Do I add back calories I burn during exercise?

This is one of those questions we get every day. “Should I add calories that I burn during exercise back to my total”.
While I can see why this is tempting, the answer is a firm, absolutely not!

Here’s Why:

If you used the IIFYM calculator to get your macros, you already counted the calories you burned during exercise in step one.

If you eat more calories than our macro calculator suggestion, you’ll be eating more than your body needs to hit your goals. Here is how it works out:

BMR = the calories your body needs to live, in a coma, barely breathing – Nothing else!
TDEE = BMR plus all the calories you use living life, working, playing, eating, exercising and everything in between.

So for our example, let’s say your BMR Is 1400 calories, and the below activities are your daily energy expenditures.

TEF (Thermic Effect of Food/Feed): you burned 100 calories eating food all day
NEAT (Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis):  burn 200 calories at work
Also, TEF100 more calories digesting food
With some more non-energy activity thermogenesis, where you burn 300 calories walking, talking, playing and cooking etc.
And finally, you burn 500 calories exercising (TEPA – Thermic Effect of Physical Activity)


add calories burned during exercise


This gives you a TDEE of 2600 calories.
The IIFYM calculator takes your TDEE and subtracts a percentage based on the goals you enter.

“Lets say you pick AGGRESSIVE in step 2, which is a 20% reduction in TDEE calories.”

20% of 2600 calories is 520
Subtract 520 from 2600 = 2080 calories

You must eat 2080 calories to lose weight.

Here’s what happens when you add calories you burn during exercise

If you eat 2080 calories, then decide to add (eat) back 600 calories that you burned during exercise, you are now eating 2680 calories which is greater than your TDEE (more calories than your body can use). If you do this, you are no longer in a calorie deficit and burning fat. Instead, you are in a caloric surplus and will be storing fat/building muscle. You are simply eating too many calories!

When people talk about adding calories back that they burned during exercise, they are only considering their BMR.

Don’t make this mistake!

The quick answer to the question; Hit your macros!

And if you are wondering. “what exactly are the macros I should be hitting to lose weight at a steady, and predictable pace?” You might want to consider grabbing yourself a Custom Macro Blueprint.

Click here and we will do all the math for you: IIFYM Custom Macro Blueprint


  • Alix

    If you work out your TDEE using the sedentary calculation, and then you go swimming for an hour and burn off 500 calories, you need to eat them back. If you do exercise regularly and account for it then fine, but if you work out your tdee based on office job or couch potato then you must eat back the calories for any exercise that is out of the ordinary. e.g a 5 mile walk that you don’t normally go on.

    • Ryan

      Actually , you don’t have to do anything, if your goal is to lose weight, an extra 500 calories burned here and there isn’t going to hurt anything, infact your going to help things. nothings in black and white, if you go and burn 1500 calories on a major day hyke, sure, eat most of them back, as long as your in your deficit range, but if someone burns 500, and says hey ill let be towards my deficit bank, then theres no harm, you speak as if you “must” and thats misinformation

    • Rayca

      Exactly. This is mumbo-jumbo, all this “to eat back or not to eat back.” Not everyone works out every day. If you eat the same calories according to your exercise routine, you’ll be in a surplus on your day(s) off. And you’d better be taking a day off. Case in point, I was in a pretty good deficit (I don’t count calories), based on not working out. I lose pretty fast on this diet. I decided to go to the gym during the holidays because I took the time off from work. When I went back on January 2, I hit a wall. And a huge wall, at that. I was fine until I went back to work. Just the stress of that caused my deficit to be too much. I slept for 4 straight days (meaning no energy, could not get up off the couch). Calculate your calories, get your rest, take days off and don’t go beyond that. You WILL hit a wall eventually.

    • jonathan

      I agree with this. While you could “not” eat the calories back and be at even more of a deficit. If you truly track your macro’s properly and use the correct TDEE calculations (so you aren’t counting the calories burned twice) then I don’t see anything wrong with eating back your calories.

      I figured my TDEE using sedentary. I then use a Mio Alpha to track my heart rate while lifting or running. That then gives me additional calories I could consume if I wanted to but still be at a deficit (or surplus depending on goals).

  • Shqipnia

    I feel the TDEE calculator overestimates workouts for me personally. I usually set it at sedentary, then add the exercises in MyFitnessPal after the fact. My workouts are not consistently the same. This has been working fine for me. I slightly underestimate the amount I workout too to make sure I am not going over. Lost 2.5% BF (13-10.5) in a month so it seems to be working.

