Been doing Fuel/Nutrition wrong?

Listened to the latest podcast and they gang was talking about the big three: Stress, Rest, Fuel. I figured it was time to wrap my mind around Fuel since I’ve really fallen down and over extended myself as of late. I been digging a hole I think for years.

I’ve finally gotten into MyFitnessPal and have started keeping track I have some questions. I got a couple TDEE calculators saying based on my weight (230) my TDEE is 2800-3000 cal a day! So that was an eye opener. Does that mean I need to consume 3k cal if no workouts are done? And that if I do a workout that burns 1k cal - I should try to eat that 4k for the day?

I was suprised after I entered in a bunch of food on MyFitnessPal on a day where I thought I ate a ton - and the numbers added up to 2600 calories. I’m concerned I’ve been under-eating for years and that may be a large component of the awful state I’m in right now. I look back on the last big ride I did that burned 2k calories - and if I only ate 2600 - and repeat that back over the last six years…

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Difficult to say…if you had been under eating for years then you would be losing weight. Certainly if you weigh 230Ibs then 2800-3000 cal a day is reasonable…you are going to need plenty as you are 16-17 stone. I weigh 60kg which is just over 130lbs and am only 5’7" tall and I eat that much a day if not a lot more when I’m riding/running for 12-18hours/week - I cut it when I’m at work (bit of lockdown training increase). Certainly if you are doing any half decent training then you will certainly need 4000cal+ BUT - it’s what you eat that counts - I live on porridge for breakfast, plenty of baked potatoes, toast, beans (I’m not a great meat eater - although I’m not vegetarian) rice etc…make sure you get decent protein and don’t skimp on the carbs - if you train hard you need them…I don’t think much about my diet but I try to avoid to much crap and I don’t drink much alcohol…can’t stay awake after training if I do - so yep 4000cal - but make them good quality :grinning:


What activity level did you select when calculating the TDEE? If you sit at a desk all day, even if you do a 2000 kJ ride, I would still select the sedentary activity level. If you have TR -> Strava -> MyFitnessPal your 2000 kJ from the ride would then be added to the calories burned. If you select a high activity level and then add the kJ from your TR ride you’ll be counting (roughly) the calories burned during the ride plus the extra calories MFP adds based on your activity level, which includes an estimate of your exercise time. Essentially you’d be inflating your estimated calorie burn for the day and if you try to eat that much you’ll gain weight because you’re over.

TDEE calculators are an estimate based on model(s) of size, lean mass, activity level, etc. There are a lot of variables involved and I would consider it a place to start (assuming good data going in), but to find the real number you need to track what you eat, your exercise, and tracking your weight / fat mass. If you are maintaining weight you are eating at your TDEE, if you are losing weight you’re under, and over if gaining weight. If you were chronically under-eating for 6 years you would have been losing weight that entire time or you’ve broken the laws of thermodynamics.

A big benefit of tracking calories is see what you (generic you) really eat and how bad your estimates of calorie content are (happened to me.). I thought i was ‘eating well’ or ‘eating clean’ and just had no clue as to caloric content and density of the foods I was eating. You can ‘eat clean’ and gain weight and eat fast food and crap and lose weight, though it is easier to lose weight and feel full with low calorie dense foods.

Other things to keep in mind are:

  • Nutritional information (i.e. calories) can be off by 20%! So its all a bit of a crap shoot and you are never going to have 100% accuracy on food intake, calories burned through exercise, BMR, etc.
  • kJ -> kCal calculations assume a certain efficiency. It is not uncommon for Zwift to report about 50 calories less burned during a 60 min ride compared to TR and that difference grows with the length of a ride. That can add up.
  • We frequently assume our power meters accurately measure our power output. I see significant differences between my smart trainer and my stages PM and those would effect your exercise burn estimate.

everything @Craig_G already said plus …

Are you 230lbs at 6’4" tall and 10% bodyfat or are you 5’8" tall and 25% bodyfat?
(or most likely somewhere in between)

The amount of lean tissue you have makes a big difference to how many calories you burn when sedentary.

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Good points. Not sure on body fat but 6’6"/230.

Thank goodness I haven’t hit triple-digit % yet! :scream: :doughnut: :doughnut: :doughnut:

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FYI, you have to be seriously muscular to be 10% bodyfat at 6’ 4" / 230 lb.

I am (was) a far cry from 10% at 6’ 4" / 185 lb.

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Thank you so much for burning my retinas with 3-4%.

I’m not sure I would trust the tdee calculator on MyFitness Pal. I was using LoseIt and it was a non-trivial over estimate.

Do a search for “Scooby accurate tdee”…that’s what I used and it was very accurate for me (it does require a bf estimate). For reference when I was focused on losing weight I was 6’6" ~235lb and 18% bf (tanita scale), the tdee that it gave me was ~2650, which I used as my baseline for calorie counting.

If you’re really interested in losing or recomping by using this number though, you have to keep track of what you eat (calories), what you burn and how your weight fluctuates in response. Then adjust for your tracking biases (it’s almost a given that one underestimates calories consumed).

Honestly, this approach requires a lot of effort, but it’s very effective. In steady state something like “the endurance diet” (real, not calorie dense foods) is significantly more sustainable.


If you were really 500 cals short every day, you would eventually burn of all the fat off. And would be in a serious burn out position. I had a friend who was a body builder, and he got down to the 3-4 % shape (He was My Europe and Uk champion). He had serious mental fatigue when getting down ripped. Bouts of depression on the run up competition. I think he ran his blood suger very low…which was just covered in last weeks Podcast so. Your metabolic rate of calories is likely in the 2500 to 3000 depending on how active you are during the day, walking about using the stairs etc. And the cal counters are estimates too. If you take carbs via your drink and fuel within the first 40 minutes after the training. You should get recovery nailed. I weigh myself after every training session, to ensure i know what fluid loss i have to replace.

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