When trying to lose weight…

Do I Eat Back the Calories I Burn Exercising?

do not eat back calories

Hell no! Look at the picture above and tell me if it makes sense for you to do that if you're trying to lose weight and if you truly believe you must eat back the calories you burn exercising then…

What's the F'ING point of exercising for weight loss?

Why Not Just Diet?

Yes, you can lose weight from dieting alone but…

If you're a firm believer of "I have to eat back every single calorie I burn exercising" and If you're exercising mainly just to lose weight then can't you clearly see how It's a waste of time to exercise if you're going to eat back every calorie you burn?

Think About It

Don't I have to eat back the calories I burn exercising Since my body is like a car?

eat calories back body like car?

Some experts say your body is like a car because…

Then why even exercise at all for weight loss?

Your Body is Nothing Like a Car

Your body does have a gas tank in the form of stored carbs/calories (or the glycogen stored in your muscles and liver) but…

Depending on how overweight or how fat you are…

But I Don't Want to Lose Weight Too Fast because…

Some experts say you should eat back all the calories you burn exercising because its unhealthy to lose more than 2 pounds a week or you may get loose skin but again if that's true then Why Waste Your Time Exercising!?

If losing weight fast terrifies you…

The Confusing "Net Calories" Argument

Let's say you're supposed to eat 1500 calories a day to lose weight and you burn 500 calories exercising then according to the net calories argument…

If That's True, Then Why Exercise?

Remember: Your body is not built like a car so if you eat 1500 calories and burn 500 calories exercising then all that means is…

Let's quickly talk about starvation mode (which is largely a myth)

If it's true that you absolutely MUST eat back all the calories you burn exercising then…

Why Not Eat Back the Calories Your Metabolism Burns?

Naturally your body's metabolism burns about 2000-to-3000 calories per day (more or less deepening lots of other factors) and you simply eat less than that to burn fat or lose weight - See the chart below…

lose, gain or maintain weight

So here is a simple question for you if you believe in eating back all your exercise calories… Why not eat back all the calories your body's metabolism burns? because you would say…

"Adrian, Then I Wouldn't Lose Any Weight at All" and that's exactly the same situation you put yourself in when you eat back all the calories you burn exercising.

What About When You Can't Lose Weight or Hit a Weight Loss Plateau?

You mainly have 3 options whenever you Can't Lose Weight or Hit a Weight Loss Plateau…

  1. Make sure you're eating the right amount of calories to lose weight.
  2. You need to eat less calories and/or…
  3. You need to exercise more or burn more calories when you exercise so if you firmly believe in eating back all the calories you burn exercising then…

Making drastic changes to your diet is your only option for losing weight because…

You're defeating the purpose of exercising to solve any weight loss problem you have if you're just going to eat back everything you burn &…

If You Still believe you need to eat back the calories you burn exercising then…

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1-35 of 62 Comments

Fantastic article, and the responses to comments underneath are really great also!

Thanks a lot!

October 18, 2017


There's a lot of unhealthy and inaccurate advice in here, and that's coming from someone with an eating disorder...

June 23, 2017

Adrian Bryant

nothing inaccurate about the FACT if you eat back every calorie you burn exercising = you will lose weight slower or none at all.

WHY not eat back every calorie your metab burns or WHY not eat more calories than you burn = weight gain!?

June 23, 2017


To chime in on the "eating the calories burned" and if it works - I have wondered the same thing, but here are some results you may be interested in.

In the last two months with eating between 1200 - 1500 calories a day and burning anywhere between 500-700 calories per day doing both weight training and cardio, I have lost 15 lbs of fat, 2% total body fat, gained 7 pounds of muscle, and lost 10 pounds on the scale. So...with all that being said, gaining 7 pounds of muscle while creating a bigger calorie deficit contradicts the statements regarding burning muscle due to a bigger calorie deficit and not "eating back your calories". I am losing a lot of body fat and I don't feel weak, tired, or a lack of energy. Quite the contrary. I feel so much better!

I am currently 221 pounds and have plenty of stored fat for my body to use as energy. That is the same energy that is being used for any of those who follow and Atkins Diet.

After reading a few different articles with different opinions on the matter - I say, there is no harm in not "eating back calories burned".

May 17, 2017


Thank you for all the information... I'm a strong women 55 at let years pass me by... It's my time again, I'm short and I'm about 80lbs overweight... I've been using an app to record all that enters my mouth... And doing great, but lately I've notice t net calories​??? What you say I've gotta eat my workout... Well again thank you...I haven't been eating them, I'm eating healthy and feel great, but was concerned... Cause inches and pounds are coming off at a slow pace and I didn't want that to end...I did recently add to my workout circuit training... More burn... Again thank you!!!