    • How do you measure BF %?

      10.5% sounds really lean!

    • birdy

      Do you eat above your BMR on the days when you eat at sedentary calories?

  • Esther

    I agree with Alix and Shqipnia. I don’t exercise everyday, and if I’m not at the gym then I’m at work/commuting/resting/chores/running errands. I am generally sedentary if not light. For me to choose a higher activity rate because I work out like, 6 hours a week… that doesn’t make sense. I will eat a little more in the mornings on the days I workout, but otherwise I need to keep my calories for a sedentary person.

  • Darlene rios

    What is considered “intense” exercise? I burn about 500-650 calories per workout session

  • jairo

    My Bmr is 1556, to cut 1831 on a 15% what if I burn 500 calories if I’m in a cut that would be 2056 ( 1556 + 500 = 2056 ) should I eat 2056 or 1831?

    • your TDEE includes your calories from exercise. DO NOT ADD THEM BACK!!!

      • jairo

        So what I do if I burn 1000 calories and thinking didn’t burn nothing cause I use a polar watch, what if I just start calculating from bmr and then workout and see how many calories I burn and then put them calories with the bmr

    • Ringo

      CONSISTENT!!! Dummy

  • jairo

    so the polar watch don’t have to use them anymore since the calculator already counting calories burned?

  • Hannah

    I do about an hour of exercise 6x a week (weight lifting with 4-16 lbs so kind of light and then sometimes cardio) and otherwise live a semi-sedentary lifestyle. What should I put as my exercise level? I’m just trying to maintain.

    • First, stop lifting like you are weak, and start lifting for real.
      The weight should be so heavy you are failing at 10-12 reps. If you can do more than that, the weight is too light.
      For your energy levels I’d only put in 5 or 6 days. Once you start challenging yourself, you can increase.

      • Hannah

        I meant like in each hand, but yes it is getting easier. I just started so I wanted to ease into getting used to the lifting lifestyle. I will definitely look into new weights. Thanks.

      • Meg

        “First, stop lifting like you are weak, and start lifting for real.”

        that’s a pretty negative comment. everyone starts somewhere. you don’t throw yourself into the deep end of the pool and learn to swim. you start, you learn, you progress, you grow. you don’t walk into a gym, pick up 250 lbs and start deadlifting. everyone has to find out what their comfort zone is so they can break out of it, meet goals to set bigger ones, and accomplish more and more over time. coming from an admin.. i would expect more uplifting, positive remarks. surely, she will do more over time, and calculate for the changes as she makes them.

        • Brian

          That’s not negative. She stated she is trying to maintain. That implies experience and not beginner. Either way, why do people always look for a reason to have their precious feelings hurt? Stop be so damn sensitive and get to work. The answers are simple, not easy.

          • Georgi

            Well you’re a misery! Leave her alone were not all billy big b*llocks and go into a gym lifting what we can’t to make ourselves look better. Encourage, don’t discourage and make someone feel rubbish

        • Josh

          Negative? No, it’s simple muscle building/fat loss fact.16lbs on ANY lift isn’t doing anything for anyone, barely burning a fart, much less activating your metabolism. You may as well just do bodyweight exercises and you’ll achieve MUCH better results.

          • Amanda Worthen

            I agree. I laughed at your comment…it wasn’t meant to be rude. I’m guessing it’s just your personality! Seriously, people are way too sensitive..

      • Nikki

        You didn’t answer her question though. If she has a relatively sedentary lifestyle during the majority of her day (i.e. a desk job) but exercises 5-6 times/week, should she put her lifestyle as sedentary or lightly active, or…?

        This is where the calculator confuses me.

  • jewl

    What about sugars natural

  • Kreezy

    I have just been advised to read this site by a friend and already loving the discussion.
    Glad the admin gives real honest feedback and the topics and calculators seem really helpful.
    Thank you in advance. I hope if I need any clarification on anything I’ll get the help I need 🙂

  • To be frank, i don’t understand anthniyg in what u wrote!!! All i need is the foods that burn fats, the dos n dont’s and how 2 exercise because i learn’t jogging makes people more fat and that the best way to exercise or burn fat is to do brisk walking’, i want to know how far that is true n all that is necessary. Where can i get a copy of your book an d u didnt say anthniyg about the Nov.8th event.. Thank-you, have a wonderful day

    • What on earth are you talking about?!!
      Use proper English please.

