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  1. #1
    Senior Member theetruscan's Avatar
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    Simple diet and exercise question

    Let's say I need to eat X calories a day to lose some amount of weight each week.

    If I burn Y calories exercising on some day, do I then eat X + Y calories that day, or X + Y * (some number less than 1) or what?

    Basically, it seems I need to be eating around 1950 calories a day to lose 2 pounds a week assuming I don't exercise. Today, I burned something like 2200-2400 calories exercising (1 hour of pretty intense cardio at the gym and a 45 mile ride). Do I need to eat 4350 calories today to be on pace for my diet if I've been about right the rest of the week, or is that over/under eating?

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    Senior Member deraltekluge's Avatar
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    Do I need to eat 4350 calories today to be on pace for my diet if I've been about right the rest of the week, or is that over/under eating?
    No, you do not need to eat more. You don't say how much you weigh, but losing 2 pounds a week on a 2000 calorie diet without exercising is pretty extreme...that implies about a 3000 calorie diet to just maintain weight. If you exercise more, you'll lose more. If you really did burn an extra 2400 calories, you should lose an extra 2/3 of a pound or so...what's wrong with that???? If you were doing it every day, it'd be a different story...you'd probably be losing weight at too great a rate to be healthy, but isolated instances don't really matter...your body averages things out. After all, that's what fat is for in the first place...to average the well-fed days with the ill-fed ones.
    Last edited by deraltekluge; 03-28-09 at 08:19 PM.

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    Senior Member theetruscan's Avatar
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    Sorry, I was overly vague. I'm wondering about staying on the same pace. I understand that I can increase caloric burn without increasing food intake in order to increase weight loss, but I'm trying to understand how simple/complex the calorie calculations from exercise are.

    I'm not asking "do I need all these calories no matter what," I'm asking "do I need these calories to stay on my weight loss pace." I'm trying to figure out if adding exercise to my diet is simply additive, or if there's a more complex thing I need to know.

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    The thing that's worked for me is to come up with a daily "average" calorie goal. Meaning you take your Basal Metabolic Rate (calories you would burn in a day without extra exercise) and multiply it by an "activity factor." There are lots of BMR calculators online if you google it. They usually are based on one of two formulas. One will take your Lean Body Mass into account. One will not. Both will give you similar results unless you are extremely muscular or extremely fat. Your BMR multiplied by your "activity factor" will give you your TDEE (total daily energy expenditure). Create your "deficit" by subtracting your 1000 calories from TDEE and try to eat at that level everyday. I eat about the same whether I have a "rest day" or a day like today when I did a 1 hour weight training session followed by a 35 mile (2 hour) bike ride.

    Sedentary = BMR X 1.2 (little or no exercise, desk job)
    Lightly Active = BMR X 1.375 (light exercise/sports 1-3 days/wk)
    Moderately Active = BMR X 1.55 (moderate exercise/sports 3-5 days/wk)
    Very Active = BMR X 1.725 (hard exercise/sports 6-7 days/wk)
    Extremely Active = BMR X 1.9 (hard daily exercise/sports & physical job or 2 X day training, full time training, etc.)


    My TDEE is around 3900 calories so I try to eat around 2900 per day and the calculations have been almost right on over the last 4 weeks as I've lost 10lbs in that amount of time. If you aim to lose more than 2lbs per week you will probably end up losing muscle along with the fat. Hope this helps.

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    I should add that with this formula I don't have to keep track of "calories burned" which I prefer. I think it's really tough to calculate how many calories are burned during exercise. I only keep track of calories consumed and rely on my weekly results to tell me if I should increase/decrease my calories. I should also mention that all this is based on a great book called "Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle" which is an eBook by Tom Venuto that has helped me A LOT. I highly recommend it.

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    Senior Member Michigander's Avatar
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    The simple and effective system that I used when I was losing 2-3 pounds per week, was that I would exercise a LOT, eat only the healthiest food, stop eating when my hunger was gone, and always try to go to sleep hungry. I did this for a few months, and lost about 60 pounds.

