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SLYSAM SparkPoints: (43,184)
Fitness Minutes: (110,991)
Posts: 1,474
12/4/12 2:46 P

The guideline to eat 1000 calories less than your total burn for the day is if you want to lose 2 pounds a week and if you burn enough calories to do this safely. I think it really applies to people with a certain amount of weight to lose, and at a certain point it is no longer appropriate. That is not what fitbit (or many healthy diet sites) suggest for everyone. With fitbit (and a lot of sites) you choose your own rate of loss, the common choices are .5 pound a week, 1 pound a week, 1.5 pounds a week and the maximum is 2 pounds a week. The daily deficit for each is based on the idea you need to burn 3500 calories more than you eat to lose one pound of fat, or the reverse eat 3,500 calories less than you burn. So with those, to lose .5 pounds you eat 250 calories less than you burn, to lose one pound a week you eat 500 calories less than you burn, to lose 1.5 pounds a week you eat 750 calories less than you burn, and the 1000 you mentioned is for the maximum 2 pounds a week loss. Which goal you choose is in part depends on how overweight you are at the time as you still want to allow yourself enough calories to get enough nutrition. Also, these types of plans, generally are using an estimate of your total calorie burn including activity level and exercise.

It is true that you burn less calories when you weigh less. But to maintain a weight you don't have to be intentionally under eating anymore. At that point you try to eat a similar amount to what you burn each day. It is also true that you may burn fewer calories in a workout as you lose weight and become more fit. That is kind of how it should work as your body becomes more efficient. But you don't necessarily need to push yourself beyond what you are safe and comfortable with. It isn't really about who can eat and burn the most calories. It is about finding a healthy balance in your body between your activity and what and how much you eat. And that is a lifestyle to stay there as it is easy to let portions get out of control especially if you eat out a lot (one of my issues I like to eat out on weekends and a couple meals can undo a week of good work if I am not careful). But when you are at or close to goal weight, you probably won't want or need as much food as you needed and wanted at your heaviest because you naturally burn less calories to support your smaller size.

I think there is a big benefit to losing weight more slowly than two pounds a week (unless medically required then do whatever the doctor advises). One benefit is it gives you more time to let your eating habits and lifestyle evolve and to get comfortable with the changes you had to make to get there. Cutting 500 calories a day, rather than 1000 might be easier to stick to and involves smaller changes over time.

BITHOO SparkPoints: (12,355)
Fitness Minutes: (3,359)
Posts: 423
12/4/12 10:56 A

VERY helpful thank you!! Had just jumped into the site without going through a whole lot of process, so while I have goals they aren't as fully thought through as they should be.

DRAGONCHILDE SparkPoints: (61,458)
Fitness Minutes: (15,905)
Posts: 9,717
12/3/12 1:58 P

Bithoo, here's the calculations SParkpeople uses:

That should help you figure out and understand the math behind the trackers. :)

LUANN_IN_PA Posts: 26,404
12/3/12 1:21 P

"Luan - not sure what you mean by the "spark way?" "

I think enough people have answered that in my absence....

KRISTEN_SAYS SparkPoints: (81,670)
Fitness Minutes: (47,923)
Posts: 5,092
12/3/12 12:54 P

Follow SparkPeople's me, if you follow them and are completely honest with your fitness tracker and nutrition tracker and make healthy choices, you will see results!! If you plugged everything into SparkPeople already, you should be set. Going out to eat is hard, so try to do it only on special occasions.

BITHOO SparkPoints: (12,355)
Fitness Minutes: (3,359)
Posts: 423
12/3/12 12:44 P

thanks simple! nope, no credentials...

but then again, I did the "how much do I need per day" calculation on the CalorieCount website, and don't know whether it's precisely accurate (though it seems reasonable).

Is there a more accurate way to determine "how much I need each day?"

Am also finding it hard to be precisely accurate about calories.

Last night, for example, I went out with friends and had sauteed scallops with a veggie side at a non-chain restaurant. They were in some kind of light sauce. I don't know exactly what the sauce was made of, nor how the veggies were cooked -- and didn't want to make the waiter get me a set of recipes in the middle of dinner! So I took a guess as to the veggies, and then doubled them to cover the "cost" of the sauce... But am sure I am not accurate within 100 calories!

SIMPLELIFE2 Posts: 707
12/3/12 11:23 A

"according to someone who wrote about the fitbit" What are these person's credentials? Do you have a link? Are you sure you understood what was written correctly? There's tons of incorrect information about diet and exercise all over the Internet. If it sounds crazy or too good to be true, it probably is.

As someone mentioned, as a woman you should never go below 1,200 calories a day unless you are under a doctor's direct supervision. If you eat too little, you send your body into starvation mode and it will hang on to every calorie as a protective measure. Your body is programmed to survive, not get skinny. This worked pretty well when food shortages were much more common. It doesn't know if it is self-induced.

As also mentioned, your body will start cannibalizing muscle tissue if you are not eating enough. And since it is metabolically active, which means it burns calories at rest, means you will require even fewer calories when you start eating normally again. That is why so many people who go on unrealistic diets end up gaining even more weight after they stop dieting.

