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How to Find Your Maintenance Calorie Level

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  • DX2JX2DX2JX2 Member Posts: 1,921 Member Member Posts: 1,921 Member
    envscuba wrote: »
    So if I wanted to cut back to 10 miles per day at my the middle of my target weight range of 150 to 164 I'd need to be eating 1900 calories per day, BMR = 1427, plus 10*157*.3?

    Yes. At 157 pounds, you'd burn something in the neighborhood of 50 calories per mile walked. That said, 3-4 hours of walking per day is bonkers. I can't see how that is sustainable.

    You've got to learn to manage your calories by diet. As it stands now, one injury and all of that weight will come back on.
  • WendyannerobertsWendyanneroberts Member Posts: 255 Member Member Posts: 255 Member
    Thought I had read a lot of/most of the stickies, along with following threads, where this is discussed. But glad this was bumped today, as it was just what I needed. Clear and concise, just to refresh what I have learnt from these forums over the years. Thanks for taking the time to explain.
  • envscubaenvscuba Member, Premium Posts: 14 Member Member, Premium Posts: 14 Member
    Thanks for all the advise I think I have what I need now, and the numbers make a little more sense. I was worried that the hypothyroidism was having a big affect on the weight loss but it turns out it is not. I'll be keeping up the 14 mile a day routine until a planned hiking trip in July as part of the training for the hike and then dropping my mileage after that. The eating is the hard part I just hope the days of feeling like I'm a bottomless pit that cannot be filled are over once I get a good balance/maintenance level figured out.
  • CoachJen71CoachJen71 Member Posts: 1,201 Member Member Posts: 1,201 Member
    @envscuba High cardio triggers the overwhelming urge to eat. "Hiker hunger." I am fighting that battle alongside of you!
  • CarvedTonesCarvedTones Member Posts: 2,340 Member Member Posts: 2,340 Member
    CoachJen71 wrote: »
    @envscuba High cardio triggers the overwhelming urge to eat. "Hiker hunger." I am fighting that battle alongside of you!

    My obsession with SUP paddling has been a double edged sword. I can get a big calorie burn in 2 or 3 hours of something I enjoy doing and at the pace I am going, it's cardio. But man am I hungry when I finish! And not just for a little while after; pretty much until I go to sleep.
  • envscubaenvscuba Member, Premium Posts: 14 Member Member, Premium Posts: 14 Member
    My is usually the worst sitting at work (desk job). I found that snacking on fruit and veggies throughout the day is a low cal way of satisfying most of it.
  • cbihattcbihatt Member Posts: 284 Member Member Posts: 284 Member
    I am about to go on a diet break and had no idea what I should use for maintenance calories other than a vague notion of using “past data.” So, thank you for this. I am bumping it up for others who may need it too (and saving it for later when I finally reach true maintenance).
  • amarquis792amarquis792 Member Posts: 6 Member Member Posts: 6 Member
    Hi all- new here to the whole maintenance thing and I am really struggling and worried because i definitely feel like i keep losing although i really am not trying to. I have been scared to increase my calories so i am doing it very very slowly.

    I am still doing mainly cardio where right now the gym's are not open- but I am starting to notice when I look in the mirror I am seeing more bones and it scares me. How do I stop my body from losing fat and muscle?

    Also- it might be a silly question but when people work on maintaining, how rigid are you with tracking little things like condiments that you might eat with foods, ie: ketchup, dipping sauces, etc. Do you incorporate these and still track these in your MFP diaries once you are trying to work on maintaining? Any advice and support would be appreciated! Struggling hard core over here :(
  • ghudson92ghudson92 Member Posts: 1,932 Member Member Posts: 1,932 Member
    Hi all- new here to the whole maintenance thing and I am really struggling and worried because i definitely feel like i keep losing although i really am not trying to. I have been scared to increase my calories so i am doing it very very slowly.

    I am still doing mainly cardio where right now the gym's are not open- but I am starting to notice when I look in the mirror I am seeing more bones and it scares me. How do I stop my body from losing fat and muscle?

