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Adding exercise calories

sollyn23l2
sollyn23l2 Posts: 1,461 Member
So, question, and feel free to disagree. I'm genuinely interested in people's experience with this. Does anybody ever find it a bit problematic adding exercise calories on separately? Or do you find it more helpful? I switched mine to just having my setting on active and not adding exercise calories. It felt like I had really started to use exercise as a way to get permission to eat. I found myself really falling into "OMG, I ate 100 calories more than what I intended to. Now I need to go out on a 2 mile run to get it off". Whereas if the calories are just there, I find it easier to just use my calories throughout the day. Or, if I don't meet my calirie goal, just adjust and figure out why it didn't work that day.
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Replies

  • Lietchi
    Lietchi Posts: 5,956 Member
    For me it is a must to have an adaptive calorie goal (at sedentary level), not a fixed goal that already takes into account my ideal average amount of exercise/activity.
    - my exercise and non exercise activity isn't regular enough, it would just give me a lot of insecurity wondering if the number was right or not
    - it would be way too easy to eat my calories and then not do as much exercise/ be as active as included in my calorie goal (and then gain weight)

    I do have occasions where I anticipate going over my calorie goal (if I have 300 calories left for dinner, it's clear I have an issue 😁 ) and that pushes me to exercise or walk, but only of it actually fits my schedule.

    I'm lumping together exercise and non exercise activity in my answer here because both give me extra calories, and my calorie adjustment varies a lot from day to day.
  • kshama2001
    kshama2001 Posts: 27,761 Member
    My exercise is consistent, so theoretically I could use the TDEE method...but I think I exercise consistently to earn those exercise calories, and that not logging them manually would be a slippery slope for me.

    I DO "use exercise as a way to get permission to eat" more and am fine with that :lol:
  • paperpudding
    paperpudding Posts: 8,870 Member
    I never found it problematic adding exercise calories separately.
  • sollyn23l2
    sollyn23l2 Posts: 1,461 Member
    Great points! I can totally see why it may work best for a lot of people that way.
  • AnnPT77
    AnnPT77 Posts: 31,425 Member
    It's helpful for me to account for exercise separately.

    The context, though, is that I was already quite active while overweight/obese, working out 6 days most weeks, even competing as an athlete . . . but I stayed overweight/obese for a dozen years doing that. I didn't much change exercise during weight loss, other than making it a point to strength train more regularly, but that's a low-burn kind of thing anyways (especially so at my level of dedication to it ;) ).

    I don't mostly exercise to "buy" food, I mostly exercise for fun (or better physical functioning I can apply in daily life) like I did before. I won't say "never", since if there's some big eat-fest coming up in my schedule and I want to wallow in it a bit, I might mildly increase exercise to create a little extra wiggle room. That's not the norm, though. And I wouldn't make myself miserable to create that wiggle room - I'm too much of a hedonist for that.

    I will admit that in Winter - when I'm doing stuff that's less inherently fun to me - I do sometimes use calories as a little additional tweak to my motivation. That's not the only motivation, though, so I don't think it's an unhealthy attitude. In fact, I think it's kind of the reverse: A little extra impetus to do the right thing, to stay in shape better over the Winter by being consistent.

    Treating exercise separately has been actively beneficial to me in two ways:

    For one, my preferred forms of exercise are seasonal and weather-dependent, so they can be variable, sometimes unpredictably.

    For two, in the 8 years of losing then maintaining, I've had episodes of up to a month or so when I couldn't exercise much at all - nothing close to usual. (It was illness, surgical recovery - stuff like that.) Because I have a good-enough understanding of my base calorie needs, and reasonable ways to estimate my exercise calories, those time periods haven't really presented any weight management challenges. I like that.

    I feel like TDEE method is better for some people, the MFP method better for other people. Either one can work. For me, the MFP method feels like a great choice.
  • Jthanmyfitnesspal
    Jthanmyfitnesspal Posts: 3,507 Member
    @sollyn23l2 :

    I think you are really onto something that plagues a lot of people, me included. I do fairly high-calorie-burn activities, such as cycling hard for 1.5 hours. But, it comes and goes, so I really need to keep track of my calorie needs.

    Yes, I've had a little sting on a rest day where I realize I should eat 600kcals less than on other days-- and that's hard to do. It makes me not want to have rest days!

    Certainly, it simplifies things to take all your exercise calories and divide them equally into your days. Then you eat the same amount and you're all good.

