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Exercise & calories v. a calorie deficit

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Old 10-16-2010, 11:41 AM   #1
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Default Exercise & calories v. a calorie deficit

So I'm a calorie counter and a very serious exerciser (well recently) I really love how exhausted and accomplished I feel after a good workout and I want to keep going (I'm alternating 5k training with this crazy bootcamp that I LOVE) but I'm getting conflicting information when it comes to my calorie intake.

So I have been hearing that exercise calories burned are "bonus" calories and should not count towards my daily goal; on the flip side, I've heard that because I'm working out more I need to up my intake so I don't starve my body, which is right?

Should I stick to a calorie deficit based solely on my height and weight, or should I go based on all the extra activity I'm doing? TIA!
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Old 10-16-2010, 12:01 PM   #2
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I calorie counted for months and then hit a plateau. I had started off eating 1800, kept moving it down until I was at 1500, and didn't feel like I could go any lower to break the plateau. I started a similar exercise routine to your own, my own version of C25K and hitting the gym for weight lifting and cardio. I bumped my calories up to 2000, and the weight just started melting back off again. I think it's important that you nourish your body. It's better to lose the weight slowly and stay strong than it is to lose it quickly.
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Old 10-16-2010, 12:45 PM   #3
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I think it's great to count calories burned as bonus calories if you're doing light to moderate exercise, but when you're doing a more intense workout, you'll probably need to eat at least some of them back.

For example, I dance as my exercise, and on days when I take multiple classes back to back, I might burn 500-1,000 calories just from exercise. So even if I'm eating 2,000 calories a day, I could be at a net calorie intake of 1,000-1,200, which isn't nearly enough for me.

The best advice is that if you're doing intense exercise, listen to your body. It'll tell you if you aren't getting enough food (just make sure you're filling the deficit with healthy calories - I have a nasty habit of filling it with frozen custard...!)
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Old 10-17-2010, 06:34 AM   #4
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I use a calorie counting software and at first I couldn't believe it, but it told me that I was not eating enough. Calories burned through exercise will count towards my daily budget, meaning that I need to eat more.
But there are also differences in the types of exercise I do: if I walk 40 minutes in an average speed, the calories are not counting, if I would walk in a constant speed of 3.5 mph on a steep uphill (which I am not able to do- yet-...), it would count very much towards the daily calorie intake.

I still have to find out how to get it optimally, but I already realized that if I do not count the walked-away calories and therefore would not replace them, I will lose less weight....
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Old 10-17-2010, 12:54 PM   #5
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I think it just really depends on the individual. Personally I need to eat more to lose based on my activity. Being that I'm close to my goal weight I just set my cals to maintenance for my goal and the my exercise ends up being most of my deficit which I try to keep at about 300-500. If I have a day I workout less then I eat less. On days like today, I burned 1,200 running this morning, I eat significantly more. This works for me. When I was heavier I calorie cycled using freedieting.com and did facto in my activity. Bottom line you have to do what works for you.
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Old 10-17-2010, 01:02 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ncuneo View Post
I think it just really depends on the individual. Personally I need to eat more to lose based on my activity. Being that I'm close to my goal weight I just set my cals to maintenance for my goal and the my exercise ends up being most of my deficit which I try to keep at about 300-500. If I have a day I workout less then I eat less. On days like today, I burned 1,200 running this morning, I eat significantly more. This works for me. When I was heavier I calorie cycled using freedieting.com and did facto in my activity. Bottom line you have to do what works for you.
That's the problem, I have no idea what works for me; I keep hearing to create the deficit but I also keep hearing to up my calorie intake...I'm afraid to sabotage myself so early in my journey.
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Old 10-17-2010, 02:16 PM   #7
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How many cals are you eating now?

If you are not hungry (real hunger) tired, irritable, or light headed and are losing weight then I'd just keep doing what you're doing assuming your cals are reasonable (like not under 1400). You've lost 13 lbs! You're doing something right. If you stall then reevaluate. As I lost I got more active and increased my cals to keep losing. But I knew I needed to increase because I was hungry, irritable and not losing anymore. So listen to your body.
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Old 10-17-2010, 03:44 PM   #8
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The formula I found somewhere (maybe livestrong?) is: Maintenance calories - (calories consumed - calories burned) = Deficit

A deficit of 500 per day (3500 per week) should (ideally) result in a 1# loss.
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