Adjusting Caloric Intake for Exercise.

Hi Davey,

I’m trying to lose weight and get into better shape and was wondering about calorie consumption.

If I burn 220 calories after a cardio workout, do I have to eat an extra 220 calories to make-up for the workout?

Thank you,
Jen 🙂

Hey Jen,

Thanks for the question.

Since your goal is to lose weight, you need to create a calorie deficit. In other words, your body needs to use and burn more calories than you are consuming. While some of this deficit can be created through better nutrition and decreased portions, the best way to create a calorie deficit is through exercise.

You might be aiming for a 400 or 500 calorie deficit, and the 220 calories burned during your workout can be part of that deficit. In other words, you wouldn’t need to increase your calorie intake to make up for it.

If, on the other hand, you’re burning 800 or 900 calories at the gym – which far exceeds your targeted calorie deficit of 400 or 500 calories, then you do need to increase your caloric intake.

Keep in mind that you’ll want to aim for weight loss of 1/2 to 1 pound per week. If you’re losing weight faster than that, adjust your calorie deficit according (i.e., eat more or exercise a bit less).

If, instead of losing weight, you were trying to maintain or build mass – then, yes, you’d need to increase your caloric intake to make up for the calories burned during your workout.

I hope that clears things up!


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Davey Wavey is a certified personal trainer and YouTube sensation with more than 250 million video views. For Davey's fitness tips and secrets, sign up for his free monthly newsletter - or download any of his affordable and effective workout programs.


  1. Anthony says:

    Wait, so if you’re burning more calories at they gym (i.e. 900-1200 calories) you HAVE to eat more??

    • I think what he’s saying is that if your targeted calorie loss is only 400-500, then you should eat the extra 400-800 calories that you’re burning off in addition to what you want to lose. But if your targeted calorie deficit is 900-1200 then you wouldn’t want to eat that. I think.

  2. Always good advice, Davey.

    The “1/2 to 1 pound per week” weight loss recommendation seems an industry standard and one predicated on a “safe, effective and sustainable” rate of weight loss, however for those people such as myself who have a substantial amount of weight to lose, I’ve found that rate to be uninspiring and even to some degree demotivating to the point of causing unintentional breaks in momentum.

    When I eat properly, drink 100 fl oz of water per day, and exercise daily (including several cycling class per week) I’ve been known to drop 7 to 8 pounds in a week. With some 120 pounds to lose (and 90 still to go) I’m always happy to see such levels of weight loss versus the 1/2 to 1 pound standard.

    Yet, I always have to be consciously aware of burnout since pushing myself too much in the past has also caused me to crash and burn from a dieting and exercise perspective.

    Perhaps you can talk to this post in a future contribution to your blog or on your blogTV show.


    • neverknew says:

      Congrats rob on losing 30 lbs. Good luck and keep up the motivation for the other 90. You have my support.

      Jen, good luck on your goals also!

  3. Charley says:

    Do not rely on the calorie numbers you see on many cardio machines. For one thing they are only an estimate. But more importantly the give a false impression. You are always burning calories, even when you sit. While the machine may indicate you burned 250 calories that includes the ones you would have burned just breathing. It is not the excess calories burned by your workout.

  4. christopher says:

    workout-eat less-less caloric intake-weight loss comes from burning more calories than you take in.its really that simple.only take in smart calories.

  5. i am fun of eating foods with high calories but I already control myself now. I want to loss my weight because I am so fat already.

  6. Calories must be adjust also cause too much calories can cause some disorders in the body.

  7. It is very rare these days to find blogs that provide information someone is looking for. I am glad to see that your blog share valued information that can help to many readers. Thanks and keep writing.

  8. Very good article. I will be going through many of these issues as well.

  9. Martina K says:

    I´m also one of those who are in a process of releasing weight, so I really appreciated this article. It reminded me what should I keep in mind and also every time I read one of these articles it´s quite a support and motivation to carry on on my way to the goal I want to achieve.
    Thank you very much, Davey.
    Also best of luck to all of you who are on their way to get fit. Keep going and remember: you´re awesome!