A question that is asked a lot is whether you can eat the calories you have burned through exercise?
I mean, if you are eating at a calorific deficit anyway surely you can?
This can be complicated, so we’re going to start from the very beginning.
If you are looking to lose weight, most people already know you need to eat at a calorie deficit.
This means you need to eat less than you currently are to promote the fat burning process.
So what deficit should you create?
Well, this all depends on you. As an average, most people choose to create a deficit of 20%.
This is a good place to start and most people choose this deficit.
This means that if you are currently eating 2000 calories then to create a 20% calorie deficit you need to eat 1600 calories per day.
This will encourage the fat burning process.
So what if you eat the 1600 calories and burn an additional 300 calories during exercise…
Can I Eat the Calories I’ve Burned Off?
So here is how it works…
Firstly, you shouldn’t be looking at it this way.
If a person was to eat 2000 calories per day, this is how it would work. If you are aiming to create a 20% deficit, then you either make that through your diet or exercise or both.
You can eat 400 calories less or exercise to burn 400 calories or a little bit of both.
So if you were to eat 1600 calories you would meet your deficit.
If you were to eat 2000 calories but exercised and burned 400 calories, you would still meet your deficit.
Or, maybe you did a little bit of exercise and burned 200 calories and ate 200 calories less.
You would still meet your deficit.
So the question is if I meet my deficit and then burn additional calories should I eat them or not?
Well, this is up to you.
We believe that a 20% deficit is the best way to lose weight.
Of course, you will lose more weight with a bigger deficit but a lot of people follow 20% for a reason.
It is the most common deficit to follow and within reason.
So our advice to you is that if you eat at a calorie deficit of 20% and then go to the gym and burn an additional 200 calories, we would suggest eating those calories to stick to your original deficit of 20%.
The choice is yours, but if you have set a target than we believe you should stick to it.
You don’t want to lose weight too quickly, you want to lose weight steadily to reduce the risk of gaining it back a short while after.
There are no right and wrong answers for this question so it is completely up to you.
The Benefits of Eating at a Lower Deficit
What are the benefits of eating at a lower deficit than 20%?
Of course, you will burn more calories, promote fat burning and therefore lose weight.
You may reach your goals quicker than expected.
You may feel happier and more confident due to the fat loss.
It may speed up your metabolism.
The Cons of Eating at a Lower Deficit
What are the drawbacks of eating a deficit of more than 20%?
You may gain some of the weight back when you start eating at maintenance, due to your body being used to eating fewer calories.
You risk your body hitting starvation mode, which in turn can slow down your metabolism, slowing down the process of burning calories and fat.
Your body will cling onto the fat it has because it is in starvation mode.
You may feel weak and hungry more often.
Stick to the planned deficit you have set yourself.
We suggest a 20% deficit to avoid your body reaching starvation mode.
It is a much healthier way to lose weight and you are likely to keep the weight off.
Do not eat fewer calories than 1200 per day, this is not healthy.
If you do eat at a calorie deficit and then burn calories through exercise, you are likely to be reducing your deficit so we suggest eating those calories back.
Don’t eat just anything though, choose your food wisely. Protein-based meals are the foods you should be aiming for.
One Last Thought…
Focus on your goals, make a plan and stick to it.
Ensure you are doing things the healthy way, you will feel much better for doing it that way and it will be easier to stick to.
Avoid thinking about the question “should I eat the calories I’ve burned through exercise”, and just stick to meeting your daily deficit.
Remember, you want to set realistic targets for yourself to avoid ‘falling off the wagon’.
Anything we suggest is just our advice, please seek professional advice when going on a diet or eating at a calorie deficit.