Calorie Counters - New to calorie counting...and VERY confused!

04-27-2013, 08:21 PM
I have been a Weight Watchers member since January 2011, and was pretty successful with it...but lately I've been thinking that eventually, I'm going to need to try and do this "on my own", and to that end, I've decided that instead of counting points, I'm going to try counting calories for a while.

But I'm having trouble figuring out how many calories I need in a day! I feel kind of dumb, because it seems like it should be relatively simple to figure out, but...I mean, I am the QUEEN of Googling, but it seems like the more I Google, the more confused I get. BMR, TDEE....holy crap, I can't figure out exactly how to calculate my daily caloric needs, and how much I need to cut my damn calories in order to lose the weight!

Can someone help simplify this for me? What's more important -- BMR or TDEE? Which do I need to eat below in order to lose weight? Should I eat back my exercise calories, or not? GAH! Help! XD

04-27-2013, 08:31 PM
Look up the Harris-Benedict Equation. It will help you figure out how many calories your body burns every day typically. Unless your like me and have a higher metabolism then it's kinda inaccurate-but for most people its accurate-but it still gives you an average so you can go from there and mess with it a bit if you feel the need. THEN subtract about 500-1000 calories a day. 500 = 1 pound loss. 1000 = 2 pounds loss. This is on average.

If the link get's deleted I understand-I've never posted a link before so I'm sure if this one counts as spam or not.

Eat back exercise calories? That's up to you. I do sometimes if I am really hungry but usually I don't. But the choice is all your own. :)

04-27-2013, 08:36 PM
Thanks for the link! :) Brings up yet another question, though...I'm never sure exactly how to classify my exercise. (My god, this calorie counting thing makes me feel dumb. LOL). I hit the gym 2-3 times a week for 60-90 minutes at a time; I wear a heart rate monitor and am usually between 65-80% of my MHR for at least 75% of that time. I usually calculate my exercise as "moderate" but am always afraid that I'm overestimating. :/

I know...too many questions! *L*

04-27-2013, 08:41 PM
My fitness pal is helpful! It's a wonderful app for tracking if you don't have a heart rate monitor!

04-27-2013, 08:42 PM
If you've been on WW and had success, take some days from trackers when you had successful weeks and plug the food into a calorie tracker, including fruits and veggies. And then use those calories as your guide.

04-27-2013, 09:01 PM
I think THIS CALCULATOR ( is very easy to use and generally accurate. You just enter your basic info, and it gives you a range of calorie limits depending on your weight loss goals.

04-27-2013, 09:05 PM
I use fat2fitradio dot com. Go to Tools, then BMR. For current weight use your CW. For Goal Weight, use your current weight as well. First you are trying to find out a real TDEE, or calories you need to maintain your current weight. Then from there you can cut for weight loss.

Just doing an example using your height and weight, I'm getting 1714 calories a day to maintain, and assuming sedentary. If lightly active, the number goes up to 1964. So that's the rough range for daily caloric intake to maintain at your current weight in this example, or your TDEE. I find, excluding exercise, that somewhere in the middle of that range is where I maintain. So let's use 1850 as a start!

Ok, so 1850 is to maintain current weight, assuming sedentary. Now, take off 20% for weight loss. So now we are at 1500 net calories for the day (food minus exercise). The BMR is coming out to be 1428, that is number that one never wants to net below, it is the number that you would need to maintain in a coma, literally. So the net number I would shoot for is 1500.

As far as eating back calories...According to this, If you eat 1700 and exercise 500, eat back 300, according to this, to end up with a net of 1500.

Just an example about how I would approach the numbers :)

04-27-2013, 09:15 PM
P.S. It looks like you exercise a lot. I would try to use the HRM to get a calorie burn and then add that back in, in other words, add it on to the TDEE. So use "sedentary" and then each day take your food and your calories burned to calculate your "net" for the day. That way if you have days or weeks when your exercise varies, you are covering that.

04-27-2013, 11:03 PM
I am a Weight Watchers member and I also count calories. In fact, lately, I only record calories.

What has worked best for me on figuring how much to eat is to use an activity monitor. Currently I'm recording what I eat at MyFitnessPal. I am monitoring activity with a Fitbit. MFP talks to Fitbit to tell it how much I am eating. Giving my age and level activity I have set Fitbit to have a goal of a 750 calorie deficit a day which is 1.5 pound a week loss.

So - how many calories I can eat each day depends entirely on the day's activity. To have a 750 calorie deficit I can usually eat between 1100 and 1200 calories a day. At MFP I set my goal at 1200 calories a day although I pay more attention to the overall weekly calorie deficit (which I can see on Fitbit) than on any particular day.

If I have a really active day I can eat more than 1200 calories and still meet my goal.

I find that by using Fitbit to measure the calories I've burned I get far more information that anything else I could use.

If I look at my weekly calorie deficit I find that it is fairly accurate in going to weigh in at WW. It maybe overestimates my loss by about 10% which I recognize and factor in.

04-28-2013, 12:38 AM
I agonized over how many calories as well. I think most of us do and there's very little out there that's definitive.

I keep in mind that the proof is in the pudding. So, if you start out netting 1500 (just to pick a number) and you're losing weight at a rate you're happy with, then continue on. If weight loss is to slow, drop another 100-200 calories a day. Repeat as needed.

Before my toe surgery, I aimed for a net of 1260 and did eat back my exercise calories, at least mostly. Since I was losing 1.5-2 lbs a week doing that, I figured it was working. Right now, I'm aiming for 900-1000 until I can start moving again. (I am truly sedentary for another 3-4 weeks)

There isn't an absolute answer to this question (I wanted one, too). Use a tool or two, pick a target, and adjust it based on your results.

Good luck.

04-28-2013, 05:47 PM
I find that by using Fitbit to measure the calories I've burned I get far more information that anything else I could use.

I want a Fitbit SO badly. *L* I really only *need* the Fitbit Zip, I suppose...but I really *want* the Fitbit One. (I am so curious about my sleep habits and what REALLY goes on with me at night! *L*)

I am curious, I'll ask you: Do you just wear it all day and see what your calorie expenditure for the day is, or what? I mean, I wear a heart rate monitor when I exercise so that gives me a calorie count for that alone. But do you find that knowing your total calorie expenditure for the entire day helps you?

I'm hoping to be able to get one soon. I just wish there was a way to get one from a Canadian retailer. :/