      • Jo

        This is hilarious! LOL

      • rebecca


    • Tyler M

      I don’tknow WHO told you jogging will make you fat. Your body will adjust to the same routine and you will need to break it, sure, but it won’t make you fat itself….. The best way isalso not brisk walking,its simply different from your jogging, so your body reacts. The bestway in my opinion is HIIT training. I shed fat fast when cutting with HIIT.

  • Hi!
    So all of these comments just totally confused me!
    I typically stick to the 40 30 30 rule, where 40 % of my calorie intake comes from proteins, 30 % from carbs and the other 30% from fats. I typically eat the same whether I work out or not plus or minus 100 calories. I’m between 14-1500 calories a day occasionally reaching 17-1800. I’m 5’8 and weight about 145 lbs.

    I work out on average 5 days a week. I’m a lifter and a heavy one at that (leg press 495 x 12, dead lift 205 x 10), my cardio has been lacking but I am a runner and run on average 3 miles 2-3 times a week.

    I am not necessarily trying to loose weight, I don’t care about the scale per se. My goal is to continue building muscle, look a little leaner and maybe build a six pack! 😀

    Any suggestions on how I can alter my routine?

    • Haley

      You need to be eating way more! Im the same height as you (about 130-135lbs) and eat up to 2500cals per day (between 2000-2500)! Don’t be scared of adding the extra cals, i bet your body needs it – especially with your heavy lifting and running! Try re-calculating your macros properly, I have a feeling it would spit out a number somewhere in my range!

      • Wilo

        wow, those are huge numbers… I’m 6’2″ guy, 190lbs, and I eat about 2300cals per day for maintenance… you must be building a helluva lot of muscle…

  • Julia

    What do you consider a days worth of exercise and what is considered intense exercise?

  • victoria

    What if you workout 2 or 3 times a day sometimes? then what… still same thing?!?

  • Lindsay


    I work out hiit 5 days a week (morning) and 5 with weights heavy lifting (pm) I’ve started using MyFitnessPal and have used the iifym calculator, however I am slightly confused and wonder if I have used the Calculator correctly. I put instensively works out so does this mean I don’t need to add my workouts in MyFitnessPal as it would add further calories for consumption and misconfigure the totals?

    Many thanks in advanc

    • Ava_Rose

      Sounds like we could be twins, I use the same workout schedule and have just started using MyFitness Pal as well. Definitely do not add your workouts into MFP because it will mess up your daily calorie goal. If you’d like to log in your workouts I’d suggest a place like Fitocracy

      • renee

        If you add your workouts in MFP it puts it down as a minus. It has your bmr eg: 1300 then if you exercise and put in 500 cals your bmr ( number on the left) doesn’t change so why would you add??

        • Jennifer

          You can put your workouts in myfitness pal but under your workout goals turn the option “Adjust my daily calorie” option to off.

  • laura

    dear admin- you are awesome.

    • admin

      Anyone with a computer can put “admin” as their name in the form and write whatever they want. I’m doing it right now and am definitely not an admin.

      • admin

        whoah, that’s a good point!

  • Crystal

    I just found this site through a friend of mine, and found that I have not been losing much in terms of inches or anything. So I’m deciding to give this a go. I adjusted my settings in myfitnesspal to reflect the numbers IIFYM tells me.

    I used to be the type that would always worry about the amount of calories I burn a day while exercising. Used to use a polar HRM. So i’m eliminating all of that, workout and lift hard, and eat what I am supposed to be eating. Hopefully the body fat % will come down as well as losing inches!

    • Helene

      I literally did the same thing this morning… did that work for you?

  • Stephen

    You guys make this WAY to confusing. You don’t need to be 100% with exercise calculations, calories/macros! You know what you NEED to be!? CONSISTANT. Things will work themselves out. If I over estimate my scoop of ice cream, and say, I’m eating an extra 50 calories … if I do that CONSISTANTLY then i’ll be able to adjust and lower them getting results. Real numbers aren’t everything… BEING CONSISTANT IS! Thanks and take care.

    • Ringo

      CONSISTENT!!! Dummy. Learn to spell before criticising.

