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Eating Your Workout Calories

When people start tracking their nutrition they usually come to the question, “should I eat the calories I burn and workout?” Or, “how do I track my workouts and MyFitnessPal?” Both are good questions but if you don’t completely understand the way you calculated your calorie goal it might lead you to overeat.

MFPExercise

If you have used the P90X formula and my recommendations, don’t add workouts in MyFitnessPal and don’t eat extra to “make up” for calories you burn in your workouts.

Workout Calories

During every workout you burn calories. Pretty basic huh? Every workout is a little bit different, and the number of calories you burn depends on a lot of factors. Your weight, fitness level, intensity, workout duration, and even exercise type. The best way to see how many calories you actually burn and workout is to use a heart rate monitor. If you’d like to learn more about using a HRM, I recently wrote about them in a post called Heart Rate Monitors.

If you do Chest and Back from P90X and burn 643 calories, you have increased your caloric need for the day by those calories. Your body would need more calories to maintain weight because of the extra work you did. But most of us are NOT trying to maintain weight, at least when we start. Working out is one of the ways that we create a caloric deficit in the proper environment to lose body fat and weight.

Caloric Needs Calculations

In case you’ve missed it, I posted a really great calorie calculator while back. It can be found HERE. In my teamRIPPED calorie calculator, I use the P90X formula for calculating caloric need. As I wrote in that post, I have found the P90X formula to be the most consistent and accurate for most people’s needs. It gives you a great starting point, but you always need to actually use that calorie goal and monitor it for a few weeks to see how your body responds.  Then you may have to adjust that guideline to better fit you.

Here the main components to the P90X formula:

BMR = base metabolic rate or the number of calories you burn just breathing
(That’s your weight * 10)

DAB = daily activity burn or the number of calories your daily activity adds
(20% of BMR for most people – really active maybe 30% – very sedentary maybe only 10%)

Daily Workout = here P90X gives you an average of 600 cal per workout.
You are already adding workout calories!

Add those all together: BMR + DAB + Daily Workout = Calories needed to Maintain Weight (CMW)

So you can see, the P90X formula already adds in an average number of calories for your workouts. Some workouts you may burn more than 600 but there are also workouts that you burn less than 600.

From those calories we need to maintain weight we subtracted a certain number of calories to create a deficit. YOU HAVE TO EAT FEWER CALORIES THAN YOU “NEED” IN A DAY TO LOSE WEIGHT! If you don’t create a caloric deficit, you won’t lose weight. In some cases, you may think you created a caloric deficit and still not lose weight. That means whatever calorie goal you picked is still too much.

Eating Workout Calories

So now that you have your calorie goal from the P90X formula  and you’ve applied 600 for a deficit, what happens if you eat your calories from your workout? YOU WILL BE DOUBLE EATING THOSE CALORIES! You already added an average daily workout of 600 calories. That’s factored in before you even take your deficit. If you do eat the calories that you burn during your workout, you’ll just be eating extra calories. True, there may be some workouts that you burn more than 600 calories.  Consider that a nice bonus and an even bigger effective deficit.

The only time I would ever recommend eating your workout calories is if for some reason you do two workouts in a day. Say you go for a run in the evening and burn an extra 300 cal, when you eat those calories you would still have your deficit from the first workout and just be replenishing that extra work.

Distinction without a Difference

Ok, so say you don’t add in an average workout burn. You will have your BMR + DAB – Deficit… In this case you could eat your workout calories. It will seem like a TINY number of calories though. Say you are 180 lbs. Ex – 1800 + 360 – 600 = 1660 without a workout. Now if you burn 432 with Back to Core, then you could eat 2100 total and you’d still be at your deficit of 600. But can you see how inconsistent this will be? What if you forget to wear your HRM? Are you going to guess at what you burned? Maybe be a little generous. What if you workout late? And burn 1000 calories? Are you going to pound a 1000 calorie meal before bed?

It really makes no difference, it just can make it harder if you don’t have a solid goal. Moving targets are hard to hit and consistency pays off.

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22 comments
CMcDonald
CMcDonald

Hey coach, if I want to replace body fat weight with muscle should I do the fat burner diet than put on muscle ( a deficit) or should I do a surplus and the fat burner percentages.

CoachWayne
CoachWayne moderator

 @CMcDonald  You won't lose BF if you are on a surplus. I would go with Fat Shredder and a deficit. Set the goal for fat loss and stick to that goal. 

shaunteefan
shaunteefan

Hi coach,

My question is, if there's a way to set up myfitnesspal app that it shud show me MY macros broken down the way I want it? Let's say I eat 2000 calories a day /50/30/20 which comes out to 250g of protien. So it shud be set up that I can eat 250g of protein a day, one I start eating something with let's say 5g of protein and track it it shud say that I have 245g of protein for today, the same with carbs and fats.

Thanks, 

CoachWayne
CoachWayne moderator

That is exactly what MFP does. For setting it up for Fat Shredder, check out: www.teamripped.com/myfitnesspal-set-up

Bear O
Bear O

Coach. Have a Q and not sure if this is the right place for it, but here goes.  Been very focused on the nutrition while doing Body Beast (starting Week 9 tomorrow) and I don't want to mess it up.  My Q is if I'm burning excess calories by doing things like putting up retaining walls, splitting wood, or other very physical work on the weekends should I be taking in extra calories?  If I take in 3700 cal during the week when I'm working out then sitting at a desk all day, should I be eating extra on weekends when  work out then spend the whole day sweating like a mad man outside?  Hope this makes sense.  Thanks.  

