Are you wondering how many calories you need a day to maintain your weight? This guide to how to find your maintenance calories will walk you through the process.
How to Find Your Maintenance Calories
Here’s the process to find your calorie range to maintain your body weight. This is the number of calories to eat daily where you will neither lose nor gain weight.
- Use a calorie calculator in My Fitness Pal or at this daily calorie calculator link to find a daily calorie target for you. Be sure to use the target for keeping the weight the same or “maintain weight”.
- Do your best to eat at this calorie target every day for at least 2 weeks. (Four – six weeks is better, but we know many people are not that patient!)
- Weigh yourself daily.
- You may initially see a gain of a few pounds as your body adjusts. This doesn’t mean the calorie goal is incorrect.
- If your weight begins to track up, subtract 50-100 calories per day.
- If your weight begins to track down, add 50-100 calories per day.
- Continue to make small adjustments until you’ve found the calorie target that is right for you. With eating close to this target daily, you will neither lose nor gain weight.
Keep in mind that your daily calorie target will change as your weight goes up and down, so be sure to recalculate for every 10 pounds you lose or gain.
How to Find Maintenance for WW Members
Generally speaking, I recommend you follow the guidelines as Weight Watchers indicates. They have developed a good points system that works for most people.
If you don’t want to veer away from the specific Weight Watchers system, you can start by using all your daily points and weekly points if you don’t already. With this amount of points, most people continue to lose weight but more slowly.
Keep in mind the following recommendation is not supported by WW and is my own recommendation, having using the WW system for many years. I’ve recognized there are benefits to finding out your maintenance range of calories or points in order to take a mental breather but also not lose ground with weight loss.
If you are using the WW system and counting points, you have two options for finding your maintenance calorie range.
- Change your goal with WW from “lose weight” to “healthy habits” in the WW app personal settings. (This is in the same location as where you change your food color plan.) WW will automatically adjust your calories to maintenance.
- Double track. Continue to count points in the WW app while also tracking calories in an app such as My Fitness Pal, Carb Master, or Lose It. Be sure the calorie goal is set to maintain weight.
Most of the time, I don’t recommend double tracking because it’s too time-consuming and cumbersome. WW has developed a complex points system that will work for you for weight loss when you stick with it.
However, there are benefits to double tracking for a few weeks here and there to see how many calories you are eating with the WW points system. Because of the wide range of zero point foods available, it’s helpful to see how many calories you are actually eating.
You could be overeating zero point foods, or it’s also possible to under-eat with WW because they have built into the program a certain amount of calories for zero point foods and you might not be using them.
Why Find Your Maintenance Calorie Amount?
While this isn’t an exact science and will require some trial and error, there are benefits to finding your daily calorie range, even during the weight loss process.
- Weight loss is hard work, both mentally and physically, and taking a diet break can give your body and mind a chance to recover.
- If you will be traveling, celebrating a special occasion, or are going through a time of stress, you might consider taking a diet break and eating at your maintenance calorie level.
- Many of us are either on or off, hot or cold. We are losing weight or we are gaining weight. Learn to maintain your weight because this is the skill you will need to keep your weight stable for a lifetime.
Now that you know how to find your maintenance calorie range, you can use this information to move you toward your healthy living goals.
Have you tried to maintain your weight? Share about it in the comments below.
Get Help Maintaining at Your Goal Weight
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