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Activity level

Jayj180894
Jayj180894 Posts: 285 Member
edited August 21 in Health and Weight Loss
I've recently upped the ante on my exercise regime! Shall I change my activity level on here? It's on slightly active which gives me around 1600kcal excluding exercise calories. Shall I change it to active that would give me 1880kcal excluding exercise. Might I add I've done around 10+ hours of exercise this week including walking, jogging, resistance training and 2 classes of resistance and cardio combined. Thanks

*Edit
I do eat my exercise calories back on my 1600 calorie limit. MFP is connect to my fitbit

Replies

  • kshama2001
    kshama2001 Posts: 25,205 Member
    Nope, you log your exercise separately. Activity level refers to your job.

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    I'm confused about your edit - is 1600 your base calories and then your fitbit sends MFP extra calories?

    It seems like your plan would have you double counting but maybe I am missing something.

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  • sijomial
    sijomial Posts: 19,063 Member
    Are you eating to a calorie goal set by MyFitnessPal or by a variable daily goal according to your Fitbit?

    If a MFP goal then the activity setting is nothing to do with your exercise, it's your average day to day routine excluding purposeful exercise.
    e.g. when I retired from a desk job my activity setting went up because I moved more in daily life. But when my exercise volume went up that calorie need is captured by simply logging the changing volume of exercise.

    Or are you trying to reduce the size of your Fitbit adjustments?


  • Jayj180894
    Jayj180894 Posts: 285 Member
    Right okay I'll have to leave it to lightly active then. Yes 1650ish is what MFP provides me and then whatever exercise I have done my fitbit send to MFP and it adjust accordingly.
    I was just hoping I could get more calories as I do like my food lol!
  • MJW12020
    MJW12020 Posts: 23 Member
    Jayj180894 wrote: »
    Right okay I'll have to leave it to lightly active then. Yes 1650ish is what MFP provides me and then whatever exercise I have done my fitbit send to MFP and it adjust accordingly.
    I was just hoping I could get more calories as I do like my food lol!

    But you will still get more calories (unless I am badly misunderstanding how MFP works).

    If you have your target at lightly active and your target is 1650, but you actually burn, say, 1850 then MFP will show the extra 200 as exercise calories. You can eat those extra 200 calories and still hit your target.
  • Lietchi
    Lietchi Posts: 3,074 Member
    With a synced activity tracker, changing your activity level will increase your base calorie goal, but lower your calorie adjustments. The net result will be the same, you won't get more calories.

    If you want more calories, you could lower your weight loss rate (provided you aren't already at the slowest rate of loss).
  • sijomial
    sijomial Posts: 19,063 Member
    Jayj180894 wrote: »
    Right okay I'll have to leave it to lightly active then. Yes 1650ish is what MFP provides me and then whatever exercise I have done my fitbit send to MFP and it adjust accordingly.
    I was just hoping I could get more calories as I do like my food lol!

    But are you eating to the fitbit adjusted goal or just sticking to a 1650 cals intake?
    In which case syncing your fitbit is a waste of time.....
  • Jayj180894
    Jayj180894 Posts: 285 Member
    when my profile is set to lightly active, my goal is 1600 but, when my profile is set at active I get 1800 calories.

    If I get 200 extra calories from my fitbit.
    On slightly active I will get to eat 1800 calories but, on active I would get to eat 2000 with the exercise calories included.

    So I was just wondering if I could be on active so I can eat more.

    Yes I always eat my exercise calories back
  • MJW12020
    MJW12020 Posts: 23 Member
    If you have MFP set to add your exercise calories, it shouldn't actually make a difference at the end of the day.

    If you set it to Lightly Active it will give you 1600 calories to eat at the beginning. If you burn 200 additional calories from exercise it will add these so your final target for the day is 1800 calories. If you burn 400 additional calories instead of 200, your final target for the day will be 2000 calories.

    But...

