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Weight Loss
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Caloric Intake Limit & Exercise: How Do They Work?

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Alright, I'm a bit confused about this. Calorie-Count has indicated that my caloric intake should be 1200 Calories a day. That is a 500 calorie deficit from what my body naturally burns on it's own (1700). Now, if I exercise for a half hour and burn 300 calories, my deficit is now 800 calories. Should I let that deficit remain or eat more? If I eat 300 extra calories doesn't that defeat the purpose of exercising? Won't I lose weight faster if I don't eat more? Sorry, if my question is convoluted! Thanks for your help!
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my interpretation is that 1200 calories per day is the minimum a woman should take in and a 500 calorie deficit is the most you want each day to feed your body what it's needing to sustain operations. so exercise enables you to either (1) acheive a deficit without going under 1200 calories (for example my daily burn is 1400 without exercise, so the most of a deficit i would have is 200 calories without exercise, but with 300 calories of exercise i can hit a 500 cal deficit) or (2) eat more and still maintain a deficit (important for those of us who have trouble hitting that 1200 mark).

perhaps others can advise more intelligently on whether an 800 calorie deficit is considered healthy.
I know it's confusing. 

But what you depends on what activity level you chose when you filled out the cc tool.  Did you select sedentary, or light activity, or moderate activity?  

If you input sedentary, then yes, you should eat 300 more calories that day, or 1500 total.

If you input light activity, then no, you don't eat 300 more calories because the light activity has already factored that in.

I think a better way to do it is to calculate your goal weight maintenance calories and set that as your daily allowance.  You might lose slower, but you won't have to adjust your calories upward, and risk weight gain, and you will be getting optimum nutrition while you lose weight.

I use a range, with the sedentary value as the bottom end and light activity level as the top end -- which results in 1350-1550 calories.  And I'm only 4'11.


Eat to be healthy, Exercise to be Fit, and the weight will take care of itself . . .
a 1 to 2 lb per week weight loss is generally considered safe and sustainable.  that would be a 500 - 1,000 calorie deficit per day...

1 lb = 3,500 cals divided by 7 days = 500 cals deficit per day.

2 lbs is double = 1,000 cal deficit per day, right?

i think the more conservative deficit recommendation is 500 - 750 per day.

the benefits of exercise extend beyond weight loss, so if you eat more and therefore "lower" your deficit... you still get the other benefits of exercise, like more stamina, increased muscle tone and strength, better heart and cardiovascular health, etc...

you can change daily ~ you don't have to stick to a rigid deficit but use the tools to come up with a range and guideline.  If you are hungrier one day, eat a bit more, just try not to go past your maintenance calories for the day (maintenance cals = cals burned for the day :)

hope this helps :) 
important things to remember about calories

it takes 1200 for the body to function normally without thinking it is starving.

the body does not start eating itself (fat and muscle) until you starve yourself daily, such as with ED peoples

it is very easy for people trying to lose weight to accidentally undereat and have too large of a deficit, where the body thinks "okay, im not going to get food for awhile let me save myself" and it slows down the metabolism- thus hindering weight loss efforts

it takes energy to burn fat healthy style, and you must get that energy from eating

if you have changed your diet to where you eat clean, eating back calories you burn does not negate it- it is only negated if  you still eat like a pig and think working out makes a difference. Eating back calories the healthy way will keep you away from starvation mode

you need to eat more. If you eat 1200, then burn 300, eat that 300 back for a total of 1500 for days you work out. then you will lose weight

I'm also a bit confused - if I eat 1300 calories a day (my goal is to lose 20 pounds by mid July and I am 5'4 and 148 now), then does that mean EAT 1300 total and then exercise will just be extra help, OR eat 1700, and burn 400 to get to a total of 1300? I am lightly active (walk 1.5-3 miles a day) and also work out fairly intensely several times a week. I don't want my body to go into starvation mode so I am afraid that my defecit will be too big if I only eat 1300 and then burn over 300 cals. Can someone tell me how you are supposed to combine these two? Thanks.
If you are trying to eat 1300 cals a day, and not exercising some days, then 1300 should be your total for the day.  On the days you exercise, add the calories you burned on to the 1300.  You want you total intake everyday to be 1300.  For example, if you burned 200 cals working out, then you need to eat an extra 200 cals that day for a total of 1500. 

Just from personal experience though, I wouldn't stick to eating 1300 calories for more than a month or 2.  It is very hard to eat close to the bare minimum for a long period of time, and your metabolism will drop also.  It is actually easier to lose weight when you eat a little more.  Your body won't feel like it's starving all the time, and you will keep your metabolism will be higher too.
thanks! that's really helpful
Hi Guys,

I know this is quite confusing and hence why I saw a dietician a while ago to explain everything as i was concerned about my body going into starvation mode. So here is how it works:

The first thing you need to know is your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) which is the total number of calories your body will burn per day if you had no activity, i.e. you slept the entire day and night. The energy/calories burnt here make up your bodies normal processes such as breathing, organ functions etc. It is imperative that you do not go under this number because if you do your body will react by slowing down your metabolism as it thinks it is in survival mode and needs to drop energy expenditure to ensure your body's normal processes can continue.

The next thing you need to know is what your your total energy expenditure is per day to keep your weight stable, ie. energy in equals energy out. So if you are eating roughly 1800 cals per day and not losing or gaining weight then this is that number. This number is a combination of your BMR and the energy spent during normal activities i.e walking, talking, moving etc.

Now to lose weight you can two things - one, you can reduce your calories per day to create an energy deficit (but no less than your BMR) or you can exercise to increase energy expenditure and create the deficit that way. In my experience (and i have lost 15kg doing this) the best way is to do both. For example:

If your BMR is 1200 and you are currently consuming about 1800 cals (and not losing weight) then dropping your calories by 200 and exercising at 300 per day will create a calorie deficit of 500 per day which is theoretically 1 pound or 1/2 kg or weight loss per week. Of course you can reduce your intake further, to say, 1300 (again though, not lower than your BMR) and can exercise a bit more say 500 cals then this would double your weight loss with a deficit of 1000 per day or 2lb per week - 1300 in and 2300 out.

In all of this the important thing is to listen to your body. Working out your BMR and energy expenditure will always be an estimate, so if you find yourself really hungry then make sure you eat as you could be restricting your diet too much. It is better that you eat a bit more and ensure that your metabolism stays high than starving to death!

I hope this helps.

I think it's important to remember that we're exercising to build muscle, not just to burn calories. The body needs calories to build muscle. So yes, you should be adding back the calories you burn, even if it means you lose weight slower. The number on the scale may seem to creep along, but your body composition will be changing for the better, as you gain muscle.

I only just started adding back the calories I burn, and even though my deficit is averaging around only 300 instead of 500, I had my best weight loss week ever, at a rate of 0.7 lbs lost vs my usual 0.4 lb. It is too early to say this is directly correlated though (particularly since it was also the week that I reduced my daily intake of alcohol).
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