    But, then there will be a day you just want to do more. Like go hiking or something. Well, you can always add in for that!

    Best of luck!
  • sollyn23l2
    sollyn23l2 Posts: 1,461 Member
    AnnPT77 wrote: »
    It's helpful for me to account for exercise separately.

    The context, though, is that I was already quite active while overweight/obese, working out 6 days most weeks, even competing as an athlete . . . but I stayed overweight/obese for a dozen years doing that. I didn't much change exercise during weight loss, other than making it a point to strength train more regularly, but that's a low-burn kind of thing anyways (especially so at my level of dedication to it ;) ).

    I don't mostly exercise to "buy" food, I mostly exercise for fun (or better physical functioning I can apply in daily life) like I did before. I won't say "never", since if there's some big eat-fest coming up in my schedule and I want to wallow in it a bit, I might mildly increase exercise to create a little extra wiggle room. That's not the norm, though. And I wouldn't make myself miserable to create that wiggle room - I'm too much of a hedonist for that.

    I will admit that in Winter - when I'm doing stuff that's less inherently fun to me - I do sometimes use calories as a little additional tweak to my motivation. That's not the only motivation, though, so I don't think it's an unhealthy attitude. In fact, I think it's kind of the reverse: A little extra impetus to do the right thing, to stay in shape better over the Winter by being consistent.

    Treating exercise separately has been actively beneficial to me in two ways:

    For one, my preferred forms of exercise are seasonal and weather-dependent, so they can be variable, sometimes unpredictably.

    For two, in the 8 years of losing then maintaining, I've had episodes of up to a month or so when I couldn't exercise much at all - nothing close to usual. (It was illness, surgical recovery - stuff like that.) Because I have a good-enough understanding of my base calorie needs, and reasonable ways to estimate my exercise calories, those time periods haven't really presented any weight management challenges. I like that.

    I feel like TDEE method is better for some people, the MFP method better for other people. Either one can work. For me, the MFP method feels like a great choice.

    Agreed. I absolutely think there's space for both. And different people will find one or the other works better.
  • yirara
    yirara Posts: 9,266 Member
    My exercises change a lot. I might go running, do strength training, inline skating, a long hike, a long cycle ride, a whole pile of things, all with various calories associated. And periods where I'm totally sedentary because I'm sick or injured. The TDEE method just would not work for me. I could see that the MFP method works for many people who see they get more calories as a reward for being active. I don't necessarily see it this way, but yeah: I can has a bigger dessert when I exercise :D
  • sollyn23l2
    sollyn23l2 Posts: 1,461 Member
    yirara wrote: »
    My exercises change a lot. I might go running, do strength training, inline skating, a long hike, a long cycle ride, a whole pile of things, all with various calories associated. And periods where I'm totally sedentary because I'm sick or injured. The TDEE method just would not work for me. I could see that the MFP method works for many people who see they get more calories as a reward for being active. I don't necessarily see it this way, but yeah: I can has a bigger dessert when I exercise :D

    Good point. Calorie needs definitely do change day to day.
  • SafariGalNYC
    SafariGalNYC Posts: 738 Member
    I do it separately … I think because I do such different intensities… doing a spin class burns a lot more calories than a stretch class or hatha yoga.

    It seems just some hand weights and repetitions burns next to nothing… 😱 though I’m getting stronger.

    I’m also super skeptical of the calories burned in said exercise.. so I monitor it a bit more..

  • cszulc
    cszulc Posts: 56 Member
    I do it separately … I think because I do such different intensities… doing a spin class burns a lot more calories than a stretch class or hatha yoga.
    ....

    I’m also super skeptical of the calories burned in said exercise.. so I monitor it a bit more..
    I'm same as you. Two or three days a week I go really hard so I need to track my intake and exercise to ensure I recover properly. You can't perform well consistently if you're only eating at a everyday base level and do a 60 minute spin class combined with weights and swimming as I routinely do.

    Your last point too. ALL APPS and such overestimate calories burned. Combined with people generally UNDERestimating how much they eat, it's a dangerous combo and why many beginners fail. I laugh at the calorie count in apps like Map my Run or even my gym's stationary bikes... The generally accepted formula for calories burned during cycling is 3.6 x Watts x Hours. I average 250 watts so my 60 min burn is 900 kcal. Sometimes the bike says 1200 and the app might say 2000 if I'm doing it outside. Crazy inaccurate.