CoachWayne
CoachWayne moderator

 @Bear O I would just watch your weight. If you aren't gaining at a predictable rate, then the extra work on the weekend could be working against your surplus. It's a big running average. So 3700 may be well over your need during the week and at your need for the weekends. Again, look at the scale. If you aren't gaining what your think you should be at 3700 (say 1 lb a week), then add a couple hundred more. 

AndrewD
AndrewD

Coach,

I am 50 and weigh 178 with a goal of about 162. Body fat is 24%. 

Two years ago I did P90 and went from 200 lbs down to 162 lbs. Gained some muscle in the process. 

Then did one round of P90X and got pretty ripped. Did not follow the P90X nutrition plan, just kept up with the clean diet I had used with P90 previously. 

Then I did nothing after that and the weight of course came back. 

I am now doing the 1st week of P90X using the fat shredder 50/30/20 @ 1900 c /day. After day 1 I lost 1 lb which is good.

I also run 3 to 4 times per week.  Took a few months off because of an injury and am now getting back into it.  Have not run this week yet but wonder if 1900 calories a day with running during the day and P90X at night will be bad. I know about P90X Lean, but I like Classic and want to gain some muscle as well as get lean. Andrew

CoachWayne
CoachWayne moderator

I am really against doing doubles. Check out: www.teamripped.com/doing-doubles If you end up doing this, I would limit your running to a few times week and start at 1900 and see how you feel. As you get leaner, you will need more fuel. 

DannyNI
DannyNI

@CoachWayne Would needing more calories explain why Im hungry more often? I started back on the weights workouts 3.5 weeks ago (currently on recovery week), I upped my calories from 1600 to 2000 but Im starving a couple of times a day!

CoachWayne
CoachWayne moderator

 @DannyNI  Your metabolism could just be rolling from the intense workouts. It always has to come back to monitoring. Eat those 2000 calories exactly and watch your weight over two weeks. If you are losing more than 1-1.5 lbs a week, you could add more calories back (that would show that your metabolism is higher than your are accounting for in your calculations). 

DannyNI
DannyNI

@CoachWayne Whoops, sorry Coach, Im not doing 2 workouts a day, just wondered why I was hungry more often despite eating more.

CoachWayne
CoachWayne moderator

 @DannyNI  If you are doing 2 workouts then 2000 is probably not enough. If you are going to stick with 1, 2000 is a great goal for cutting. Check out: www.teamripped.com/calorie-calculator 

awaterz
awaterz like.author.displayName 1 Like

even if not using a beach body program, i see a lot of mentality out there of calories in / calories out.  the problem with a lot of these is they don't already have a goal or a set amount to subtract, so they're often going way over their calorie thresholds for what their goals are.  in other words, it's going to take a very long time to progress.  

 

it shows just how valuable the beach body programs are because unlike a gym membership, you get a total fitness plan.

wolferpac
wolferpac

Hi Coach, do you cut back on total calories on your recovery weeks?

CoachWayne
CoachWayne moderator

 @wolferpac No, I am still working hard on my recovery weeks and I know I need the fuel to properly recover. You want to be fully ready to hit the next phase. Let your body recovery and give it what it needs. 

Chris
Chris

Would be as simple as saying BMR + DAB = what you should eat each day. Then when your workout is your deficit? The harder you work out, the more of a deficit? I know this wouldn't be as consistent, but I think it makes sense.

-Chris

CoachWayne
CoachWayne moderator

Chris, you could do that with no issues, unless you have HUGE burns and then you might want to consider having more calories. 

Once Chubbs
Once Chubbs

Speaking of nutrition, what macros do you recommend for adding lean muscle? I've seen 40/40/20 in some places, and 50/30/20 in others. Also, for whatever reason calorie deficits and surplusses have always confused the hell out of me... I'm 5'8", 165, and am having trouble figuring out what my daily calorie count should be to add roughly 10 lbs of lean muscle over the next 12 weeks. I'd appreciate your advice on that. Thanks.

CoachWayne
CoachWayne moderator

 @Once Chubbs Your overall calorie surplus (calories above your maintenance need) will be the biggest factor in determining if your gains are lean. I think sticking to 40/40/20 or 30/50/20 is best for lean bulking. Your maintenance need is homey calories you need to maintain your weight, as soon as you add calories above that you are in a surplus. Check out: www.teamripped.com/calorie-calculator use zero as your deficit. That will be your maintenance need. Adding 300 cal above that should allow you to gain about a half a pound a week or a little more, and that will be really lean. Going up to 500 cal over is considered safe to for mostly lean gains.

CoachGaston
CoachGaston like.author.displayName 1 Like

Good post! It's like you know exactly when to post this lol. I was just looking at the nutrition section and to plan out my next 90 days and set my goals and wondering about eating the workout calories. I'm going to see how my body reacts to the goals I set and focus on my body composition not just the scale ;)

Coach Al
Coach Al like.author.displayName 1 Like

LOL..yep I remember asking you this question when I first started.