I thought I’d seen this discussed briefly in another thread, but it seemed inconclusive and I can’t find it now anyway…
I’m having some confusion about calorie counting. I used the calorie calculator (https://www.calculator.net/calorie-calculator.html) to find out how many calories I need to consume in order to lose a pound a week. I entered my estimated activity level (and was conservative because some days I am active and some days I am sedentary). Then I entered the target amount of calories in My Fitness Pal to track my daily intake (ETA: MFP will also give you a target based on their own calculation, which was close, but I used the other number instead, about 40 cals less). Here’s where I get mixed up. MFP allows you to enter your exercise for the day and then gives you those calories back, adding them in with your remaining calories to eat for the day. But that seems like double dipping, right? To count your estimated activity AND your actual activity? So far I have been trying to stick with the original number, not counting the exercise calories as free calories I can eat.
But then I also wonder, if I am doing strenuous exercise, maybe I would need to properly fuel those workouts on those days? This kind of thing really gets me mixed up. In order to do good exercise I have to eat enough, right?
So here is my question: What role does including your estimated activity level play in calculating calorie needs? Is it assuming you will do approximately that much exercise everyday and giving you your caloric requirements in light of that (“Do NOT factor in workouts in MFP/calorie count”)? Or is it calculating something about your metabolism, like how many calories are needed for your body’s non-exercise operations based on your overall activity level, and the actual workouts you perform require additional calories on top of that ("DO factor in workouts in MFP/calorie count”)?
If it’s the former, I would think one should calculate based on a sedentary activity level and then factor in each individual exercise for the day’s caloric needs if they really wanted to be accurate (could use a step counter if you work on your feet). Otherwise, you’re eating too much on lazy days and not enough on active days.
Of course there is the obvious advice I’ve heard many times that doing a workout shouldn’t be used as an excuse to overeat when trying to lose weight, but I’m not wondering about overeating, just about eating enough. MFP has made this harder to answer.