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Joined the Gym -- Should I Adjust Calorie Intake?

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Old 10-02-2011, 10:24 PM   #1
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Default Joined the Gym -- Should I Adjust Calorie Intake?

I just signed up for my local gym, which is only a few blocks from my house and open 24 hours, so it's really convenient. I'm excited to lift weights and add different exercises to my day. My question is, since I am adding exercise (I've just been dieting for the past two weeks), should I up my caloric intake a bit? I've been eating no more than 1,500 calories each day, and I don't want my body to think it's starving and start holding on to weight since I am burning more at the gym. Should I just wait and see if I feel hungry, or should I proactively eat a bit more?
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Old 10-02-2011, 11:30 PM   #2
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This is a topic about which reasonable people disagree. On the one hand, if you just keep eating 1500 you will create bigger deficits and lose faster. On the other hand, a 500 or 1000 calorie deficit is good anyway, so why not eat a little more and have energy for the work outs.

If you feel hungry, eat a little more. If you don't, don't. Just be aware that it can be really easy to over-estimate the number of calories you burn at the gym.
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Old 10-03-2011, 01:05 AM   #3
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If you feel hungry, eat a little more. If you don't, don't. Just be aware that it can be really easy to over-estimate the number of calories you burn at the gym.

I agree with this. I wouldn't change anything until you see how you feel after a couple of workouts.

Also, the starvation "myth" is just that. Your body cannot somehow magically hold onto weight. I wish I knew where this idea originally started. Think of people in disadvantaged parts of the world where people are literally starving. This is totally untrue. You will be just fine if you listen to your body and your hunger. If you're truly hungry, eat a little more.

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Old 10-03-2011, 01:57 AM   #4
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Also, the starvation "myth" is just that. Your body cannot somehow magically hold onto weight.
+1!!!!!!

I am at 1200 calories and I never eat back what I burn from exercise. Exercise does not stoke my hunger, even longish (45-60 minutes) runs.

That said, some days my body (or my mouth!) wants a little more food, so I don't mind adding 100-200 calories, whether or not I've exercised. Sometimes I'm fine with 100-200 fewer calories, so I don't get up to 1200.

The main thing is don't assume that the calorie calculator on your machine or online is correct and eat back those calories. Those are notoriously inaccurate, and that mindset is what leads people to eat a slice of cake (400 cals) as a "reward" for 30 minutes on the elliptical (200). Yikes!
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Old 10-03-2011, 03:23 AM   #5
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I wouldn't. Not on purpose. If you're starving to death, don't torture yourself but I wouldn't add the calories before you know how working out will effect you. Keep in mind, that exercise may stall you for a while. It always does that for me, and I've heard other people say the same. Don't be discouraged!

I 3rd the "starvation mode" sentiment... total BS. I've NEVER ever ever encountered a stall from eating too little. You may find yourself with a nutritional deficiency which is NOT good... but your body can't magically hold onto calories you're not eating.
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Old 10-03-2011, 09:24 AM   #6
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I never do intentionally. To me, working out is just the icing on the cake (bad metaphor, I know!).
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Old 10-03-2011, 09:35 AM   #7
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If you are going to replace some of the calories you burned working out, try making those calories work for you...like a protein shake or something healthy with lean protein.

The extra cals you eat should be helping your muscles repair from the workout you just had. If you weren't breaking a sweat and really going at it...you probably don't need to add any calories that day. If you know you put in major effort for 30-60 minutes, drink a protein shake.

Either way, it can be easy to fall into the trap of eating extra on workout days, b/c 1.) most people grossly overestimate calories burned during a workout and 2.) adding 200-300 cals of junk food might trigger you to eat more than planned or crave more sugar/fat.

In the end..try some different things. If you are still losing and feel alright, that is what works for you!
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Old 10-04-2011, 05:14 PM   #8
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I add some on days that I work out. I sweat a LOT, so I drink 2 servings of Gatorade which is 100 calories, I also have a protein shake as soon as I get home which is 130. Then on days I do weights I have another protein shake before I go to bed. So I'm burning between 500-1000 at the gym, and taking in an extra 230-360.
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Old 10-04-2011, 10:56 PM   #9
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I'm burning between 500-1000 at the gym
1. That's a big range
2. Where are you getting the numbers?
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Old 10-05-2011, 12:02 PM   #10
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Another one for "see how you feel."

Don't add calories just to add calories, but if you're hungrier, eat a bit more. And I also second the comment to eat something that works for you. After a hard work out, I'll have non-fat greek yogurt or skim chocolate milk for muscle recovery.

On days when I'm REALLY starving, I'll have 2 servings of chicken breast instead of 1, but that's usually when I'm running 6+ miles and I need the extra protein anyway.
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Old 10-05-2011, 02:32 PM   #11
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This is true! That is why I find my Bodybugg invaluable to me. I can see what I'm REALLY burning as opposed to what the machines say I am burning. The machines are way, way, waaaaay off base!

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Originally Posted by DietVet View Post
........Just be aware that it can be really easy to over-estimate the number of calories you burn at the gym.
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Old 10-05-2011, 02:45 PM   #12
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1. That's a big range
2. Where are you getting the numbers?
My heart rate monitor. I usually get about 800 on the treadmill, then 200-300 more when I do weights. I do have easy days in which I only do about 500 on the treadmill and don't do weights. Today I only got to 120! Apparently my body needs a rest! lol
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Old 10-06-2011, 03:43 AM   #13
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I usually get about 800 on the treadmill, then 200-300 more when I do weights.
Just curious: how long are these workouts. I assume that you're burning around 600 or a little less an hour?
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Old 10-06-2011, 10:14 AM   #14
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Just curious: how long are these workouts. I assume that you're burning around 600 or a little less an hour?
60min on the treadmill, 15% incline starting at 2.5mph working up to 3.0 then back down again. Next week I'm going to start at 2.6 and work up to 3.1. When I first started at the gym I was at 7% incline at 2.5mph.
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