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    Registered User userSTN1W51KJT9's Avatar
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    Metabolism - Net Calories Question

    I am new to fitness and and learning about working out. While doing some research about losing weight, it is commonly said to reduce calories to below your maintenance calories. However, at the same time I was reading that reducing calories also reduces your metabolism. That your body would adjust to your lower calorie intake and reduce it's metabolism to match that.

    So, I was curious what would happen if my "NET" calories were much lower than my maintenance calories? By this I mean, if I ate say 2500 calories for maintenance, but with exercising i burned 1000 calories. So, my NET would be 1500 calories for the day. Would my metabolism still slow down because my NET calorie was so much lower than my maintenance calories?


    If it does lower metabolism, then how do people keep cutting/losing weight if your body always adjusts. I know building muscle is supposed to help boost metabolism, but at the same time you would need to cut your calories to lose weight...right?


    Thank you in advance for your answers and any advice you guys share!
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  2. #2
    Registered User rtpmarine's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by userSTN1W51KJT9 View Post
    So, I was curious what would happen if my "NET" calories were much lower than my maintenance calories? By this I mean, if I ate say 2500 calories for maintenance, but with exercising i burned 1000 calories. So, my NET would be 1500 calories for the day. Would my metabolism still slow down because my NET calorie was so much lower than my maintenance calories?
    The overall effect to TDEE is not solely decided by calorie balance; there's also a strong hormonal effect based on whatever you do throughout the day and how well you sleep. So the type of exercise makes a huge difference. Burn 1,000 calories doing cardio and you'll send your body a signal to get efficient with calories. Not good. On the other hand, burn that much by lifting heavy twice per day and you'll send a signal that says "don't let this muscle go".

    Originally Posted by userSTN1W51KJT9 View Post
    If it does lower metabolism, then how do people keep cutting/losing weight if your body always adjusts. I know building muscle is supposed to help boost metabolism, but at the same time you would need to cut your calories to lose weight...right?
    The degree to which this is a problem is based on the magnitude of weight you have to lose. In any event, it seems to me like it's more of a theoretical problem than a real one. You just have to get going and then the path presents itself along the way. As you get leaner, you'll spontaneously become more active. The diminution of calorie expenditure will reverse itself as you make healthier and healthier lifestyle choices. You'll find little ways to "reverse diet" that seem like calorie hacks. Eventually you'll get to a point where you want to bulk, and then each cycle of bulking/cutting will increase your lean mass and therefore metabolism.

    Think of it like a process, not an end-state.
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  3. #3
    team ketchup AdamWW's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by userSTN1W51KJT9 View Post
    I am new to fitness and and learning about working out. While doing some research about losing weight, it is commonly said to reduce calories to below your maintenance calories. However, at the same time I was reading that reducing calories also reduces your metabolism. That your body would adjust to your lower calorie intake and reduce it's metabolism to match that.

    So, I was curious what would happen if my "NET" calories were much lower than my maintenance calories? By this I mean, if I ate say 2500 calories for maintenance, but with exercising i burned 1000 calories. So, my NET would be 1500 calories for the day. Would my metabolism still slow down because my NET calorie was so much lower than my maintenance calories?


    If it does lower metabolism, then how do people keep cutting/losing weight if your body always adjusts. I know building muscle is supposed to help boost metabolism, but at the same time you would need to cut your calories to lose weight...right?


    Thank you in advance for your answers and any advice you guys share!
    You’re over complicating the concept of calorie balance and metabolic adaptation.

    Although a calorie deficit does reduce overall metabolism, there are many factors which will impact the degree to which this impacts fat loss, and in same cases there is almost no effect on the individual until they achieve a state of significant leanness.

    Factors such as protein/fiber intake, individual variations in NEAT resulting from reduced energy availability, lowering of body temperature, resting heart rate, workout intensity, etc, all play a role.

    People are able to continue losing weight because, usually, they gradually reduce calories as fat loss stalls or they increase cardio.