    Getting mathematical isn't necessary, but obviously you should do whatever you think will help.
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    Senior Member dbikingman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by theetruscan View Post
    Sorry, I was overly vague. I'm wondering about staying on the same pace. I understand that I can increase caloric burn without increasing food intake in order to increase weight loss, but I'm trying to understand how simple/complex the calorie calculations from exercise are.

    I'm not asking "do I need all these calories no matter what," I'm asking "do I need these calories to stay on my weight loss pace." I'm trying to figure out if adding exercise to my diet is simply additive, or if there's a more complex thing I need to know.
    Simple answer. Yes, add the calories your base + what you burned. This will give you the same weight loss as your calorie base and no exercise.

    As you can see there is many ways to figure out your numbers, but I wanted to give you a simple answer to your questions.

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    Quote Originally Posted by theetruscan View Post
    Sorry, I was overly vague. I'm wondering about staying on the same pace. I understand that I can increase caloric burn without increasing food intake in order to increase weight loss, but I'm trying to understand how simple/complex the calorie calculations from exercise are.

    I'm not asking "do I need all these calories no matter what," I'm asking "do I need these calories to stay on my weight loss pace." I'm trying to figure out if adding exercise to my diet is simply additive, or if there's a more complex thing I need to know.

    Simple answer simple question is NO . There is a lot longer answer thou .

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    Senior Member theetruscan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dbikingman View Post
    Simple answer. Yes, add the calories your base + what you burned. This will give you the same weight loss as your calorie base and no exercise.

    As you can see there is many ways to figure out your numbers, but I wanted to give you a simple answer to your questions.
    OK, cool, makes sense.

    Quote Originally Posted by pipes View Post
    Simple answer simple question is NO . There is a lot longer answer thou .
    Wait, what? Could you help me out a bit more since you're directly contradicting the post right above yours? AUGH, I'm confused.

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    Don't do it! Look for weekly averages instead. Your body can't absorb more calories, so snack while riding, about 250 to 300 calories an hour. Other than that, don't eat any more than normal.

    I did a century yesterday with 6000 feet of climbing, in high winds with 40mph gusts. In addition to my normal meals, I ate 2 Clif bars and a Gu. You don't need to add an extra few thousand calories over your normal meals to make up for the exercise.
    -------

    Some sort of pithy irrelevant one-liner should go here.

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    Senior Member late's Avatar
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    About the only thing that makes me lose weight is commuting to work by bike.
    It's only 4 miles (although coming back it's mostly up a gentle incline).
    But it works.
    We are as gods, we might as well get good at it.
    Stewart Brand

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    Senior Member theetruscan's Avatar
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    OK, wait! This is getting too complex again. I have a reasonable idea of how to lose weight over time. I'm just trying to sort out if caloric expenditure is additive. I.e. does doing 1000 calories of exercise directly offset eating 1000 calories of food?

    Or, are there complicating factors that make diet and exercise trackers' simplistic accounting inaccurate for weight loss purposes? Like, if I burn 1000 calories/day in exercise, up from 0 calories/day, do I need to eat 1000 calories/day extra to keep my pace of weight loss the same, or should I be eating 900 more? 1100 more? That's all I'm asking.

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    Senior Member dbikingman's Avatar
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    This thread is getting confusing to even me. The OP's original question is if at 2,000 calories a day he will lose 2 pounds a week. If he exercises and burns an additional 2,200 calories then he could eat 4,200 calories and still loose 2 pounds a week.

    Start of Rant - All the other information about what to eat, when to eat, how to burn the 2,200 calories doesn't answer his question. The reason many people exercise is to burn calories so they can eat more. It is simple math. How many times has it been stated on here to lose weight you have to burn more calories then you take in. That is simple math. How you obtain the numbers of calories eaten, burned and required are all subject to long discussions, but that wasn't the question. For all I know the OP has the numbers exact and just needs to know how to combine them. Sorry for the Rant, now I return you to your regularly scheduled (and mostly peaceful) forum.

