Monday, March 5, 2012

Reader Request

I got this question from K.

"Can you blog one day on your opinion of eating your exercise calories back? part of me feels like its counterproductive, but then mathematically it makes sense, so im kind of at a stand still. ie: my calorie suggestions say 1350 or so, so i generally stick in that range, but if I go to the gym i typically burn 700-800 calories on my Polar HRM. So at the end of the day, I've only net 550-700 calories for the day - which is way under the minimum to run your body.... which may be why some of us are seeing a stand still on the scale? I just dont know if that really makes sense or not, or if its really the right thing to do."

I'm so glad she asked this because it coincided with an article I read last week.  This article at Shape Magazine gave a formula to use to calculate a rough estimate of how many calories you should be eating to lose weight.

BMR = 655 + (4.35 x weight in pounds) + (4.7 x height in inches) - (4.7 x age in years)

Take that number and use the following formula to determine your activity level to multiply the BMR by.  (Be honest!)

Sedentary- 1.4  (Not moving much at all throughout the day, reading, watching TV, etc)
Light Active- 1.5  (This is most people: You likely work at an office but get in an hour of moderate exercise per day)
Moderately Active- 1.6  (Your job involved light manual labor and you're active outside of work)
Very Active- 1.9 (You're a machine.  Probably military or your job is very physically demanding and super active outside of work as well)

So let's take moi for example.  My numbers would be 1908+329-174 for a total of 2063 then my activity level is lightly active even though I bust ass during my workout time so 2063 x 1.5=3095.

3095 is the amount of calories it would take to maintain my weight according to that article.

Then it asks to determine the type of exercise you're doing (ie- our HIIT workouts and strength training burns more calories once we stop than if you did say a dance type workout), the type of diet you eat, how much weight you have to lose and your individual metabolism.

If you're doing strength training, harder workouts like interval cardio training (Supreme 90 Day, Power 90, TurboFire, etc) (Affiliate links) then the guy recommends only cutting about 250 calories at first instead of the traditional 500-1000 calories because aggressively cutting calories may not be successful in the long term.  He also suggests that you should increase activity before cutting calories.  Now technically, I'm cutting 1000 calories from what the maintenance calories are and I'm not seeing much movement on the scale.  The more I cut my calories, the less I'm losing and I bust my hump when I workout, I think you guys see that in my workout numbers when I'm not sick.

So according to him, I should be at 2845 calories given the type of workouts I usually do when I'm not hacking my lungs out.  Now I'm personally not comfortable with a number that high but I'm willing to try something closer to 2300 calories.  Ugh, I still can't fathom that number but he urges you to try it for 2 weeks to see what happens.  When I'm back to 100% and can bust my tail like usual, I may put this into practice and see what shakes out.  I know this is a lot of numbers being thrown at you but go to the article and see if all of it in one spot makes more sense than my babble.

So K, I hope that helps shed some light on numbers game.  Remember it's only an estimate and a 2 week trial couldn't hurt.  As always, check with your doctor before trying a new program.

Did you do the math?  What do you think of the suggested calories for your number?  Is it much higher than you thought it should be or about right?

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  1. Did the maths and it takes me approx. to where I am eating right now... I calculated my BMR a few weeks ago and decided to eat that, plus. max. what I burn during exercise that day. Unfortunately February was a poor month for eating right, so I cannot say yet whether this is the right formula for me...

  2. I punched in my info using this formula and it is spot on with my body bugg!

  3. Okay so for those of you who say it's a correct formula then are you subtracting 250-500 from the "maintenance" calorie range? I'm trying plan my calories for the day and not sure if I should use 2300 (800 below maintenance but 300 more than I currently eat) or 2600 which is about 500 less than maintenance but 600 more than I currently eat.

    Any insight would be great!

  4. Did the math - came to a total of 1651. Subtracted 250 and it put me slightly below Spark's bottom recommended range for me (1410-1760). I think my activity is actually probably between sedentary and slightly active. Some days I'm on my feet and moving all day, some days I barely move at all.

  5. Great post! Thanks!!

    My BMR came out to 1721 and adding in activity puts me at 2409.

    Currently my weightloss guideline tells me to eat 1350 calories, which is obviously well below where I need to be.

    I will definately give it the two week try!

  6. Thanks for this! I'm about on track with what I told you last week...I aim for 2000-2200 when I'm trying to lose weight. I do strength and interval training weekly, plus I'm a runner.

    My total came out to 2259, meaning that right around 2000 is where they recommend I stay for weight loss.

  7. So crunching using this math gives me 1330-1830 (maintenance 2330) and the numbers I currently use are 1360-1700 (maintenance 2125). (that's a mid range since I calorie cycle so I dip lower than that one day a week and slightly higher than it a few other days).

    What is throwing me off is, the ranges I crunched using the formulas you gave are calcualted at my actual weight (175 lbs) but what I actually use are calculated at 170 lbs. I like eating in a slightly lower weight range so if I do "eat to maintenance" I'm still eating at a deficit.