    If you set it to Active it will give you 1800 calories to begin with. Burn the same 200 exercise calories as above and your target will stay as 1800 calories (the MFP calculation for Active assumes you will be burning that much from your daily work activities). If you burn 400 additional calories as above your target will increase to 2000 calories.

    Either way the end result is exactly the same. It is only when you go above or below the number of calories built into the calculation for the activity level you choose that it will change. For instance, if you selected Very Active but then had a sedentary lifestyle without exercise your target would be too high and you would over eat.
  • MJW12020
    MJW12020 Posts: 23 Member
    My work is desk-based, so 'Not Very Active' is the right activity level for me. As a male at my height, weight and age this gives me 1914 calories a day. But I do at least two hours of cardio every day, so end up way above that with lots of extra exercise calories - I average over 3000 calories burned a day in total (based on my Fitbit and cross-referenced to a heart rate monitor for 'major' activities). I usually have MFP set at Very Active (which for me is 2783) so it is not making such a big adjustment each day. Psychologically this works better for me, giving me an exercise target to push myself towards (Fitbit sets this as my target too, which I treat as a minimum but go over 99% of the time) and means I feel less guilt about eating into the extra calories (even though I shouldn't feel any guilt).

    I also have negative exercise calories set. What this means is that at Very Active I start the day with around minus 400 exercise calories and my calorie target reduced to about 2400. As I exercise, this negative reduces and my target increases (less the food and drink I consume). Eventually it hits zero and starts to go into positive exercise calories. It varies depend on what exercise I have done and when, but if just walking it usually takes about 12,000 steps to hit zero (ie, lined up with the total TDEE in my Very Active calculation).

    Today, as an experiment for this post, I changed my setting to Not Very Active. When MFP first synced with my Fitbit, just after I got out of bed, I had minus 57 calories (instead of the minus 400 or so at Very Active). I had a short walk (about 2000 steps) and end up at positive 50ish exercise calories. Now, with 4700 steps from doing things around the house I am at 202 exercise calories. From a starting goal of 1914 calories and with 436 calories consumed, I have 1680 remaining. As I do more exercise this will go up. By the end of the day I should have about 1100 exercise calories and a total calorie target of about 3000 calories. If I start the day at Very Active, begin with about 2800 calories and do the exact same amount of exercise I will end up with about 200 exercise calories for a total calorie target of about 3000 calories. As you can see, a different starting point but the same result.

    Edit: I changed back to the Very Active setting. After having +202 exercise calories at 4700 steps on Not Very Active I now have -171 exercise calories at 5900 steps.
  • PAV8888
    PAV8888 Posts: 9,174 Member
    If your fitbit is synchronized and negative calories are enabled then the total calories you can eat WHILE STILL HITTING THE DEFICIT GOAL YOU'VE SET FOR YOURSELF are going to remain the SAME.

    A synchronized fitbit means that MFP bases the final calculations, at midnight, on the calories detected as spent by your Fitbit and the initial "guess" as to how many calories you THOUGHT you were going to spend as established by your selected activity setting is "ignored".

    However you are not powerless to make changes.

    Your eating goal is a goal you've set for yourself.

    It is obvious you are feeling the effects of too large of a deficit given that you seem to want to eat an extra 200 Cal a day.

    Eating an extra 200 Cal a day is not a crime.
    Yes, it does have implications as to the speed with which you will lose weight; but you know which speed is slower than losing weight very slowly? It is trying to lose weight faster and ending up gaining or not losing at all because you make life too difficult for yourself.

    Don't make life too difficult for yourself.

    Math-wise, no, with your current deficit setting you cannot eat more calories given that you're already eating at your fitbit's detection.... unless you make changes to your goals... which you probably should.
  • sijomial
    sijomial Posts: 19,063 Member

    Jayj180894 wrote: »
    when my profile is set to lightly active, my goal is 1600 but, when my profile is set at active I get 1800 calories.

