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Maintenance without calorie counting?

angelfoodcakeeangelfoodcakee Member Posts: 24 Member Member Posts: 24 Member
I'm at my ideal weight currently and I want to move away from calorie counting so that I can be as stress free as possible when it comes to food.
Anyone had any success with this long term? Any issues you had? How did you do it?

In theory having a few go to meal ideas (that I know the rough calorie estimate of) I can cycle through would work right?
edited September 14


  • autumnblade75autumnblade75 Member Posts: 1,516 Member Member Posts: 1,516 Member
    It's not a bad experiment. I'd recommend allowing a small weight range and returning to calorie counting (with a slight to moderate deficit) if you find yourself slowly edging over the top of your acceptable weight range.
  • MadisonMolly2017MadisonMolly2017 Member Posts: 6,414 Member Member Posts: 6,414 Member
    A dietician I met with suggested dividing plate in 4 parts, 1/2 c serving in each quadrant
    Whole Grain

    I am happy tracking, so I passed (but I do tend to eat balanced meals)
  • sardelsasardelsa Member Posts: 9,637 Member Member Posts: 9,637 Member
    I basically try to keep my daily diet quite consistent (esp breakfast and lunch), get protein at every meal and most snacks, add vegetables, fats and carbs. I track my trend weight and adjust my intake over time.
  • heybalesheybales Member Posts: 17,949 Member Member Posts: 17,949 Member
    Saw that recommendation years ago - each meal have 3-4 options you can cycle between. If only a couple meals make it more options available.
    Log on days you know odd dinner out (or in) so you have handle on it.

    Since amount you eat to maintain weight is totally dependent on amount you burn - have a way to confirm just as active - and be ready to adjust as seasons change and you are not, or are more.

    Weigh and measure where you gain fat first - for most the stomach, weight range is needed to avoid stress, don't measure spot when bloated but otherwise that is most important change.
  • mtaratootmtaratoot Member Posts: 3,624 Member Member Posts: 3,624 Member
    I find keeping track of my intake is more "stress free" than not paying attention. Tools like MFP make it really easy.

    I think some people would consider my approach "loose logging." When I'm cooking at home, I try to use my food scale. This helps me calibrate my estimator. Then if I eat something I didn't make, I can make a reasonably good guess at what it is, find something close in the database, and guess how much I consume.

    In this way, if I want to have something out of the ordinary, like some chips or a burger, I can check to see how much headroom I still have in the day, or how much over I will be, and I can compare that to how much over/under I've been the previous days. I can easily have individual days where I'm 50% over on my calories. This does NOT cause me stress. It's just data. I hit pretty close to goal most times, and then if there's a day when I get significantly LESS than what's healthy (1500 for a male so they say), I don't stress that, either.

    Another tool in my box is my awesome power of estimation. When I go on a multi-day river trip, I have a recipe I created called "Rafter Rations." It's simply 3300 calories made up of 100 grams protein, 100 grams fat, and 500 grams carbs per serving. I allot myself one serving per day when I'm rowing or paddling no matter how much I eat. Then I estimate how many hours I was rowing/hiking/whatever. No big deal, and over the week I think it works because I come back about the same weight as I left. For diving trips I have another recipe with more calories. I assume I do four dives per day, but I can always pull that data from my dive computer. SCUBA Diver Rations is 4490 calories per serving and is 130 grams each fat and protein and 700 grams carbs. These "recipes" don't include beer or cocktails, so I have to estimate those. It works for me. I did notice that since I've been more mindful of what I eat, I think I actually eat less on river trips and dive trips. One exception a few years ago; we had a delicious meal one night. I went back to the galley to get a little more broccoli and rice. The galley crew asked if I wanted more tri-tip. I didn't really, but it looked so good.... and even though I knew the leftovers wouldn't go to waste because they'd go into breakfast, I had some more. After the meal, I was over-full. I hadn't felt that in a while. I realized I used to enjoy that feeling. No more!

    Of course I'm a data geek, and this is all data. It's estimates, but it is data. I am also one of those weirdos who gets on the scale every morning, looks at the number, and records it in a spreadsheet and then tries to ignore it and instead look at the trend. I have two weight ranges (a 6-pound and a 10-pound range) that I strive to stay within. As long as I do that, I try not to stress too much. If things are going too far in either direction, I can make SMALL adjustments.

    Except for a little while during this pandemic, I've been maintaining since July 2018. Some people can maintain without tracking. I might be able to. I'm afraid to try. I really HATE losing those last few pounds. I'd rather just be up-and-down in a small range. I know that when I wasn't logging, I gained a pound or two per year for about 30 years. I don't want to do THAT again. If you care able to maintain without logging, then I'm jealous of your ability. Stay in touch; let us know how it's going, and give us some tips you discover on your journey! My experience of mindfulness and recognizing I was over-full that one time on the dive boat suggests that it's surely possible. It would stress me out!
  • sijomialsijomial Member Posts: 16,960 Member Member Posts: 16,960 Member
    Not logged my food for years and found maintaining without calorie counting easy and successful.
    Caveat would be that I maintained a pretty stable weight when I was fat too so it was a return to normal for me.

