Net calories and calories remaining, again

Browsing the forums I notice there's a lot of confusion, misunderstanding, about the NET calories, what their goal is etc.
To me they're just an annoyance.

Calories Remaining ought to be sufficient. These are the calories I can still eat and still be losing weight.

Now most of the net calorie discussions seem to be how many of these remaining calories should be eaten, how much would be OK to not eat.

IMO, it would be nice if it displayed something like "we'd recommend you eat at least this many calories".

Now for some figures:
Goal 1600
Exercise 2000
Available 3600!

Let me tell you that this is an absolutely ginormous amount of calories if you want to eat this in a healthy manner (say, a bag of M&Ms would easily do the trick but that's a different story ...)

So oftentimes, I'm 'stuck' with 1000 calories at the end of the day. Most of time I find that out late in the evening and it's definitely not healthy to try and eat 1000 calories just before going to bed (yes I sleep my 8h).

The next morning I do an +1h intense bike ride while fasting. I wonder how I even manage :smile: I definitely couldn't do that if I didn't eat enough (esp. carbs) the previous day.

Also, since I started, I didn't lose a lot, but (maybe) gained some stamina and probably some muscle (which is heavier than fat) and my bike rides are going well (except this morning because of the headwind I had to make a bigger effort to keep speed).

Thus, even while not eating enough (?) I seem to be able to function quite well (I'm a machine :wink: ).

So now what?

Maybe I ought discover what percentage of left over calories vs. goal calories would still be healthy.

(the most surprising thing is that with all that exercising I still managed to be somewhat overweight. Oh, that's no surprise: snacking :smile: )

Sorry, too many words

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Replies

  • marius_paps
    marius_paps Posts: 52 Member
    glassyo wrote: »
    How are you getting the 2000 in exercise? Even for me, who spends her weekends constantly moving, it sounds like a lot
    More than 2 hours on a bicycle every working day :smile:

    True, 1kg muscles = 1kg fat = 1kg feathers

    But it could very wel be (I hope so) that 1kg fat has been replaced with 0.5kg muscle, or better yet 1.5kg :(as if that's going to happen LOL)

  • SezxyStef
    SezxyStef Posts: 15,270 Member
    glassyo wrote: »
    How are you getting the 2000 in exercise? Even for me, who spends her weekends constantly moving, it sounds like a lot
    More than 2 hours on a bicycle every working day :smile:

    True, 1kg muscles = 1kg fat = 1kg feathers

    But it could very wel be (I hope so) that 1kg fat has been replaced with 0.5kg muscle, or better yet 1.5kg :(as if that's going to happen LOL)

    It's not the time on the bike that burns the calories per say it's based on your stats plus speed and distance.

    2hours on a bike could be 10 miles....or 20 miles or 50miles

    a 150 person cycling a steady pace of 14 mph will burn 48 calories per mile, that same person traveling at 20 mph would burn 56 calories per mile.
    A 200 lb person biking at a normal speed of 14mph will burn 64 calories per mile, if they sped up to 20 mph this would increase to 75 calories per mile.

    so burning that many calories seems a bit off imo, how are you calculating your burn?

    PS you can't add muscle without actually eating more food...you need the building materials aka sort of like building a house you need the wood/brick etc it doesn't just materialize.
  • Xellercin
    Xellercin Posts: 878 Member
    It kind of sounds like you are over complicating things a bit.

    I simply don't count exercise calories, I just ignore them. If I legitimately feel like I need more calories, I eat more calories, usually in the form of hard boiled eggs and almonds. I rarely need more than 100-300 extra calories when I'm really legitimately hungry. This also allows me to be incredibly consistent about tracking extra snacking because the snack is always the same.

    The proof of the pudding is in the eating, as they say.

    Meaning, you will know exactly how much you should be consuming based on the results you are getting. Whenever I try anything, I do it consistently, no matter what for 6 weeks, log my weight every day, and then 6 weeks later, look at the graph of my weight and see what the results actually tell me. That's the only way to see the real effect of any pattern of behaviour: the results.

    Try to stick to something consistently and see if it produces the amount of weight loss that you would expect for the numbers you are seeing.
    At the same time, pay attention to your body.

    If something is telling you that you have 1000 calorie deficits every day, but your body feels good and energized, and after 6 weeks, the scale has dropped 6lbs, then you know that your deficit was actually closer to 500 calories per day, and either something is over estimating calorie burn, or you are underestimating calorie intake, or a little bit of both.