    If I get 200 extra calories from my fitbit.
    On slightly active I will get to eat 1800 calories but, on active I would get to eat 2000 with the exercise calories included.

    So I was just wondering if I could be on active so I can eat more.

    Yes I always eat my exercise calories back

    To put it in numbers....
    1600 + 200 adjustment is the same as 1800 + no adjustment if you change your predicted end of day number to be 1800.

    And BTW the Fitbit adjustment isn't just purposeful exercise.
    People using MFP without a tracker get a fixed average estimate of their general day to day activity but you are letting your synched fitbit estimate your variable daily activity.

  • teresaaracil
    teresaaracil Posts: 2 Member
    Remember also that activity trackers are not 100% accurate, they are a tool/guide so if you eat back said calories you could be over eating for your goals.
  • westrich20940
    westrich20940 Posts: 358 Member
    So...to be fair --- IF you did want to eat more food on a day to day basis you COULD use a TDEE calculator (and choose the activity level that coincides with your job/workouts) and eat that many calories every day. However, MFP will still add in your exercise calories if it's connected to your fitbit --- which you would not want to do if you use this method.

    MFP is set up so that you will eat more on the days you have increased activity (via your fitbit) but less on days you do not do intentional activity.

    I have generally used this method (ate my maintenance cals and then eaten back my exercise cals - as I'm in maintenance). So I eat significantly more on a day that I run/hike than on a day I do not. I am starting to lean more towards just wanting to eat more on a daily basis instead of more on the days I'm more active....I have a feeling I'll feel generally just more satiated that way --- but it's all up to what works for you!

  • PAV8888
    PAV8888 Posts: 9,174 Member
    So...to be fair --- IF you did want to eat more food on a day to day basis you COULD use a TDEE calculator (and choose the activity level that coincides with your job/workouts) and eat that many calories every day. However, MFP will still add in your exercise calories if it's connected to your fitbit --- which you would not want to do if you use this method.

    MFP is set up so that you will eat more on the days you have increased activity (via your fitbit) but less on days you do not do intentional activity.

    Your general sentiments are correct.

    However if Fitbit integration is working properly and negative calories are enabled the final result in terms of a suggestion of how many calories to eat is the same regardless of starting point

    The only thing that changes is the size and direction of adjustment.

    So as long as I have a Fitbit connected and enabled correctly, I can start by claiming that my activity level will be 6000 calories a day or 1000 calories a day.

    Regardless of my initial claim, at the end of the day, the adjustment will be such that my eating goal will be based on the TDEE the Fitbit believes it actually detected during the day
  • cwolfman13
    cwolfman13 Posts: 39,832 Member
    Jayj180894 wrote: »
    I've recently upped the ante on my exercise regime! Shall I change my activity level on here? It's on slightly active which gives me around 1600kcal excluding exercise calories. Shall I change it to active that would give me 1880kcal excluding exercise. Might I add I've done around 10+ hours of exercise this week including walking, jogging, resistance training and 2 classes of resistance and cardio combined. Thanks

    *Edit
    I do eat my exercise calories back on my 1600 calorie limit. MFP is connect to my fitbit

    MFP is a NEAT method calculator. Used as designed, you DO NOT include exercise in your activity level, only your day to day type of stuff. This is why you log exercise after the fact and get additional calories to "eat back". If you want to use the TDEE method that's totally fine, but you should use a TDEE calculator as they use different multipliers than MFP does. I also wouldn't synch any devices at that point since your exercise and day to day should all be rolled up into your activity level and thus your calorie targets and you could be double dipping with a synched device.
  • MJW12020
    MJW12020 Posts: 23 Member
    AnnPT77 wrote: »
    Remember also that activity trackers are not 100% accurate, they are a tool/guide so if you eat back said calories you could be over eating for your goals.

