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How many calories do you add for exercise?

For those of you who count calories, how many calories, if any, do you add to your diet for the days you work out. I have just starting counting calories and noticed I have a hard time getting under 1600 and I am 5'5 145. My goal is 1200-1300, but still can't seem to get there. A website I found says I should have 1800 to maintain my weight and so if I want to lose 1-2lbs per week, I should reduce that by 500 = 1300 per day. But what about the calories I burn during exercise?

Fri. Aug 11, 10:13am

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Let's say you eat 1600 calories of food in a day, and you do 30 minutes of 3.5 mph walking. There are websites, such as that will tell you how many calories you burned in your walking. In your case, at your current weight of 145 lbs, that would be 125 calories burned. So, your calorie total for the day would be the equivalent of 1600 calories eaten minus 125 calories burned = 1475 total net calories for the day.

Friday, August 11, 2006, 10:25 AM

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From the OP

Thank you -- you have been very helpful!

Friday, August 11, 2006, 10:25 AM

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I eat 1200-1300 cals a day. I do it b/c I've learned over the last year and a half which kinds of calories keep me full and which do not. It's been a lot of trial and error, but I've got it down now.

I don't change my calories due to exercise, for one main reason. If I told myself that I got extra calories b/c of exercise, I'd mentally want it to be a treat of some sort, which is never healthy, and I think I'd be likely to eat more calories than I burned. Though, I don't exercise so hard to really need to eat more to make up for it.

I also figure that my occasional slip-ups can be my extra calories from exercise, even if they don't occur on the same day.

Friday, August 11, 2006, 10:27 AM

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Just as an my trainer told me 3500 cal = 1 lb

Friday, August 11, 2006, 2:15 PM

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That's true. If you eat 3500 calories more than you need in order to maintain, you'll gain a pound. If you eat 3500 calories les, you'll lose a pound. That's why people say to have a 500-cal deficit per day to lose 1lb per week (7 x 500 = 3500).

Friday, August 11, 2006, 3:07 PM

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So if you use 1200 calories a day just for your basic functions (you may use more or less, everybody is different), and you eat 1200 calories and burn 400, you should, conceivably, lose weight. However, ifyou're active enough to be running on a regular basis, your metabolic rate is probably higher and you're burning more than 1200 calories a day just for your basic functions - 1600 might work better, and if you're serious about running performance, you need to make sure you're getting enough fuel for those runs, or you'll use up your glycogen stores in the middle of the run and "bonk". There is no magic formula, and you just have to adjust until you find what works for you. If you feel tired all the time, even if you're not hungry, try eating more complex carbohydrates (fruit, vegetables, whole grains) - those are the most readily available sources of energy for your body.

Friday, August 11, 2006, 4:01 PM

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It is a balancing act.... so to maintain you need 1800 but you want to lose 1-2 lbs per week, you would want to reduce your calories by 500-100/day either by a) eating less calories or b) exercise or c) and the best in my opinion a combination of both. But according to most information now wether you believe it or not another story you should consume a minimum of 1200 calories unless under Dr. supervision...... again lots of debate on that 1200 number see previous threads if you want to know what I am talking about

Friday, August 11, 2006, 4:05 PM

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Not going under 1200 calories a day is probably a good rule for most - many people wouldn't get the nutrients that they need going much under that, and the risk of overly obsessive eating/control may increase (i.e. anorexia). But look at yourself. General guidelines are for general people.

I'm 5'1" tall. If someone who's 5'5" tall shouldn't go under 1200 calories a day, then what does that mean for me? I shouldn't weigh as much as them, so why should I eat as much as them?

I'm not sure what this means numerically, but if you're very short, and you're not losing and you're eating 1200 cals/day, plus exercise, then maybe 1200 cals is too much for you. Just a possibility!

Friday, August 11, 2006, 4:41 PM

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You don't ADD calories, you subtract them!

The point of exercise, in the context of weight loss, is to help you by subtracting calories from your daily total. Start with your base and any exercise you do decreases your net calories for the day. In my case, I get a little Catholic about indiscretions with food. If I eat something that wasn't a great choice, fine, love it. That day or the next though, I'll do "penance" at the gym to help defray my caloric sins. ;)

Friday, August 11, 2006, 5:19 PM

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Exercise ideally should also increase your base metabolic rate, thereby increasing the number of calories you burn just sitting still.

Friday, August 11, 2006, 5:56 PM

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