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    Senior Member Wogster's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by theetruscan View Post
    OK, wait! This is getting too complex again. I have a reasonable idea of how to lose weight over time. I'm just trying to sort out if caloric expenditure is additive. I.e. does doing 1000 calories of exercise directly offset eating 1000 calories of food?

    Or, are there complicating factors that make diet and exercise trackers' simplistic accounting inaccurate for weight loss purposes? Like, if I burn 1000 calories/day in exercise, up from 0 calories/day, do I need to eat 1000 calories/day extra to keep my pace of weight loss the same, or should I be eating 900 more? 1100 more? That's all I'm asking.
    Nothing is that simple, for example if you exercise worth 1000 calories, your body now has an elevated heart rate, so you will actually burn a little extra. By the same token, it's not the amount of calories in the food, it's the amount that is metabolized in the food, for some foods this is less, for some it is more. I think this is the issue for diet sodas they may contain 0 calories, but metabolize to some number of calories.

    Generally the idea is that if you want to lose weight you need to have a caloric deficit, this stuff isn't exact though, a food that is rated 1000 calories could vary from 800 to 1200 depending on the batch. A 1000 calorie bike ride could vary anything from 800 to 1200 depending on wind velocity and direction, temperature, tire pressure, etc, So if your 1000 calorie ride is actually 800 calories and your 1000 calorie lunch is actually 1200 calories then your 1000 calorie deficit is actually a 600 calorie deficit. So you want to count exercise on the low side and food on the high side. Some of the calorie tracking web sites are considerably off in their estimates, they count exercise on the high side and food on the low side. I think this is partly to encourage participants, but then again this is one of those places where YMMV.

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    Just go ride your bike and have fun. Calories in calories out, when riding your body will tell you if it needs some food, especially after the ride.
    Best thing about cycling is when I'm at work I'm thinking of cycling, when I'm cycling I'm thinking about cycling.

  17. #17
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    Think of it like a bank account...

    Gearhead82 has it right. He does the calculation for each day. I prefer to do it by the week. That way it's no so subject to daily swings (of exercising or eating!)

    I've always used 1.5 as my indicator. So, for me to maintain 200 lbs my net should be 3000 cal/day or 21000 per week. It's been a pretty good indicator, but it seems that over the past 20-yrs it might be going down a bit, meaning that at 3000 cal/day I seem to maintain about 220lbs.

    Your body is like a bank. Put in more money than you spend (i.e. eat more than you use) and your bank account (your weight) will increase. Put out more than you take in and you'll lose.

    The original post asks about a particular day when he exercised a lot. Don't worry about it on a daily basis. Smooth it out over a week. Heck, a check of your bank account on any given day does not give you any sense of whether you are rich or poor!

    bob

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    Senior Member theetruscan's Avatar
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    Thank you everyone! dbikeman really answered my question well. I understand the general idea of burning more than I eat just fine, but I am a neurotic statistic-obsessed type, and wanted to work with all my data as well as I could. I know I'm working with approximations, I know that off-the-shelf calorie counters overestimate my exertion by nearly 25% and my HRM seems to overestimate by 5-10%. I know I should worry more about the long term and all that, but as I start to push more and more 60-100 mile days with the improving weather, I wanted to know what that meant in terms of sticking to my diet on days where I burn a lot of calories (I had a day that was almost certainly a 4500+ calorie burned on exercise day over the weekend which prompted the question) as well as providing my body enough calories to improve my endurance and suchlike. I'm not merely trying to slim down, I'm also trying to increase my endurance for the deathride this summer, and overly constraining my calories on days where I exercise seems to be not so good.

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    Senior Member breadbin's Avatar
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    i'd have to agree with dbikingman. There is the simple maths calories in < calories out = weight loss but at the same time you have to take in more calories than normal when exercising because you'll burn yourself out if not. I know its not your question but related.
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    Senior Member Jim from Boston's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Michigander View Post
    The simple and effective system that I used when I was losing 2-3 pounds per week, was that I would exercise a LOT, eat only the healthiest food, stop eating when my hunger was gone, and always try to go to sleep hungry. I did this for a few months, and lost about 60 pounds.

