When it comes to weight loss, one common challenge isn’t grasping the mechanics of shedding pounds—as most of you who have lost weight will understand calories in versus calories out equation. The real hurdle lies in recognizing that the calorie intake necessary to maintain your weight at the start of your weight loss journey differs from what your target weight demands.
Similarly, the calorie intake fueling your current fat loss and hunger won’t be your new norm. There’s light at the end of the tunnel, and, within reason, you’ll be able to increase your calorie intake.
Let’s delve into that now!
First and foremost, congratulations on your current dieting efforts. Regardless of whether you’ve lost 5lb, 15lb, or 150lb, the time, patience, and consistency needed for achieving that weight loss goal should be acknowledged—it’s no easy task.
Recalculating Your Macros For Maintenance
Several factors need consideration when recalculating your calorie and macro needs for maintenance.
Current Rates of Loss: Determine your rate of loss—whether it’s two pounds or half a pound per week. No macro calculator or coach can replace your own research and metrics. It’s essential to understand how your body responds to different rates of loss.
Protein Requirements: Consider your current protein requirements versus the new demands at maintenance. While a higher protein intake aids satiety and muscle retention during weight loss, you can adjust to a lower dose during maintenance, allowing more flexibility with carbohydrates and fats. Ensure that your protein intake aligns with your activity level to support overall health.
Output and Effort Level: Assess your current physical activity, including steps, resistance training, and regular exercise. Are you planning to maintain this level of effort, or is there room for adjustments? Your activity level plays a significant role in determining your caloric needs for maintenance.
To calculate maintenance based on your current rate of loss, let’s establish that a 1lb loss per week requires a weekly caloric deficit of 3500 (500 calories less than maintenance per day). Adjust accordingly based on your rate of loss.
For instance, if you’re consistently losing 1lb per week, increasing your daily caloric intake by 4-500 calories will bring you back to maintenance. If your rate of loss is ½ a pound per week, increase daily caloric intake by 250 calories. Remember, these are starting points, and individual variations may apply.
Instead of relying on a formula, consider your new BMR, adjust for physical activity (multiply BMR by 1.2-1.9), and start with a protein recommendation of 0.8g per pound of LBM. Divide the remaining calories between fats and carbohydrates based on personal preference and nutritional needs.
Expect a small increase in body weight when shifting from a calorie deficit to maintenance. This is due to factors like increased food volume and glycogen replenishment. Allow for a 3lb variance either side of your target weight and focus on weekly and monthly averages rather than daily fluctuations.
Recalculating for Muscle Gain
Now, if your goal extends beyond mere maintenance to muscle gain, additional considerations come into play.
Adjusting Caloric Intake: To build muscle effectively, you need to be in a caloric surplus. Increase your daily intake by a moderate amount, say 300-500 calories, while ensuring a balance of macronutrients.
Optimizing Protein Intake: Protein remains crucial for muscle development. Aim for a protein intake of 1.0-1.2g per pound of body weight to provide your body with the necessary building blocks for muscle growth.
Strength Training Focus: While you might have been primarily focused on calorie intake during weight loss, shifting the focus to strength training is key for muscle gain. Incorporate resistance exercises that target different muscle groups and progressively increase the intensity.
Patience and Monitoring: Muscle gain is a gradual process, so be patient and monitor your progress. Regularly reassess your caloric and nutrient needs to ensure they align with your evolving fitness goals.
For more on muscle gain, check out our in-depth guide on how to bulk, here!
Remember, maintenance is a skill that requires practice, patience, time, and consistency. Keep it simple, prioritize protein, and stay active—tracking steps and workouts aren’t just tools for fat loss but contribute to being the strongest, fittest, healthiest version of yourself.
By prioritizing protein and staying active, you not only support your weight maintenance but also work towards becoming the strongest, fittest, and healthiest version of yourself.
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