May 08, 2017


This isn't wrong but also not completely accurate. The body does not always burn your fat stores first before taking your muscle mass to convert glucose for the brain. I do not eat my calories back, but I also do not try to go with too low a calorie deficit in the first place. If you want to lose weight - as in lose fat weight, then lifting weights is far better than cardio, but a mix of both would be the best. In order to exercise - fuel your body and build muscle to keep burning fat - you need to eat the right amount and kinds of food. If you are eating right and building muscle, your increase in muscle mass will burn off more fat and you will lose fat weight. If you do too much cardio, high intensity you run the risk of burning away the energy you need to help build muscle mass. If all you do is low intensity cardio you may burn 200 or maybe 500 calories per workout. In the grand scheme of things, thats nothing, thats a candy bar or a cheeseburger. If you really want to get fit and lose weight build up muscle and let the body do its natural thing, but in order to do that you have to feed the body to let it build that muscle. There is a lot of variables out there and my suggestion is that anyone trying to lose fat, gain muscle or just get healthier - if what you are doing isn't working, go talk to a expert who can help you tailor your nutrition to your specific situation.

May 02, 2017


oops, meant to finish that with- if all you are going to do is low intensity cardio then no, don't eat back your calories. If you are going to build muscle you may need those calories.

May 02, 2017

Adrian Bryant

1. the muscle mass being converted to energy is ONLY more likely to happen in someone who is already very lean with not much fat stores (like less than 8-10% bodyfat)

2. there is no BEST exercise to burn fat BUT there are exercises that will burn more calories in a shorter time. Both walking 20 miles a day, doing HIIT or lifting weights ALL burn fat BUT... which one best fits your sched? for example... busy people would be better off with HIIT to burn lots of fat in a short period of time

3. the "more muscle burns more cals is a myth" although it does increase your metabolism DUE mainly to you gaining weight but the thing about 1 pound of muscle automactically burns Xamt of caloreis is false

4. as far as customized nutrition that is fine and I may recommend some people do it but no matter what you do to customize it you need to eat the right amount of calories and less about what you eat

May 02, 2017


Your comment makes more sense and gives more accurate information than this article.

May 06, 2017


This article lacks in simple math and science. If you're caloric maintenance is 2500 calories and in order to lose weight (-500) is 2000 calories. Then you burn 500 calories through some moderate exercise, and eat back those 500 calories....you will still be at 2000 calories.

2000 + 500 - 500 = 2000. What a surprise.

April 28, 2017

Adrian Bryant

you proved my point as to WHY not to eat back the calories you burn exercising

April 30, 2017


This comment makes no sense. You're still in a caloric deficit (2000 calories) whether or not you eat back the calories burned.

May 21, 2017

Adrian Bryant

it does. you'll lose weight faster by not eating back those 500 cals

May 21, 2017


Yeah, you'll lose weight faster that way, I'll give you that, that weight loss could also be a result from muscle loss as well. Fat loss however, should be a slow and steady process in which it gives lets the individual eat the highest amounts of calories they can, while slowly cutting them down as the weeks go by. If you cut out calories too quickly and rapidly, you will not only lose fat but muscle as well. A caloric deficit should be around 300-400 below your maintenance. NOT 1000 calories from the 500 you've already burned through dieting. That is a completely unrealistic expectation for the average person.

June 23, 2017


Of course, I'm not without my reasons on why slow fat loss is superior, not just for the physiological and mental benefits.
A recent study analyzing the effects of slow weight loss and fast weight on athletes showed that not only did the slow fat loss group lose actual fat, but they gained a small percentage of lean body mass as well


June 23, 2017

Adrian Bryant

Thanks for the study - very interesting?

1. the study confirms both groups lost fat and NO muscle.

2. We dont know the protein intake of both groups so was the SR group provided more protein? but regardless the fact remains no muscle was lost

3. read this to clearly see that muscle loss ON a weight loss diet ONLY occurs when you are already dangerously TOO Lean (like under 5% bodyfat) b/c you simply dont have enough fat (backup eneryg) to sustain yourself

4. also the study you referenced used athletes. It would nice to know the definiton of athletes as far as bodyfat is concerned. maybe in this study it meant less than 15% which again is high enough to lose ONLY fat and water on a diet.

5. YES, i agree with you that slow fat loss MAY be superior mentally (being that it is easier to sustain) but lets also agree that a 300, 250 or 220 pound person will lose up to 5 poumnds a week for at least the first 2-4 weeks because of their high metabolisms and the amount of calories they burn exercisjng.

Lastly, the muscle loss fear has to STOP as it only occurs if you are dangerlousl low bodyfat

sorry for the mispelling and thanks for the conversation. cant wait to hear back from you

June 24, 2017


Thank you. I'm eating 1000 a day/7000 a week and exercising everyday for 90 minutes. According to my app my net intake is about 500-600 a day. Five days a week I am vigilant about eating healthy (fruits, veggies, lean meats, two servings of grains). On the weekends, even though I'm still well within my caloric range, I'll allow myself a few beers and one or two nice meals out - usually an appetizer or tapas, nothing fried. Everyone is telling me that I'm not eating enough, but you're right - as a 190 lb female I'm not going to starve to death. I go that low so that if I am overestimating my exercise and underestimating calories, I have a 200/1400 calorie margin of error (recommended for my age/weight/height is 1200/8400) and can still lose weight. The pounds should be melting off, but the scale isn't budging. Since I'm not in danger of starving myself, should I go lower?

