Should You Add Calories You Burn Back In After Exercise?

A very common question I get asked a lot is whether or not you should add back calories you burn during exercise.

The answer is a BIG  – NO!


If you have contacted me for a plan or are following a specific plan with set calories, these numbers are usually based on your activity level in and outside the gym (and whether you exercise or not).

In other words, your activity level is factored in when determining the amount of calories you’re given to eat each day.


For example, you have a set number of calories you are given (say 1500 calories) and you go on a 3 mile run.  On this run you burned 300 calories.  If you go and eat 300 calories now, you are ADDING these calories to your overall total, (which would now be 1800 for the day instead of the 1500 you are supposed to eat), thus eating OVER your calculated amount.  This can add up to as much as 1/2 – 1 pound a week of extra calories.

You are simply no longer in a calorie deficit if you add back in food from exercise.  This is why I tell my clients that a rest day (or 2 or 3) isn’t going to make or break your progress.  What’s more important is being CONSISTENT with your total food intake day in and day out.

images-1Yes, exercising is vital for your health and does deduce your calorie intake, thus making the process of losing weight a little faster.  But the most important factor in losing weight is being in a calorie deficit.  (This is not to say less food is always better but more on that on a separate topic).