Calories with exercise

So my goal is around 1200 calories a day, and I've been losing weight no problem! My question is, when I exercise, MFP tells me to basically eat the calories I burn. Is this something I have to do to stay healthy? Or can I keep it at 1200 if I am feeling alright? Do I have to eat extra calories when I burn calories exercising?

Thanks everyone 😊
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Replies

  • MarcyTheGreat88
    MarcyTheGreat88 Posts: 20 Member
    That sounds like a good rule of thumb. I'm about 300 pounds and 5'8. I do low intensity exercise because of my size and my bad back. So I'll do a slow easy bike ride for 25 mins and it says I burn over 400 calories on my Fitbit! It just doesn't seem right, so I've kept my calories at 1300 on the days I do 30 mins of exercise. So what you said makes sense Lhenderson. Thank you!
  • emmamcgarity
    emmamcgarity Posts: 1,577 Member
    Given your current weight 1200 sounds like too low of a calorie target. What calorie target did MyFitnessPal give you?
  • nooshi713
    nooshi713 Posts: 4,842 Member
    You can probably eat more than that but it seems the exercise burn is way inflated.
  • MarcyTheGreat88
    MarcyTheGreat88 Posts: 20 Member
    Emmamcgarity it give me a calorie goal of 1740 a day to lose 2 pounds a week. But I tried that for a couple months and I didn't lose anything. I have thyroid disease and other autoimmune so I sleep alot and am very inactive most of the time. Once I started shooting for 1200 I have lost 10 pounds over the last 4 weeks. You think I should increase it? I do usually go over 1200, most days I'm between 1250 and 1390. I eat alot of veggies to fill up my meals so I feel like I'm constantly eating. I eat 6 times a day.
  • sijomial
    sijomial Posts: 19,643 Member
    That sounds like a good rule of thumb. I'm about 300 pounds and 5'8. I do low intensity exercise because of my size and my bad back. So I'll do a slow easy bike ride for 25 mins and it says I burn over 400 calories on my Fitbit! It just doesn't seem right, so I've kept my calories at 1300 on the days I do 30 mins of exercise. So what you said makes sense Lhenderson. Thank you!

    Agree - it sounds far, far too high.
    Two issues can commonly contribute to that:
    Methods that base the estimate on weight for cycling are badly flawed for heavy people as it's a non-weight bearing exercise.
    Methods that base estimates on heartbeat can be enormously inflated for people that aren't very fit or simply have a high exercise heartrate.

    Roughest of rough guesses just estimating what power you might be producing more like 216 - 288 per hour.
    If your bike tells you average watts you can get a very accurate estimate.
    .
  • westrich20940
    westrich20940 Posts: 505 Member
    I think it might be helpful for you to speak to your doctor about how your thyroid issue may affect your metabolism. I personally don't have any health issues that would make it harder for me to lose weight and many people don't --- it's likely that those people will tell you that there are very few situations in which a woman eating 1200 calories per day is enough.

    If you used MFP to calculate your daily calorie goal (and it sounds like you did and choose to lose 2lbs per week) --- then the daily goal it gave you is *already a deficit to your maintenance calories. This is why MFP adds back your cardio workout calories --- because if you didn't eat them back you'd be creating a HUGE deficit.

    Generally -- I'd suggest eating back 50-100% of those work-out calories - depending on how hungry you are.

    I'm trying to find a way to make it easier to understand.

    Example: If you ate 1200 calories today (that's already a quite high deficit, since you stated that MFP gave you 1740 to lose 2lbs/day ---so theoretically your maintenance calories are >1740)...then you burned say, 300 calories doing a workout.....your net calorie intake for the day would be 1200-300=900 calories...which is very very very low. Once you get too low in calories like that then the risk is not getting enough macro/micro nutrients or other essential vitamins/minerals to be healthy.
  • angelnuggetemma
    angelnuggetemma Posts: 1 Member
    I'm just now starting my health journey, (for the million time) I started at 263 and I'm now 245. I have pcos so I understand where you are coming from. But a rule of thumb for anyone when losing weight regardless of underlying conditions is; If you can't eat that way the rest of your life then is not the right diet for you. Try eating more and definitely find a good Dr that can help you. I know it's hard because Drs seem to be clueless about nutrition, but you can do it. You've got this!
  • emmamcgarity
    emmamcgarity Posts: 1,577 Member
    Emmamcgarity it give me a calorie goal of 1740 a day to lose 2 pounds a week. But I tried that for a couple months and I didn't lose anything. I have thyroid disease and other autoimmune so I sleep alot and am very inactive most of the time. Once I started shooting for 1200 I have lost 10 pounds over the last 4 weeks. You think I should increase it? I do usually go over 1200, most days I'm between 1250 and 1390. I eat alot of veggies to fill up my meals so I feel like I'm constantly eating. I eat 6 times a day.

    I do think 1200 is too low for someone at your current weight. Since you have a medical condition, talking to your doctor is definitely a good idea.

    Did you gain at 1740? How many weeks did you stay at that calorie goal?

