#WLCW1 - is anyone else using myfitnesspal and if so are you 'eating back' calories burned??

Hi - I started the weight loss club on Monday and so far it's gone well - mostly because of a nasty cold and lack of appetite :-). I'm using my myfitnesspal to count cals which is great, but today I ran for the first time this week and burned off 420 cals which the app added to my daily calorie allowance when I entered the exercise. I've seen people on other sites talk about 'eating back' the calories earned but just wondered if the NHS programme of 1400 cals per day had already taken the 150 mins exercise per week into account? I'm going to always try not to eat more than 1400 cals even on the days I run, but I was so hungry today after running and a few days of not eating much that it was hard! Is anyone else coming across this and if so, what are you doing?

12 Replies

  • It's all about deficit! I use my calories burned to help me manage my weight and have some treats, I don't always eat after, I must admit I am always hungrier after running outside than when I am inside, just make sure you have a sensible snack to hand. I carry a 90 cal Kellogg's cereal bar for a boost, good luck!

  • I've been thinking the same thing - basically I'm trying to stick to the calorie limit regardless of the exercise, but if I go over on my running days I'll try not to feel too guilty about it. Well done for keeping on track so far - I'm doing ok so far too, and hoping I can stick with it - good luck.

  • personally i stick to my daily calorie intake as i calculated that based on sitting most of the day in my job so 1200 is my aamount, i might once a week eat back any calories burned but very rarely, my friend does it all the time and shes lost a whopping 5lbs in 18monhts !!!!

  • I always used MFP when I was losing weight on the 5:2 Diet and Dr Michael Mosley (who started it all off with the amazing "Eat, Fast and Live Longer" BBC Horizon programme (http://vimeo.com/54089463) says not to eat your exercise calories. That meant that on my two non-consecutive 500 calorie days when I ran it sometimes showed a deficit - but I lost three stone in six months! I've been maintaining since April so I only fast now one day a week. I always run on my fasting days. As I eat normally (up to my TDEE) on non-fasting days I don't have any problems.

  • I usually eat back some exercise calories, about an extra 200kcal if I've been to the gym or for a run. That is even though estimates would be about 500kcal burned according to MFP. This has worked fine for me over the last year.

    A lot of MFP calculators seem to overestimate the amount of calories burned for me and I don't want to accidentally eat too much. So, I compromise by eating back about half.

    Perhaps for you, add a few extra calories on work out days if you are feeling very hungry and/or find you are losing weight too quickly (more than 2lb per week is not good). The best thing is to adjust as per your results, to find the calorie level that works best for you to lose weight. For me this is more like 1500kcal a day.

  • I only rarely eat back the calories I've burned when running,preferring to stick to my daily limit . I think it's just too easy to get into that way of thinking 'well I've run, biked, been to the gym whatever, so this treat/extra is justified' and before you know it you've eaten more than you burned in the first place.Occasionally it's useful to have those extra calories from exercise to fall back on .but I try not to make a habit of it.

    I use MFP too, it's a great way to keep on track.

    Good luck with the rest of the first week and hope your cold is better.

  • Hi SedW, I fell into the trap of thinking I could eat extra because I was exercising (just as Carolecal mentions in her comment). Not surprisingly, I did not travel far on my weight loss journey! So now I have decided to stick to 1400 cals irrespective of the daily exercise I have done. I am feeling more optimistic about reaching my destination this time. :)

  • Thanks everyone I think I'm going to go with albionjen's approach if I need to and that's what I ended up doing yesterday, just having an extra 100 to alleviate hunger. I'll try.and stick to 1400 if possible though; just that being actually hungry (as opposed to craving something) is a big demotivator for me. I'd rather have controlled extra cals than go hungry and end up scoffing way over! Am also expecting hunger pangs to decrease over time so it'll be less of an issue.

  • Hi Sedw,

    Bascially the idea is to go on a calorie restricted diet (not toooo restricted) and up your exercise and activity levels a bit whilst ensuring you're getting the full range of nutrition.

    The exercise/activity bit isn't just about burning calories per se, but is also about encouraging changes in your body which tend to aid fat burning and inhibit fat storage.

    So, as a general rule I would say no - don't eat back your calories. But as with any "general rule" you dohave to apply a smidgen of common sense about that. I mean if you're doing huge amounts of more extreme exercise like very prolonged aerobic exercises, or running marathons or things like that then you need to be careful that your not over-restricting your calorie intake in relation to the activity / exercise you are undertaking.

    One common mistake with exercise / activity is to do a moderate session in a gym and burn off a few calories and then promptly over-replace those calories with an "energy" drink (or a latte and a cream doughnut, or whatever) and then fool yourself that somehow the calories in that miraculously don't count. It's as if the gym session has somehow given those particular calories a sick not which exlcudes them from being counted into your daily calorie intake.

    So, like any other 'bad' eating habit, it's one to keep an eye open for.

    Good luck with your weight loss efforts.

  • I used to eat back the calories, to the extent that if I was near (or over) my limit I would jump on the exercise bike and 'earn' a few more! However, it didn't seem to cause any problems as I managed to lose 3 1/2 + stones over the course of about a year (with lots of exercise as well as watching calories) and I've kept it off. I do believe that exercise kick starts your metabolism, esp running befor breakfast - I have read research to support that. (But, sorry I'm not organised enough to be able to cite it). Maybe check out one of the running websites such as therunningbug.co.uk, they usually have plenty of evidence to support the theory.

    Good luck!

  • I do 5:2 and any calories burned through exercise are a bonus to add to my calorie deficit over the week.

  • Losing weight isn't just down to calories in/calories out. Different foods has different calorific values, and different effects on the body.

    You could look at increasing your protein intake and making sure you avoid refined carbohydrates, especially processed food containing sugar. Go for high fibre carbs and also make sure you have some real fats in your diet.

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