      • arne

        I noticed that you repeatedly call pepole dummy. Could you please stop doing that and change your tone from the negative to a more positive one.

        • Ringo


  • Airha

    This is an open question for anyone willing to help: I’m new to this site, morbidly obese and live a sedentary lifestyle. As I am navigating this site, learning what the acronyms mean and trying to understand how I can baby step my way into a healthier lifestyle I’d like to know, what advice can you think of that might help a beginner like myself to lose weight? For instance, I’d like to start lifting hand weights at home as part of a routine, but I’m not sure how heavy they should be. Should I start drinking protein shakes? Any info would be helpful, thanks.

    • J_M

      This is probably not the right place for you to start. Go to, create an account (it’s free) and start tracking your calories. It all comes down to calories in, calories out. Start moving – walking, if that’s what you can do and have the equipment for (also free). Take steps forward from there. Don’t worry about protein shakes or anything like that. Protein shakes are just extra cals. Best to eat your calories in food, not drinks. MFP works (it totally, absolutely works) and it is so so simple. Cut your calories and move – all you have to do to get going. Best of luck!

  • Simply put, Hit your numbers. You are allowed a calculation that is close to how it’ll and for you and your lifestyle. Follow it for at least 10-12 days before you do adjust and add anything. Be meticulous on hitting your numbers, this is what makes it easier instead of being so meticulous on eating “CLEAN”..

  • how it’ll be***

  • Brenda Johnson

    Love this thread. I too am confused by whether or not to add in my activity… but, I do like the comment about consistency! I am new to IIFYM, and haven’t been able to get my numbers dead on, but getting close and getting better. Lots of room for improvement and love to read up on people’s opinions.

  • Angel

    okay if I start off with 1600 calories and I burn 400 on the treadmill and add that in myfitness says I have 1200 left so should I eat 1200 or just keep going from 1600? I am thinking if I burned the 400, those calories are gone, I think it would put me in more of a deficit.

    • Did you read the article? Follow either IIFYM’s recommendation, or MFPs. Don’t use both; they use different formulas.

    • Unless you set your IIFYM to sedentary, then yes, eat the calories back.

  • Kimberly

    I have been wtching my macros for over a year, but this is the first time I haave beeen to this site. I needed to readjust my TDEE and heard this was a good place. I am one who uses “light activity” for my setting, but counts and eats back calories if I have a heavy calorie burn week. like if I add a 3 hour hilly hike to my normally 3 workouts a weeek. it has worked for me so far. right now I am recalculating my macros. I dropped a little bodfat (went from 26-24%, not a lot, but still….) along with started part time job. I figure since the calories i had were fine to keep me on that like between maintain and barely lose a little bit slowly, that the adding of the part time job (20 hours a week) would need a slight tweak. I found I can figure my TDEE using my BF%. but that number is almost 100 calories higher. should I take average of the two? Should I stay at Worksout 3 times a week and count my 20 hours on the job as extra? or just change to a higher activity level? (My goal is to either maintain or slowly slowy lose a couple pounds. I am 42, 5’6.5″, 134#. Mild heart issue so I cant do a lot og heavy cardio. I stick with weight lifting and brisk walks)

  • Kimberly

    ** “can’t do a lot of heavy cardio”

  • scott

    I have a job where I am completely sedentary, but I workout 6 days a week for 1-2 hours. What should I rate my activity as?

  • Jeannie


    Im new to all his and this is my second week counting Macros and this is the best thing for me. So what about the sugar intake does anyone count those?

  • Adna

    Greath site, I found a lot of useful infos here. Anyway, I have one question. If I put that I am sedentary active (because I dont train the same each burned calories are not always the same) shoulld I than add back calories which I burned?

    • jo

      Yes eat back the cals you burned. Because you set yours to sedentary.

  • billie

    Don’t eat them back! You gotta burn calories you eat the back ypur gonna gain! It happen to me don’t make the same mistake!

  • Kate

    So I set my activity to couch potato. I normally do exercise every day for at least light effort for 40 minutes. Maybe burn around 400 calories depending on the activity I do. So do I need to add those calories in that I burned during workout since I didn’t account for them in my IIFYM calculator? Or can I just leave it? Just want to be sure I’m not sending my body into starvation mode or something?

    • MsJayne

      Im in the same boat. Someone please help us

  • I have read so many posts on the topic of the blogger lovers
    but this article is actually a pleasant article, keep
    it up.

