Why You Shouldn’t Account for Calories Burnt via Exercise When Calculating Your Calorie Requirements

Arj Thiruchelvam – Head Coach

Are you someone who includes calories burned through exercise in your daily calorie intake calculations? If so, you may be overestimating the number of calories you need and developing poor food habits. Here’s why you shouldn’t account for calories burnt via exercise when calculating your calorie requirements:

  1. Inaccuracy of calorie expenditure measurement: The ability to accurately measure calorie expenditure is incredibly poor. Our smartwatches and devices tend to significantly overestimate the number of calories we burn. Therefore, it’s best not to rely on these devices to track calorie expenditure.
  2. Overestimation of pre-workout calorie consumption: The majority of people overestimate how many calories they need to consume before exercising. This can lead to overeating and consuming more calories than you actually need.
  3. Overestimation of post-workout calorie consumption: Similarly, the majority of people overestimate how many calories they need to consume after exercising. This can lead to consuming more calories than necessary and undoing the calorie deficit created through exercise.
  4. “I deserve this” mentality: Many people have the “I deserve this” mentality after a workout and end up consuming more calories than necessary. This can lead to developing poor food habits and consuming excess calories, hindering weight loss progress.
  5. Exercise over-compensation: When calculating calories using a tool like WeeklyCalorieDeficit.com, it’s important to focus on non-exercise calories because we can’t control for the calories burnt via exercise, while we can have a very good idea about the number of calories we eat. This is known as exercise over-compensation and we tend to ruin any calorie deficit’s created by doing the points mentioned above.

    However, if you’re doing a lot of exercise, you need to account for these in your diet somewhere. It would be inappropriate to under-consume calories, below your BMR, for extended periods of time. , and it can lead to fatigue, injury, and hinder your overall progress.

In conclusion, it’s best not to include calories burned via exercise when calculating your daily calorie requirements. Instead, focus on a calorie deficit through a healthy and balanced diet. This can be your starting point and with a bit of scale weight, waist measurement and clothing fit observations you’ll be able to identify how your progress is going and you’ll be on your way to achieving your weight loss goals. As always, if you need more specific, individual help, ask a professional and always consult a health professional before you commence any new programme.

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