    Also- it might be a silly question but when people work on maintaining, how rigid are you with tracking little things like condiments that you might eat with foods, ie: ketchup, dipping sauces, etc. Do you incorporate these and still track these in your MFP diaries once you are trying to work on maintaining? Any advice and support would be appreciated! Struggling hard core over here :(

    Why don't you try increasing your calories a little if you are still losing? Are you eating back your exercise calories? If you have increased cardio you may well have put yourself back in to a deficit.

    I log and weigh everything where possible and do my best to make educated guesses for meals out or meals prepared by someone else. Overall I'd say my diary is about 90% accurate logging, inclusive of little things like condiments.
  • briscogunbriscogun Member Posts: 842 Member Member Posts: 842 Member
    For me dipping sauce and condiments can be some of the most calorie dense foods I see so I am very careful about trying to be honest with logging those. Mustard, for example, is like almost nothing if I remember right, ketchup is maybe 25 calories a tbsp? But some other sauces and dips can be 100's of calories or more depending on how much is used. So I guess the answer is: it depends?

    A drop here or a finger lick there isn't anything to throw off my day, but if I purposefully put it on or in my food? I'm trying my best to log it.

    I'm moving into maintenance this week myself and trying to up my calories. It's been hard but nice. There's still that fear that if I'm not losing I'm gaining again. But I do get to eat more which is nice. I've added calories on to my breakfast and lunch (100-200 each meal) and about the same at dinner time.

    I think its going to be a while until I get comfortable in maintenance, this has always been my struggle. But I'll keep trying until I get it right! ;)
  • PAV8888PAV8888 Member Posts: 7,254 Member Member Posts: 7,254 Member
    Posted this in another thread, but I think it is perhaps something I wanted to mention in this one since it is also mentioned as a potential method of finding maintenance in Ann's OP.

    Ann's OP describes the process of estimating recent losses perfectly. But I actually don't see a real benefit to being coy about immediately moving to a minimal potential balancing point.

    Sure, it may be scary to add so many calories (if it is a lot), and we may prefer to increase our intake gradually for various reasons. But I believe that this has to be addressed rationally and firmly from the get go.

    If we're OK with continuing to lose, or even WANT to continue to lose, adding 1-200 Cal per week is an excellent strategy. But if we really do want to get to maintenance there is no reason to avoid starting with an increase equal to what our 4-6 week weight loss trend numbers indicate.

    If our numbers indicate a -350 Cal loss rate, our minimal potential balancing point will be +350 Cal. And it is actually extremely likely that the ultimate actual balancing point will be higher than that, especially if we have been in a substantial, or prolonged, deficit.

    Once we've cleared the "big" initial increase from our known deficit position to the minimal potential balancing point, sure, then we may want to be more cautious when it comes to further increases in intake and do so more gradually while keeping an eye on our weight trend.

    But the initial increase?
    What is the benefit of drawing it out?
    edited May 6
  • AnnPT77AnnPT77 Member, Premium Posts: 15,504 Member Member, Premium Posts: 15,504 Member
    If PAV gets to repeat posts from other threads, I get to repeat answers from other threads. (I still have no major argument with what he's saying, I just think it's an individual issue. Everyone can profitably consider what he's saying, and it's a good plan if it suits your personality.)
    PAV8888 wrote: »
    Posted this in another thread, but I think it is perhaps something I wanted to mention in this one since it is also mentioned as a potential method of finding maintenance in Ann's OP.

    Ann's OP describes the process of estimating recent losses perfectly. But I actually don't see a real benefit to being coy about immediately moving to a minimal potential balancing point.

    Sure, it may be scary to add so many calories (if it is a lot), and we may prefer to increase our intake gradually for various reasons. But I believe that this has to be addressed rationally and firmly from the get go.

    If we're OK with continuing to lose, or even WANT to continue to lose, adding 1-200 Cal per week is an excellent strategy. But if we really do want to get to maintenance there is no reason to avoid starting with an increase equal to what our 4-6 week weight loss trend numbers indicate.

    If our numbers indicate a -350 Cal loss rate, our minimal potential balancing point will be +350 Cal. And it is actually extremely likely that the ultimate actual balancing point will be higher than that, especially if we have been in a substantial, or prolonged, deficit.

    Once we've cleared the "big" initial increase from our known deficit position to the minimal potential balancing point, sure, then we may want to be more cautious when it comes to further increases in intake and do so more gradually while keeping an eye on our weight trend.

