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TOPIC: Help! Should I be eating back my exercise calories???

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May 4, 2012 7:30 AM
Hi everyone,

I need to ask a question.

I have been on MFP for a while now but don’t get to read the forums as they don’t show on the iphone app. I’m reading a few now and keep seeing the same advice popping up about eating back your exercise calories. It never occurred to me to do this, I assumed the bigger the deficit, the better.

Can anyone confirm if you are or aren’t supposed to eat them? I exercise a fair bit but have just noticed my daily net calories have been hovering around the 600 mark on those days. I keep getting good comments and “WTG!”s so I thought I was doing what I was supposed to!

My problem is a very slow metabolism anyway so I have plateaued for weeks, is this what I’m doing wrong??

Thanks to anyone who can help. embarassed
  3536791
May 4, 2012 7:36 AM
QUOTE:


My problem is a very slow metabolism anyway so I have plateaued for weeks, is this what I’m doing wrong??



Eat them, or at least half. it will increase your metabolism.
Or try that calorie zig zagging.
  2653581
May 4, 2012 7:38 AM
QUOTE:

My problem is a very slow metabolism anyway so I have plateaued for weeks, is this what I’m doing wrong??


yep. the bigger your deficit, the slower your metabolism will get
May 4, 2012 7:39 AM
What I've gathered from all the posts about eating exercise calories is basically eat them if your net cals is below your BMR. If your BMR is 1400, make sure that's what you net for the day. Since the BMR is what your body needs to do it's normal functions while you're laying perfectly still, you will still have a deficit eating at that amount. As for eating all exercise calories back, I would if you don't feel like you have energy.
May 4, 2012 7:43 AM
QUOTE:

Hi everyone,

I need to ask a question.

I have been on MFP for a while now but don’t get to read the forums as they don’t show on the iphone app. I’m reading a few now and keep seeing the same advice popping up about eating back your exercise calories. It never occurred to me to do this, I assumed the bigger the deficit, the better.

Can anyone confirm if you are or aren’t supposed to eat them? I exercise a fair bit but have just noticed my daily net calories have been hovering around the 600 mark on those days. I keep getting good comments and “WTG!”s so I thought I was doing what I was supposed to!

My problem is a very slow metabolism anyway so I have plateaued for weeks, is this what I’m doing wrong??

Thanks to anyone who can help. embarassed

All the help you will need:

http://www.myfitnesspal.com/topics/show/538381-in-place-of-a-road-map?error_user_id=18822005&error_username=chrisb75
May 4, 2012 7:44 AM
QUOTE:

As for eating all exercise calories back, I would if you don't feel like you have energy.


Ah but since a teenage spell of an eating disorder I have had a slow metabolism anyway, and I have an underactive thyroid so never feel completely energetic. I've never eaten much so thought the exercise was all I needed to do to make the difference. I guess I was wrong!!

Thank you for answers so far!
  3536791
May 4, 2012 8:49 AM
QUOTE:


Eat them, or at least half. it will increase your metabolism.
Or try that calorie zig zagging.


What's calorie zig-zagging? I've seen that mentioned too but have no idea. Sorry - must be coming across as a complete numpty but I've never dieted so never needed to know this stuff!
  3536791
May 4, 2012 10:58 AM
QUOTE:

QUOTE:


Eat them, or at least half. it will increase your metabolism.
Or try that calorie zig zagging.


What's calorie zig-zagging? I've seen that mentioned too but have no idea. Sorry - must be coming across as a complete numpty but I've never dieted so never needed to know this stuff!


zig zagging is eating more one day, then less the next. To try to trick your body into not getting into a routine. I've never actually tried it.
  2653581
May 5, 2012 2:37 PM
You can't sort out your metabolism by putting it through a cycle of undereating again. In principle, you need to eat the exercise cals. But I suspect in your case, you might be better off seeking advice from a nutritionist, to ensure you're getting the basics right.
  10095468
May 5, 2012 2:41 PM
If you signed up to lose 2 pounds per week and you DONT eat back your exercise calories you will lose more than 2 pounds per week. The more you can legally eat such as this I would recommend.

