
    1.5 pounds is too fast for general advice to someone with a small amount to lose. But that doesn't mean that it is always wrong. Its just not reasonable for many women @ 130-something pounds. But the running 6-10 miles a day is a significant factor. (I'm in awe by the way. Would love to run 6-10 miles/day. Of course that means I have to do the work to get there. And budget the time for the training/running...)
  • gothicfires
    gothicfires Posts: 240 Member
    The fact is the lighter you are the less calories you need in a day. The less calories you need the less calorie deficient you can be. If you are eating 1200 calories a day and it doesn't meet your goal, then you have to exercise the rest of the calories a day. An apple isn't going to turn into an orange no matter how much you wish for it. I think you should change your goal to loosing weight at a pace that is natural for your weight and health.
  • RiseHigher
    RiseHigher Posts: 64 Member
    edited June 2015
    StaciMarie1974 thank you, I calculate my TDEE daily, because it changes so often. Some days I can burn just a few hundred calories in training and then others I can burn a couple thousand. You can see if I averaged that out... some days I'd be way overeating other days starving... LOL

    I am targeting 1.5 but it may not be that because on the rare day I do not exercise, for example, I wouldn't have the 750 calorie deficit - I would go to 1200 and so it could be as little as the 460 on those days. Plus, I do calorie cycle so have the periodic high calorie day thrown in every 7-10 days as well.

    I am going for the Master's National Championships in the Marathon this fall. I've been running a long time and am very serious about it. I was very sick with a couple non-running related injuries that kept me out of continuous training for almost six months. I need the weight off for running at the level I compete at. 130's might not be very heavy for some but it is for _me_ as I was in my off-season weight before I left and so even then was about 5 lbs over what I normally weigh. I just want to get back to where I was before I left, then the remaining 5 or so lbs I can lose at a slower rate since my bodyfat will be lower and I will be in the midst of heavier/more serious training at that point. My bodyfat now is high because all the weight gained was fat (as well as lean mass lost) so, that's also how I know I have leeway as well. If I was in the 130's and my bodyfat was in the teens of course it would be a different story.
  • StaciMarie1974
    StaciMarie1974 Posts: 4,138 Member
    I did my first half marathon 4 months ago - after only starting my 'running program' 4 months earlier. Was very pleased with myself in that I ran about 85% of it. Now trying to get my mind back into a good training routine. Think I need to sign up for another half - as it is I'm running some here, there but need consistency and to build on it. Having a clear goal race helps me avoid the 'today doesn't matter' attitude.
  • RiseHigher
    RiseHigher Posts: 64 Member
    gothicfires, yes, I know this, as I posted I run 6-10 miles a day so the deficit is not a problem for me, even with that counted in I am never eating less than 1200 calories per day, in fact most days I am eating much more, closer to 1800-2000++.

    If you look at it in percentages as well, someone who burns say 3,000 calories - 750 calories is a 25% (reasonable) deficit. Obviously someone who is only burning 1300 calories a day would be at a 50% deficit with 750 calories, which would be unsafe, and is not the category I am in nor am talking about. If I wanted to lose weight and didn't exercise or just walked a mile a day, of course that would not be a reasonable amount.
  • RiseHigher
    RiseHigher Posts: 64 Member
    StaciMarie1974 that is a great accomplishment for you. I agree 100% with goal-setting, the clearer the better - deadlines make things concrete. Whatever motivates you the most - GO FOR IT !
  • CharlieBeansmomTracey
    CharlieBeansmomTracey Posts: 7,702 Member
    what are you doing that you are burning almost 3000 calories a day? and how did you gain that much lean mass eating only 1200 calories if that is what you are eating? Im just wondering.
  • RiseHigher
    RiseHigher Posts: 64 Member
    @Charlie I am normally a well-conditioned athlete who was injured. So being back into my sport I am going to gain back the lean mass that I lost (thank goodness). I am also in between an ecto-mesomorph, if you are familiar with that, meaning I can gain mass easier than average. My body is really just going back to it's normal status quo rather than trying to build for the sake of building. I only do strength work that supports and counterbalances my running. Normally I tend to eat a higher carb diet (carbs... not sugar) because I am an endurance athlete. However when cutting weight, many of the calories I tend to cut are carbs, simply because the body needs protein to support lean mass and fat to support recovery as well as the endocrine system, especially in women. I do not low carb. Cutting carbs for me means going down to 50% carb, 25% protein, 25% fat. I also calorie cycle, which tends to maintain lean mass a bit better, in my opinion, than simply dieting for weeks upon weeks.

    Again, I want to emphasize that I am only eating 1200 on the days I do not workout, which aren't that often, maybe once a week. When people start getting into 1000++ calorie deficits especially with not exercising they will lose lean mass.
  • ravenstar25
    ravenstar25 Posts: 126 Member
    MFP's calculator re what you burn is a joke for older women in particular. If I ate what it told me to plus exercise calories, I would gain until I turned into a gigantic whale.
  • CharlieBeansmomTracey
    CharlieBeansmomTracey Posts: 7,702 Member
    oh ok
  • CharlieBeansmomTracey
    CharlieBeansmomTracey Posts: 7,702 Member
    MFP's calculator re what you burn is a joke for older women in particular. If I ate what it told me to plus exercise calories, I would gain until I turned into a gigantic whale.
    well what works for some doesnt work for others. I was eating about half my exercise calories back,it was working then I had to recalculate things because I gained 5 lbs.