    But the initial increase?
    What is the benefit of drawing it out?

    With people who are very stressed about regain, that very probable immediate scale jump from +350 all at once (just water weight/digestive contents, not fat) can be a problem. It's a little hard to tell from a post who's in this category, but some will eat more, see that (fake) jump, and fall back to too-deep deficit because "they gain if they eat more".

    I'm betting you've seen the external signs of this, in some threads in the past, with an OP who says that they lose fine on 1200 (or whatever), but anytime they go above that they gain weight: Oh me, oh my, what to do, broken metabolism, doom, stress, etc.

    Sometimes, the 100 calories per day, increasing each week for 3 (and a half ;) ) weeks will keep the scale noise-level at a magnitude that doesn't cause such a reaction. Clearly, the water/digestive-contents gain is NBD from an analytic standpoint, but it can be a BD from a gut-reaction standpoint, for some.

    I'm not saying that's true for everyone, I'm just answering the bolded question with a generic possible reason. It's certainly the reason why I've sometimes suggested it to people, based on my reading of a post.

    ETA: On an analytic level, what you suggest is completely logical. And for someone who's gotten substantially too thin, it's objectively a better approach, considering physical health as paramount.
  • PAV8888PAV8888 Member Posts: 7,254 Member Member Posts: 7,254 Member
    AnnPT77 wrote: »

    With people who are very stressed about regain, that very probable immediate scale jump from +350 all at once (just water weight/digestive contents, not fat) can be a problem.
    <snip>
    Sometimes, the 100 calories per day, increasing each week for 3 (and a half ;) ) weeks will keep the scale noise-level at a magnitude that doesn't cause such a reaction.
    <snip snip>
    I'm not saying that's true for everyone, I'm just answering the bolded question with a generic possible reason.

    It's groundhog day!

    To clarify, the situation you describe is precisely why I said: "Sure, it may be scary to add so many calories (if it is a lot), and we may prefer to increase our intake gradually for various reasons. But I believe that this has to be addressed rationally and firmly from the get go."

    Going up at ONLY 100 Cal at a time almost guarantees an extended period of continuing losses for someone at an appreciable deficit, and in a few situations it is precisely the people who can most ill afford for hormonal and neurotransmitter effects of such deficits to continue who are most hesitant at implementing a large jump to actual maintenance--even though such a jump has potential to act as physiological mitigation for some of the effects they may be experiencing.

    My analogy in the other thread was the pulling of a band-aid! It has to come off either way, and sometimes doing so slowly results in more pain!
    edited May 9
  • AnnPT77AnnPT77 Member, Premium Posts: 15,504 Member Member, Premium Posts: 15,504 Member
    PAV8888 wrote: »
    AnnPT77 wrote: »

    With people who are very stressed about regain, that very probable immediate scale jump from +350 all at once (just water weight/digestive contents, not fat) can be a problem.
    <snip>
    Sometimes, the 100 calories per day, increasing each week for 3 (and a half ;) ) weeks will keep the scale noise-level at a magnitude that doesn't cause such a reaction.
    <snip snip>
    I'm not saying that's true for everyone, I'm just answering the bolded question with a generic possible reason.

    It's groundhog day!

    To clarify, the situation you describe is precisely why I said: "Sure, it may be scary to add so many calories (if it is a lot), and we may prefer to increase our intake gradually for various reasons. But I believe that this has to be addressed rationally and firmly from the get go."

    Going up at ONLY 100 Cal at a time almost guarantees an extended period of continuing losses for someone at an appreciable deficit, and in a few situations it is precisely the people who can most ill afford for hormonal and neurotransmitter effects of such deficits to continue who are most hesitant at implementing a large jump to actual maintenance--even though such a jump has potential to act as physiological mitigation for some of the effects they may be experiencing.

    My analogy in the other thread was the pulling of a band-aid! It has to come off either way, and sometimes doing so slowly results in more pain!

    I've said "On an analytic level . . . completely logical" and "objectively a better approach, considering physical health as paramount." That's all yer gonna get, Mr. PAV, much as I admire you.

    Depite it being (you say) objectively better to rip off the bandaid and get it over with, some people's psychology is going to lead them to pull slowly.

