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TOPIC: "Eating back" Exercise Calories - Simple breakdown

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August 21, 2012 11:39 AM
Ive seen several new people confused about this. Ive tried to narrow down the debate to a very simple logical train of thought that should clarify the importance of not counting ONLY the calories you eat. You have a PLAN for your daily caloric deficit, not "eating back" your exercise calories ruins this plan and gives your body fewer calories than you planned on giving it.

example:

Your net caloric goal for the day is based on a total deficit deemed appropriate for your body. if you are supposed to have a 1,000 calorie deficit for the day to lose 2lb/wk and 1,500 calorie goal gives you that deficit, you need to think of it as a calorie ledger just like finances. think of exercise you do as a WITHDRAWAL from the calorie bank and food you eat is a DEPOSIT to the calorie bank. you start each day at 0 and you want your calorie bank BALANCE to be 1,500 by the end of the day. See the following example

[Example of eating back calories: body gets 1500 calories for the day]
Wake up: 0 calories
Breakfast: +600 calories
Exercise: -200 calories
Snack: +200 calories
Lunch: +800 calories
Snack: +200 calories
Exercise: -500 calories
Dinner: +400 calories
Total Net calories for the day: 1,500 calories. You ate 2,200 calories but 700 calories of that were used by your exercise.

[Example of not eating back exercise calories]
Breakfast: +500 calories
Exercise -200 calories
Snack: +50 calories
Lunch: +500 calories
Exercise: -500 Calories
Dinner : +450 calories
Total Net calories for the day: 800 calories. You ate your daily goal of 1500 calories, but almost half of it didnt actually go to your body, it was used by exercise. Your body should receive 1500 calorie in this example.

Your lifestyle burns 2500 calories a day, so a 1000 calorie deficit is your 2lbs/week weight loss deficit so you need to net 1500 calories a day.......but if you arent "eating back" your exercise calories you arent considering the full picture. you are adding all the exercise you do each day to your pre-planned 1,000 calorie/day deficit. your day to day deficit is completely unpredictable because it depends on your exercise. if you dont exercise your deficit is 1,000.......if you do a 1,000 calorie burn workout your deficit is 2,000. this is not right.

* this uses the example of a person with a 1500 caloric daily goal.....im not saying EVERYBODY has this goal, lol*

feel free to rebuttal on my take on this argument, but id say its difficult to argue with this logic. not "eating back" exercise calories is a wild card in your fitness plan and can cause your daily caloric deficit to be way too high. too high of a caloric deficit is bad. your body NEEDS calories to run

*EDIT ADDITION*
IF CUTTING 1,000 CALORIES IS GOOD, THEN CUTTING 2,000 MUST BE GREAT, RIGHT?
Wrong! somebody posted "you willl lose more weight on the second plan" thinking that if cutting a few calories is good, then cutting more must be better: This is untrue! read my comment below for more details. your body has an absolute minimum amount of calories its willing to work with, and if you drop below that level it will declare a food shortage and stop dropping the weight and holding onto everything it can get. stick to the recommended 2 pound per week maximum 1,000 calorie deficit. you might get away with a 2,000 calorie deficit for a while, but it wont last.....then you will have to fight your body back out of starvation mode.
Edited by marc8686 On August 21, 2012 12:16 PM
  4321136
August 21, 2012 11:54 AM
Hmmm... seems to make sense when explained like that.
  14453838
August 21, 2012 11:57 AM
Do I collect interest when calories are left in the bank?
August 21, 2012 11:59 AM
You lose more weight in your second example. You would also likely lose more muscle.

The scenario someone should choose is based on what goal they're looking for. Weight at the cost of fat and muscle, or weight at the cost of fat and a little muscle. There's no wrong way.
August 21, 2012 12:02 PM
My sister keep telling my I need to eat all my calorie and the extra when you exercise. I didn't listen until the scales stop moving. I was so upset because my body had went to starvation mode. I was beginning to stress out. Now I decide to eat my calorie so the scales will move. I very happy again.
August 21, 2012 12:07 PM
QUOTE:

You lose more weight in your second example. You would also likely lose more muscle.

The scenario someone should choose is based on what goal they're looking for. Weight at the cost of fat and muscle, or weight at the cost of fat and a little muscle. There's no wrong way.