Otherwise you will tire of being hungry and eventually quit.

I recommend eating them back but I see many of my friends here that dont and I wonder if they understand that they should?
  21858914
May 5, 2012 2:42 PM
You should check out the Unofficial MFP FAQ for questions about how MFP works.

http://www.myfitnesspal.com/forums/show/474-unofficial-mfp-faq

Here are some topics to get you started:

http://www.myfitnesspal.com/topics/show/390145-should-i-eat-my-exercise-calories
http://www.myfitnesspal.com/topics/show/390234-does-starvation-mode-exist-and-what-is-it
http://www.myfitnesspal.com/topics/show/390147-what-are-net-calories
http://www.myfitnesspal.com/topics/show/390144-what-is-a-calorie-deficit
http://www.myfitnesspal.com/topics/show/424963-how-many-lbs-a-week-should-i-try-to-lose
May 5, 2012 3:29 PM
QUOTE:

QUOTE:

As for eating all exercise calories back, I would if you don't feel like you have energy.


Ah but since a teenage spell of an eating disorder I have had a slow metabolism anyway, and I have an underactive thyroid so never feel completely energetic. I've never eaten much so thought the exercise was all I needed to do to make the difference. I guess I was wrong!!

Thank you for answers so far!


In most cases you should eat back your calories as it has done wonders for me. But based on your history with the eating disorder and underactive thyroid, I would see a nutritionist or dietician to make sure. :)
  17200059
May 5, 2012 5:31 PM
QUOTE:

QUOTE:

As for eating all exercise calories back, I would if you don't feel like you have energy.


Ah but since a teenage spell of an eating disorder I have had a slow metabolism anyway, and I have an underactive thyroid so never feel completely energetic. I've never eaten much so thought the exercise was all I needed to do to make the difference. I guess I was wrong!!

Thank you for answers so far!


Incorporating some strength training into your exercise routine may also assist with helping increase your metabolism.
May 9, 2012 9:42 AM
QUOTE:


This is incredible.. such an eye-opener. Thank you. It's a lot to read but I guess I'm in a place where I need to now!
  3536791
May 9, 2012 9:48 AM
QUOTE:

If you signed up to lose 2 pounds per week and you DONT eat back your exercise calories you will lose more than 2 pounds per week. The more you can legally eat such as this I would recommend.

Otherwise you will tire of being hungry and eventually quit.

I recommend eating them back but I see many of my friends here that dont and I wonder if they understand that they should?


Hi Joe,

That's sort of the opposite to what has happened. I exercise daily and stick to 1200 cals but I have stopped losing weight. It didn't bother me at first as I initially started this for fitness, not weight, but the weight loss has been an addictive bonus! And I do wonder what I'm doing wrong.

I don't get hungry, due to the many years of undereating, so that's never going to be an issue for me.

From what I've understood so far, not eating back the exercise calories means that I am effectively eating only 600 net calories a day, which is dangerously low and taking my body into slowdown, particularly my metabolism.

Other people seem to be losing by upping their calories so I'm giving that a go now!
  3536791
May 9, 2012 9:49 AM
QUOTE:


zig zagging is eating more one day, then less the next. To try to trick your body into not getting into a routine. I've never actually tried it.


Ah! So obvious now I read it :) Has anyone tried this?
  3536791
May 9, 2012 9:50 AM
QUOTE:

You can't sort out your metabolism by putting it through a cycle of undereating again. In principle, you need to eat the exercise cals. But I suspect in your case, you might be better off seeking advice from a nutritionist, to ensure you're getting the basics right.