    Or you could be undereating for your goals. (Why does everyone only mention that trackers could be over? They can be inaccurate in either direction.) My good brand/model tracker, one that is reasonably accurate for others, estimates *several hundred calories* low daily, compared with about 6 years now of careful logging data . . . off by 25-30%. And no, it's not new: I've been wearing it for nearly 2 years. (It's inaccurate for me by about the same percentage MFP is low for me, in base calories.)

    I have recently taken up running and cycling in addition to the walking I have done for a long time. I usually do this wearing a chest heart rate monitor, giving me a chance to compare this with my tracker.

    For walking and running they are quite similar, though the tracker is generally lower. For cycling the tracker is noticeably lower. If I engage a cycling activity on the tracker itself it seems to be about 10% lower (though I haven't logged it methodically). If I forgot to do this and just let the tracker and its app detect the activity it seems to be more in the range of 20-30% lower.

    In the end any of it is just going to be an estimate. It seems wise to keep an eye on actual changes in our bodies as well, rather than just be driven by numbers on our devices (as important as they are).
  • AnnPT77
    AnnPT77 Posts: 22,324 Member
    MJW12020 wrote: »
    AnnPT77 wrote: »
    Remember also that activity trackers are not 100% accurate, they are a tool/guide so if you eat back said calories you could be over eating for your goals.

    Or you could be undereating for your goals. (Why does everyone only mention that trackers could be over? They can be inaccurate in either direction.) My good brand/model tracker, one that is reasonably accurate for others, estimates *several hundred calories* low daily, compared with about 6 years now of careful logging data . . . off by 25-30%. And no, it's not new: I've been wearing it for nearly 2 years. (It's inaccurate for me by about the same percentage MFP is low for me, in base calories.)

    I have recently taken up running and cycling in addition to the walking I have done for a long time. I usually do this wearing a chest heart rate monitor, giving me a chance to compare this with my tracker.

    For walking and running they are quite similar, though the tracker is generally lower. For cycling the tracker is noticeably lower. If I engage a cycling activity on the tracker itself it seems to be about 10% lower (though I haven't logged it methodically). If I forgot to do this and just let the tracker and its app detect the activity it seems to be more in the range of 20-30% lower.

    In the end any of it is just going to be an estimate. It seems wise to keep an eye on actual changes in our bodies as well, rather than just be driven by numbers on our devices (as important as they are).

    Exactly. Actual weight loss rate is a key indicator. *The* key indicator, really. And if weight loss rate differs from targeted weight loss rate, the discrepancy can be from any of base calorie estimate, exercise calorie estimates, food logging, or a combination of the above. Seems like folks around MFP are most likely to blame exercise estimates but it's not *necessarily* the cause.

    I've compared a Polar HRM with chest belt to my Garmin ( the latter with chest belt for things where I've found it's needed/helpful). They differ, but not consistently in the same direction - it varied with activity type. One was higher than the other for rowing (indoor or on water), the other one was higher for cycling (stationary or road/trail), but I don't remember the details. It's been a while.

    Given the fraction of TDEE that exercise is for most of us, I figure a 10-20% error in exercise estimates isn't that dire, so I just try to make sure it's not crazy-unreasonable. My base maintenance calories are around 2000 (rounding to an easy number for an example), 500 calories would be a decent exercise session, 10-20% of that would be 50-100 calories so 2-4%-ish of the combined day. I'm sure my daily life (non-exercise) movement varies more than that daily, and unavoidable differences in food logging probably come close to that magnitude . . . so, meh.

    The modern trackers can be a little more sophisticated in their algorithms, because they have more measurements available to use in calorie estimates (not just HR, but also potentially elevation changes, speed, activity type for some brands/models, arm movement, and more). Whether they *are* actually using better algorithms is an open question, very brand/model dependent IME . . . but they *could* be.

    Still just estimating calories, though, of course - not measuring them. 😉

    I do use my tracker's estimates for some exercises, even though it's crazy far under for me on TDEE. Close enough, I figure. 🤷‍♀️ For some things, there's no better alternative, anyway.