This is a dangerous mentality. More calories cut does not equal more weight lost. There is a certain amount of calories your body needs to run. Me for example, my BMR right now is like 2750, with a sedentary lifestyle, take that by 1.2 and it gives you my daily caloric burn just living a sedentary daily lifestyle, about 3300 calories my body uses daily to get me from point a to point b day to day. 2lb/week is the max recommended weight loss goal, thats cutting 1,000 calories a day below your total needed per day. hence my 2300 calorie daily goal. Do not go around telling people "well if you cut 1,000 calories thats good, but if you can cut 2500 calories THATS EVEN BETTER" because its a lie. too much of a deficit is a bad thing, if you maintain too high of a calorie deficit your body WILL recognize it as a food shortage and go into storage mode and quit burning and your weight loss will come to a screeching halt, or at least slow way down. (realize this doesnt happen overnight. its not like having a big deficit a couple of days is going to make a difference. this will happen if you make it a habit) its like a wood burning stove, if you wanna keep the burn going you need to keep adding fuel. I repeat, DO NOT think " the more calories i cut the more weight i will lose" its not true
Edited by marc8686 On August 21, 2012 12:11 PM
  4321136
August 21, 2012 12:17 PM
Thank you for the information, I was definitely under the wrong impression. Seems a little strange that we get commended for being under our calorie goal on mfp then though.
August 21, 2012 12:18 PM
QUOTE:

Do I collect interest when calories are left in the bank?


lol, no. the calories are left in the bank as a sacrifice to the body who gobbles them up and burns them. then you have to start over the next day at 0 again.
  4321136
August 21, 2012 12:21 PM
QUOTE:

Thank you for the information, I was definitely under the wrong impression. Seems a little strange that we get commended for being under our calorie goal on mfp then though.


Very welcome, yes the commendations come from many people think that if having a 1,000 deficit is good then a 1500 deficit must be AWESOME! it wont hurt you to do it here and there once in a while, it may even bump your week weight loss, but over time it can come back to haunt you. your body will catch on and think "hmm, there must be a food shortage". most days i make a concious effort to get as close to my calorie goal as i can. i would rather be 30 calories over my goal than 500 calories under it. last week i slacked off on this and didnt eat as much as i should have, so this week i need to make sure im getting closer to my goal so my body doesnt end up in hoarding mode and stop burning what i give it. its like reassuring and soothing my body saying "its ok, see? plenty of food, keep burning those calories" whereas if i keep cutting a 1700 calorie deficit its like taking a whip to my body saying BURN BURNNNN eventually it will just rebel lol
Edited by marc8686 On August 21, 2012 12:24 PM
  4321136
August 21, 2012 12:34 PM
QUOTE:

QUOTE:

You lose more weight in your second example. You would also likely lose more muscle.

The scenario someone should choose is based on what goal they're looking for. Weight at the cost of fat and muscle, or weight at the cost of fat and a little muscle. There's no wrong way.


too much of a deficit is a bad thing, if you maintain too high of a calorie deficit your body WILL recognize it as a food shortage and go into storage mode and quit burning and your weight loss will come to a screeching halt, or at least slow way down. (realize this doesnt happen overnight. its not like having a big deficit a couple of days is going to make a difference. this will happen if you make it a habit) its like a wood burning stove, if you wanna keep the burn going you need to keep adding fuel. I repeat,



Interesting. It's strange how 3rd world poverty stricken countries don't have higher obesity rates with this logic. Wouldn't you agree?

Again, cutting too many calories out of your diet being bad is relevant to your end goals and desired body composition. Morbidly obese patients have used juice fasts (which cut their calories down to sub 1000 caloric intake per day) and end up very skinny very fast. A lot of what they are losing is both fat and lean body mass. This is not the intended goal for most people, but in extreme cases where the body has excessive stores of body fat, the body will burn more stored fat for energy.

So your main point:
QUOTE:

DO NOT think " the more calories i cut the more weight i will lose" its not true


I disagree.
August 21, 2012 12:39 PM
Okay, I have tried reading this four times to understand, and I have been interrupted by kids over and over and can't grasp it. I am trying to lose 2 lbs a week and have plateaued. I am given 1490 calories a day. Today I burned 478 doing cardio so I have a total of 1968 calories today. You're recommending I take the total to 0 to get back to losing? I have been trying not to eat 'earned' calories thinking that would be better. It's not?? I have been averaging about 1000 calories burned in cardio 3x a week and haven't been losing and I am getting frustrated.
August 21, 2012 12:41 PM
QUOTE:

QUOTE:

QUOTE:

You lose more weight in your second example. You would also likely lose more muscle.