    So it looks like I really need to eat at 165 lbs so I'm REALLY always eating at a deficit. Maybe next month I'll give that a try (this month I'm just trying to get through S90D and stay within my current ranges, so I don't want to have to work with even LESS calories just yet).

  8. Thank you for sharing this, it's something I often think about. I always eat more on the days when I exercise, but I try to vary my intake generaly from day to day too.

  9. I always love doing these calculations to see what the end result is. My BMR comes out to 1909.9 and my BMR x 1.4 = 2673.86.

    Now, I can tell you that I never, ever, ever, ever, ever, never eat anywhere close to that. Maybe I should, but I don't.

    I've been stuck at within this 10 pound range for about a year now. I just ordered some new DVDs, so I'll try those first. But, do me a favor and ask me around May if I've lost anything. If the answer is no, feel free to ream my ass out about adjusting my calories. I usually aim for 1450 with exercise and around 1700-1800 without. Clearly, my calorie burn is not near what most of the commenters is or yours.

    I'm hoping to rectify that with getting a bicycle this summer. I really, really, really want the one that Kristen Bell is riding around on (the white one with the teal wheels - Google it if you want), but I can't figure out the brand. Eddie said it's probably custom, but I'm not adverse to printing it out and taking it from bike shop to bike shop that's how much I love it.

    HEY! If anyone knows the brand, I'd love you forever if you'd let me know.

    What was I talking about? Coffee? I had too much this morning. I woke up with a headache and it hadn't gone away by the time I got to work an hour or two later, so I made some coffee which I haven't had in months and now it's gone, but coffee does weird things to me much like sugar which is why I'm writing the longest comment in the history of the world. Seriously.

    Okay. Goodbye.

  10. It's a tad depressing...only 1963 calories, and that's if I'm moderately active, but if I don't get off my a$$ (and I haven't been doing much lately), I can only eat 1832. No wonder I'm gaining, I'm guessing I'm eating around 2000-2100 calories/day! I have come to realize it doesn't take much food to maintain a 140-ish weight. For 30 years I maintained at around 325 lbs., course that involved eating anything and everything I wanted!

  11. Per formula my maintenance cal are 2600. I'm substracting 1000 to lose weight so I will be eating @1600 a day I am not exercising right now do I font have account for any exercise. Thanks for post. I had never calculated by bmr.

  12. I am thinking about adding more calories, I think I am starving myself right now with only eating 1500 calories.

    I did the math and because I am very active (I'm a teacher) It says I can eat around 2600.

    I think I am going to try eating 1900.

    I notice on weeks that I eat about 1700 I can lose as much as if i ate 1300.

    I think this week and next I will try eating 1900 and see how I feel. Maybe I should go higher...

  13. This is one of the formulas I checked from time to time, and it was spot-on for me. I'm eager to see how it works for you!

    (thanks for your comments on my blog, today especially. You truly helped me feel better about things, and I appreciate it.)

  14. You know, I'm going to give it a try! I worked the numbers and it is definitely higher than I would have expected and higher than any "plan" puts me on. Right now on both Spark and My Fitness Pal I am at 1300 calories on the low range and 1700 calories high range. If I take 500 off of the formula I am at 1800 and that seems reasonable.

    I've actually been thinking that I might not be eating enough calories as I am stuck bouncing around the same couple of pounds rather than solidly losing. So 1800 calories it is - let's see what happens!

  15. I'm so interested to see everyone answers. I think for most of us who still have weight to lose we're short changing ourselves in the calorie department.

    The Mr and I were talking about how little we've lost over the past year despite doing seriously hardcore workouts. This can be the only answer especially since the thyroid has been checked and all that jazz. I've planned my calories for the day and I'll going hit 2300 almost right on the nose. Of course I'll have to down a TON of water because with the fiber I'm getting today, without it, I'd never crap again!

  16. Sometimes I'll eat a liiiittle bit extra on the days I work out, but most of the time, I don't. Somehow it still feels like cheating to me, even though I know it's not!

  17. Oh god, math out of math class....eeek! I got 2197 calories, which is a lot for me!

  18. Oh shit I didn't subtract LOL! I fail at math!

  19. For Lindsay, I think Kristen Bell is on a Trek Cocoa. It's what is normally called a City or Urban bike, sometimes it's called a Cruiser. Looks like she has a custom paint job. You should be able to find a dealer in your area.

    I did the math and I'm in the right area, calorie-wise but I think I need to do some other tweaking.

  20. I've seen this formula before; each time I've used it, the numbers are much higher than I'm accustomed to. (I even used the lower activity level since I'm not consistent in that area.) I've always been afraid to try it (it's so foreign to what's been engraved in my brain!!) but I think I'm going to give it a try for a couple of weeks.

    What's a couple of weeks in the big picture??

  21. So say I wanted to maintain an ending weight of 150 lbs, could I factor in that weight and use that calorie amount instead of subtracting activity calories?


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