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Minimum calories and exercise

MJW12020MJW12020 Member Posts: 23 Member Member Posts: 23 Member
I know there's a lot of threads on the topic of eating exercise calories, but hopefully this is specific enough to not just be a repeat.
In terms of how much of the exercise calories to eat... MFP has a minimum for men of 1500 calories a day. My BMR is about 1900.
If I want to lose about 0.5kg per week, that is around a 500 calorie deficit. MFP will set my target at 1500 as this is the minimum.
But if I want to lose 1kg a week - a 1000 calorie deficit - my target is still 1500 (only a 400 calorie deficit).
I burn around 3200 calories a day. Should I ignore the first 600 exercise calories, to bring my deficit back up to 1000, then eat the rest?
Or should I manually set my target to 2200 calories and really just use MFP to keep track of my intake?

Replies

  • MondowefteMondowefte Member Posts: 147 Member Member Posts: 147 Member
    You calculate your deficit from TDEE, not BMR. Try that for at least a month, then compare your weight change against the expected, and work from there.
  • dolorsitdolorsit Member Posts: 92 Member Member Posts: 92 Member
    I was in the same position. Being short, my BMR wasn't much above 1600, leaving me with a small deficit after hitting the arbitrary 1500 minimum wall. As I do a lot of exercise, I adjusted to a 1000 cal/day deficit after exercise and have lost 20kg over the last 20 weeks. It's exactly the same as if instead of putting sedentary in the MFP goal calculator, you put active or very active instead.
  • RedordeadheadRedordeadhead Member Posts: 1,000 Member Member Posts: 1,000 Member
    You likely don't have enough weight to lose to target 1kg per week and should be aiming for a slower rate of loss. You should be netting no less than 1500 - if you exercise to get below that net you are probably under eating.
  • LietchiLietchi Member Posts: 2,747 Member Member Posts: 2,747 Member
    MJW12020 wrote: »
    I know there's a lot of threads on the topic of eating exercise calories, but hopefully this is specific enough to not just be a repeat.
    In terms of how much of the exercise calories to eat... MFP has a minimum for men of 1500 calories a day. My BMR is about 1900.
    If I want to lose about 0.5kg per week, that is around a 500 calorie deficit. MFP will set my target at 1500 as this is the minimum.
    But if I want to lose 1kg a week - a 1000 calorie deficit - my target is still 1500 (only a 400 calorie deficit).
    I burn around 3200 calories a day. Should I ignore the first 600 exercise calories, to bring my deficit back up to 1000, then eat the rest?
    Or should I manually set my target to 2200 calories and really just use MFP to keep track of my intake?

    What does MFP give you as your maintenance calories without exercise (if you set your goal to weight maintenance)?
    You mention a BMR of 1900, but then use that number to calculate your deficit, so perhaps you are confusing BMR with something else (for example MFP's maintenance number without exercise) ?

    Mathematically you are correct that part of your exercise calories should be ignored to arrive at the desired deficit, if you've hit the minimum of 1500kcal (since you will get a full calorie adjustment for all your exercise on top of those 1500 calories, despite it not being enough to reach your desired deficit). But the question is: is that an appropriate thing to do? How much do you weigh and what is your goal?

    As a side note, how are you arriving at that TDEE of 3200 calories? It would be a good idea to check if your exercise calories are reliable. How many exercise calories per day, for doing what exercise and for how long? Calculated how?
  • MJW12020MJW12020 Member Posts: 23 Member Member Posts: 23 Member
    Thanks everyone. I have been calculating from my TDEE, so was careless in expressing my deficit as related to BMR.
    I started off with a 500 calorie deficit and increased to 1000, all based on TDEE from various calculators. I've been losing a steady 1 kilogram a week and reducing my calorie target accordingly.
    I have been mixing it up a bit to keep my body confused and have recently been doing zig-zag eating, based around an average of approximately 1500 calories, with daily fluctuations.
    The issue I ran into is that I have increased exercise as I got fitter and also began doing regular group coaching sessions. This took my TDEE from about 2800 a day to an average of about 3200 (more on that later). Eating 1500 was not enough, so I have been working on gradually increasing over the last couple of weeks and am working on finding the right amount to manage the last of my weight loss and then maintain.
    Having started at 99kg I am now 76kg. Various methods put my ideal weight at 67-69kg, but I think at age 55 and with some muscle (particularly in my legs), that is unrealistic. My coach works on a rule of thumb that puts ideal weight at your height in centimetres minus 100 - I am 172cm, so that would be 72kg. That is my newest goal (but might look at 70kg - I'll play it by ear).
  • MJW12020MJW12020 Member Posts: 23 Member Member Posts: 23 Member
    Lietchi wrote: »
    MJW12020 wrote: »
    I know there's a lot of threads on the topic of eating exercise calories, but hopefully this is specific enough to not just be a repeat.
    In terms of how much of the exercise calories to eat... MFP has a minimum for men of 1500 calories a day. My BMR is about 1900.
    If I want to lose about 0.5kg per week, that is around a 500 calorie deficit. MFP will set my target at 1500 as this is the minimum.
    But if I want to lose 1kg a week - a 1000 calorie deficit - my target is still 1500 (only a 400 calorie deficit).
    I burn around 3200 calories a day. Should I ignore the first 600 exercise calories, to bring my deficit back up to 1000, then eat the rest?
    Or should I manually set my target to 2200 calories and really just use MFP to keep track of my intake?