  • AyameShimitsu
    AyameShimitsu Posts: 25 Member
    I find it difficult at times to use it. Theoretically, you can have a sedentary lifestyle but do intense workouts everyday. It can be hard to decide if you should put that sedatary level if your exercise is long and intense but not moving much for the rest of the day. Theoretically, you should require more calories as a base as if your working out that much, ypu probably have more muscle and therefore a higher base metabolic rate, but the sedatary life outside that counteracts it somewhat. In general, I tend to have a hard time reaching my calorie count on days I do excessive exercise. If I do 10k run then 75 minutes of p90x muscle training, that's like an extra 1000 calories. The food I eat is high on protein and low in calories (everythingis fairly healthy). I can eat a lot and still be 600 short of what they tell me. But if I'm not hungry, I won't force myself. I use whay they tell me as a benchmark of don't eat passed this on those days. And tend to stay about 100 or 200 calories under on less intense workout days. Unless you have a nutritionist, I think it's pretty hard to decide what to do. I do where a heart rate monitor 24/7 and it autologs my workouts and calories burned but I realized that Polar watches will show a much higher calories burned rate compared to Garmin's. Makes it harder to judge what is really burned and what you should eat.

    Best thing to do, watch your weight and tape yourself once a week. If your eating the calories MFP tells you with your workouts adding calories, and you aren't losing weight, check what foods you are eating. If they aren't healthy it can slow your process. Then reduce what your eating by 200 calories for a week. And repeat as needed. Never eat less than 1200. It isn't healthy and your body will go into starvation mode and hold onto everything it can. Make sure to eat after intense workouts for muscle repair. Your body will need it. Fuel with complex carbs and protein. If you can, eat 3 meals and 2 snacks a day. I try to eat a little something basically every 2-3 hours. I do intermittent fasting so my last meal is 5pm before eating at 5am after my workout. You should never feel miserable or light headed, or dizzy. It means your body is telling you something. Listen to it.
  • justanotherloser007
    justanotherloser007 Posts: 578 Member
    edited August 2023
    When I was losing I didn't really pay very much attention to my "added exercise calories". So when I was doing a couple of months maintenance I 100% ate back all my calories and gained weight. So I was able to figure out (due to maths) that I needed to only eat back around 50% of my calories. I think this is due to "net" vs. "gross" daily calorie reasons. Sedentary accounts for what I would consider "activity".

    For me my main exercise is walking. My idea of "sedentary" is really MFP's idea of "you must be in a coma and we don't use that as TDEE". Soo, it might be good to know what sort of fluctuations your exercise calories are.

    It might be good to know just how obsessive you are getting with your food/exercise ratio. I have seen some things on threads that just weren't right! I mean, I get it, it was sad that the person had a binge the likes of which seems humanly impossible, BUT putting yourself on a treadmill all day AND while you are sleeping is not a good way to deal with the situation IMHO.
  • sollyn23l2
    sollyn23l2 Posts: 1,461 Member

    For me my main exercise is walking. My idea of "sedentary" is really MFP's idea of "you must be in a coma and we don't use that as TDEE". Soo, it might be good to know what sort of fluctuations your exercise calories are.

    Lmao, I feel that. The world feels that.😂

  • Melwillbehealthy
    Melwillbehealthy Posts: 874 Member
    I’m set as sedentary on mfp. It sets me at 1200 calories a day. However, I usually eat more than 1200 calories. I like to add my exercise to my diary, and that I can eat a couple of hundred more calories in my day if I exercise. It makes me feel in control of my eating habits. If I don’t exercise, then I do try to eat less. I exercise so ‘gently’ that I’ve never allowed more than 200 calories for any activity. I don’t use the mfp calories given for an activity as they’re just not true for me. Way too high.
    In my mind I believe my daily goal is more like 1300 without exercise.
  • springlering62
    springlering62 Posts: 7,265 Member
    I’m admittedly just weird.

    I have a goal to turn my “move ring” four times a day, and shoot for five at least twice a week. (I’ve finally backed off Sundays and now shoot for one or two easy spins walking the dog that day.)

    I don’t do it for the extra food. I do it because I enjoy all the stuff I do, and know that if I stick to my regular activities, this is how it’s gonna pan out.

    I have a habit of usually eating within 1-200 calories of goal during the week and then realizing, “holy cats, I need to catch up” by the weekend.