  • renee

    Ok. I’m so bloody confused. Admin help please. My bmr is 1380 I workout 6 days a week and burn approx 800-1200 a day at the gym. I only eat my bmr amount each day so here are the questions.
    Are my workouts a deficit so I will loose weight or do I need to eat more closely to my iify

    • Why are you only eating your BMR? You are starving yourself
      Know 15% off of your TDEE and eat that much

      • Joe

        Trouble is, with the tdee calculator how do you know where you fit in, I average 8 hrs cardio over 6 days but someone else may do cardio 20 mins a day for 6 days and end up exercising for two hours. We would both pick 6 days but our calorie burn would be much different.
        I do 30 mins 6 mornings a week and then 30-60 mins cardio in the evening, what should I select on the calculator?
        Please help

      • Joe

        Admin, for one hours excercise per day for 5-6 days burning 700-800 calories a day through cardio, should I pick 5 days to be safe? Some weeks a do over 8 hrs over 6 days?

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  • Marie

    I have been going to the gym for about 3 years now. I am new to the IIFYM diet and have a few things I need help with. I am 21 years old, I weigh 105 pounds, and my height is 5’2.” My body fat % is 13.5 I am trying to gain muscle not lose fat. I entered the following information for the IIFYM calculator- Athletes formula I usually work out 5 times per week (For cardio I do sprints and I work on my legs and arms). On (Step 2 choose your goals) should I put maintain or bulking?

  • Nacho

    I’ve been into IIFYM for about 25 days now, I always hit my macros and never miss a workout. When I see myself in the mirror I haven’t lost any gains (I’m into a clean bulk right now), but I don’t truly know if I’m getting more gains because I seem to have lost half a pound during this 25 days. Maybe I just weighed myself wrong when I started (probably I had a meal recently when I did it back then and now I weighed myself just after waking up). I workout intense 6 times a week (around 2 hours per workout), get proper rest every night (7-8 hours) and my macros are on point. The problem is that the IIFYM calculator doesn’t have the option for 6 workouts a week (intense), just up to 5, and I don’t know if I have to add extra calories to cover up the calories for that sixth workout. Maybe an extra 50-100 calories every day would be enough? I also have PE twice a week where I do kind of HIIT for 10-15 minutes and I go to the gym by bike (12~ blocks away though haha), on the days I have PE I add an extra 50-75 calories to keep balance. I chose the Text Book (%10) approach and I’m eating 2700 calories per day.

    PD: I’m 16 and I’m loving IIFYM, at first it seemed a bit strange to weigh down stuff, but now I got used to it and I’m having excellent energy for my workouts and daily tasks while allowing tasty treats here and there, still eating really clean though. It’s feels awesome to know you are doing things right, I’m really happy! Thank you!

    • Insufficient Fare

      It does have 6 days…

  • tee

    K someone better comment back and give Me legit facts! K so my tdee is 1480 and I excersize 3 time a week, everyday even on one of those 3 days I workout do I keep my calorie intake (1,480) the same? I’m just confused because everywhere I go for information says diffferent things!

    • Ajohn1

      Think of your TDEE as the AVERAGE amount of calories you need each day to maintain the body and level of activity you plugged into the calculator (or TDEE minus 10-20% if you are trying to lose weight). You can fluctuate above and below the number and still see results as long as, over time, you still maintain your average (I look at my weekly average on MFP).

      I tend to eat a little bit more on my active days and a little less on my rest days. You could just eat the same everyday but your hunger and energy levels would be the things fluctuating.

      In terms of “eating back the calories”, it really just depends on your initial calculation. If you’re more active than your initial calculation, you’ll need more calories than you calculated so you should eat a little more than you originally planned. I wouldn’t totally eat back all the calories though bc calorie counters are notoriously inaccurate.

      Finally, try to be realistic with your initial calculation. Not too conservative or aggressive. I have a desk job but I know I can work out 4 days a week most weeks so my calculation is based on that. If I don’t get my 4 workout in, I try to eat a little less. If I get more 5+, Ill eat a little bit more. But I can usually do 4 days so I usually try to stick to my initial calculations.

  • As with any health or fitness program, a sensible eating plan.

