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TOPIC: Eating back exercise calories? Do I need to do this?

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May 21, 2012 3:00 PM
Hi,
New here. So, I'm aware of my daily caloric intake needs, but am confused about this "eating back" my calories for exercise. Can someone explain this to me? I thought the point was to create a deficit? Thanks for any feedback on this. smile
  23203759
May 21, 2012 3:09 PM
Not an expert in the slightest.

No. You don't have to eat the exercise calories back. You can dip into them a little if you want/need, but you don't have to. If you find that you are eating healthy whole foods but constantly needing to eat your exercise calories to feel energized, then up the over all calories since you are clearly needing more fuel for you body.
May 21, 2012 3:33 PM
No, you don't need to create a deficit with exercise, as that's already included in your base calories. Not eating back calories probably won't cause any noticeable problems in the short term, but in the longer term, jacking up your deficit with exercise makes you more vulnerable to plateaus and diet failure. That's because your metabolic rate, which is sure to drop anyway as you lose weight, will drop even faster if you don't take in enough net calories to preserve your muscle mass and maintain your normal level of activity.
May 21, 2012 3:36 PM
Someone asked this awhile back (it baffles all of us) Here's the reply I wrote that seemed to make sense to them.




Nope! Think of it like money. Say you want to save $3,000 this month. You get $1,300 a day, but for some crazy reason you HAVE to spend $1,200 each day (Say for rent and bills) Now, if you only spend that 1200 a day, you will still save your $3000 by the end of the month. But you also can work for extra money. So one day, you work really hard and made an extra $500! Woohoo! But, you spent a lot of gas getting to work that day and need some more. There are a few things you can do. 1.) Ignore that you used gas, and save all $500. This will lead to an empty tank and you'll run out of fuel. 2.) You can get all the gas you want, and hey, why not get premium and spoil yourself. After all, you earned that extra $500. Might as well spend it all! Of course, nothing really happens this way. You will reach your goal in one month still. 3.) You can spend a little bit to make sure you don't run out of fuel and save the rest. This results in you having enough gas to get through the day, and at the end of the month, you'll have extra money saved!!

Hope that makes sense. I was worried to eat the exercise calories back until one day i was STARVING. I remembered to add my exercise for the day and got an extra 900 calories. I ate until I was no longer hungry, and actually ate 900 calories when I totaled it up. I try to save some if I can, but it's ok to eat them back.
  21847575
May 21, 2012 3:37 PM
Bump, I am curious about this too
May 21, 2012 3:39 PM
I think people on here will tell you to eat back those calories as the deficit is already factored in. I try to eat when I'm hungry and stop when I'm full. I know I have read many posts by people who swear by eating them back or not having weight loss.
May 21, 2012 3:39 PM
Unless you are eating at your maintenance amount you are already eating at a calorie deficit. If that deficit gets too big your body will not have enough nutrition on which to function properly. If I were you, I would try eating your exercise calories for a few weeks. If you aren't getting the results you'd like (keeping in mind that losing 1 pound a week is average and healthy and that losing more per week isn't always healthy) experiment with eating fewer of your exercise calories.
  2469411
May 21, 2012 3:40 PM
So if the deficit is built into your daily goal .... why exercise for say 500 calories only to eat them back? I understand most people here will tell you that you need to eat them but if I'm going to eat them back and net the same as if I hadn't exercised then I see no point in exercising.
  3524478
May 21, 2012 3:42 PM
QUOTE:

So if the deficit is built into your daily goal .... why exercise for say 500 calories only to eat them back? I understand most people here will tell you that you need to eat them but if I'm going to eat them back and net the same as if I hadn't exercised then I see no point in exercising.


Exercise, particularly strength training, helps preserve your muscle mass. If you lose weight by cutting calories alone you will lose muscle in addition to fat, and you will end up with a higher body fat percentage than you probably want.
  2469411
May 21, 2012 3:44 PM
One of my friends told me to forget about all the eating back or not thing, just multiply your weight by 12 to 18 (depending where you are at weight loss process). It will take out all the guess work.
  6057885
May 21, 2012 3:57 PM
You know....I was wondering about this as well.

The way I see it is if I'm hungry I eat them. Considering I'm at 1200 a day it feels good knowing I can have more if need be.
  14698948
May 21, 2012 3:59 PM
QUOTE:

One of my friends told me to forget about all the eating back or not thing, just multiply your weight by 12 to 18 (depending where you are at weight loss process). It will take out all the guess work.


I don't think that gives an accurate amount of calories. I'm assuming that 12 is for weight loss and 18 is for maintenance. If so, it has me eating way too many calories. It's far easier to simply eat the number of calories MFP tells you to eat. There are a lot of reasons this system (MFP) was set up the way it was. The main one is that it helps people lose weight while keeping them healthy.
  2469411
May 21, 2012 4:05 PM
I know I burn 1700-1900 on work days (thank you Body Media Fit band). If I burn 300cal in a workout and add them back in = 2000-2200. I think our bodies do well decreasing calorie intake by 500. So I'd eat 1500- 1700 that day.

