Struggling with calories, help needed!

Hi all,

For some time now I’m looking for the answer to the following question:

If I go to gym and burn calories, should I eat more?

They have recommended 1600 kcals for me per day and say I should stick to this if I want to lose weight.

However, I go to gym about 5 times a week and burn around 450 kcals per session.

That leaves me with 1250 kcals a day and obviously starving!

So should I eat the amount of calories I’ve burned as well or half of it? I can’t seem to figure this one out as everybody says something differently.

So please share some tips, advice or wisdom :slight_smile:

You aren’t gonna love my answer :see_no_evil:
There seems to be several approaches for this - some say stick to a certain deficit and thus if you train you can eat more. But there’s two pitfalls to this. One is that unless you wear an accurate fitness tracker it can be hard to not over estimate your calorie burn from the train session. In my experience must apps and training devices does exactly that. Secondly even if you do nail the calories burned you have to subtract the normal sedentary calories burned in that timeframe. If you train for 30 min burning 100 kcal you can only eat 90 more if your normal metabolism uses 10 kcal in 30 mins by just keeping you alive.

The other approach is to stick to the same calorie intake every single day no matter the fluctuation in activity. Problem with this is that it can be very much harder to stick with the meal plan on training days along with it can be deficult to find the calories for pre and post workouts meals, which could help you work harder and gain muscle faster.

So all in all what’s the best? I don’t know but I can tell you what I try to do. I wear a fitness tracker and I log my food intake and I try to keep a small deficit as long as my aim is to loose fat (I don’t really want to loose a lot of weight but would love to ‘transform’ a few kgs of fat into muscles)

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Personally, I tend to eat more on days when I exercise, although I don’t go anywhere near the number of calories I’m supposed to have burned, I tend to stick to about half of that. But I also try to go under my goal on sedentary days - so for instance in your case, I might allow myself 1800-1850 kcals on an exercise day, but then aim for 1450 on the other days. Not that that’s going to average out at 1600, but just because it’s easier to limit intake that bit further when you’re not exercising

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That is an approach I would use.

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I’ve tried both approaches indeed. Not compensating for the burned calories is definitely not working for me.

But I also doubt the amount of burned calories since those gym machines are not always accurate.

Therefore @danlking method seems the best one. If I make sure the average is 1600 kcal I should still be on schedule and be allowed to eat a little more on workout days.

I wouldn’t get too hung up on averaging 1600 or thereabouts - if you’re exercising 5 times a week, you only have two days off. That means on your “off days” you need to be eating 2.5 times more of a defecit than your surplus on your “on days” in order to average at 1600. For example, if you do eat 1800 on your exercise days, you need to eat about 1100 on the other two days for the average to be 1600.

Its probably better just to centre your targets around 1600 (1600 + something on exercise days, 1600 - something on other days) but not worry too much about a target for your average

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Yes that’s true. I hadn’t thought about it. 1100 is really too low so I’ll stick around 1600 somewhat.

What’s really worked well for me is to just have an extra, healthy, pre or post workout meal (300-400) that doesn’t exist when counting calories.

If you’re exercising that much, there’s really no way you should need to feel hungry. Without knowing your metabolism I’d even be tempted to say try hit 2000 calories daily and watch your weight for a month, may even find your energy levels skyrocket and your weight drop. If not, at least you won’t be hungry!

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