Weight Loss & Dieting Community
7.65k Members
Avatar universal

Calories & Exercise

Hello all!

About 2 years ago I started exercising to see if it would help with depression and anxiety. I went from 180 pounds to about 160. I maintained that for over a year.

My problem is figuring out how many calories to intake. I do exercise anywhere from 5 to 7 days a week, usually for about 35 to 40 minutes a day, and also will do some weights, but other than that I am basically sedentary. I have tried several different websites on figuring out calorie intake and they all give me extreme differences. Some say 1200, some say 1600, and some have said as high as 2200. Now I know there is no way I could consume 2200 calories a day unless I was extremely active.

Last week I figured I would try 1200 calories a day and exercised every day for about 35 minutes. No weight was lost. I would have thought something would have come off. Unless 1200 is not enough for me. I know anything below that is supposed to cause your body to go into starvation mode. I am so confused with all of this. The weight I loss before came off without me really giving any regards to how much calories I took in. I don't want to be starving my body of what it needs, but I am also hesitant to up my calorie intake and then gain weight. Question is when figuring out calorie intake, do I need to take into account how much I burn in exercising as well? If I burned off 300 calories, should I really be eating about 1500 calories a day? Does this make sense?

9 Responses
649848 tn?1534637300
Hello and welcome.  

There are several websites that help you calculate your calorie needs.  Spark People is a great one for that; so is Live strong.  It will be based on your height, current weight, age, and some ask about your activity level: active, moderate or sedentary.  You can try a couple different web sites and then try to hit a happy medium.  

Before I say too much more, I should mention that it might be a good idea to make sure that you don't have any underlying medical issues that might cause weight gain/retention, such as thyroid issues, insulin resistance, etc.

The general idea for losing weight is "calories in/calories out".  In other words you have to figure out how many calories you need to maintain your current weight, then create a deficit in order to lose weight.  So, if you need 1800 calories/day to maintain and you create a deficit of 500 calories, you would then eat 1300 calories.  

One pound is 3500 calories so if you want to lose 1 pound in a week, you would need to create a 500 calories/day deficit combining calorie intake/exercise.    

Sometimes we eat more than we thing we are; therefore, it's a good idea to keep a food journal and write down everything that goes into your mouth.  Both of the web sites mentioned above let you do that.  You can also set up the weight and exercise trackers here on MedHelp to keep up with your exercise.  

It's also a good idea to vary you calorie intake a bit once in a while - like maybe one day eat 200 calories more than usual and the next, 200 calories less.  The same goes for exercise - vary the routine often because when you do the same thing everyday for the same # of reps in the same sequence, or eat the same # of calories, same type of food, etc your body becomes used to it and no longer responds the way you want it to.  

I hope this helps and I'm sure some of the others will come up with some ideas as well.  
657315 tn?1319494987
Hi and Welcome here!  First of all, I want to let you in on a little secret RIGHT UP FRONT!  Barb135 steals good answers RIGHT OFF MY COMPUTER SCREEN.  Of course I agree with what she said, BECAUSE SHE STOLE IT FROM ME.

But you will get used to her (and me, I hope) if you stick around.  We will be here to help and encourage you!  

I would like to encourage you to take to heart MY ANSWER in the post above (LOL!), and do one more thing:  if you haven't done so already, measure yourself.  You might be surprised that you are losing inches.

I also want to CONGRATULATE you on 20lbs lost and MAINTAINED for over a year!  That's great!  Do NOT underestimate that achievement.

One more VERY GENERAL rule of thumb for calories needed is to eat approximately your goal weight times 10.  My goal weight is 140, so I should be eating 1400 calories.  I am not a calorie-counter and/or dieter, so I have NO IDEA how many calories I eat per day.  I weight every day.  If I see an upward trend, I cut back and/or exercise more.

Please stay active on here.  You are on the right track.  I'm so happy to see that you have weight-training in there.  Two days/week is the recommended and when I added this a little over 2 years ago, it made a difference.

Good luck!  Keep in touch with us and keep reading posts and responding to them.  
Avatar universal
Hi Barb!

I have tried Livestrong (1157 calories to lose), Calorie Count (1200 to lose), Web MD (1700) and a couple others that I don't remember the name of, but all were ranging from 1500 to 2000 calories a day. I never tried Spark People, so I will have to give it a try. Now the key is to figure out roughly how much I need to maintain and go from there.

I have been tested in the past for any thyroid conditions or similar conditions, but all have always come up negative. The only problem off the top of my head that can affect my weight on a daily basis is stomach problems. I can weigh one thing one day and a few days later, be 5 pounds heavier without even overeating.

I do keep a food/exercise diary. I usually try to either walk or ride my bike. I had started a running program, but then did something to my ankle, and have been leary of starting it up again. I usually end up having one cheat day a week, so there is one day my calorie intake is above the 1200. I don't go ridiculously overboard in cheating or anything, though.

I don't particularly have the best diet, although I have been trying to eat more veggies and fruits. I looked back through the food diary and the week that that 4 pounds or so came off, I had eaten around 1200 calories and was exercising 40 minutes, so I figured that was too much, but when I reduced exercising by 5 minutes a day, nothing came off!

Ugh, I wish the body could just tell you physically how much to eat to lose! I so badly want to lose about 30 to 40 more pounds.

Hi Twehner-

lol your post made me laugh. In a good way of course! ;)

Thank you! I have been quite happy that I have been able to maintain it at 160 for so long. Although there were times where it might have gone up a few pounds, but for the most part it stayed around the 160 mark.

Measuring is one thing I always forget about doing. Occasionally I might measure my waist, which also as a result of stomach problems, goes up and down. I should try other areas though.