A good rule of thumb is to create a 500-calorie deficit each day through a combination of diet and exercise. For example, burn 250 calories exercising and eat 250 fewer calories. Over the course of a week, you will create a 3,500 calorie deficit, which is equivalent to a 1 pound weight loss. You progress realistically and in a sustainable way. Consistency and patience is the key to real fitness.

JENMC14 Posts: 2,786
12/3/12 11:01 A

Your maintenance number at a lower weight will be smaller than at a higher weight, but I don't know that it would be by 600 calories. Again, I'd use the SP calculators to determine. If you're not doing that, just recalculte your BMR at the lower weight and be sure to use an activity modifier. To maintain, you eat what you burn. And, this isn't a daily thing, just keep your weekly/monthly deficit as close to 0 as possibly and you should maintain.

MOTIVATED@LAST Posts: 15,451
12/3/12 10:01 A


There is some sense in the "maximum calorie deficit of 1000/day" quote - if you open up too large of a calorie deficit, it can lead to more of your weight loss coming from lost muscle, rather than just fat. It can also lead your body to slowing your metabolism to try to close the gap. Neither of these are healthy.

But it is also the case that most nutrionists recommend a minimum intake of 1200 calories for women, and 1500 for men. It is not just energy your body needs, but certain amounts of protein, essential fats, vitamins and minerals, etc. Below these figures, it is difficult to get the nutrients that your body needs to stay healthy.

So you can't go by one figure alone, it is really a case of "1200 or a calorie deficit of 1000/day, whichever is the greater".

It is worth remembering that your total burn is made up of:
* metabolism (known as your BMR)
* normal daily (non-exercise) activities - generally reckoned at 20% in addition to your BMR for a sedentary lifestyle
* what you burn through exercise

There are plenty of BMR calculators out there - but not all of them add in the second factor. I'm guessing your daily burn is probably greater than 1590.

Fortunately, Spark will take care of all the math and confusion for you - just ensure that your Exercise Goals are aligned with why you burn through exercise in a typical week, and Spark will come up with an intake recommendation appropriate for your needs.


CHEETARA79 Posts: 3,912
12/3/12 10:01 A

Have you plugged all your info into Spark? Set up your height, current weight, goal weight, deadline, etc? If you do that, Spark will give you a calorie range. I'm guessing it will be 1200-1550 calories per day. Try eating in that range to lose weight. It might take some time before the scale moves but if you stick with it, you will see results.

BITHOO SparkPoints: (12,355)
Fitness Minutes: (3,359)
Posts: 423
12/3/12 9:53 A

Luan - not sure what you mean by the "spark way?" I am tracking calories, nutrients, and exercise... is there more to the spark way that I'm missing?

BITHOO SparkPoints: (12,355)
Fitness Minutes: (3,359)
Posts: 423
12/3/12 9:08 A

Not to sound dumb, but... if you lose weight and then burn less at a standstill than you did before, don't you have to keep dropping calories and exercising more to maintain a particular weight?

In other words, if I were to eat/burn 600 cal. less than I need at a standstill each day, and dropped 20 pounds, wouldn't I need to "maintain" at the same 600 cal less than I did to start with, since I would need fewer calories at 20 pounds lighter?

LUANN_IN_PA Posts: 26,404
12/3/12 9:05 A

BITHOO, why not try the Spark way, especially since you are on this site?

JENMC14 Posts: 2,786
12/3/12 8:57 A

Does that 1590 have any modifer for any activity, or is that your base BMR? The closer you get to your goal weight, the lower your caloric deficit is going to be as well. And, you don't have to maintain that deficit for "years and years" because, ostensibly, you'd reach your goal weight at some point and switch to maintenance. The "simple" fact is that you have to burn more than you consume to lose. So, if you're burning 1590 with no exercise and eat 1400, you'll lose. It will be slow, but you'll lose. Add in some exercise and you'll lose faster. That whole 1000 calorie deficit a day to get you to a two pound a week weight losee which is feasible for those who have a lot to lose, but not as feasible for the rest of us. Aim for a pound a week,then once you're within 10-15 pounds of your goal, aim for .5 pounds a week.

The easiest thing, for me, was to enter my goals and and my estimated weekly calorie burn into my fitness tracker. From there, I stayed in the nutritional ranges provided by SP and lost my weight.

Edited by: JENMC14 at: 12/3/2012 (08:58)
BITHOO SparkPoints: (12,355)
Fitness Minutes: (3,359)
Posts: 423
12/3/12 8:39 A

according to someone who wrote about the fitbit, the suggestion was to eat 1,000 calories less than you need to maintain weight. I used a calculator which told me I burn about 1590 calories per day (without extra exercise).

That would suggest that I should eat only 590 calories a day -- and that can't be right! Even if I exercise hard, my daily calorie allowance would rise to MAYBE 1,000 calories... too little to make sense...

In fact, some folks have told me that a regular long term diet should not really go under about 1400 calories.

But if I burn only 1590, don't I need to eat about 300 calories less (about 1300 cal) AND exercise off about 300 calories to lose ANY weight? Every single day? That'd be pretty tough to maintain over months and years...


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