April 11, 2017

Adrian Bryant

beforer you do that... follow these steps

April 11, 2017


I'm not sure why you assumed I didn't do all of this already? I mentioned some fairly specific numbers in my comment which would indicate that I've done research, and I mentioned multiple apps that I am using to track my calories, exercising.

April 17, 2017


I'm sorry if that comes across as rude, but there's nothing so disheartening as putting all this time and effort into research, calculations, dieting, exercising, tracking, and even allowing a margin of error - and the first thing that is suggested is to start tracking what I'm eating.

April 17, 2017

Adrian Bryant

I know its frustrating and I also knew it was a good chance you did all of this but you'd be surprised of the many people who write comments just like you and when I ask them to triple check their calories of how they come to find out they wasnt doing it right so basically... I had to ask you this to be safe.

okay with all that said if you're truly eating 1000cals per day on that ALONE you should be losing weight at your weight so again before you get frustrated... triple EVEN quadruple check these numbers

another thing you can try is to switch up yoru workout according to these rules

lastly, hang in there. stay in touch and we'll figure this thing out

April 17, 2017


You are right about most things and I love your websites and advices, they make total sense, but I have to disagree about you saying that it is a waste of time exercising if you eat back all calories.
We need to exercise because it is healthy and it will tone your body although it will take longer, I give myself treat with the extra calories burned which help me exercise again, while still making sure I eat less than I need to lose weight. And can I say that eating an apple before the meal helps digestion, I had a really bad digestion problem, keeping my food for hours(sometimes 6+ hours) in my stomach and I felt really uncomfortable, but since eating an apple before the meal( when I forget soon after) I feel much better.

January 20, 2017

Adrian Bryant

i think you do agree with me. Exercising for health is NOT a waste of time. but if you are exercising with the goal of weight loss and you eat back those calories burned then yes... exercise is a waste of time

January 20, 2017


Why when I fill in that I weight 282 lb and a couch potatoe/not exercising I need to eat between 1586 and 2074 calories, and when I fill in an activity like walking 1 hour(403 calories burned) I can suddenly eat between 2382 and 3666 calories which indicates that the calculator let me eat the calories back which were burned and even more so. Also on other websites it always calculates that I only need 2400 calories with a sedentary lifestyle which Is not correct as I lose weight with that amount. Can you tell me how many calories is taken away with your calculation to lose weight so that I know how much I need a day without losing weight to make sure I do not go over it. Also what do you think of vibration plates?

January 21, 2017

Adrian Bryant

more activity means you can eat more without gaining and maybe not losing weight. to find out exactly how many calories will take some trial and error yourself to see what is best for you

January 22, 2017


...you are not "eating back the calories"...you're simply maintaining a healthy deficit. If you're already eating 1200 calories for weight loss at a 20% deficit a day and you work out and burn 200 more calories you are below deficit. If you do not eat enough calories you will simply lose your muscle and look like shit. Plain and simple. Yes, you'll lose weight but you wont look tone or fit..and you'll be weak...and since muscle burns fat...you won't exactly have that going for you either. This is coming from someone whom has tried all the bs short cuts that do not work. I have successfully lost 45 lbs through counting calories and macros...heavy weight training 5days a week (no barbie weights :) )with 4 days cardio. And YES, I "eat back my calories" as you call it lol. I have been 130lbs -solid muscle for many years now. It works!! If you work hard, you get results.

March 02, 2017

Adrian Bryant

then with that logic then why not eat back the calories you burn being active during the day or better yet why not eat back all the calories your metabolism burns?

Muscle mass is only lost when you dont have suffiecent bodyfat or backup energy so if you're extremely lean like under 5% is when you want to seriously consider eating back calories

March 02, 2017


Every time I go on a weight loss journey I will lose 10lbs in 3 weeks then nothing. 🙁Why is that?

January 17, 2017

Adrian Bryant

what is your weight and height after losing 10 punds?

January 18, 2017


U weigh 247lbs and 5'5

January 18, 2017


I meant "I"

January 18, 2017


Hi Adrian

I want to lose weight in a healthy way while gaining muscle. I currently weigh 240 at 5'5. I also had a C-section with one of my pregnancies so its been hard to get rid of the pooch. I am not good at keeping track or journaling what I eat nor counting calories or weighing my food. I wish I was because it would help me out a great deal in keeping track of what I eat throughout the day. I've lost the drive and motivation to exercise BUT I really do want to live a healthy lifestyle for my children and myself. I would really appreciate your advice on what to do.

January 06, 2017


Plz help if I need to eat 700 calories ok and I eat 1400 calories and burn in gym 1260 calories does it mean I created a difict??? Does it mean all I ate is gone burned as if I didn't it... Plz answer me

November 01, 2016


Plz answer me as soon as you can

November 01, 2016

Incorrect please try again
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