    What does MFP give you as your maintenance calories without exercise (if you set your goal to weight maintenance)?

    *** If I set my activity level as sedentary (given I have desk/office job) and goal to weight maintenance, MFP sets my calorie target at 1,976 calories.

    You mention a BMR of 1900, but then use that number to calculate your deficit, so perhaps you are confusing BMR with something else (for example MFP's maintenance number without exercise) ?

    *** Yes, and just expressing it poorly.

    Mathematically you are correct that part of your exercise calories should be ignored to arrive at the desired deficit, if you've hit the minimum of 1500kcal (since you will get a full calorie adjustment for all your exercise on top of those 1500 calories, despite it not being enough to reach your desired deficit). But the question is: is that an appropriate thing to do? How much do you weigh and what is your goal?

    *** I started at 99kg and am now 76kg. My goal is 70-72kg.

    As a side note, how are you arriving at that TDEE of 3200 calories? It would be a good idea to check if your exercise calories are reliable. How many exercise calories per day, for doing what exercise and for how long? Calculated how?

    *** I use a Fitbit (Charge 2) as the primary measure. I have cross-referenced this at times with calculations based on average energy expenditure for activities like walking (adjusted for weight). I recently got a chest strap heart rate monitor, mainly for group coaching sessions (part of a 6 week challenge/promotion at my gym), but I also wear this for cardio sessions at the gym and for longer walks/hikes. It is fairly consistent with the Fitbit for these activities (though I assume the monitor is more accurate and it is setup with the results of a full body scan I did at the start of the challenge.

    In terms of exercise, this is currently walking - 15,000-20,000 steps a day during the week and 20,000-30,000 a day on the weekend (often in the hills); if I don't get enough during the day I will generally spend 30-45 minutes fast walking with incline or jogging/running on the treadmill. As well as this I am doing three coaching sessions a week - 45 minutes, made up of 5 minute alternating sets of cardio and weights, with 25 seconds changeover. Most days I will do some more cardio, so aim to burn 1000 calories (based on the heart rate monitor) in each session.

    Until about three weeks ago I had been working to the Fitbit-set target of 2800 calories expended per day and was hitting that 95% of the time. I am now aiming for 3000 a day and have hit that each day so far (averaging about 3200-3300 a day).
  • LietchiLietchi Member Posts: 2,747 Member Member Posts: 2,747 Member
    MJW12020 wrote: »
    Lietchi wrote: »
    MJW12020 wrote: »
    I know there's a lot of threads on the topic of eating exercise calories, but hopefully this is specific enough to not just be a repeat.
    In terms of how much of the exercise calories to eat... MFP has a minimum for men of 1500 calories a day. My BMR is about 1900.
    If I want to lose about 0.5kg per week, that is around a 500 calorie deficit. MFP will set my target at 1500 as this is the minimum.
    But if I want to lose 1kg a week - a 1000 calorie deficit - my target is still 1500 (only a 400 calorie deficit).
    I burn around 3200 calories a day. Should I ignore the first 600 exercise calories, to bring my deficit back up to 1000, then eat the rest?
    Or should I manually set my target to 2200 calories and really just use MFP to keep track of my intake?

    What does MFP give you as your maintenance calories without exercise (if you set your goal to weight maintenance)?

    *** If I set my activity level as sedentary (given I have desk/office job) and goal to weight maintenance, MFP sets my calorie target at 1,976 calories.

    You mention a BMR of 1900, but then use that number to calculate your deficit, so perhaps you are confusing BMR with something else (for example MFP's maintenance number without exercise) ?

    *** Yes, and just expressing it poorly.

    Mathematically you are correct that part of your exercise calories should be ignored to arrive at the desired deficit, if you've hit the minimum of 1500kcal (since you will get a full calorie adjustment for all your exercise on top of those 1500 calories, despite it not being enough to reach your desired deficit). But the question is: is that an appropriate thing to do? How much do you weigh and what is your goal?