    Your basal calorie expenditure can never be zero, so you can always lose weight if you eat little enough, it just becomes pretty painful if you’re already very lean and trying to get super-shredded because at some point your body will down-regulate basically everything except vital functions to ensure you don’t die.
    The power of carbs compels me!
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  4. #4
    Registered User userSTN1W51KJT9's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by rtpmarine View Post
    The overall effect to TDEE is not solely decided by calorie balance; there's also a strong hormonal effect based on whatever you do throughout the day and how well you sleep. So the type of exercise makes a huge difference. Burn 1,000 calories doing cardio and you'll send your body a signal to get efficient with calories. Not good. On the other hand, burn that much by lifting heavy twice per day and you'll send a signal that says "don't let this muscle go".



    The degree to which this is a problem is based on the magnitude of weight you have to lose. In any event, it seems to me like it's more of a theoretical problem than a real one. You just have to get going and then the path presents itself along the way. As you get leaner, you'll spontaneously become more active. The diminution of calorie expenditure will reverse itself as you make healthier and healthier lifestyle choices. You'll find little ways to "reverse diet" that seem like calorie hacks. Eventually you'll get to a point where you want to bulk, and then each cycle of bulking/cutting will increase your lean mass and therefore metabolism.

    Think of it like a process, not an end-state.

    Originally Posted by AdamWW View Post
    You’re over complicating the concept of calorie balance and metabolic adaptation.

    Although a calorie deficit does reduce overall metabolism, there are many factors which will impact the degree to which this impacts fat loss, and in same cases there is almost no effect on the individual until they achieve a state of significant leanness.

    Factors such as protein/fiber intake, individual variations in NEAT resulting from reduced energy availability, lowering of body temperature, resting heart rate, workout intensity, etc, all play a role.

    People are able to continue losing weight because, usually, they gradually reduce calories as fat loss stalls or they increase cardio.

    Your basal calorie expenditure can never be zero, so you can always lose weight if you eat little enough, it just becomes pretty painful if you’re already very lean and trying to get super-shredded because at some point your body will down-regulate basically everything except vital functions to ensure you don’t die.
    Thank you both for the replies! Yeah, it is a theoretical question for the most part. I just didnt want to start off wrong and having to rework my plan.
    My plan is to reduce my calorie intake - by skipping a meal (dinner)...think of it like intermittent fasting. At the same time, to start some light cardio and light weight lifting.

    What I gather from here is that i should just go about my workouts and let the metabolism take care of itself and then adjust as needed.
    So, should i split my workout time 50-50 into cardio-weights ... or should i spent favor one or the other more if the primary focus is fat loss?
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  5. #5
    Registered User rtpmarine's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by userSTN1W51KJT9 View Post
    My plan is to reduce my calorie intake - by skipping a meal (dinner)...think of it like intermittent fasting.
    I like it. Dinner-skipping > breakfast-skipping.

    Make sure you keep track of your calories, because it's easy to naturally under-eat for the first few weeks but eventually your body adapts and eats a little more during the meals, wiping out the calorie deficit.

    Originally Posted by userSTN1W51KJT9 View Post
    At the same time, to start some light cardio and light weight lifting.

    What I gather from here is that i should just go about my workouts and let the metabolism take care of itself and then adjust as needed.
    So, should i split my workout time 50-50 into cardio-weights ... or should i spent favor one or the other more if the primary focus is fat loss?
    I'd probably prefer you do more 75/25 in favor of weights. If you do 50/50, then at least make the cardio very light (like walking / elliptical) and the resistance training relatively intense. It's okay to go with light weights at first, but try to follow a proven program that progressively overloads the weight so that your intensity will go up over time.
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  6. #6
    team ketchup AdamWW's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by userSTN1W51KJT9 View Post
    Thank you both for the replies! Yeah, it is a theoretical question for the most part. I just didnt want to start off wrong and having to rework my plan.
    My plan is to reduce my calorie intake - by skipping a meal (dinner)...think of it like intermittent fasting. At the same time, to start some light cardio and light weight lifting.

    What I gather from here is that i should just go about my workouts and let the metabolism take care of itself and then adjust as needed.
    So, should i split my workout time 50-50 into cardio-weights ... or should i spent favor one or the other more if the primary focus is fat loss?
    You can reduce calories however you want... skipping a meal or by reduce the size/calories in each meal... all personal preference.

    Personally, if I were cutting, I'd keep all my meals the same, i'd probably just swap some of the starchy carbs I eat with veggies instead... more food, more volume, still get to eat and enjoy food just as often.
    The power of carbs compels me!
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