    Don't complicate things for yourself. Nothing is more clear than results, and results are easiest to interpret if there's consistency.
  • sijomial
    sijomial Posts: 19,761 Member
    edited October 2021
    SezxyStef wrote: »
    glassyo wrote: »
    How are you getting the 2000 in exercise? Even for me, who spends her weekends constantly moving, it sounds like a lot
    More than 2 hours on a bicycle every working day :smile:

    True, 1kg muscles = 1kg fat = 1kg feathers

    But it could very wel be (I hope so) that 1kg fat has been replaced with 0.5kg muscle, or better yet 1.5kg :(as if that's going to happen LOL)

    It's not the time on the bike that burns the calories per say it's based on your stats plus speed and distance.

    2hours on a bike could be 10 miles....or 20 miles or 50miles

    a 150 person cycling a steady pace of 14 mph will burn 48 calories per mile, that same person traveling at 20 mph would burn 56 calories per mile.
    A 200 lb person biking at a normal speed of 14mph will burn 64 calories per mile, if they sped up to 20 mph this would increase to 75 calories per mile.

    so burning that many calories seems a bit off imo, how are you calculating your burn?

    PS you can't add muscle without actually eating more food...you need the building materials aka sort of like building a house you need the wood/brick etc it doesn't just materialize.

    504 net cals an hour is 140 watts average which really isn't in the least remarkable as a sustainable power output for a keen male cyclist.
    And Marius is a keen cyclist with over 5,000 miles so far this year.
    But the range of power outputs is enormous so it could be too high, about right, too low, far too low....
  • marius_paps
    marius_paps Posts: 52 Member
    SezxyStef wrote: »
    PS you can't add muscle without actually eating more food...you need the building materials aka sort of like building a house you need the wood/brick etc it doesn't just materialize

    That! I shall up my intake. You're right!
    SezxyStef wrote: »
    so burning that many calories seems a bit off imo, how are you calculating your burn

    I use a HRM (2 actually) and trust me, it burns... :smile:


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  • marius_paps
    marius_paps Posts: 52 Member
    sijomial wrote: »
    But the range of power outputs is enormous so it could be too high, about right, too low, far too low....

    LOL. They do fluctuate indeed. All of these numbers are estimates based on certain more or less precisely measured inputs. I think/hope on average they ... average out about right.

    Now, it's time to ride home :smile:
    It's sunny

  • robertw486
    robertw486 Posts: 2,344 Member
    I tend to exercise and eat later in the day, so I understand the thing with having massive calories left to eat in the evening. I sometimes feel like I eat dinner and then just keeping eating until I sleep, and it's really not enjoyable.

    If I reach that point, I just try to eat what I can, and maybe eat a bit more the next day to compensate.


    As for weights, goals, and calorie burn measure..... If you aren't losing weight and have a deficit that size on a regular basis then something is off. It's not an exact but should be close when charted over time. Compare your weekly deficit amounts to weight loss, and adjust where (if) needed to bring things closer to correct.

    I'd be wary of using the HRM myself, as drift and other factors can influence heart rate. After way too much coffeee through the day yesterday my HR was up 20-30 BPM over where it should have been for the exercise intensity. But the error may be more in measuring food as well.


    As for calorie intake vs performance... a thing for sure. Even with slow weight loss goals just a few days of eating at maintenance calories for me would show an immediate bump in performance. The same with timing. Though I usually don't eat early in the day just a banana or apple might help with a cardio session.
  • nooshi713
    nooshi713 Posts: 4,842 Member
    glassyo wrote: »
    How are you getting the 2000 in exercise? Even for me, who spends her weekends constantly moving, it sounds like a lot
    More than 2 hours on a bicycle every working day :smile:

    True, 1kg muscles = 1kg fat = 1kg feathers

    But it could very wel be (I hope so) that 1kg fat has been replaced with 0.5kg muscle, or better yet 1.5kg :(as if that's going to happen LOL)

    It is doubtful you burn 1000 calories an hour on a bicycle. I burn about 200-300 max with a lot of effort
  • AnnPT77
    AnnPT77 Posts: 25,279 Member
    sijomial wrote: »
    But the range of power outputs is enormous so it could be too high, about right, too low, far too low....

    LOL. They do fluctuate indeed. All of these numbers are estimates based on certain more or less precisely measured inputs. I think/hope on average they ... average out about right.