    I eat a very wide variety of food and have massively varied calorie needs day to day (even season to season) due to my exercise (long distance bike rides). Mindful (not intuitive) eating and daily weighing are my main tools.

    I simply keep an eye on my weight trend and make small adjustments to my intake if required but keep a long term view of that trend and don't react to fluctuations. I also have a red line that triggers action if things start to slip.

    Don't see why you wouldn't experiment if stopping counting appeals to you. The skills you learned calorie counting don't get lost just because you stop recording your intake plus you can always start again, log intermittently or log lazily. All options are available!
    edited September 14
  • vmonacellivmonacelli Member Posts: 1 Member Member Posts: 1 Member
    I’ve been maintaining a 110 pound weight loss for 5 1/2 years. I found that over the long run I am able to maintain without tracking often. I weigh myself weekly and if I see the scale tip up about 2 pounds I go straight back to tracking until it comes back down. What I have noticed is that maintenance changes over time. What I ate to lose weight and maintain in my 40’s doesn’t necessarily apply in my 50’s. I have to constantly tweak the amount of protein I consume and have to play around with some intermittent fasting to keep my weight stable. Tracking helps me to focus on my protein levels and prevents me from too much snacking because I know I am accountable for those bites the weeks I am tracking. I know if I don’t want to track I need to make better choices on the weeks I am not tracking.
  • LivingtheLeanDreamLivingtheLeanDream Member Posts: 13,076 Member Member Posts: 13,076 Member
    Most of us have go to meals and know the calories instinctively after a period of logging anyway, the only issue sometimes can be without logging snacks can add up but you would know yourself if you are a snacker and could still mentally keep them to what they should be to be within your maintenance calories.
    Its like anything if you monitor your weight over a few months while trying this you'll know the score.
  • ChieflrgChieflrg Member Posts: 8,579 Member Member Posts: 8,579 Member
    99% of my life I don't count calories. If I'm concerned about weight loss or gain, I literally just go by the scale or certain pants fit.

    If I'm light on scale....go grab some snacks before bed or eat a extra donut.

    If I'm heavier, then just trim back a second helping a smaller portion.

  • Diatonic12Diatonic12 Member Posts: 6,414 Member Member Posts: 6,414 Member
    @Chieflrg How many donuts does it take to fix the light? I've never had that problem in my entire lifetime, Chief.
    Oy vey.

  • sardelsasardelsa Member Posts: 9,637 Member Member Posts: 9,637 Member
    Chieflrg wrote: »
    99% of my life I don't count calories. If I'm concerned about weight loss or gain, I literally just go by the scale or certain pants fit.

    If I'm light on scale....go grab some snacks before bed or eat a extra donut.

    If I'm heavier, then just trim back a second helping a smaller portion.

    Yesss we are on the same "plan" it seems ;)
  • JthanmyfitnesspalJthanmyfitnesspal Member, Premium Posts: 2,448 Member Member, Premium Posts: 2,448 Member
    I've posted my experience many times. I have "done a cut" starting on almost every January of every year going back about 20 years. Most years, I wanted to lose about 10lbs.

    In about 2016, I decided to drop 25 lbs, making me as light as I have been since my 20s. Once I had done the cut, I went on maintenance and logged every day for about a year. Logging while on maintenance taught me more about how to maintain weight than I had ever known before. Whenever I had a big meal, I would cut back the next day. I did a few mini-cuts when my weight was a few pounds over my goal weight (usually requiring a few days, meaning that a lot of the weight was just water).

    Gaining 10lbs over many months means you are eating only slightly over your TDEE. It takes a lot of work to retrain yourself to stay within your budget. It's worth doing that work if you want to maintain your weight.
  • angelfoodcakeeangelfoodcakee Member Posts: 24 Member Member Posts: 24 Member
    Thank you so much for your insights everyone! Some very helpful tips ill certainly take on board
  • mtaratootmtaratoot Member Posts: 3,624 Member Member Posts: 3,624 Member
    My dear neighbors just brought me a hunk of a homemade stromboli they made. Oh my was it ever delicious. Fresh homemade dough. Pesto from home grown basil. Fennel and zucchini from their garden. Lobster mushrooms he found out in the woods yesterday. And a side of home-made red sauce.

    Did I mention it was delicious?

    Having no idea of the actual calories, I relied on my powers of estimation that I keep relatively sharp BECAUSE I track. I actually did put it on the scale. So I went to the database and found a vegetable stromboli. I entered the weight, and the calories popped up really close (just a little under) what I estimated. So boom. No muss, no fuss, and if there's a little error, it won't bother me.

    Did I mention it was delicious?

    I brought them some goodies earlier. Quick pickle cherry tomatoes, dried prune plums, dried Asian pears, and dried raspberries. I love my neighborhood.

    Loose logging. Works for me.

    I hope however you choose to approach your way of eating works for you, and if you find it doesn't, you can always adjust.
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