    My concern is that at 1200 you would be losing weight quite rapidly and possibly have negative health consequences (hair loss, malnutrition, etc). So I’d recommend bumping the calorie goal back up until you’ve had a chance to discuss with your doctor.
  • Caralarma
    Caralarma Posts: 171 Member
    If you have the fitbit app you can go to the meal plan section (I think that's what it's called) and you can sync MFP to it so that it gives you a realistic number of how much more you can eat with regards to your exercise that day. You can also set how much you want your deficit to be.i find it quite helpful and now I used that as my main tool, while I just MFP to calculate food intake
  • yirara
    yirara Posts: 7,359 Member
    Hi Marcy, I don't want to invalidate your experience, but something doesn't make sense here. You say you gained on 1740 calories, yet you lost 10lbs when eating 1200 calories.

    So lets look at some numbers to make you understand why I find something is off.
    in order to lose 1lbs you need to eat 3500 calories less.
    Thus to lose 10lbs you need to eat 35000 calories less.
    You say you gained on 1740 calories
    You also say you lost those 10lbs eating 1200 calories in one month.
    The different between gaining and losing is only 540 calories per day
    or 540* 30 = 16200 calories in one month.
    But above shows you'd need to eat 35000 less per month to lose 10lbs, not 16200
    Which means you'd need to eat 35000/30 = 1166calories less per day
    -> 1166 calories underneath your maintenance calories. But 1740 weren't even your maintenance calories as you wrote you gained on it. Thus your maintenance calories are below 1740 per day. Lets say 1650?
    1650-1166 = 484. Did you only eat 484 calories per day?
  • westrich20940
    westrich20940 Posts: 505 Member
    Thank you so much for all the feedback! I did gain weight eating 1740 calories a day for 8 weeks. I am going to take the good advice you've all given me and consult my doctor about it. In the meantime I will bump up my calories so that I'm not just eating 1200 a day. Thank you all again for your thoughts, especially about the exercise deficit. The last thing I want to do ís over calculate the calories I burn exercising. I'm sure with the help of my doctor I can find a good calorie goal for myself. I have lupus, hashimotos disease, PCOS, anemia, and I've beat cancer twice. So I know my body isn't average haha.

    This is all important info - and I'm glad you'll talk to your doctor. I have a friend who beat cancer as well and we were randomly talking the other day about those salad kits you can buy. There's a dill pickle one that we both love and I was like, "Oh yeah, I just grab some smoked salmon and that salad kit and bam - dinner"....She said that she and her husband (who is a quite tall/big guy) split the salad and she made a comment about how many calories the entire bag had (with all the fixings and dressing). We both looked at the other like each other had 4 eyes --- because for me, the amount of calories in one whole bag + the smoked salmon I add is dinner. And for her that sounded crazy. I'm definitely more active than she is but I know she uses a Peloton bike and treadmill and does home workouts so it's not like she's not active.

    You have additional stuff that *also will affect your metabolism and ability to use the simple 'calories in/calories out' strategy. Just as long as you're making sure you're healthy -- that's the goal! It's important to remember that even though there's good advice here -- everyone's caloric needs can be wildly different. But I'm sure you're gonna find what works and keeps you satisfied!
  • cwolfman13
    cwolfman13 Posts: 40,897 Member
    So my goal is around 1200 calories a day, and I've been losing weight no problem! My question is, when I exercise, MFP tells me to basically eat the calories I burn. Is this something I have to do to stay healthy? Or can I keep it at 1200 if I am feeling alright? Do I have to eat extra calories when I burn calories exercising?

    Thanks everyone 😊

    Your calorie target with MFP is based on ZERO exercise in your activity level, just your day to day humdrum. Using MFP as designed, exercise is completely unaccounted for activity. The more you move, the more calories (energy) your body requires to maintain good health. Not properly accounting for exercise activity can and often does result in an overly large calorie (energy) deficiency that is not healthy. Remember that calories are providing you with the mere ability to exist as well as go about your day to day activities and engage in physical exercise and physical recreation.

    Depending on rate of loss selected and activity level, many people have large deficits already built in...substantial exercise that is unaccounted for just makes this bigger. Large calorie deficits along with substantial exercise put a huge stress load on the body and that load can jack with hormones, particularly cortisol which can ultimately inhibit fat loss. Large deficits also typically result in your body compensating for the lack of energy coming in by slowing down or ceasing altogether "non-essential" functions...which is where you start to see people having hair growth issues...thinning and falling out...brittle nails...loss of menstrual cycle for women, etc. All of these things require energy (calories) and in an effort to conserve energy, the body just slows these processes down. Fatigue and lethargy and a drop in involuntary movements like fidgeting are also common. All of the above essentially slow your metabolism.

    The difficult thing with MFP is accurately determining both calories in and calories out. There are inherent human deficiencies and error in logging calories in...this occurs even with nutritionists and dieticians. It's near impossible to be spot on. Estimating calories out can be even more difficult. Then you have the nature of the exercise...for example, I'm not going to be overly concerned about not specifically fueling my 2 mile recreational walk with my dog as it isn't going to require any particular recovery or a whole lot of energy and we're biologically built for the task...a 30 mile bike ride or 4-6 hours out on my mountain bike are a completely different story.
  • yirara
    yirara Posts: 7,359 Member
    Oh no, take care hun! All the best for you.
  • Redordeadhead
    Redordeadhead Posts: 1,189 Member
    Oh my goodness, glad you went and they are able to help now, take care!
  • emmamcgarity
    emmamcgarity Posts: 1,577 Member
    Oh my! I’m praying that all goes well for you!