    Getting mathematical isn't necessary, but obviously you should do whatever you think will help.
    I agree with the above pretty simple rules, though I frequently violate "try to go to bed hungry," and that's my downfall since it's at night when I eat unhealthy foods. BTW, here's my more specific definition of "only the healthiest food," which I do ascribe to during the day: Low fat, low glycemic, vegetarian, in the Zone (diet by Barry Sears), with special attention to Omega-3 fats (walnuts, salmon and supplements for me, contravening low fat and vegetarian). I call it the Dr. Perfect Diet, FWIW.

    I don't weigh myself, but people were really struck with how much weight I lost while training progressively from 70 to 200 miles per week over 10 weeks for a century. I had to have my suits and tuxedo altered, and that's a good motivation to stay in shape.

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    Quote Originally Posted by theetruscan View Post
    I'm not asking "do I need all these calories no matter what," I'm asking "do I need these calories to stay on my weight loss pace." I'm trying to figure out if adding exercise to my diet is simply additive, or if there's a more complex thing I need to know.
    Yes, it's as simple as that. It's your base metabolic rate plus whatever additional calories you burn. Eat that many calories and stay the same weight, eat fewer and lose weight.

    If you're dead set on _not_ losing more than 2 lbs per week then you would want to keep your daily calorie deficit to about 1000 calories. Burn 5000 calories in a day, take in 4000. But there's nothing that says you have to regulate it precisely in a 24 hour window. Eat more tomorrow to compensate for having a big exercise day today, or eat less tomorrow if you've overeaten.

    I question, though, the numbers you're beginning with. You claim that to lose 2 lbs per week with no exercise you would want to eat 1950 calories per day. That would put your base metabolic rate at about 3000 calories per day. This seems high.

  22. #22
    Senior Member Wogster's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by theetruscan View Post
    Thank you everyone! dbikeman really answered my question well. I understand the general idea of burning more than I eat just fine, but I am a neurotic statistic-obsessed type, and wanted to work with all my data as well as I could. I know I'm working with approximations, I know that off-the-shelf calorie counters overestimate my exertion by nearly 25% and my HRM seems to overestimate by 5-10%. I know I should worry more about the long term and all that, but as I start to push more and more 60-100 mile days with the improving weather, I wanted to know what that meant in terms of sticking to my diet on days where I burn a lot of calories (I had a day that was almost certainly a 4500+ calorie burned on exercise day over the weekend which prompted the question) as well as providing my body enough calories to improve my endurance and suchlike. I'm not merely trying to slim down, I'm also trying to increase my endurance for the deathride this summer, and overly constraining my calories on days where I exercise seems to be not so good.
    Endurance is a different thing all together. Your body has 3 fuel supplies,

    1) Glucose stored in muscles.
    2) Glycogen stored in the liver.
    3) Fat

    Glucose stored in the muscles is like a match, it burns furiously, but the supply is extremely limited. Glycogen stored in the liver is a easily called upon, burns fairly rapidly, but the tank is fairly small. Think of a ball of newspaper in a camp fire. Fat is like that big old maple log that goes on the top of the fire, it burns slower, but burns for hours.

    If you run out of glycogen, you will suffer the bonk, what runners call hitting the wall, once you have done it, it's not an experience you want to repeat. The problem with burning fat is that it burns in a glycogen flame, so you need to guard that supply.

    Blood glucose will burn just as nicely as glycogen does, as it is essentially the same thing, some foods are intended to be easily metabolized and converted to usable energy, which can save the glycogen in the tank, some of the energy bars, gels and sports drinks are in this category. You need to be eating and drinking during a high burn activity to keep replenishing that glycogen, anything more then about 300 cal/hr will not be metabolized until later. You do want to train your body to burn mostly fat, as we have a vast and ready supply.

    Some people say your better to do 100 miles over 7-8 hours then over 3 hours, in that you burn more fat and less glycogen that way, others disagree. It can take up to 24 hours to reload the liver with glycogen, so after a high burn day, you may want a short recovery ride, the next day, followed by an off day, before having another high burn day.

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