    Now, it's time to ride home :smile:
    It's sunny

    Power would be a better metric, if you have a watts readout - more reliable than heartbeats.
    glassyo wrote: »
    How are you getting the 2000 in exercise? Even for me, who spends her weekends constantly moving, it sounds like a lot
    More than 2 hours on a bicycle every working day :smile:

    True, 1kg muscles = 1kg fat = 1kg feathers

    But it could very well be (I hope so) that 1kg fat has been replaced with 0.5kg muscle, or better yet 1.5kg :(as if that's going to happen LOL)

    Well . . . muscle can potentially be built in a deficit, especially a small-ish deficit, with the right stimulus and nutrition. Unlike some people believe, cycling can increase muscle mass. But both those factors, calorie deficit and stimulus other than mass-targeted strength training, make the mass gain much less efficient: A slower boat to that goal, IOW.

    How long have you been at this? There are a huge number of variables in play, but for many demographics, even 0.5kg muscle from cycling alone, while in a calorie deficit of some size . . . that would be a thing of multiple months, maybe/probably. (Strength and fitness increase faster, at least early on.)

    Generally, no realistic rate of muscle mass gain is very likely to outpace a very satisfying rate of fat loss, in the sense that a 0.25kg per week is about the slowest maybe-satisfying rate of fat loss (and that can take a month or two to clearly show up as a scale-weight trend, amongst daily water/food fluctuations of a perhaps a kg, or at least a half); and a half to one kg of muscle-mass gain per month would be a really good rate for most people, under excellent conditions (appropriate strength program, nutrition, calorie surplus, favorable genetics, relative youth, relative maleness . . . ).

    That's very hand-wavy and approximate, and I don't mean to be discouraging . . . but if one wants to be losing weight/fat, gaining strength/mass/fitness, clearly assessing the effects and implications of one's current routine can be very useful.

    I agree with others that actual weight loss rate is the best barometer, once one has a pretty-consistent month or two on a new routine, with the caveat that slow loss when coupled with fatigue, poor workouts, weakness, etc., is a Bad Sign. But you've said your workouts are good, so that last is not you.

    FWIW, once I had enough personal data to personalize my calorie goal, I ate pretty much every one of my goal calories - getting "remaining" quite close to zero. My fitness tracker, for me, is not as good a calorie expenditure estimator as the same brand/model is for many people - it's 25-30% off (low, in my case), compared with 6+ years of calorie and bodyweight logging experience. They're close for most people, but it's still an estimate, not a measurement. Not every user of a tracker/HRM is average. Most people are close. A few aren't.
  • sijomial
    sijomial Posts: 19,761 Member
    nooshi713 wrote: »
    glassyo wrote: »
    How are you getting the 2000 in exercise? Even for me, who spends her weekends constantly moving, it sounds like a lot
    More than 2 hours on a bicycle every working day :smile:

    True, 1kg muscles = 1kg fat = 1kg feathers

    But it could very wel be (I hope so) that 1kg fat has been replaced with 0.5kg muscle, or better yet 1.5kg :(as if that's going to happen LOL)

    It is doubtful you burn 1000 calories an hour on a bicycle. I burn about 200-300 max with a lot of effort

    And for another comparison a pro cyclist could be burning 1440 / hour in a race.
    World record for one hour would be c. 1620 net calories.
    Neither of those numbers is at all useful for the OP apart from illustrating the top end of the extraordinary range of humanly possible, I couldn't sustain than burn rate for a minute.

    It's also really not very useful throwing out random numbers and especially based on what might be poor estimates. If you said you averaged 55 - 84 watts then at least you would know your estimate is reasonably close to reality - but that's you with your particular fitness level and power output and that doesn't translate to other cyclists. Your "lot of effort" level could well be active recovery for many people.

    I'm not endorsing 1,000 cal/hr by the way. Simply not enough good data available.





  • marius_paps
    marius_paps Posts: 52 Member
    Ok guys, thanks for all your comments and insights.

    FYI, I'm doing this for 4+ years for over 50.000km (that's several times around the globe)

    Today's (slow) return trip:
    • 1h15, 28km with headwind and more elevation to climb (argggh)
    • 113w estimated power, 992 calories
    • Avg HR 129, max HR 163 (wrist HR shows 10% less)

    I completely acknowledge that these are all just estimates.

    It's not 1000, not even 900, but it's a lot :smiley: , times two!
    And it's definitely (way?) more than 500 (but that's just a hunch)

    As long as I can do this and lose some weight, I'll be happy.