Ahhhhh I know you're right but a nutritionist here costs so much! Unless anyone knows of one they'd recommend in London?
  3536791
May 9, 2012 9:55 AM
In short, yes, you need to eat at least some of those exercise calories. 1200 really is very low for the average person, even to net. Try increasing the calories a little at a time until you get there. You basicallly have to retrain your body to function on more fuel, so the first couple of weeks you might see maintains or slight gains. But it's well worth it. I was in this boat as well and rcently rounded the corner back into consistent losses. And I feel SO MUCH BETTER for it.
May 11, 2012 4:00 AM
QUOTE:

In short, yes, you need to eat at least some of those exercise calories. 1200 really is very low for the average person, even to net. Try increasing the calories a little at a time until you get there. You basicallly have to retrain your body to function on more fuel, so the first couple of weeks you might see maintains or slight gains. But it's well worth it. I was in this boat as well and rcently rounded the corner back into consistent losses. And I feel SO MUCH BETTER for it.


Thanks, it all seems so obvious now, I just had never put any thought into it. Bumped up my clories this week, don't feel very good from it at the moment, it's more than I would ever normally eat, but I'll stick with it and see what happens!
  3536791
May 11, 2012 5:06 AM
Let your daily carb intake cover your exercise calories. In your case of burning 600 kcal, you'd want to get roughly 150g carb (600kcal). Your protein and fat calories should determine your calorie deficit or surplus, whatever your goal is. Carbs are most readily used for energy, so they should be determined by your activity/exercise to fuel better performance.

With this approach, you can still get a calorie deficit without exercising, since sometimes, we simply can't exercise everyday
Edited by VMarkV On May 11, 2012 5:08 AM
May 14, 2012 6:27 AM
QUOTE:

Let your daily carb intake cover your exercise calories. In your case of burning 600 kcal, you'd want to get roughly 150g carb (600kcal). Your protein and fat calories should determine your calorie deficit or surplus, whatever your goal is. Carbs are most readily used for energy, so they should be determined by your activity/exercise to fuel better performance.

With this approach, you can still get a calorie deficit without exercising, since sometimes, we simply can't exercise everyday


This is a pretty scientific approach and might be worth a try, Carbs don't really agree with me so I don't each much anyway, definitely no bread or pasta.
  3536791
May 14, 2012 6:27 AM
FYI Update:

One week of upping my calories from 600 net to closer to 1200 net.. and I have put on 4lbs :( Hoping this is that 'adjustment' you were all talking about. Oh, also I have my pmt, so could be that. Looking forward to next week!
  3536791
May 14, 2012 8:44 AM
It can take a couple of weeks. Please be patient and keep reminding yourself that you're doing what's best for your body and health! I am going through this right now too, and I have elected to not weigh in until June. I am focusing on other goals until then.
May 14, 2012 8:55 AM
It can take a couple weeks atleast but also if you have your metabolism really screwed up, that part can take longer than a few weeks. You won't be putting on a bunch of weight but to get your metabolism to a nice high burning level will take weeks of fueling your body until your body learns to adjust..... Best of Luck..... Staying off the scale for 3-4 weeks and concentrating on measurements is a great idea right now.... The weight gain will just upset you and could cause you to revert back to bad habits...
  12269569
May 14, 2012 8:57 AM
Your body will have to get used to expecting this increased fuel. I gained 2.5 lbs the first week I bumped 1800 up to 2100(plus eating every damn calorie back when I worked out) and this week I dropped all of that again and then some. Body just needs to know what you're giving it consistently so it doesn't have to worry too much about it not getting enough food.

Basically imagine if you gave someone only enough fuel to get half way to work every week, then suddenly you started giving them enough fuel to get to work, they aren't going to be trusting that this fuel will be there every time and they may try and drive only 3/4 of the way and save the fuel for another day when you only give them 1/2 the required fuel. Eventually they will have more gas than they need but they will now have a trust that you have given them enough gas every week for work and will just look to get rid of the extra fuel they saved and balance out.

I don't know if that makes the best of sense, I am not good at working that metaphor out, but basically look at your body and your mind as two diff people, your body won't trust your brain and will protect itself(storing energy) until it can trust the brain and then it will see no need to keep storing and will just get into a rhythm.

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