Working in the Calories Burned While Exercising Back into Your Daily Eating
Should you be worried about working in the calories burned while exercising back into your daily eating requirements? For example: if the treadmill told you that you burned 600 calories, should you make up for that 600 calories in your nutrition plan?
No, and I don’t want you to worry about that at all.
And here’s why:
First and foremost, calorie estimates are insanely inaccurate. If you’re running on a treadmill it’ll almost always gives out a number that it thinks you burned. But the issue with that is that the treadmill never has any idea how much you weigh, what your metabolic rate is, how much muscle you have, or how much you’re eating on a daily basis. And those things all play a major role in determining calories burned. Which is why those calorie burned estimates can often be way off.
On top of that, if you’re using a calorie or macro counter program like MyFitnessPal, it automatically considers how many steps you’re taking on a daily basis, figures up an estimate for how many calories that is, and adds that calorie count into your log.
So, for example, if you’re supposed to be eating 1,500 calories and you’re walking 10,000 steps in a day, MFP will estimate that means you’re burning 400 calories. So, it’ll add those calories to your daily total that you’re supposed to be eating. Turning 1,500 calories into 1,900. Which is a significant jump. And if someone is eating at an extra 400 calories for days or weeks in a row that can do serious harm to their progress, if not stop it completely.
Now, while I don’t teach counting macros or calories – because I find it can lead down a very slippery slope of unhealthy “dieting”. I do, however still teach about the right amounts to be eating and listening to your body for cues on when you’re hungry or not. Intuitively eating.
Ok, let’s talk about exercise now: exercise isn’t supposed to be a tool for weight loss. It’s a tool to make you better. A tool to make you look and feel better. That’s the real purpose of exercise. Not to burn calories. Or to use as a punishment for your caloric intake. Sure, you burn calories while exercising, and muscle built will need to a greater calorie burn, but the calories you burn while exercising often tend to be drastically lower than almost anyone would ever imagine – or any heart rate monitor would say.
So, don’t worry about how many calories MFP tells you that you burned. Don’t pay attention to that number on your treadmill. Don’t worry about any of it. You’re exercising for your health above all else. That’s what really matters here.