Can I Eat the Calories Burned During Exercise?
If you’re Michael Phelps or training for a marathon, then yes. If not, no.
An example: Becky eats 1,600 calories a day to lose weight. She spends 30 minutes in the gym every morning and the treadmill says that she burns 250 calories during that time. Does that mean she can and should eat an extra 250 calories a day?
No, and there are a variety of reasons to as why.
For starters, the number of calories burned according to treadmills, bikes, ellipticals, etc, is notoriously high, anywhere from 10-25% too high. And, the more you keep doing the same activity (treadmill, bike, etc), the less calories you’ll burn. The number cardio machines give is a very rough estimate for you and nothing more.
Secondly, let’s say for a moment you counted calories and recorded exactly 1,600 calories eaten for the day. More than likely, that number is too low. How low? Who knows. Unless you weighed every single thing you ate during the day and prepared everything yourself (no restaurants), you don’t know the exactly calorie count.
If you counted 1,600 calories, you probably had 10% more than that. Always keep that in mind when counting calories — we always tend to count too low, not too high.
Lastly, allow those 250 calories you burned during exercise to get you a little bit closer toward your goal by slightly increasing your daily calorie deficit. Don’t use an intense workout session at the gym to justify or give you permission to eat more during the day. I mean, if you want to go out to eat Friday night and do some extra work on the treadmill Saturday morning to “make up for it” that’s fine, but don’t make a habit of keeping track of the calories you burned during the day just so you can eat more.
Don’t eat a few more cookies because you did an extra mile on the stationary bike.