A couple weeks back I posted an article called How to Create a Fat-Loss Diet as a quick-and-dirty primer on how to go about setting up a nutrition plan for dropping body fat. As promised, today I want to follow up with a brief post about whether or not you should add calories back for the exercise performed on training days within this plan.
So should you add back calories for the exercise you do?
The bottom line is that unless you are exercising in a metabolic chamber capable of measuring the exact number of calories you’ve burned, you’re ultimately just taking a blind stab at estimating your calorie expenditure. Other forms of measuring expenditure the are more widely available are just not accurate/reliable enough to warrant their use.
But more importantly, eating back calories can lead to the unhealthy mindset that you can trade off exercise for food or vice versa. It starts tying exercise to food amounts that you’ve “earned” and could lead to the reverse situation where you feel that you can compensate for deviating on your nutrition plan by trying to burn it off with exercise.
At the end of the day, it is ideal to take a look at calorie balance on a larger scale. Simply set daily calories, execute your plan, and then assess biweekly for progress. If you are not making progress with your fat loss, you can then adjust your total daily calories down for every day (not just training days) and repeat this process until the desired rate of fat loss is achieved.