The scenario someone should choose is based on what goal they're looking for. Weight at the cost of fat and muscle, or weight at the cost of fat and a little muscle. There's no wrong way.


too much of a deficit is a bad thing, if you maintain too high of a calorie deficit your body WILL recognize it as a food shortage and go into storage mode and quit burning and your weight loss will come to a screeching halt, or at least slow way down. (realize this doesnt happen overnight. its not like having a big deficit a couple of days is going to make a difference. this will happen if you make it a habit) its like a wood burning stove, if you wanna keep the burn going you need to keep adding fuel. I repeat,



Interesting. It's strange how 3rd world poverty stricken countries don't have higher obesity rates with this logic. Wouldn't you agree?

Again, cutting too many calories out of your diet being bad is relevant to your end goals and desired body composition. Morbidly obese patients have used juice fasts (which cut their calories down to sub 1000 caloric intake per day) and end up very skinny very fast. A lot of what they are losing is both fat and lean body mass. This is not the intended goal for most people, but in extreme cases where the body has excessive stores of body fat, the body will burn more stored fat for energy.

So your main point:
QUOTE:

DO NOT think " the more calories i cut the more weight i will lose" its not true


I disagree.

In the third world there are no periods of abundance where a slower metabolism would be able to capitalise on a sudden increase in resources and store it.
August 21, 2012 12:46 PM
QUOTE:

In the third world there are no periods of abundance where a slower metabolism would be able to capitalise on a sudden increase in resources and store it.


This is true, and perhaps this was a poor example for me to bring up in terms of "metabolism slowing down". The point I was trying to make is very low caloric intake doesn't maintain or gain weight. We can't fool the laws of physics.
August 21, 2012 12:50 PM
QUOTE:

Okay, I have tried reading this four times to understand, and I have been interrupted by kids over and over and can't grasp it. I am trying to lose 2 lbs a week and have plateaued. I am given 1490 calories a day. Today I burned 478 doing cardio so I have a total of 1968 calories today. You're recommending I take the total to 0 to get back to losing? I have been trying not to eat 'earned' calories thinking that would be better. It's not?? I have been averaging about 1000 calories burned in cardio 3x a week and haven't been losing and I am getting frustrated.

notice how logging food you eat makes your calories left for the day go down........and logging exercise makes your calories left for the day go up. i kind of posted an example opposite of how mfp tracks it so i understand the confusion. if you get 1490 calories in your day, then zero exercise and eating 1490 calories would give you a 1,000 calorie deficit that day. if you do 1,000 calorie workout and eat 1490 calories, your body is actually only getting 490 calories to put towards your daily activity, because 1,000 of it was used for the exercise you did. for your body to stay at the recommended 1,000 calorie deficit for the day, you have to eat 2,490 to be able to fuel the 1,000 calorie workout AND provide the 1490 calories it needs for day to day function and you still have the 1,000 calorie deficit to average your 2lb/week.
  4321136
August 21, 2012 12:52 PM
My BMR is 1433 x1.2=1720 -1000 for a 2 pd a week loss. that would be 720 calories a day is that right!!!!!!!!
  27053442
August 21, 2012 12:52 PM
Thanks! Makes sense.
August 21, 2012 12:53 PM
QUOTE:

QUOTE:

In the third world there are no periods of abundance where a slower metabolism would be able to capitalise on a sudden increase in resources and store it.