That is a new rule I have never heard before. In that case, I would be about at the right spot in calorie intake (1200 to 1250).

I always have a hard time answering the activity level on those calculators. I have been out of work for a couple years so I don't really do much except exercise and some days I might clean or vacuum. I never know whether to say sedentary or lightly active. I'll play around with some calculators and try to get a rough average.

Thank you both so much for your help and I'll try to keep posting on here when I get the chance.

649848 tn?1534637300
Ok - one thing you really HAVE to learn is that twehner5 is constantly accusing me of looking at her computer.  Well, it's just that she's taught me so well, I don't have to look anymore cuz I know what she's going to say!!  lol.  

I agree that the web sites can vary quite a bit - and I'm not sure how to deal with that, except maybe try twehner's idea and see where that brings you out - probably somewhere in the middle!!  

It sounds like you pretty much have things in line to reach your goal - maybe you've just stalled for a bit.  I'd suggest that you try changing around the food/calories you're eating, plus change your exercise routine a bit.  If you are riding a bike most days, try just brisk walking for a few days; basically anything to change it to something that will be a challenge.  

Just keep working at it and be sure to keep us posted on how you are doing.  

Avatar universal
lol at first I was trying to figure out if it was just joking banter. Hopefully she can teach me as well!

I signed up on Spark People and they gave me a range of 1200 to 1550. Twehner's idea puts me at about what I am aiming for now- 1200 to 1250.

I keep trying to think of new exercises routine since walking and bike riding are all I have been doing for the past 2 years, but I always come up short. Gyms are kind of expensive. I want to walk more, but its either raining or so cold even bundling up doesn't help. Definitely cannot wait until spring. I think I need to start taking a day off, too, because that I rarely do. I haven't taken a day off since Feb 5, which probably is not good. Hopefully something will budge again soon and I will definitely keep updated.

649848 tn?1534637300
There are a ton of free exercises that you can get off the internet - spark people has a bunch, youtube has some, etc.  Just do a search for "free exercise routines" or free exercises and see what you come up with.  Some cable companies even have an exercise channel and don't forget my favorite - yoga!!  That can be found both on the internet and on cable channels.  

DVD's are not too expensive (watch for them on sale), so you can get a couple of those.  Or just put in one of your favorite music cd's and go for it.  I used to do that all the time when my hubby worked nights - dancing is excellent exercise.  I don't do it much any more, cuz he doesn't work nights any longer and he always has the TV on, so doesn't want my music interfering!!  

And yes, it's a good idea to give yourself a day off to let your muscles recuperate. Try just exercising 4-5 days/week and make sure you mix things up a bit.  If you do the same thing every day, your body will get used to it and it's no longer a challenge.  

Good luck.  

657315 tn?1319494987
Just a thought:  You said gyms are kind of expensive, and I agree.  Here are a few ideas.

1.  Do you have a YMCA near you?  They are sometimes less expensive.
2.  See if a gym near you is hiring fitness instructors - frequently they will train you!  I did that a little over 2 years ago.  You will make almost no $, but your membership will be free AND when you are working your little ones will have free babysitting.  PLUS, while I was training, babysitting for my youngest was free.  I had some serious getting-in-shape to do, so I took all the classes I wanted to and could.  It counted as "training".  I learned so much and got so much training through workshops.  I HAD NO PRIOR EXPERIENCE!  You might have to be willing to teach evenings (not late, usually), or Sat. a.m.'s, but...if you REALLY want it...

My 2 cents for today, since Barb stole my other ideas!!!  LOL!  

One more she didn't steal:
3.  Does your library have any exercise DVD's?  Try pilates.  Great way to build your core muscle strength!!!  Look for it online, too.
649848 tn?1534637300
I was just typing that comment about the library - you stole MY idea - AGAIN!!
I'm gonna tell the teacher if you don't stop that..  
Avatar universal

That's right; I always forget that my cable provider has On Demand and I am pretty sure there are exercise videos on there. I'll have to remember to look when I get the chance. I know Discovery Health has an exercise hour on in the morning. I'm not up at the time, but I can always tape it. The only tapes I have are Abs of Steel and a Tae Bo tape, which isn't very strenuous at all.

lol I do like to dance to my CDs too. I have a lot of techno and house so never any dull moments with it!

Today I finally am taken the day off. I think I might cut down to 6, or even 5 days a week. I am hesitant to try jump roping, but I think I might give it a go.


I looked at some of the gyms near me and they are indeed very expensive, but there is one near me that is only $10 a month, although it doesn't have classes. And yeah I do have a YMCA near me, about 10 minutes away. Its in such a secluded spot I always forget its there.

Wow, I really had no idea that you could do that to become a trainer. I always thought you had to be licensed for them to hire you. That is definitely something for me to look in to. I need to get in better shape and I need a job, so I'd be knocking 2 birds with one stone. I wouldn't mind working nights and weekend mornings.

My library (which I spend a lot of time at) does have DVDs; not sure if they have exercise ones or not, but I'll check when I go back. Or I'll look online, but sometimes they don't always have everything listed.

Have an Answer?
Top Healthy Living Answerers
649848 tn?1534637300
Avatar universal
Arlington, VA
Learn About Top Answerers
Didn't find the answer you were looking for?
Ask a question
Popular Resources
14 super-healthy foods that are worth the hype
Small changes make a big impact with these easy ways to cut hundreds of calories a day.
Forget the fountain of youth – try flossing instead! Here are 11 surprising ways to live longer.
From STD tests to mammograms, find out which screening tests you need - and when to get them.
Tips and moves to ease backaches
Here are 12 simple – and fun! – ways to boost your brainpower.