If working out more and burning more calories = you can eat more. I read somewhere that a deficet over 1000 calories isn't ideal. But I think its okay when you're zig-zagging your diet though. Carb-cycling basically.

For a rest day I try to have only 1200-1400. Keeps the deficet for roughly one pound loss over the week.

For eating back, the difference between the 1200-1400 and 1500 - 1700 + exercise is to give the body the protein and carbs for recovery after working out. And notice the calorie intake is still less then 1700-1900 daily maintence

This is just what I think given my experiences and with reading tons of stuff over many many years.



To the person asking why exercise.... "move it or lose" is what comes to mind for me. Exercising isn't only about losing weight. Its about keeping/gaining stregth (and muscle at rest burns more calories than fat at rest, a nice perk for TDEE level). Its about appreance (muscle looks better, avoid the skinny fat look). It can be about keeping flexibility too. And I think I read about it helping keep bone density as you age. Sounds good to me!
May 21, 2012 4:12 PM
I stopped losing weight when I did, and occasionally gained. So, I called a nutritional counselor. She said not to eat my exercise calories. Have been doing that since March and keep losing pounds weekly. Hope this helps you.
  12935171
May 21, 2012 4:14 PM
if you are following MFP's guidelines you should be eating your exercise calories... Otherwise you are undereating! MFP does not take in to account your exercise goals when calculating your daily calorie goals, I've been adjusting my exercise goals and it has no impact because of your calorie goal being NET calorie goal NOT gross calorie goal! Therefore anyone that is at a plateau should consider trying to eat their exercise calories and see if you aren't plateauing just because your body is in starvation mode and has cut back on burning fat to make up for it. I'm switching modes and see what happens because currently MFP is showing me at a 990 calorie per day defecit to lose 2 lbs a week, when really I've been trying to eat under 1600 calories which means on the days I'm exercising I'm really at about a 1200-1300 calorie defecit, that means I'm only eating about 50% of my calories needed on my exercise days... your body will adjust to the lack of calories and will STOP burning fat and go in to preservation mode because you are starving yourself (EVEN IF YOU DON'T FEEL HUNGRY, YOU STILL AREN'T GIVING YOUR BODY WHAT IT NEEDS!). There are a lot of people who will disagree with me and that's fine, I'm just telling you what I was told a couple years back when I was working with a physical trainer and a dietician... and through following what they said I was able to lose 30lbs over a 3 month period... then I quit keeping track of my food and quit working out and put it all back on. So you can do what you want, just keep in mind that MFP is setting your NET calorie goal, so if you are plateauing or hungry know that you can, and should be eating your exercise calories (look at professional athletes, Michael Phelps when training for the olympics had to eat 8,000+ calories a day because of how many calories he would burn working out... you should be eating whatever you burn to stay healthy as MFP already set your defecit with the goal of 2lbs per week... you can try to lose more than that, but anyone in the health industry will caution you that 2lbs a week is the max recommended for healthy weight loss, and if you're eating too few it will actually cause you not to lose anything....)
  21595618
May 21, 2012 4:14 PM
QUOTE:

I stopped losing weight when I did, and occasionally gained. So, I called a nutritional counselor. She said not to eat my exercise calories. Have been doing that since March and keep losing pounds weekly. Hope this helps you.


How many calories are you eating daily now? I wonder if logging of exercise could be inaccurate (more than it actually was???)
  6057885
May 21, 2012 4:16 PM
..
Edited by rininger85 On May 21, 2012 4:19 PM
  21595618
May 21, 2012 4:19 PM
oops sorry for the double post my internet freaked out on me... not sure how to delete a post? also response to why work out if you just eat them back - it just speeds up the process, you are better off to eat extra calories and burn them off rather than just put yourself at a calorie defecit and hope that eventually you lose the fat... you'll have a lot better / faster results if you eat 3000 calories and burn 1000 calories a day than you will if you just eat 1800 calories and don't work out - even though you are actually eating 200 less calories that way... not to mention you'll lose muscle first instead of losing fat
  21595618
May 21, 2012 4:20 PM
QUOTE:

QUOTE:

I stopped losing weight when I did, and occasionally gained. So, I called a nutritional counselor. She said not to eat my exercise calories. Have been doing that since March and keep losing pounds weekly. Hope this helps you.


How many calories are you eating daily now? I wonder if logging of exercise could be inaccurate (more than it actually was???)


I think you're on track here... either tracking calorie intake incorrectly or calorie burn incorrectly... one way or the other your calories being track aren't accurate.
  21595618
May 21, 2012 4:27 PM
Thank you Back2Basics, that really helped me understand it. I was only wondering this yesterday.

Peta.
  22573730
May 21, 2012 4:28 PM
QUOTE:

QUOTE:

One of my friends told me to forget about all the eating back or not thing, just multiply your weight by 12 to 18 (depending where you are at weight loss process). It will take out all the guess work.


