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How To Identify Your Maintenance Calories

May 22, 2024

Before you try to lose weight again, take a moment to understand why you're maintaining your current weight. Most people jump straight into cutting out carbs, sugar, processed food, and doing detoxes. While some of these methods aren't necessarily bad (except for detoxing, which is unnecessary), they often lead to temporary weight loss. The problem is, once people stop doing these things, the weight tends to come back.

The Calorie Connection

Cutting out carbs, sugar, and processed foods generally reduces calorie intake. Cardio burns calories, keto reduces carb intake (hence calories), fasting shortens eating windows (leading to fewer calories), and medications or surgeries like Ozempic or gastric sleeve reduce appetite or stomach size, thus cutting calories.

So, instead of randomly slashing calories, first identify how many calories you’re consuming to maintain your weight. This way, you can create a more sustainable weight loss plan.

Steps to Identify Your Maintenance Calories

1. Track Your Food for 1-2 Weeks

  • Objective: Determine how many calories you're currently consuming.
  • Instructions: Eat exactly as you normally do and write down every calorie you eat or drink. Be honest and precise.

2. Track Your Steps for 1-2 Weeks

  • Objective: Understand your daily activity level.
  • Instructions: Wear a pedometer or use a fitness tracker to log your steps. Don’t increase or decrease your activity; just record it as is.

3. Weigh Yourself Every Day

  • Objective: Observe natural weight fluctuations.
  • Instructions: Weigh yourself at the same time each day (preferably in the morning). Note that weight can fluctuate due to water retention, food intake, and other factors.

Why Does Weight Fluctuate?

Your weight can vary daily due to multiple reasons:

  • Water Retention: Consuming more sodium or carbohydrates can make your body retain water.
  • Food Intake: The amount and type of food you eat can cause weight variations.
  • Bowel Movements: Regularity can affect daily weight.

Remember: Losing 2 pounds in a day doesn’t mean you lost fat tissue, and gaining 4 pounds over the weekend doesn’t mean you gained 4 pounds of body fat.

4. Calculate Averages

  • Average Calories: Sum the total calories consumed over the tracking period and divide by the number of days.
  • Average Steps: Sum the total steps taken and divide by the number of days.
  • Average Weight: Sum the daily weights and divide by the number of days.

Now you know what you’re eating on average, how much you’re walking on average, and your average weight.

Making Changes for Weight Loss

If you want to lose weight, you have two main options:

  1. Increase Your Steps: Boost your daily activity to burn more calories.
  2. Decrease Your Calories: Reduce your caloric intake.

Ensuring Fat Loss and Muscle Maintenance

To ensure you’re losing body fat while maintaining muscle:

  • Track Your Macros: Monitor your protein, carbohydrate, and fat intake.
  • Train Properly: Engage in strength training to preserve muscle mass.

Need help with these steps? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.

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In the meantime, focus on identifying your maintenance calories so that you can stop guessing why you’re gaining or losing weight and start knowing exactly why.

God bless. Let’s work!