Weight Loss
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How many calories should I eat back?

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Hi there!

I am kind of confused about the whole eating back calorie thing.  I wear a step counter that also calculates how many calories I burn.  I go for several long walks during the day (on the treatmil at high intensity, or outside), and I am always on my feet keeping busy.  If I burn 500 calories by walking, should I eat all this back, or should I only eat half the amount?  If I am totally sedetary (which I never am), it says I should eat 1300 calories a day.  For light activity, I am supposed to eat 1400.  For today, should I be eating 1800 calories?  It just feels like a LOT of food!


135.5 pounds,  goal = 130
17 Replies (last)
Yes you should eat all of it back. You've burned calories so you need to eat what you've burned to stay above the minimum of 1200 :)
no, don't eat all of it back, because that would just be a waste - maybe just half. i've never heard of eating back cals until i came on this site and, personally, i think it's bullshit. 
Yes, listen to Lawlll, she has an eating disorder and I'm sure she knows more about nutrition than the majority of this website.

/sarcasm off
jackattack is right. For example, if you ate exactly 1200 calories and burned 300 cals, the total cals you ate for the day would be 900. You need to eat atleast 1200 cals if you are a female in order to lose weight safely. Feel free to correct me if I'm wrong. I'm still new here and I'm still learning.  :)
having an eating disorder doesn't mean i don't know anything about nutrition. i've lost 30 pounds without this whole "eating back cals" thing. seriously, i've NEVER heard about eating back cals until i came here. 
I didn't hear about it either but it makes perfect sense to eat what you burned.
yeah, I was confused about it too. because let's say my BMR is 1500, and I burn an extra 300 through exercise and want to lose weight. I'd eat only 1300 for a 500-calorie deficit, right? Well, if I eat only 1300, I've burned off 300 so that puts me at 1000 net calories consumed, which is supposedly unhealthy.. so do I need to eat 1500 calories? But then I'll only have a deficit of 300! see what I mean? So, I figure that eating anywhere from 1300-1500 is okay for me, at least right now. I'd never heard of the whole 'at least 1200' thing until I came to this site and personally I think it differs from person to person. Plus, I can barely stomach 1300, so how am I gonna eat 1500?! Y'know? Whatever.
well i think the reason ive never heard of it is because many people i know dont really 'diet' they cut out a few things like candy and icecream and excersise alittle more, most of the time only just balancing things out this way so eating back their calories wouldnt work. Its only people who are stricter with their diet and calorie cound now know exactly how much they're putting in and how much they need vs how much they put out.

So if someone only needed 1500 calories to lose weight but they were regularly eating 2200 calories a day and they desided to excersise more and burned 700 calories they would have the defisit they need so couldnt eat back them cos they would then be over their daily alowance.

Also think of an extreem, you need 1200 calories a day to lose 1 pound and burn 700 (extra) you would only have 500 net calories can you really expect this to be healthy?? so if you need to eat more under these cercumstances why would you suddenly not need to if you need 1700 calories a day to lose 1 pound a week because you are generally active and burn an extra 500 calories or more a day through excersise that would leave a 1000 cal defisit which wouldnt be healthy in the long run either. thats 1000 calories under what that person needs to function, its not that suddenly you body needs 1000 less calories.

I think i may have made things confusing as im not a very consise person but i hope you get the idea lawlll and anyone else who believes you shouldnt eatback ANY of the calories burned. when at the same time you are also restricting what you are eating.
Why would you want to exercise so hard to burn the calories, just to eat them again? As long as you make sure you don't burn under 1200 calories you should be fine.
yeh but excersise makes you physically fit, helps build muscle, makes you more tones, gives you mroe energy ie makes you healthy. under those ideas you would stop excersising when you hit the weight you want to be at, people excersise not only to shift weight but to look and feel better too. so the extra excersise wouldnt make you lose more weight if you eat the calories but would make you look better and do your heart and lungs a lot of good
oh my i am appauled at my spelling and grammer, im soo sorry im not normally this bad!
I'd never heard about eating back calories before coming to this site either, but most caloric restriction diets I'd looked at before did mention that you should eat more on days when you're more active.  And yes, revolution3 is right, the 1200 is a safe estimate.  Really short women could probably aim for 1100, but should probably consult a nutritionalist first. 
coffeelover2000, the point of exercise is actually not to burn the calories, but to burn calories from fat (as well as many other health benefits).  If you're working out >60% hr for 30+ minutes, part of the calories you burn will come from burning off fat, and if you're dieting properly, the calories you eat back will not be stored as fat.

Geez, guys!  Leave lawlll alone, for pity's sake!  Aren't we supposed to be supporting and HELPING each other, instead of being rude and condescending?!?  My gosh.
It does vary.  1200 is the minimum minimum anyone should have.  I believe like even if you're in a coma.  What your body needs just to run it's most basic functions.  Going by that, technically the moment you get up just once to go to the bathroom or something it should be more.  Or possibly even the calories it takes to chew what you're eating.  But from that 1200 you can add in age, weight, & other factors to figure out what you should have.  Look up basal Metabolic Rate and you should get a gazillion hits about it. 

As tempting as it is to go low to lose more (and it sure is) you really will end up being sorry later.  It may take a while, but if you do that kind of stuff enough in your teens & twenties by the time you're 30 or so, you might be able to gain weight eating very little.  The more you can get away with eating, & still lose weight the better.  It gives you some dieting longevity, in a way.  You start low to begin with, do that long term, it will eventually cause you trouble.  Especially if something happens later and you slip for a while.  If by some miracle you lose 2 lbs. a week eating even 2000 calories, don't go down because eventually there's no where else to go but getting yourself sick. 

Also, remember exercise has benefits well beyond simply burning off calories (expending energy).  It's never, ever a waste.  (says the girl who needs to get off her butt again ;))
You need to burn more than you consume in order to lose. Simple. A pound is 3500 calories.

im another confused person! so like if i need 1400 calories and they say i need to not eat 500 calories shouldnt tht mean then that i should cut it down by at least 300 to loose half a pound a week?and if i exercise and go for a run/walk and use 160 then i have to eat it back?i amn't overwieght ust want to tone up my stomach ties and but, (using pilates as well)

personally I have started to eat back whatever I burn during working out so that my diet has more give so on days i restrict myself to a net total of 1300 cals i actually eat 1600 while burning off 300 at the gym with elliptical and weights so that i stick to my diet but gain benefits of working out

17 Replies