    I’m trying to work on eating more during the week, versus a blowout on the weekends, but it’s often hard to squeeze that much food between activities. I made the mistake of scarfing a large snack and going directly to aquafit yesterday afternoon because I was so low on calories, and burped doggone biueberries the whole class. 🤦🏻‍♀️

    Having the exercise calories record directly and automatically to my diary serves as a vivid blue reminder that I need to fuel, since I prelog, and am constantly in my diary tweaking weights.
  • kshama2001
    kshama2001 Posts: 27,761 Member
    When I was losing I didn't really pay very much attention to my "added exercise calories". So when I was doing a couple of months maintenance I 100% ate back all my calories and gained weight. So I was able to figure out (due to maths) that I needed to only eat back around 50% of my calories. I think this is due to "net" vs. "gross" daily calorie reasons. Sedentary accounts for what I would consider "activity".

    For me my main exercise is walking. My idea of "sedentary" is really MFP's idea of "you must be in a coma and we don't use that as TDEE". Soo, it might be good to know what sort of fluctuations your exercise calories are.

    It might be good to know just how obsessive you are getting with your food/exercise ratio. I have seen some things on threads that just weren't right! I mean, I get it, it was sad that the person had a binge the likes of which seems humanly impossible, BUT putting yourself on a treadmill all day AND while you are sleeping is not a good way to deal with the situation IMHO.

    My idea of "sedentary" used to be my partner's mother's level of activity shortly before she went into a nursing home. I realized this was much more sedentary than what MFP was using. I stopped counting the first mile I walked, hour I cooked, or 30 minutes I cleaned. Supporting this rationale, when I first got a Fitbit and had it synced, it didn't give me extra calories until I'd reached about a mile's worth of steps.
  • kshama2001
    kshama2001 Posts: 27,761 Member
    edited September 2023
    I’m set as sedentary on mfp. It sets me at 1200 calories a day. However, I usually eat more than 1200 calories. I like to add my exercise to my diary, and that I can eat a couple of hundred more calories in my day if I exercise. It makes me feel in control of my eating habits. If I don’t exercise, then I do try to eat less. I exercise so ‘gently’ that I’ve never allowed more than 200 calories for any activity. I don’t use the mfp calories given for an activity as they’re just not true for me. Way too high.
    In my mind I believe my daily goal is more like 1300 without exercise.

    I know I use the elliptical much slower than normal so used the METS from the machine and a METS calculator https://metscalculator.com and learned the MFP entry for "Elliptical Trainer" would give me more than double the calories I actually earn from my unusually slow pace.

    I made a custom entry. These used to show up in my "recently used" on desktop, but don't anymore. However, they will come up if I search or go to the app and use the My Exercises tab.
  • kshama2001
    kshama2001 Posts: 27,761 Member
    cszulc wrote: »
    I do it separately … I think because I do such different intensities… doing a spin class burns a lot more calories than a stretch class or hatha yoga.
    ....

    I’m also super skeptical of the calories burned in said exercise.. so I monitor it a bit more..
    I'm same as you. Two or three days a week I go really hard so I need to track my intake and exercise to ensure I recover properly. You can't perform well consistently if you're only eating at a everyday base level and do a 60 minute spin class combined with weights and swimming as I routinely do.

    Your last point too. ALL APPS and such overestimate calories burned. Combined with people generally UNDERestimating how much they eat, it's a dangerous combo and why many beginners fail. I laugh at the calorie count in apps like Map my Run or even my gym's stationary bikes... The generally accepted formula for calories burned during cycling is 3.6 x Watts x Hours. I average 250 watts so my 60 min burn is 900 kcal. Sometimes the bike says 1200 and the app might say 2000 if I'm doing it outside. Crazy inaccurate.

    Machines at the gym might include your Basal energy expenditure (BEE)/just being alive calories.

    I was baffled as to why MapMyFitness (not synched) calories were so much higher than those in the MFP database until I learned they included just being alive calories. What you want to eat back are just the calories from exercise.

    https://support.mapmyfitness.com/hc/en-us/articles/1500009117762-Why-Aren-t-My-Calories-Displaying-Correctly-

    "...Calories are determined by age, height, weight, gender, the intensity of the workout, distance traveled, and activity type. Heart rate does not currently factor into the equation. Our products calculate total burn, which includes caloric burn for both resting and active phases of activity. This means the calories you would typically burn by merely being alive automatically add to the number of calories you would burn from whichever activity you do."