    When I was ready for maintenance, I wasn't losing fast; I was already losing quite slowly. Nonetheless, I chose to add calories slowly. Choice. Why? Because I know myself. If I added several hundred calories all in one jump, my hedonically-focused personality meant I would be likely to add a big treat every day. Analytically, that was not what I wanted. By adding 100 calories at a time, I instead made small, pleasant, nutritious tweaks to my eating routine. That, for me, was a better plan.

    If losing fast, yes, then an initial big add is a better plan for physical health . . . but it's a consideration that for some it can have negative effects psychologically - drive them back into big deficit and cause bad physical effects, even. The difference between adding 350 at once, vs. 100 per week is 3.5 weeks. That's fairly unlikely to be the straw that breaks a camel's physical health.

    I'm sticking with "different approaches work better for different people" in a context of "know thyself". "Big jump" is a perfectly valid approach. So is "gradual add". One or the other may be objectively better. One or the other may be subjectively better.

    You do you, I'll do me.
    edited May 9
  • GBO323GBO323 Member Posts: 332 Member Member Posts: 332 Member
    This!
    "Method 4: Gradually Increase:

    Another option is to gradually increase your daily calorie goal until your weight stabilizes.

    Even if you have a maintenance calorie estimate from method 1, 2, or 3, but you want to minimize visible (though irrelevant ;) ) scale jump from glycogen replenishment and/or increased average digestive system contents, and maybe ease your way into eating more, you can increase calories eaten gradually.

    To start, add 100-200 daily calories (depending on the size of your estimated total gap to be filled).

    Eat that for a week, or until you satisfy yourself that you're not gaining fat (be reasonable - a weight-trending app and knowledge of your own fluctuation patterns will be helpful). Then add another 100 calories daily. Monitor again. Repeat until scale weight stabilizes.

    You may find that you need to wait/monitor longer with each successive increase, in order to be sure of the effect. If so: Patience! ;)"

    When you hit 5 pounds within goal, lessen your weight loss goal per week by .5...this way you are easing into your new maintenance amount vs just diving right in.
  • amarquis792amarquis792 Member Posts: 6 Member Member Posts: 6 Member
    Can someone suggest an accurate online calculator or something to find maintenance calories? Im struggling as i I’ve done research and see that there’s so many different formulas out there and I don’t know which one is accurate? Also, I’m reading articles that are discouraging and saying that these equations aren’t accurate and have errors and that it’s better to get your resting metabolic rate? I’m just utterly confused and I’m at the point where I keep losing weight when I need to be maintaining 😢can someone provide guidance or support
  • sijomialsijomial Member Posts: 16,610 Member Member Posts: 16,610 Member
    Can someone suggest an accurate online calculator or something to find maintenance calories? Im struggling as i I’ve done research and see that there’s so many different formulas out there and I don’t know which one is accurate? Also, I’m reading articles that are discouraging and saying that these equations aren’t accurate and have errors and that it’s better to get your resting metabolic rate? I’m just utterly confused and I’m at the point where I keep losing weight when I need to be maintaining 😢can someone provide guidance or support

    @amarquis792

    What constitutes accurate to you?
    Within 50cals, 100cals, 200cals, a population average for someone your height?

    What if you take an accurate formula that predicts within a few dozen calories for 90% of a sample of people and you happen to be in the 10% that are outliers?

    What if you find a completely accurate formula for you but your calorie logging accuracy is off?

    What happens if you get an accurate RMR but your activity level or exercise estimates are off?

    I think you need to adjust your expectations, formulae can only give a suggested start point from which to adjust based on results over time. This site will allow you to get multiple formulae in one place if you like to compare or average out - https://www.sailrabbit.com/bmr/

    Personally I would use my own data to get a more individual ballpark figure corrected for my personal logging accuracy.
    Either from recent weight change over the last month or from the maths of calories eaten over past 4 weeks, add/subtract 3,500 cals for each pound lost/gained and divide by 28.

