I set my base calorie requirements by selecting an activity level of sedentary and putting in my target weight loss per week. I then use Garmin Connect synced to MFP in order to add any calories expended from exercise.
If you’re using power to calculate expended calories then this should be fairly accurate. I find that heart-rate based expenditure is close enough, although tends to be on the high side. If you’re using the MFP calculations for expenditure based on exercise type and duration then I’d take them with a massive pinch of salt as these tend to be a massive overestimate.
The main thing with MFP is to be a worthwhile tool you have to be really rigorous with inputting EVERYTHING. This means weighing/measuring your food, down to the number of grams of butter you’ve spread on your toast. If you do this, especially at first, then you’ll get a good insight into where you can cut calories and how those little snacks that seem insignificant can soon add up. I’ve also found it helps me regulate my snacking - if I can’t be bothered to calculate the calories for the bits of food that my son has left on his plate, then they’ll go in the bin rather than my mouth!
It can be a bit of a chore at first, although I actually enjoy it as it makes me really think about my food intake. It soon gets easier though as you can save home cooked meals and recipes so that you don’t have to input every ingredient when you cook it again.
As for the macro split - I’ve stuck with the standard setting (50% carb, 30% fat, 20% protein), but I don’t focus on this too much. Think more about what nutrients you need for particular workouts/days rather than a fixed split. Worry about eating good, nutritious food at first, then worry about the breakdown later - you’ll probably find that you’re in the ballpark if you’re eating well.
With the help of MFP I’ve gone from 158kg to 75kg, so I’d definitely recommend it. There have been prolonged periods of time when I’ve stopped monitoring my calories and every time I’ve put on weight again.
- input everything whenever possible, and be consistent with it
- don’t set too quick a weight loss goal, slow and steady really is key
- eat good foods - you can eat a lot if you eat well
- make sure you’re fuelling for your workouts and eating good recovery food
- try doing some low intensity rides fasted first thing in the morning to improve your fat metabolism
- don’t get too obsessed (despite the above statement about consistency, don’t worry about trying to be precise if you’ve got a special occasion where you’re eating out and can’t count calories, but do try to make healthy choices)
- do allow yourself some days off the diet, but make sure these aren’t too often
- track your weight daily (controversial, but I find it allows me to focus on the trend over time rather than comparing one day against the next - you’ll soon see that fluctuations are normal and not get discouraged by temporary gains)
- reassess every few weeks - if you’re not losing weight then you know you have to be stricter