  • Michele

    This question may not have anything to do with the topic being discussed, however I thought I would go ahead and ask. I’m a 52 year old female with some health issues that keeps me from being able to really exercise the way I need to. Even walking will send my muscles into a tailspin. I work 40 hrs a week, desk job, and on good days I do what I can. I have lost weight before by following IIFYM, but only by tracking my macros. My question is, will this still work for me if I can’t lift or do strenuous exercise? My goal is to get healthy however, until they figure out what is wrong, I’m in a catch 22. Any advice or suggestions will be greatly appreciated!

  • admin

    You people are idiots! Read the article! Stop with the idiotic questions and learn to read! No wonder you can’t lose weight! You are too lazy to read, probably too lazy to work out!!

    • a m

      This is from the admin?! Were you having a bad day or something? This stuff is confusing. Especially since I have found countless errors in everything I have read so far so…..that would make the writer of all the website pages and emails, well, what the admin said. I have tried to read and it is very difficult at times when wrds are added or missing from sentences. The information is fabulous but the editing is horrible and needs to be adjusted. If this sort of talk is from the Admin then I will not be recommending this site or purchasing the “blueprint” if that is how you talk to customers. Bad business in my opinion.

      • No.. actually this is from a member that chose the word ADMIN as his user name..
        The only admin on this page is me, IIFYM.
        Sorry for the trouble.

        • a m

          Oh ok. Well good to know. I was wondering, I did the calculator 3 separate times and got 3 different numbers. Is this normal? Also, not all the numbers for protein, carb and fat added up to the total calorie amount. It was off by a few. Not sure if you knew that.

          • Kevin Shapiro

            First you’re a dick about editing then you ask for advice. Gotta love people like you. Go teach English class smartass.

  • Holy crap. I must say that this site has THE best string of comments. I was thoroughly entertained for a solid 15 minutes.

  • Yelena

    Hi and thank you for this. I’ve been agonizing over the numbers for the past week. It’s been very confusing on how to calculate, because on top of trying to lose weight, I’m also a nursing mom. Can you please help me with my numbers?

    I’m 33, F, 180lbs, 5’6. I calculated on Sedentary lifestyle. I went “aggressive” and came down to 1289 PLUS I added 500 calories for nursing. Is this too much? Perhaps I should adjust down.

    Anyway, I work out now, averaging 5 times a week of intense HIIT style work and a CrossFit WOD 1 day a week.

    Here’s what I need clarify on:

    1. Do I need TWO TDEE’s? 1 for the days I work out, 1 for when I am not working out?
    2. How much should I really add for nursing? Kid is 14 months, so while I’m not concerned over losing some supply (kid is eating mostly solids), I’m not ready to lose it completely, so I need to have some excess of calories.

    Please advise.

    • Jessica

      You’re going far too low in calories here for the amount you’re working out!

  • Haley

    So just to clarify (probably has been said 10000x on this so don’t hate me) But if you’re using MFP and your macros are already based on an “active” lifestyle, then I should stop putting my workouts/calories burned back into MFP to give me back those calories?
    …Im gonna seem like a lazy bugger hahaha.

    • Insufficient Fare



    Hi I was wondering…. what if you do more exerise one week than you had hit into the calculator? I hit in that I work out 3 times a week but I might make it four or 5 the odd week but more than likely 3 times on average. If I work out more than I’ve said will this be detrimental to my weight loss ?? Or is it OK if I can manage on the lower amount of calories on the weeks I end up working out more ?? Thanks

  • Fifie

    But if we chose a TDEE without exercising and then add our daily consumed calories, does it work?

    I mean: for a girl with a BMR of 1370 kcals and a TDEE of 1570 kcals taking in account 0 exercise per week. If a daily exercise burns in fact 500 kcals (estimated with a fitness watch and heartrate monitor belt), would it be right for her to eat 2000 kcals for maintenance/slight weight loss?

    Thanks ANT for this very interesting article, and cheers from France!

    • Leo Quattro

      Could work, but it’s never a good idea since there’s no way to track your exercise calories unless you own a bodybugg. For sure the calorie calculators of machines are not reliable and nore are tabs with “calories burned per hour of activity” when it comes to cardio, gym or sport.