This is true, and perhaps this was a poor example for me to bring up in terms of "metabolism slowing down". The point I was trying to make is very low caloric intake doesn't maintain or gain weight. We can't fool the laws of physics.

eventually if you dont provide your body with the base calories it needs to function properly.......it will just stop functioning properly. you may lose weight but at the expense of your health or immune system strength or something. for a car to be able to run it needs gas, for our body to be able to run, it needs calories. your health could fail you, you'll start feeling drained and lack energy, etc etc etc by cutting calories too far for too long. its really a pretty simple logical conclusion theres not much to disagree about
Edited by marc8686 On August 21, 2012 12:54 PM
  4321136
August 21, 2012 12:55 PM
This makes so much sense! I've been trying to get a straight answer on this for weeks. happy
  21181168
August 21, 2012 12:56 PM
So on the days I do my long workouts (1000 calories) I need to make sure I do actually eat the 2490? That seems like a lot, but I have burned a lot so I guess that makes sense. What you are saying is only having a day with 490 net calories would cause this plateau? I'm all for eating more, lol!!
August 21, 2012 12:56 PM
I have been asking myself this question for years. 6 years ago I worked with a personal trainer that when ever I plateaued he had me re-evaluate what I was eating and the calorie count. Every time I got stronger and stronger and the weight stayed the same on the scale he upped my calories. He started me at 1400 and eventually I was at 2400 a day and still losing weight.

I believe it's all a matter of adjustments. I do agree you should eat back most to all your calories from working out, think of your body as a car... no gas no go... not enough food, no weight loss.
August 21, 2012 12:56 PM
OP's explanation is the only thing for which I have been able to use my accounting degree. drinker
  18511156
August 21, 2012 12:58 PM
QUOTE:

So on the days I do my long workouts (1000 calories) I need to make sure I do actually eat the 2490? That seems like a lot, but I have burned a lot so I guess that makes sense. What you are saying is only having a day with 490 net calories would cause this plateau? I'm all for eating more, lol!!


Have you seen the movie this year "The Avengers"? Chris Hemsworth ate almost 6000 calories a day to bulk up for this movie... not FATTEN up, pure muscle. It's all in the matter of what types of foods you eat... cheeseburger (no! no!), Chicken breast (Yes! Yes!)
August 21, 2012 12:59 PM
QUOTE:

My BMR is 1433 x1.2=1720 -1000 for a 2 pd a week loss. that would be 720 calories a day is that right!!!!!!!!


if your bmr is ACTUALLY 1433, i dont think 2 lb/week is a realistic goal. you'd have to cut too much out. if you send me your weight, height, age, and gender ill run it through the following formula if you'd like and double check the numbers :)

the miflin st jeor equation is as follows for your BMR

males: (10×weight) + (6.25×height) - (5×age) + 5
females:(10×weight) + (6.25×height) - (5×age) - 161
weight is in KG and height in centimeters.

then take your BMR times an activity quotient from the below list, do not include your going to the gym or anything, just your daily life aside from workouts. your job, home life, etc. you can log your daily workouts through MFP to keep better tabs on your daily deficits.

1.200 = sedentary (little or no exercise)
1.375 = lightly active (light exercise/sports 1-3 days/week, approx. 590 Cal/day)
1.550 = moderately active (moderate exercise/sports 3-5 days/week, approx. 870 Cal/day)
1.725 = very active (hard exercise/sports 6-7 days a week, approx. 1150 Cal/day)
1.900 = extra active (very hard exercise/sports and physical job, approx. 1580 Cal/day)

the result of multiplying your BMR from that equation and the activity level is your base caloric burn per day. subtract 1,000 calories from that number and thats your 2 pounds per week (7,000 calories per week) deficit.

example: my bmr is about 2750, sedentary lifestyle so 2750 x 1.2 = 3,300 calories. my daily goal for 2 lb/wk is 2,300 calories.
Edited by marc8686 On August 21, 2012 1:10 PM
  4321136
August 21, 2012 1:02 PM
This website. Wow.
August 21, 2012 1:03 PM
QUOTE:

QUOTE:

So on the days I do my long workouts (1000 calories) I need to make sure I do actually eat the 2490? That seems like a lot, but I have burned a lot so I guess that makes sense. What you are saying is only having a day with 490 net calories would cause this plateau? I'm all for eating more, lol!!


Have you seen the movie this year "The Avengers"? Chris Hemsworth ate almost 6000 calories a day to bulk up for this movie... not FATTEN up, pure muscle. It's all in the matter of what types of foods you eat... cheeseburger (no! no!), Chicken breast (Yes! Yes!)


I haven't seen a non PG movie in years thanks to 3 kids, but I get what you are saying. I guess I will up the calories for the next couple weeks and see what happens. I've been stuck for months!!

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