    What we should all learn from this is that exercise calories are to be taken with a grain (or two) of salt.

    (did I mention yet that my VO2Max is improving? My app tells me my age minus 12 :smile: )
  • nooshi713
    nooshi713 Posts: 4,842 Member
    sijomial wrote: »
    nooshi713 wrote: »
    glassyo wrote: »
    How are you getting the 2000 in exercise? Even for me, who spends her weekends constantly moving, it sounds like a lot
    More than 2 hours on a bicycle every working day :smile:

    True, 1kg muscles = 1kg fat = 1kg feathers

    But it could very wel be (I hope so) that 1kg fat has been replaced with 0.5kg muscle, or better yet 1.5kg :(as if that's going to happen LOL)

    It is doubtful you burn 1000 calories an hour on a bicycle. I burn about 200-300 max with a lot of effort

    And for another comparison a pro cyclist could be burning 1440 / hour in a race.
    World record for one hour would be c. 1620 net calories.
    Neither of those numbers is at all useful for the OP apart from illustrating the top end of the extraordinary range of humanly possible, I couldn't sustain than burn rate for a minute.

    It's also really not very useful throwing out random numbers and especially based on what might be poor estimates. If you said you averaged 55 - 84 watts then at least you would know your estimate is reasonably close to reality - but that's you with your particular fitness level and power output and that doesn't translate to other cyclists. Your "lot of effort" level could well be active recovery for many people.

    I'm not endorsing 1,000 cal/hr by the way. Simply not enough good data available.





    You’re right. Everyone’s numbers will be different but 1000 an hour is highly unlikely.
  • nanastaci2020
    nanastaci2020 Posts: 1,072 Member
    Personally I set MFP to 'maintain', let Fitbit track my calories burned. My 'calories remaining' is actually my deficit. Works for me!
  • mjglantz
    mjglantz Posts: 451 Member
    Right now I have my calorie goal set to maintain and while I look at the net calories and what is left, I really only focus on the actual calories. Each day I check how I'm doing on the average actual calories eaten for the week and work to stay within my goal. If I do exercise a lot more than usual and keep my actual calories at or under the goal I may be down a pound for the week. Mostly though I stay right in my target range and that's fine.
  • glassyo
    glassyo Posts: 6,553 Member
    That's how I do it too. I'm maintaining (well trying) now but even when losing, I had my fitbit (now garmin) synced and set my mfp calorie goal to maintain and ate below (well tried :)) that number. I didn't like the angry red but the nice, calm, you're doing fine sweetie green worked for me.
  • marius_paps
    marius_paps Posts: 52 Member
    Oh oh ... those calories from Strava are wrong calories. Damn! :smiley:

    not relying too much on the calorie counter given the Strava’s accuracy problems

    https://www.yellowjersey.co.uk/the-draft/strava-calorie-count/
  • sijomial
    sijomial Posts: 19,761 Member
    Yep - Strava is just an estimate and an imperfect one.
    The generic problem is that it's a gross calorie estimate rather than net calories which you want when using MFP as intended. You can manually correct that just like you can correct MFP's database entries with an approximation of what you would have burned in that time (for me about 100cals/hour).
    The things it can't know such as aero (your position, clothing, even your shape), wind direction, riding alone or in a group, tyre rolling resistance, road surface, overall quality/speed of your bike etc. all add up to what can become a big divergence.
    And that divergence is very personal. Its estimates for my road bikes aren't too bad for me (poor aero, ride alone), for a friend who is a petite rider who mostly rides with groups of physically larger people can get remarkable speed for little power, it's badly off.
    Strava when I use a hybrid instead of a road bike massively under-estimates my power (50%) but over-estimates my calories by about 20% (that's a pretty poor algorithm at work!).

    My old Garmin (without a linked power meter) was in the realms of reasonable for me.
    Wahoo that we both use I can't comment as I always have a power meter linked and that's the (good) source for my calories.
    MFP's database speed ranges are rubbish for me (would have to take off roughly a third).

    HRM based estimations are also flawed as HR is very personal. My power at low pulse rates is pretty good, an unfit person or just a person with a high exercise HR could be the opposite.

    If you can use a power meter equipped bike (indoor or outdoor) you will get a good guide to your true potential calorie burns or at least the maximum attainable.
    Average watts per hour X 3.6 gives you a very good net calorie estimate.