I’m so confused! I’ve lost 40 lbs. in the past year, with 40 to go. I work out 6-7 days a week (kettlebells, TRX, circuit, spinning, and personal training sessions). I only eat carbs in the morning. Otherwise I eat lots of veggies, chicken, tuna and turkey.
I use the Lose It! app to track my food and my exercise. The app says I should be eating between 1300-1400 calories a day. When I log exercise, it adds those calories back into my daily calorie budget.
Should I be eating those calories? Should I ignore them? My weight loss has STALLED out. I read your site like mad and have read many posts where you tell people to eat more. I’m so confused. I’m at a loss.
Thank you, Nicole.
It seems like I’m answering a lot of these types of questions lately and that just proves that more people then ever are struggling with their diet. First of all, congratulations on your weight loss so far! Way to go Nicole!
You haven’t told me your height and weight, but I’m guessing that the 1300 – 1400 daily calorie amount that Lose It! gave you is a baseline amount or Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR). What that means is if you were to lay in bed and do nothing, you would require that amount of calories to support life and body functions. Let’s be honest – 1400 calories really isn’t a whole lot of food is it?
I answered your question because you’re confused about ‘net’ calories and whether or not calories burned in exercise should be replaced. It’s hard for people to wrap their heads around the idea of taking those calories back in because most feel they need to burn them to get weight off. But if you don’t eat them, you go into what I call ‘exercise induced starvation’. In other words if you eat 1400 calories and burn 500 in exercise, that only leaves you with 900 net calories for the day which is not enough. By doing so you could lose muscle mass and possibly get fatter!
You can’t ask your body to continually put out energy while not replacing it. That’s a sure fire way to make your body hold onto fat instead of burning it for fuel. You have to learn to think of burning calories and weight loss as an all day process. Sure it’s great to burn 500 – 700 calories in a workout, but the real benefit to regular exercise is in its cumulative effect and the fact that you continue to burn calories long after the workout is over. So YES I say include some of the calories back into your daily total.
Here’s what I suggest Nicole. Don’t start eating an extra 500 calories per day, but instead try eating half the calories back that you burn in exercise. So try bumping up your calories an extra 200 – 250 calories per day on days that you workout. It’s going to take a bit of work on your part with tracking calories and monitoring your weight, but truthfully I think that with working out intensely 6 – 7 days per week that you should probably work your way up to at least between 1800 – 2000 calories per day. And remember to make those calories nutritious so they go a long way. So include lots of veggies, lean meats, nuts, seeds, and if your goal is fat loss, stay away from or only consume a little fruit. Of course processed foods and high sugar products are not going to help you.
You have to remember that while many of us are similar, using apps and formulas may not work for everyone. We’re all different and respond to different stimulus. I personally think that 1400 calories is too low, not satisfying and definitely not sustainable. I use the Web MD metabolic calculator to get a basic calorie amount and then tweak details from there. Why don’t you try it? Simply key in your info and see what it tells you. The bottom line is to lose weight you need to FUEL your body and give it what it needs to run strong and repair itself. Especially when you eat a healthful diet, with proper calories and dedication to your workout the weight should continue to come off.
Good luck – and if you have a question – please just click here. I’d love to help you!
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