Since it took me a little bit of time to understand what it all means and how it works, I thought I’d share what I’ve learned!
What do the numbers mean?
When you set up myfitnesspal, you’ll be asked some info:
- goal weight
- activity level
- exercise frequency
- your goal (ie. how much weight per week)
This will determine your “Your Suggested Fitness And Nutrition Goals”
- net calories
- calories burned per week.
When I set up myfitnesspal, it gave me these goals:
- Net Calories consumed/day — 1,200 cal/day
- Calories Burned / Week — 760 Calories / Week (based on 3 45-minute workout sessions)
Net calories consumed = total calories consumed – exercise calories burned
The more exercise I do, the more I can eat.
Each day, I enter the foods that I eat (3 meals, plus snacks) and the exercise/activities that I do. I not only track the 3 workouts at the gym, but that 30 minutes of vacuuming and 20 minutes of scrubbing the bathroom counts too! (How do I get started using myfitnesspal.com?)
As yesterday was New Year’s Day, it was a lazy day. I didn’t burn a lot of calories (burned 196 calories) so I watched what I ate (consumed 1220 calories). This leaves me with 176 calories left to eat (the big green number, below).
On the days that I go to the gym, I eat good foods that are higher in calories because I’ll need that energy at the gym.
You have to eat.
And you have to eat the right foods.
Constantly being below your calorie goal isn’t healthy. The daily calorie goal that myfitnesspal gives you is low enough that you’ll lose weight at the rate you specified. You don’t need to eat less than that to lose more. Your body needs calories (ie. energy) to keep going. You As you exercise, you can eat more.
If you do a lot of activity that burns a lot of calories, you’ll need to eat the right foods to have the energy to do those activities. At the end of the day, your Net Calories should equal your Goal Calories.
Planning is very important. You’ll want to eat the high calorie (ie. high energy) foods before you do your activities so you can do those activities well and without getting tired.
Here is a great print-out from the Heart & Stroke Healthy Habits Healthy Weight [PDF]
In the end of the article, they talk about the importance of not allowing yourself to feel hungry:
One way to stay on track during tough times is to minimize that struggle between mind and body. If your body perceives starvation, it will try to protect itself. If you were denied food for a day or two, you would feel hunger. If you were denied food for a week or more that hunger would become a complete and relentless obsession with food. At the same time, the body lags — feeling fatigued as the metabolism slows. Once food is made available, your incredible hunger combined with a slow metabolism make weight gain inevitable. So avoid starving yourself. Instead, load up on healthy foods that won’t leave you feeling deprived.
Food is not the enemy, food is energy. Food will only harm you if you choose to eat the wrong food.
I am not a doctor, dietician or trainer. I am only a woman who is focused on being healthy. You should always check with a trained professional to find out what is right for you.