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Old 05-19-2010, 02:10 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Confused about calories...

I apologize for asking such a ridiculous question, but I really can't seem to get a grasp on this whole "calories burned" thing.

So I just did the Calorie Calculator/Daily Caloric Needs, and if I use the option for exercise 3 times weekly, it says my daily caloric needs for maintenance are 2166 calories.

Here's where I get confused:

When I exercise, do I add the calories burned from each workout to my daily caloric needs, and THAT is how many calories I burn for that day? Or is the calculator I just used accounting for my workouts, and I'm only burning 2166 total?

I don't understand!!!!! Also, you guys say you add in your sleeping hours to your fitday activities. Is that not accounted for in your BMR? I seriously get so confused by all of this that I want to stop counting calories altogether, because I never know what the right number is!!!

Somebody please explain
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Old 05-19-2010, 04:42 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Since I don't use the FD activities calculator, I don't think I can answer the first part of your question. But I know that sleep doesn't factor into active, waking BMR. Everything slows down when you sleep. It is your body's time to conserve energy and "reset." So, your metabolic rate drops off drastically when you're asleep, your brain activity goes way down (even during REM), and you're basically burning only enough to keep basic life functions going. Which means even if you're vegging on the couch watching TV, you're burning more calories than when you're asleep. As far as I know, the FD calculator assumes you're awake all the time unless you specifically include time spent sleeping, which will drop your daily caloric needs number. Someone else can correct me if I'm wrong.

-Nik
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Old 05-19-2010, 04:55 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Thanks Nik...

And in reference to the first part of the question, I got that calculator off of a different website (just some random calorie calculator).

I was just wondering, as a generality, do they factor in your workouts, or do you usually just add the calories burned to your daily caloric needs?

Like...say I burn 2166 per day, and then I burn another 300 on the elliptical. So am I correct in saying I burned 2466?
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Old 05-19-2010, 05:04 PM   #4 (permalink)
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That sounds right to me.

The main reason I don't use calculators for calories burned is because it's so hard to pin it down exactly. I just assume a baseline of 2000 and work from there. Plus, most calculators only account for the calories burned while doing the activity itself, whereas some activities raise your BMR for a certain amount of time afterwards. For example, when you move around heavy boxes for half a day, you raise your BMR by something like 20-30% for the next 24 hours!

IMHO if you can log everything you do in a day then you'll have a good estimate of how much you've burned, but for me they're too detail-dependent to be useful.

-Nik
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Old 05-19-2010, 05:22 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Maybe I just need to stop caring quite so much about the exact number of calories, work out like I always do, keep my eating at a minimal yet sustainable level, and just live my life!

All these numbers are making my head hurt!!!
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Old 05-19-2010, 07:02 PM   #6 (permalink)
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i know what you mean, i also gave up counting my calorie burned since i can not make any sense of it. but, when i see the others talking about calorie deficincies, i feel left in the dark!
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Old 05-20-2010, 02:54 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Farah, I honestly think I'm just going to "monitor" my calories, not count them so strictly, and just make sure that I work hard at working out, and put in an honest effort to lose weight at a healthy rate, and to just be more healthy in general!

I don't think I want to live the rest of my life counting every single calorie I put in my mouth...that's just silly. As long as I make smart food choices, and don't overeat, I believe that I will reach my goal and be a healthier, happier person!
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Old 05-20-2010, 04:30 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Hi Jenny,
The calorie burn thing is confusing, both in theory and the way Fitday applies it. Here's what works for most people. When you set up your profile pick a level of activity that does not include your exercize routines. For me, most of my day is either at my desk or stand/walking in the laboratory. So "seated with some activity" is appropriate for me. The "calories burned" in the table now reflect the amount of calories you use just to do the things you need to do in your every day life.

Now, when you exercize you will add those activities independently. For example, my daily calorie need is about 1900, or about 80 calories per hour on average. Then I add a 2 hour run at 10 min miles. Fitday will calculate the calories burned for those 2 hours and replace 2 hours at 80 calories with 2 hours at about 500 calories burned per hour. So my calories burned for that day will be around 2740.

That is the value that will be used to calculate my daily calorie deficit. So if I eat 1700 calories and burn 2700 calories, I will have a deficit of 1000 calories - which is really good, almost a third of a pound of fat at 3500 calories per pound of fat.

What can get confusing is that the calorie burned calculations are only a rough estimate. There are many, many factors that go into exactly how many calories an individual burns. And a program like Fitday just can't account for all of those factors.

Many of us believe that our profiles over estimate the number of calories we require for our day-to-day activites. That is why some people add "sleep" or other activities to lower the number. Lots of folks also find that the calories burned doing an activity doesn't match other data they have available like the calculators on elliptical machines or GPS equipment. Therefore you will probably read recommendations on how to adjust those numbers in Fitday by changing the time spent doing and activity or the intensity of that activity.

The calorie deficit calculations can be really helpful for planning meals and exercize. But not everyone likes them or can use them, so the bottom line is: Whatever works for you... stick with it.
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Old 05-20-2010, 05:10 PM   #9 (permalink)
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RunBikeSki -

So when you calculate YOUR daily totals, do you put in the sleep hours like some people do? I guess I just don't know whether or not I should do it myself? I have my daily activity set at seated with some activity (I work as a police dispatcher, and then usually do household chores when I get home). Then I go ahead and add in whatever exercise I do.

So based on how I do things now, do you suppose I should also include 8 hours sleeping (or however many I sleep). Right now it usually shows me burning around 2200 calories BEFORE my workouts.

If I add sleeping, it puts me at like 1550 calories...quite a huge diference. So I really don't know which to go by?
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SW: 176 (ehh...we'll go with 05/01/10)
CW: 163(10/15/10)
GW1:155 (2/15/11)
GW2:145 (04/15/11)
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Old 05-20-2010, 08:10 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Jenny, I think it's smart for you to ease into things. Just do healthy things and see how the scale responds. I did that for about a year and once I wanted to get more serious, then I started counting calories. Maybe at some point I'll take it up another notch and count calories expended so I can actually figure out my deficiencies, but for right now, I'm happy with the rate at which I'm losing and don't feel the need.

Just do what feels good. As long as the scale is moving and you're engaging in healthy habits, don't feel the need to count out every calorie in/out. Best of luck!
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