The question whether one should eat back their earned exercise calories is a topic that never seems to go away. If you read the forum content on the nations largest weight loss business that awards their members exercise points, this question can be found multiple times each and every day. Should I eat back my exercise calories or points?
This question can be kind of tough to address – if I tell you no, the next question will be an inquiry about why do fitness apps award them if they are not meant to be consumed.
Common sense has to prevail!
Yes, technically you can eat these extra calories.
But, just because you can, it does not necessarily mean you should.
If you are going to eat back your exercise calories, or points, okay fine, but only on one condition. And this one condition would be that you are first and foremost , 100% in synch with your daily and weekly caloric needs. If you do not have a good grasp on your caloric needs, then do not eat back your exercise calories or points. Odds are, if you have an issue with your weight, you do not have a good grasp on your nutritional needs yet, therefore you should not concern yourself with adding back more food to your daily routine. But if you insist…
Do you actually know how many calories you need per day in order to lose weight or to maintain your weight?
If you do not know how many calories per day you require in order to meet your goals, then by all means check our our Calorie Calculator Pro in order to find out exactly how many calories you do require. We recommend a 1 pound per week weight loss for most people, and no more than two pounds per week for anyone.
Why do you believe you should eat back those calories?
Maybe, just maybe, if you exercise until you drop and run your way straight into oblivion you can burn off those large fast food value meals, bowls of ice cream and bags upon bags of chips. Though the odds of you being able to do this are slim. It’s a nice thought—and people definitely try. But honestly, most of you will never be able to exercise off a poor diet. While we advocate the theory of “calories in, calories out” there is some fallacy to this when not approaching weight loss or maintenance with an ounce of common sense. If you only think of your body as a bank where you just cash in and check out calories, you are neglecting the fact that your hormones matter most for lasting fat loss. What you eat signals hormones to store or burn fat, boost or crash metabolism, and build or break down muscle.
Calories are not created equally.
You’d never say the calories in spinach are the same as the ones in a pint of ice cream, right? The calories in spinach trigger different reactions in your body than whatever ice cream and sprinkles concoction you’re shoveling in by the spoonful. When eating back your exercise calories or points, have you ever sat down with a dish of healthy food choices, or did you rip open a package of cookies as a reward for the work you just put it? Your best bet is to stick strictly to a daily routine with your nutritional needs, whether you exercised or not. If you are going to eat a few more calories, then at least make them nutritionally sound in order to truly award yourself for your hard work. Adding in foods that contribute to that pudge in the belly is not a reward.
Most of you do not need near the amount of calories you might believe you do.
If you are basing your daily caloric needs on what your fitness gadget is telling you, you need to understand that while most calories burned calculators are fairly accurate, they don’t give accurate results if you do not provide accurate information. You have to be truthful with yourself when plugging numbers into your calculator. For example, if you planned to workout for 50 minutes today on the treadmill but only ended up being able to complete 35 minutes, do not still fill in that you worked out for 50 minutes. You also have to be careful of the intensity level at which you are logging your exercise. People are prone to over rating their level of intensity by logging an exercise session as being intense when the truth is, it was moderate at best. Intense exercise levels are when you can hardly breath or speak, while a moderate level is when you can have a labored conversation and your breathing has become a little labored. You only hurt yourself when you fudge your numbers!
Keep it simple!
Adding in calories is not necessary for any reason in order to lose or maintain your weight when you know how many calories per day you require to achieve your goals. You can have a little extra one day, and a little less another, but the main point is that however much you eat over the course of a week averages out to your daily needs. If you are honest and accurate when plugging your numbers into any calorie calculator, you might find that you are needing to actually eat more than you know. This is what happens when you drop simple carbs, added sugars and processed foods from your diet. For a good many people, if not most, when your foods are all nutritionally sound and void of simple carbs and sugars it can be difficult to even eat how much you need for the day, even with exercise added in. If you have figured out your caloric needs with our calculator, you will notice a weight loss right away the first week. If you are spot on with your nutrition and calories and you have not lost weight, then your caloric needs are off because of erroneous data you have entered. It is common that people will overestimate how active they are. If you have a weight problem, it can almost be guaranteed that you are less active than you may realize. If you have not lost weight after a week or two, try lowering your activity level in the calorie calculator and then move on and try again.
- All calorie calculators provide only estimates of your intake. They give you a starting point and it may not be “right”. The only way you know if these numbers are right for you is if you adhere to the guidelines for a few weeks and see what happens.
- Don’t drive yourself nuts trying to be perfect with your adherence, just do your best to get close most of the time and continuously work on improving your habits and lifestyle to support your nutrition.
- Track all relevant data on what’s happening to your body.
- Use that data to adjust your intake as you continue to work towards your goals.
Your body changes slowly and it doesn’t like to change.
So just following a calorie count for a couple of days isn’t going to give you the results you’re in search of. Stop looking for the quick and easy way. Whatever comes out of it usually isn’t worth a damn. Substantial body composition changes and actual fat/weight loss takes on the order of weeks not days. If you decide to use our Calorie Calculator Pro to figure out how much you need to eat, don’t even consider saying it doesn’t work unless you’ve been consistently sticking to it and recording results for at least two or three weeks.
Two to three weeks is generally enough time to observe changes or trends in the data you’re tracking. You can see if things are moving in the direction you want. If things aren’t moving in the right direction, then you know you need to change something about what you’re doing.