    Whatever method you use adjustments will be required to either fine tune or to cope with changes in your calorie needs - even if you are lucky and nail down a maintenance number straight away that number will change over time.
  • AnnPT77AnnPT77 Member, Premium Posts: 15,504 Member Member, Premium Posts: 15,504 Member
    Can someone suggest an accurate online calculator or something to find maintenance calories? Im struggling as i I’ve done research and see that there’s so many different formulas out there and I don’t know which one is accurate? Also, I’m reading articles that are discouraging and saying that these equations aren’t accurate and have errors and that it’s better to get your resting metabolic rate? I’m just utterly confused and I’m at the point where I keep losing weight when I need to be maintaining 😢can someone provide guidance or support

    Did you review the methods in the OP of this thread?

    Yes, calculators can be inaccurate. They're really "estimators".

    They take a few pieces of personal-description data about you (age, weight, etc.), then use research-based formulas to estimate your BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate, similar to RMR (Resting Metabolic Rate), but basically the number of calories you'd burn lying in bed in a coma).

    They ask you to pick an activity level from a small number of descriptions, then they multiply your estimated BMR by a numeric factor to account for your activity. (The activity multiplication factors are also research based.)

    Finally, they spit out an estimate that would (loosely) be the average for all of the people of your personal description, who picked the same activity-level choice.

    People are individuals, not averages. So, the estimates will be close for most people, farther off (high or low) for a few, and very far off for a very rare few. That's the inherent nature of statistical estimates.

    If you are a "typical person"/"average person", the calculator estimates will be close enough to be useful, for you.

    How do you know whether you're "typical" or "average"? You know that because the estimates work for you. (Yes, that's circular reasoning). So, you try an estimate for a while, and see. It's quite unlikely to be so very wrong that you either keep losing very fast, or gain very fast. Very slow, gradual gain or loss are a little more possible. So, pick an estimate, try it for at least a month, see what happens. Then adjust.

    It really doesn't matter all that much which calculator you pick. It's an estimate. Most of them only vary by 100-200 calories daily, as long as you compare results from calculators shooting for the same kind of estimate. (Most calculators estimate TDEE, total daily energy expenditure, the amount you burn doing everything you do. Some, like MFP, estimate NEAT, non-exercise activity thermogenesis, the amount you burn doing everything you do except intentional exercise. With NEAT calculators, like MFP, you're expected to log your exercise separately, and eat that back, too. So a TDEE estimate may be much higher than a NEAT estimate, if you're a heavy exerciser. They should be much more similar, after you add in the intentional exercise (averaged over a typical week).)

    If your weight loss rate (pounds per week) from a calorie estimate by a particular calculator (like MFP) has been what the calculator told you, the maintenance calories from that calculator will probably be pretty close, too.

    The most accurate approach, IMO, is to use your own logging data to estimate maintenance. That's covered in step by step detail in the OP at the top of this thread, method #3.

    Another option that may be helpful (can't remember whether it was mentioned previously in this thread) would be to download and use this spreadsheet to get an estimate:

    https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1G7FgNzPq3v5WMjDtH0n93LXSMRY_hjmzNTMJb3aZSxM/edit?usp=sharing

    There's more detailed description about it in this post:

    https://community.myfitnesspal.com/en/discussion/10287502/just-my-tdee-please

    If you want to use an outside TDEE calculator, I personally like this one:

    https://www.sailrabbit.com/bmr/

    I'm not saying that it's any more accurate than any other calculator. It is more transparent, i.e., you can see the factors it uses; it shows results from multiple different research-based formulas all in one place; and it has a larger number of activity level choices with somewhat clearer descriptions than some other calculators. If you're frustrated by having multiple answers, you won't like it . . . because it will give you multiple answers. But it will let you see where the different answers come from, and how much (or little ;) ) they differ.

    Really, there is no magical "accurate" way to do this. I understand that it can be scary. At some point, you need to just pick an estimating method, test its estimate for at least 4-6 weeks, and see what happens. You may see a water-weight/digestive-contents weight jump on the scale in the first few days, but it isn't fat regain, so ride it out. Give it the 4-6 weeks. Then adjust.

    What's the worst that can happen? If you guess 100 daily calories too high, it will take over a month to regain a pound of fat. If you've lost weight, you know how to lose a pound. And, if you gain about pound in 35 days, you know the next maintenance estimate to try is whatever level you've been eating, minus 100.

    Best wishes!
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