This post may only make sense if you are familiar with the LoseIt app.
If you are familiar with LoseIt, be sure to look at this app on your phone while reading this post.
In weight loss, I am a BIG believer in logging calories for food and exercise. This is why I love the LoseIt app. I feel like a broken record when I talk about this way to log, but have I mentioned how amazing it is?!?!
You would think that logging this way would be pretty straight forward, but the whole "net calories" thing can be kind of confusing. I hope to help alleviate some of this confusion by answering some frequently asked questions. Let's hope I don't send you into a deeper state of confusion...
What are net calories?
Net Calories = calories consumed (food/drink) - calories burned (exercise)
For example, I consumed 1434 calories today and exercised 303 calories (1434-303=1131 net calories).
What is the difference between net calories and budgeted calories?
Budgeted calories are how many calories LoseIt recommends in order to lose weight. Net calories are how many calories you actually consumed minus the calories you burned exercising.
My budgeted calories: 1224
My net calories = 1131 (because I ate 1434 calories and burned 303)
Should I eat my burned (exercise) calories?
If you log your exercise you are welcome to eat the extra calories you've earned but do not have to.
Just be sure that your net calories do not exceed your budgeted calories.
For example, today my net calories were 1131. Even though I ate 1434 calories, I am still under my budgeted calories because I burned 303 calories exercising.
If my net calories are equal to my budgeted calories, will I still lose weight?
Yes, you should still lose weight if your net calories and budgeted calories are the same.
When you input your goals, LoseIt already figured a deficit. So your listed budgeted calories already subtracted the calories needed in order to lose weight.
For example, my budgeted calories are 1224 to lose weight. I already know the amount of calories my body needs to maintain weight (around 1500), so LoseIt already made these calculations for weight loss. If I eat my exercise calories, I am still at a deficit because LoseIt already subtracted the calories I needed to lose weight.
These calculations are based on age, height, weight, and goals.
(If you are still reading I am impressed.)
Will I lose weight faster if my net calories are less than my budgeted calories?
Yes, but be sure to never eat less than 1200 budgeted calories.
For example, if I ate my budgeted 1224 calories and burned 500 calories, my net calories would be 724. You are not in starvation mode if you eat at least 1200 calories, but you will be hungry. Try not to go under 500 net calories for weight loss. If your daily net calories are above your budgeted calories, you will gain weight.
In other words, (on the LoseIt program) when you exercise you should be able to eat more. Even if you are trying to lose weight! But if you choose not to eat your exercise calories, you will lose weight faster. But let me caution you, eating fewer than 1200 net calories is very difficult and you will feel hungry.
For me, it is almost impossible to only eat my budgeted calories on exercise days. I end up very hungry. So I usually end up eating at least half of my exercise calories.
On the show Biggest Loser or Extreme Makeover Weight Loss Edition, the rule of thumb is to consume 1500 budgeted calories or less regardless of the amount of exercise. This is also the recommendation of the American Dietetic Association, the Goldstandard for all things nutrition, disease prevention, and weight loss with years of scientific research. You can trust their recommendations. I was educated through them through doctored professors and scientific facts in my four years of education and Bachelors degree (just had to add this in case of skepticism...haha).
(If you are still reading I am VERY impressed.)
When you say to never go below 1200 calories, does this mean budgeted or net?
I mean budgeted. Going below 1200 net calories is still considered nutritious and adequate, but going below 1200 budgeted calories is not sufficient.
When budgeted caloric intake falls below 1200 (for women) and 1500 (for men), the body reacts as if it is starving and tries to conserve energy. It will lower your metabolism, conserve calories and fat, and you will not burn calories as quickly. This is what is called "starvation mode." It is also extremely difficult to follow a balanced diet and obtain the nutrients that are needed by the body to stay strong, energetic and prevent disease. This is why it is never recommended consume less than 1200 or 1500 calories when trying to lose weight (fat).
(If you are still reading, I am shocked.)
Should I stay within the 500-1200 net calorie range on days that I do not exercise?
No. You need to eat at least 1200 budgeted calories. The LoseIt app will tell you how many calories you have eaten under the column FOOD. On the days you do not exercise, do not go above your budgeted calories, and do not go below 1200 net calories
For example, I don't exercise on Sundays. So I should consume at least 1200 calories, but not go over my budgeted 1224 calories. My net calories should be at least 1200 calories.
On EXERCISE days: Your net caloric daily goal should be between 500 and your budgeted calories for weight loss. Do not eat less than 1200 food calories or more than budgeted calories.
For example, my net caloric daily goal: 500-1224 calories
On NON-EXERCISE days: Your net caloric daily goal should be between 1200 and your budgeted calories for weight loss. Do not eat less than 1200 food calories or more than budgeted calories.
For example, my net caloric daily goal: 1200-1224 calories. (24 calories makes all the difference...haha!)
Holy Cow, all this budgeted and net calories talk makes me hungry! Who knows if I actually cleared anything up. Let me know if you need more clarification and I can do my best to find an answer that actually makes sense.