Weight Loss Support - Explain to me eating back calories...

02-17-2011, 06:39 PM
I am using Livestrong.com and it seems like it tells you to eat back as many calories as you exercise. I don't get it? If I ate back as many calories as I exercise, why exercise to lose weight? If I am not eating back the calories why aren't I losig weight faster? Does anyone eat back their calories? So curious about this?

02-17-2011, 06:57 PM
I have found that most 3FC members don't eat back exercise calories. For one thing, it's nearly IMPOSSIBLE to know how many you (Edited to Add - that means YOU, uniquely metabolic you, not some calculator or machine or even heart rate monitor average) burned. So how many do you eat back?

My standard daily exercise? I don't eat any of that back (well, I'm sure I DO somewhat, but essentially, I determined my calorie level by eating less and adjusting it up or down depending on my loss, so I'd eat 1500 calories, and if happy with the rate of loss, kept it there...and that took into account my exercise I'm sure, but not in a "I burn 800 calories and therefore must eat 800 calories more" way).

If I do something extreme (Relay for Life, where I usually end up walking for 6 hours straight overnight and running laps to keep warm, for example...or an 4 hour hike...or moving boxes all day...etc), I will eat more to match my hunger level. But for my everyday routine, I consider it "built in" to my plan and don't eat anything back purposefully.

02-17-2011, 07:03 PM
Agree with everything said.

I don't eat back my calories because if I do, I gain weight.

If you're happy with how much you're eating and exercising and you're getting consistent (0.5-2 lbs average weekly) weight loss, then I wouldn't worry about eating back the calories.

02-17-2011, 07:15 PM
I use FitdayPC. I just aim for -500 calorie balance. They call it "restriction" but really it is the difference between energy burned and energy eaten.

To maintain, I have to eat 2300. To create weight loss, I have to average -500 a day for a week to see -3500 for the week. -3500 cal = - 1 lb

Some days that -500 comes from diet only because I do not exercise. So that means I can eat 1800 because the -500 comes from all diet angle. (2300-500= 1800)

Other days I do exercise, but not a big workout. Call it 30 min, and I usually earn -250 doing that from what my heart rate monitor tells me. The other -250 has to be cut from the diet side, but it doesn't have to go as deep at 1800 because I did workout. I only have to cut down to 2050 then.

(2300-250 from diet - 2050. 2050-250 from exercise = 1800)

Other days I do a longer workout, like an hour. That's the -500. So I can eat my maintaining 2300 calories. Because the -500 is all coming from the exercise angle that day.

(2300-500 = 1800)

In general I feel happier with middle of the road -- some diet cut back and some workout.

Hope that makes sense. For me this works so long as I have my maintain number right. I can work it backwards from there.


02-17-2011, 11:01 PM
Thanks- I don't eat back my calories. I was just trying to understand WHY livestrong.com would say to do that.

02-17-2011, 11:20 PM
I did what livestrong said to do for a while, and then I just started ignoring them as my activity increased. Some days I burn over 1K calories, and there is no way that I could eat back 1K calories in addition to the calories I'm already supposed to eat for the day.

02-18-2011, 10:46 AM
The reasoning behind why you're eating back the calories that you exercise is because your diet calories already have a deficit.

So, let's say your body burns 2000 calories a day. Livestrong (or other software/calculations) will tell you that to lose 1 pound a week, you have to eat 1500 calories.

500 x 7 days = 3500 calories less = 1 pound

If you exercise, you're now burning a lot more.

500 Food deficit x 7 days = 3500 (food)
Spinning class = 500 calories/hour

If you Spin 7 days a week, you're now in a 1000 calorie deficit

500 Exercise Deficit x 7 days = 3500 (exercise) + 3500 (food) = 2 lbs per week

2 lbs per week sounds okay, which is why everyone says exercise moderately while you're dieting.

But some people get hungrier especially if you deficit puts you at 1200 diet calories. So, some people suggest you eat 100 calories you spent walking (like with an apple, not a cookie).

Since most of us aren't burning 1000 calories or more a day and we're probably eating around 1200 or MORE, eating back our calories doesn't make sense, really. Our bodies have enough fat stored as energy to cover the exercise deficit.

I think people who are exercising a lot (2-3 hours, very hard exercise) probably will eat part of what they burned because their bodies will require it. I know people who are amateur athletes who do eat more on days they are training/racing.

But I think for us, who are just trying to lose weight and eat healthy, it doesn't really make sense.

P.S. Also, our bodies aren't machines, so the websites that suggest eating back calories or that we should eat 800 calories to sustain a 2 lb loss as we lose weight are flaws that are in the system, because it isn't a human looking at the situation. Fitday (which I use) will recommend really low calories for me if I put in that I want to lose 2lbs or more per week. But the thing is, our bodies aren't machines and the websites don't have the capacity (the algorithms) to make those adjustments.