Online weight loss calculator is confusing

Hi everyone! I started using MFP on 1/1. Question - I used a couple online weight loss calculators and they said that in order to maintain my current weight (176lbs, 30F, 5'7, sedentary) then my calorie intake should be about 2200 each day.

I'm very confused because I have maintained this weight for the last few years and when not actively trying to eat at a deficit I eat at least 3000 calories daily easily, because I'll eat at fast food and restaurants for all 3 meals & never choose healthy options - side note, I know that's crazy bad from a health standpoint, I am doing a defecit now and eating much healthier and filling lower calorie foods.

How are the calculators that much off, though? Is there a reliable one you know of that I can take a look at instead? Because 2200 is very different from 3000+ which I've demonstrated for years to be able to maintain at.


  • cwolfman13
    cwolfman13 Posts: 40,888 Member
    edited January 5
    Do you know for absolute that you were eating 3000 per day? I haven't logged in a very long time, and was able to maintain for years and I most certainly had very high calorie days and even weeks, but that averaged out over time with days that were also lower.

    It is also quite possible that you are more active than what you are telling the calculator. Activity level descriptors can be somewhat incomplete if not misleading. For example, MFP will say sedentary if you have a desk job...I have a desk job, and even without deliberate exercise I'm more active than that given that I get up and move around the office and when I get home I'm busy with the kids or cleaning or cooking, etc.

    Descriptors with TDEE calculators typically only talk about exercise and exercising X times per week or X hours per week, but make no mention of daily activity. You kind of have to bundle everything you do and use the best descriptor for that. Like with a TDEE calculator I'm moderately active per just the exercise description...but I'm very active per exercise plus my other goings on most days.

    Beyond that, calculators are just using algorithms based on population statistics and averages...there's no way a calculator is just going to be bang on...not to mention, calories needs aren't a bang on static number anyway.

    I personally use Sailrabbit.

    I use moderate active and get a TDEE of around 2900 which jives reasonably close with my own data.

    ETA: I also have to adjust my activity level depending on time of year. This time of year I'm more slightly active vs the rest of the year due to it being cold and dark and not getting out as much. In the warmer months I'm more moderate active to even very active because I'm always out doing stuff in my free time and just move a whole lot more...just simple stuff like playing in the pool with the kids everyday or going to the zoo or going to the mountains to go hiking or camping and fishing, etc. My activity varies throughout the year as I would assume it would with most people.
  • nanastaci2020
    nanastaci2020 Posts: 1,041 Member
    My best guesses: you may have set your activity level incorrectly, such as claiming sedentary when you're more active than that. Or you would need to 'log' your exercise which would increase the calories in your MFP allotment. You also not fit the 'average' mold and MFP uses numerical formulas for an 'average' person of your stats.

    And there is the question: have you been logging/tracking to know you've been eating at 3000 daily?