      • Nasir Hasan

        Wait but isnt your article making the same assumption, that the exercised portion of calories burned thats summing up to the TDEE is 500 kcals. How is Fifies scenario any different? What I mean to say is shouldn’t mechanical inaccuracies affect all diets equally? 😉

        • Leo Quattro

          The point is that as far as inaccurate values go, it’s better to focus on an average daily intake than to change the intake everyday according to how many calories one thinks he or she has burned, which is going to make the values even more inaccurate.

          • Nasir Hasan

            then why have a TDEE that incorporates 500 calories of exercise, something the article recommends. wouldnt it be more accurate and less confusing to have ppl calculate a TDEE w.o exercise first. have a diet deficit then recommend to people to adjust for the exercise expenditure very cautiously as the machines are not very accurate when it comes to calculating calories burned. o.w using your 500 kcal adjustment formula people could be hugely overestimate their calorie expenditures from exercise, per your own theory, just seems like you are going at it in a not so straightforward way

  • Hon man

    If im trying to gain muscles (bulk) do I eat the suggested calories for both my workout days and rest days? (suggested calories 2584 btw)

    • robinbishop34

      You would first cut body fat to as low as possible, then go into a small calorie surplus (at least 1 gram protein per pound body weight) while in a progressive overload routine. The only way to build muscle is to be in a calorie surplus combined with proper heavy lifting.

  • Yeah ohyeah

    Um no. Just no…with this whole article This is absolutely confusing.
    I’ll explain with your calculations above.
    (Eating TDEE – 20%)

    Your answer should be ” yes, BUT only 80% of your exercise calorie” not “absolutely not!”

    Exercising keeps adding to your TDEE, if that 500 calories exercise was not there then the calorie that should be eaten will be less. The more you exercise , the bigger your TDEE so the more you can eat.

    You are actually doing the same(adding exercise calories to what you should eat) above, that 500 calorie exercise plays a huge part of the end total of what you should eat.

    I think you get why it’s confusing now.

    Maybe change your answer to
    “No…if you already add that exercise to your TDEE already” (which probably isn’t why people are asking this question, if they already included that exercise in their calculation they probably wouldn’t be asking that question)

    Most likely they have a number already that they should eat (lets say 1680). Then they do exercise(let’s say 500 cal) n want to know if they should add that 500 to 1680. Again, base on your numbers, they should add 80% (400) to 1680 …totaling 2080.

    Ok that’s enough from me, really. Bye.

    • Leo Quattro

      People overestimate their exercise calories so much and machines don’t help with their flawed calculators attached to it. Believe me, a person who is alreayd burning 600 calories above BMR is not going to be able to add 500 more calories, that would require athlete stamina and intensity and if the person trying to lose fat was such an athlete , he/she would be already lean to begin with.

  • cinder1freq4n3ella

    My BMR is 1800 and I was told to subtract 500 from this number to get my minimum calorie requirement for weight loss, which is 1300. I burned approx. 700 calories today, give or take from exercise and daily activity. Now this is where I’m confused…So 1300 minus 700 will put my calorie intake at 600 calories. So I need to eat back those 700 calories to put me back at 1300?

    • kbroihier

      Then point is not to subtract exercise calories at all I believe. Just consider it good for your body and don’t adjust anything as you are going along daily.

      • cinder1freq4n3ella


  • Lynn

    I have no time to work out during the week. MFP is set to no exercise. On the weekend, I might go to the Sierra and do a 20 mile backpack trip, or Kayak along the California coast for 30 miles, or ride my bike 30 to 40 miles. If I don’t eat more those days I totally bonk after about 90 minutes, and can’t keep going. I’d like to lose weight, but don’t want to give up my weekend fun (getting outside and being active) to do it. I generally need to eat 500 to 700 more calories those days. My bodybugg says I burn an extra 3000-4000 calories those days. So I’m confused what to do.

    • Jannelle Zapanta

      Don’t set my MFP to no exercise since you do exercise 1-2 days a week. Use the IIFYM calculator and enter your exercise info to get an accurate TDEE that accounts for those days.

    • Jamie

      Just have two separate plans. One plan for the week based on no exercise, and one plan for weekends based on a lot of exercise. I know a few people that do that and it works well for them.

  • davidf blanchard

    Understand this in terms of fatloss.
    But what about lean-bulking?
    My TDEE is 2400, the other day i walked around the whole of london for 10 hours (tracker said this was 16+ miles/12km+ rough as i cba to check) i was exhausted and said this was 1200 calories(most likely a stretch) that could not have been included into my TDEE(+200cals) on top of my gym sessions of weightlifting and cardio for that week?

