Calorie counting

Calorie counting

I'm trying to get my head around the calorie counting thing. I'm using the My Fitness Pal app to track my calories and the Pacer app to track my exercise which links into MFP. My question is, when MFP increases my daily calories allowance based on the exercise Pacer tells it I've done, are those

a) calories I SHOULD eat to fuel the extra effort or

b) calories I COULD eat if I just wanted to maintain my weight but should ignore if my main aim is to lose weight?

Hope that makes sense?!

11 Replies

  • MFP bases its calorie numbers on a stated wight loss. So it's saying, essentially, you can consume this many calories and maintain the weight loss you said you wanted.

  • Fab, thank you :) I don't particularly want to eat them but someone asked me recently if I was eating enough to fuel the additional exercise - MFP tells me off if I have below 1000 calories so I guess as long as I'm eating over that I'm ok.

  • Hi penhas - I completely agree with andystev - theoretically MFP adds on your exercise calories, meaning that you should be able to 'eat back' those calories and still lose the weight you want.

    I would just add a small proviso - and that is to be a bit wary of eating all those calories back again. It's so difficult to correctly work out calories burned in exercise, I don't think that MFP (or any other exercise tracker) is completely accurate (it can't be because of so many variances). So yes, if you've gone for a 40 minutes strenuous run, I'm sure you will be fine eating back 'some' of the calories - but if you've just gone for a walk and MFP tells you you've 'earned' 200 calories - I would be a bit skeptical and not automatically increase your intake by 200 calories.

    Hope this makes sense !! :-)

  • Sorry - did mean to add as well - are you happy about your daily calorie goal being 1200 ? (If that's what you are aiming for) - I know your post a while back gave a figure for what you hope to lose, and you might be able to raise that calorie goal a bit and still lose a reasonable amount of weight ? :-)

  • Another area of confusion for me - different resources give different calorie amounts! Both for foods and goal amounts. NHS site says 1400 per day, MFP says 1200, Health Sidekick which I've looked at this afternoon says -182!!! Different foods get different nutritional values across different (and often the same if worded differently) online calorie counters and even in comparison to the packaging! I thought this headache I've had for a week was due to giving up sugar but am now thinking its down to the calculations :)

  • Yes - it's definitely quite confusing !

    To be honest, I would just stick with Ruth's suggestion as that seems to work fairly well for most people, and is how I started. I set MFP to 1400 calories - I never record exercise in MFP at all. I came up with a few meal/snack plans that kept me round about 1400 calories each day (and actually stopped even logging these into MFP once I'd checked their calorie count in the first place) and rotated those for a few weeks, stopped eating cakes, went for a few long walks - hey presto the weight started coming off !

    As and when it stops, I have slightly adjusted things to make it start again :-)

  • It does yes, thanks. I'm trying not to eat them back but I wasn't sure if increasing my exercise as well as reducing my calories meant I should be eating more than 1200 a day. I get very confused by the need to burn more calories than you use as I'm not entirely clear how you know how many you use without also chucking all the additional exercise into the mix :) I think my brain is getting a better workout than the rest of me at the moment - either that or I'm completely over thinking it!!

  • It just is confusing. I find if you have a regular routine, a similar bunch of meals, snacks etc that you rotate between, and a regular amount of exercise, and you lose weight doing that, then you just know to keep that up. Eventually you do just develop an instinct for it all. But in the beginning it can be a case of all the numbers flying past your eyes and nothing settling into what looks like a logical order.

    I suggest upping your cals to 1400 and not eating the exercise cals, this is what worked for me. Although on days where I did extra, e.g. particularly epic bike rides etc, I did go up to 1600/1700 or so as I felt extra hungry, but didn't feel too guilty knowing my body must have just needed it.

    To confuse you even further have you tried the NHS BMI calculator to see what number of calories it recommends? I would go for the lower end and plug this into mfp (it suggested 1500 for me, so I stuck with the 1400 recommended by the NHS plan as it was close enough). This takes into account the amount of activity you do, so definitely doesn't need to be upped on exercise days.

  • I just tried the app and it told me the BMI and allowed me to set a weight goal but I can't see any calorie suggestions??

  • Are you using this? The calories should be in an orange bar on the results page.

  • I would suggest that you do continue to add your exercise info with the added calories to MFP. I would then suggest that you aim to only eat a maximum of 50% of those additional calories if you need them. The psychological benefits of seeing your fantastic willpower at having left so many additional calories behind at the end of the day combined with the end of day report that show such fantastic projected weight losses over 5 weeks is a great boost and encourages me at least to exercise more in future at the end of the day, do what feels right for you. I did a 40 mile bike ride at the weekend. Burned over 3000 calories and left half of them or more having been invited to a party where eating and drinking would have add my normal daily intake difficult to stick to.

    Dave x

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