    *** I started at 99kg and am now 76kg. My goal is 70-72kg.

    As a side note, how are you arriving at that TDEE of 3200 calories? It would be a good idea to check if your exercise calories are reliable. How many exercise calories per day, for doing what exercise and for how long? Calculated how?

    *** I use a Fitbit (Charge 2) as the primary measure. I have cross-referenced this at times with calculations based on average energy expenditure for activities like walking (adjusted for weight). I recently got a chest strap heart rate monitor, mainly for group coaching sessions (part of a 6 week challenge/promotion at my gym), but I also wear this for cardio sessions at the gym and for longer walks/hikes. It is fairly consistent with the Fitbit for these activities (though I assume the monitor is more accurate and it is setup with the results of a full body scan I did at the start of the challenge.

    In terms of exercise, this is currently walking - 15,000-20,000 steps a day during the week and 20,000-30,000 a day on the weekend (often in the hills); if I don't get enough during the day I will generally spend 30-45 minutes fast walking with incline or jogging/running on the treadmill. As well as this I am doing three coaching sessions a week - 45 minutes, made up of 5 minute alternating sets of cardio and weights, with 25 seconds changeover. Most days I will do some more cardio, so aim to burn 1000 calories (based on the heart rate monitor) in each session.

    Until about three weeks ago I had been working to the Fitbit-set target of 2800 calories expended per day and was hitting that 95% of the time. I am now aiming for 3000 a day and have hit that each day so far (averaging about 3200-3300 a day).

    Well, that's a lot of exercise :smile: I understand the numbers a bit better now.
    Fitbits and other devices only estimate of course, they don't actually measure. But since you are losing 1kg per week, you can use that info to evaluate how accurate those numbers are, based on 1kg lost = a deficit of 7700 calories. From your activity level, your numbers sound quite reasonable. We sometimes get people who have enormous calorie burns with little activity: for them trusting their Fitbit or other device without checking it against their weight loss rate can cause them to not lose weight - that doesn't seem to be a problem in your case.
  • MJW12020MJW12020 Member Posts: 23 Member Member Posts: 23 Member
    This is all really, really helpful - thank you!
    I will shift my strategy to a much smaller deficit (on recent days where I did something like a really long walk I was ending up with like a 2000 calorie deficit) and concentrate on using the exercise for building muscle and fitness.
    Thanks again for the fabulous insights!
  • MJW12020MJW12020 Member Posts: 23 Member Member Posts: 23 Member
    Sorry - just one follow up question (kind of a noobie one, I'm afraid).

    Given my basic work lifestyle is desk-based, is it the right strategy to set my activity level at "not very active" so my target is based on that, and then add the exercise on top of that? That's the essential approach of MFP, yeah?
    edited May 26
  • MJW12020MJW12020 Member Posts: 23 Member Member Posts: 23 Member
    Thanks!! This information is really useful - much appreciated!
  • nanastaci2020nanastaci2020 Member Posts: 977 Member Member Posts: 977 Member
    I get what you're saying. Because MFP won't go under 1500, if your NEAT puts you at 1500 calorie goal, then you don't actually have your 'desired' deficit.

    Options: set your calorie goal manually, taking into consideration exercise. Just be careful not to overcompensate. Machines may overestimate. SO you might want to use a conservative # of burned during exercise. Or set MFP to maintain, log your exercise: and eat at a level that leaves 500-1000 calories that you don't eat. In this scenario, your 'calories remaining' would be your deficit. Personally I do that.
  • PAV8888PAV8888 Member Posts: 8,816 Member Member Posts: 8,816 Member
    Given that you're above MFP's very active level once you have taken your deliberate walking into account. And given that your END target from the MFP-Fitbit integration will be the same at midnight regardless of which activity level you start from. You MAY find it easier to increase your activity level on MFP to make your "exercise" adjustments smaller since you will be starting from a higher baseline. This may allow you to have more predictable results from the point of view that you won't be hitting any minimums.

    HOWEVER, I would strongly chime in support of a reduced speed of loss moving forward and continued focus on your improved fitness which is not getting adequately supported when you're creating these super large deficits.

    Not to mention various arguments that could be made about gradually easing into maintenance. See the chart above and consider that yes, continuing at kg a week is probably no longer to your long term benefit.
  • MJW12020MJW12020 Member Posts: 23 Member Member Posts: 23 Member
    Thanks again everyone!

    I will give it a try with my goal set at 0.5kg a week and activity level set to 'very active'. While the activity level may not matter too much (as I have my Fitbit linked), it will look like a more realistic target for me with a bit less adjustment along the way.

    I'll see how this goes :-)
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