I don't think that gives an accurate amount of calories. I'm assuming that 12 is for weight loss and 18 is for maintenance. If so, it has me eating way too many calories. It's far easier to simply eat the number of calories MFP tells you to eat. There are a lot of reasons this system (MFP) was set up the way it was. The main one is that it helps people lose weight while keeping them healthy.


I'd agree, the 12 to 18 has no basis behind it (unless its directed at one particular person/weight), if I ate 12 times my weight I'd be eating over 2800 calories a day, 18 times my weight would be over 4200 calories. My basal metabolic rate is between 2000 and 2100 calories a day (how many calories I'd burn laying in bed all day doing absolutely nothing)... so 2800 is on the high side (depending on activity level) and 4200 I'd be gaining weight like crazy (unless I was an athlete that my life revolved around working out, but it doesn't... I think MFP does an OK job with setting up goals, the only thing that would help is if it took more information in to consideration (i.e. body fat %, lean muscle weight etc.) but it is just making an assumption based on your weight which isn't the most accurate way, but its good enough...
  21595618
May 21, 2012 4:34 PM
The reason so many doctors and nutritionists say not to eat back exercise cals is because they don't know how MyFitnessPal works. MFP already creates a deficit for you through food. If you do not eat your exercise calories back, you are creating an even larger deficit. Unless you are obese and/or closely being monitored by a doctor, you should not be creating a huge deficit, and you could start seeing negative side effects due to malnutrition. Our bodies need a certain amount of calories even to function each day (BMR). The closer you are to your goal weight, the smaller your deficit should be. In short, YES, eat your exercise calories.
Edited by JoniBologna On May 21, 2012 4:38 PM
  1305581
May 21, 2012 4:35 PM
QUOTE:

QUOTE:

QUOTE:

One of my friends told me to forget about all the eating back or not thing, just multiply your weight by 12 to 18 (depending where you are at weight loss process). It will take out all the guess work.


I don't think that gives an accurate amount of calories. I'm assuming that 12 is for weight loss and 18 is for maintenance. If so, it has me eating way too many calories. It's far easier to simply eat the number of calories MFP tells you to eat. There are a lot of reasons this system (MFP) was set up the way it was. The main one is that it helps people lose weight while keeping them healthy.


I'd agree, the 12 to 18 has no basis behind it (unless its directed at one particular person/weight), if I ate 12 times my weight I'd be eating over 2800 calories a day, 18 times my weight would be over 4200 calories. My basal metabolic rate is between 2000 and 2100 calories a day (how many calories I'd burn laying in bed all day doing absolutely nothing)... so 2800 is on the high side (depending on activity level) and 4200 I'd be gaining weight like crazy (unless I was an athlete that my life revolved around working out, but it doesn't... I think MFP does an OK job with setting up goals, the only thing that would help is if it took more information in to consideration (i.e. body fat %, lean muscle weight etc.) but it is just making an assumption based on your weight which isn't the most accurate way, but its good enough...


I need to find out her source too, but I think it makes sense if, only IF you exercise...Say you want to lose weight, so you exercise, then time 12 will give you about the same as eating net + exercise calories...If you are WT, that's different...Going 18 times might be extreme but to some people that might be the right number...
  6057885
May 21, 2012 4:37 PM
QUOTE:

Someone asked this awhile back (it baffles all of us) Here's the reply I wrote that seemed to make sense to them.




Nope! Think of it like money. Say you want to save $3,000 this month. You get $1,300 a day, but for some crazy reason you HAVE to spend $1,200 each day (Say for rent and bills) Now, if you only spend that 1200 a day, you will still save your $3000 by the end of the month. But you also can work for extra money. So one day, you work really hard and made an extra $500! Woohoo! But, you spent a lot of gas getting to work that day and need some more. There are a few things you can do. 1.) Ignore that you used gas, and save all $500. This will lead to an empty tank and you'll run out of fuel. 2.) You can get all the gas you want, and hey, why not get premium and spoil yourself. After all, you earned that extra $500. Might as well spend it all! Of course, nothing really happens this way. You will reach your goal in one month still. 3.) You can spend a little bit to make sure you don't run out of fuel and save the rest. This results in you having enough gas to get through the day, and at the end of the month, you'll have extra money saved!!

Hope that makes sense. I was worried to eat the exercise calories back until one day i was STARVING. I remembered to add my exercise for the day and got an extra 900 calories. I ate until I was no longer hungry, and actually ate 900 calories when I totaled it up. I try to save some if I can, but it's ok to eat them back.



Genius! I love this description!
  5042547
May 21, 2012 4:38 PM
QUOTE:

So if the deficit is built into your daily goal .... why exercise for say 500 calories only to eat them back? I understand most people here will tell you that you need to eat them but if I'm going to eat them back and net the same as if I hadn't exercised then I see no point in exercising.


Other than the intrinsic value of exercise....I exercise so I can eat more. I don't feel deprived and am less likely to overeat due to deprivation.
  7246266

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