We can get into how to calculate maintenance calories in a moment, but I want to be sure that you first understand when the right time to switch into a maintenance calorie plan would be.
See because when you first start out your fitness journey, more often than not your goal is fat loss. On the other hand, you might begin your journey with the goal of gaining mass. If you are trying to lose weight then you have most likely calculated your calorie deficit to lose weight. If you are trying to gain mass, then you have done the same thing only you have calculated your calorie surplus.
When you reach your goal weight though, then your approach actually shifts. If you have reached your goal weight through fat loss or gaining mass…Congrats! You put in the effort and you are now able to enjoy eating to maintain your weight! You dont want to be on fat shredder for the rest of your life…Your kidneys wouldn’t like that too much…But there is hope if you feel like you just cant burn off that last bit of fat.
…You need to get PRECISE with your nutrition, which you can learn how to do > RIGHT HERE.
When you understand calorie intake in general terms and how it can effect your results, then you are going to have a better understanding of what your body needs when we go into how to calculate maintenance calories.
So in general terms, calories are just a measure of energy. Think of it as fuel…Your body requires a certain amount of fuel each day (which is different for everyone based on age, gender, activity level, etc)
Your body actually stores that energy as fat when you add more fuel (calories) than your body needs to operate. In contrast, it will actually burn up those energy stores (fat) when you dont give your body enough fuel to maintain your body’s fuel needs. This is known as a “calorie deficit” to lose weight, and a “calorie surplus” if you are trying to gain mass. The middle ground is called a “maintenance intake” which is where you are eating just as much fuel (calories) as you burn each day.
Here is a great quote from my coach about how this “balance” plays out during the week:
All of these scenarios rely heavily on a running average. Just as one day of of good eating won’t cause you to be ripped, one day of bad eating won’t cause you to gain back all the way you’ve lost. That being said, one day of really bad eating (example: eating way too much when you’re trying to maintain a deficit) can weigh heavily on your average. If you’ve been averaging a deficit of -500 calories, the day of pigging out and eating an extra 1500 calories can effectively undo three days of your deficit. That’s why you’ve heard me say that one cheat day can set your progress back a few days. ~ Wayne Wyatt
Its my recommendation to just stick with the the specified calorie intake formulas with whatever workout program you are doing.
But if you just want to get an quick (accurate) idea of where you will be at, below is a Maintenance Calorie Calculator that is based on some additional factors that can effect your energy expenditure and will calculate how many calories you need to maintain your current weight. Just enter your body weight (in imperial or metric units) and click the “Calculate” button.
NOTE: THIS WILL CALCULATE MAINTENANCE CALORIES
NEEDED TO MAINTAIN YOUR CURRENT WEIGHT!
Here’s the deal…there are always going to be factors at play that are not apparent on the surface unless you pay close attention and track your progress carefully. Once you have gone through “how to calculate maintenance calories”, then you are going to track your results to find out if that maintenance intake is your TRUE maintenance intake. There are certain factors that might require you to add additional calories if you continue to lose weight, or there are certain factors that might cause you to have to bump your calories down to be at a true maintenance calorie intake.
If you notice that after a few weeks of being on a “maintenance” intake, that you are still losing weight, then you might have been blessed with what I call, “crack head metabolism”…meaning that you genetically burn fuel (calories) at a higher rate than most others. Or possibly you have a job that is very physical. I used to work in a plywood mill in college and during the summers working on the presses which operated at 330° and my work area was 130° all day long. THAT was a already a physically challenging job…then add intense heat…talk about some serious calorie burn! Maybe you work in the similar conditions. This might require you to bump up your calorie intake.
On the other end of the spectrum you have folks who have been cursed with a genically slower metabolism and have to pay very close attention to their intake because one single cheat can tip the scales in the wrong direction. Or maybe you have a sedentary job at a desk. After finishing college I got a desk job as an architectural drafter and I had quit working at the mill. I instantly gained 20lbs in about 90 days…So activity level definitely plays a large role here!
You dont want to jump right up to your new calorie intake goal for maintenance. Add 200 or 300 calories every 1-2 weeks until you get to your maintenance intake level. Once you reach your new goal I would recommend that you track your progress for at least two weeks to see what effect it has on your overall body weight. If you continue to lose weight, then add an extra 200 calories to your daily intake and check your weight again after 2 more weeks. If after those two weeks you gain weight, subtract 200 calories and repeat the process.
While the a fat shredder plan operates on a 50/30/20 (proteins/carbs/fats) macronutrient ratio, when you switch to a maintenance intake, you will want to also switch to a 40/40/20 or 30/50/20 ratio. I know you might be used to super high protein intakes with a fat shredder plan, but trust me…30-40% of your intake coming from protein is plenty to support muscle mass maintenance and gain!
I hope this post on how to calculate maintenance calories has helped you out. Be sure to “LIKE & SHARE” this post as well if you got some value from it.
Also, be sure to post your questions below! I am available by email and social media, but its better to ask your questions here so that everyone can benefit from the knowledge and experience we all share together! What have been your experiences on a maintenance plan?