  • Emma Levit

    Hi guys. Can someone tell me what to do when macros start getting too low and they don’t really work for you anyway any longer. Should someone switch to reverse dieting no matter how intensive or not is their daily physical activity?

  • Johanna

    So, pretty much eat what your blue print suggest and do not replace any calories burned during exercise, correct?

  • Madison Ansley

    What about if they are breastfeeding twins and burn around 500-850 cals a day and then burn around 500 cals in the gym? Do you add calories back then? If she’s 200lbs, 5’8, BMI is 30, and BF is 44.7% with 23.4 muscle…what would her caloric deficit look like?

  • Jen Curtis

    According to my activity tracker, I burn between 2,200 and 3,100 kcal a day, depending on how active I am, yet your calculator estimates it as 2,200-2,300 INCLUDING exercise… and tells me I should be aiming for 1900 kcal to lose weight – this can be a HUUUUGE deficit sometimes and i am so hungry I can’t even think.

    • semaximus

      Go keto, very little to no more hunger pangs ??

  • MonkeyManc

    Just get to the gym, work hard, lift big, stay strong and you’ll always be a winner, don’t get to caught up on counting macros and all the other bs, have a clean diet and train hard

    • Insufficient Fare

      Dumbest thing I’ve heard all day.

  • Tashu

    I am 5.5 and weight 124 pounds. My goal is to come at 120 pounds.I eat 1200 calories a day and do workouts for 2 hours every day. Yoga, Pilates, Triple Threat, treadmill, Body sculpt etc . In a week i take only one day rest.
    Its been 2 weeks since i saw no difference in weight.
    I think on these exercises i burn roughly around 400 or im not sure.
    So is my calories intake are less? Or its more?

    • natalie_aa

      Weight is not an accurate measure of body composition. You may be losing weight and gaining muscle. The scale is not a proper tool to measure how fit you are. Take photos and tape measurements of your body. You will notice change. It is possible to physically become smaller, yet gain “weight”. When I train, I keep tabs on my body fat percentage. And oftentimes my bf% goes down and my weight goes up because I’m replacing fat with muscle, and muscle takes up less room in the body. Keep at it and smash your scale. 🙂

      • Tammy

        Totally true with this comment. I notice my scale showing me at a fluctuating weight of losing a couple of lbs to actually gaining. I was going insane….Until February 24, 2017 when I started doing my measurements and since then I’ve lost 8.75″ off of my body but my scale says otherwise. Don’t stress the scale!!!!

  • Raymond Orta

    You must eat 2080 calories to lose weight. If you eat 2080 calories, then you add/eat back 600 calories that you burned from exercising, you are now eating 2680 calories which is more than your entire TDEE (more calories that your body can use). If you do this, you are no longer in a caloric deficit and no longer burning fat. Instead you are in a caloric surplus and will be storing fat. You are simply eating too many calories! – So here it states that if you “add your worked out calories back into diet you will gain fat.” you are now in a surplus and will gain fat.My confusion is how does that differ from being in a caloric surplus with the intention to build muscle (gain weight) with minimal to no fat gain. ***His/Her goals aside….. The above example clearly said the person worked out so the surplus of calories (the reimbursement of burned calories) would result in “muscle gain” per say?

  • Bernice Atterton

    Waist of my money cause all this stuff is not making sense to me Have not been on not one day

  • Kevin Shapiro

    Great post. I’ve been subtracting my calories lost from my daily calorie intake… I guess I kind of blame myfitnesspal for that since they automated it that way. Now I know!! This is going to be tough!

    • J0k3r

      you can turn that feature off so it doesn’t add you exercise cals back in

  • Jenny

    Is this true … even if some days I burn over 1000 calories and some days 200?

  • J0k3r

    I calculate my TDEE without exercise then add the calories burned during exercise back in using MFP. I’m a cyclist and I have a Garmin Edge computer that tells me how many calories I burned (along with other stats) during my workout. For other exercises such as weight lifting, running and cross fit I have a Garmin Vivo Active watch that also tracks my calories burned.

  • Mark Samuels

    Does farting as much as possible help to lose weight? I usually try to do at least 5 per hour

  • Brittany Nicole

    Something I have wondered for a long time is if on my one day off from exercising a week, should I eat less calories?