I agree that (significantly) increasing your calories on hitting maintenance is a bad idea. But I think the less here is that you should eat close to maintenance as you lose, rather than that you should continue to eat at a major deficit after you've reached it. :)
Fitness Minutes: (40,111)
25,379 3/16/13 6:00 P
I keep a spread sheet of my daily calorie intake. It has columns for (amongst other things) Date; Weight (only weigh at Medical Centre when I go); Calories; Walking Exercise; Other Exercise; General Comments (for if I was up most the night, in lots of pain, out most of the day, etc., because that also affects calorie intake for me.)
Anyway, every now and then I would average the calories from one weigh-in to another. I discovered that at 1600 cal's av. I maintain - less and I lose and more I gain. It made it very easy for me to transition to maintenance - I have been there for well over a year.
I MOSTLY stay around the same calories, and when I was in the initial stages of weight-loss, I was 1400 calories NO RANGE (as prescribed by my dietitian.) Now I hover around the high 1500's low 1600's most days.
UNIDENT - I openly admit I have never been successful at maintenance. I screwed it up royally when I tried it. So I'm open to a lot of ideas, and I'm the first to say I hope that I'm very, very wrong about this. But the more I read and hear, the more I read that one of the biggest mistakes maintainers make is increasing their calories after weight loss ends. The most recent thing I saw related to this was a mini med school lecture by an obesity doctor, it's 1.5 hours long but if you start watching it at exactly 1 hour in, he talks about it a little. www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qk4UKD00aOo
The whole lecture is worth watching if anyone has 1.5 hours. There's some great info in it.
The calorie cycling is just another way to have an average deficit over the entire week. It does point out that it's not about what you eat *today* or *this meal*, though, doesn't it? If someone can eat 2,000 calories and still lose weight, it's about the averages.
I disagree with the idea that you eat at weightloss level once maintaining. I think if the study proved that, what it was probably proving was that the most successful way to lose weight and keep it off was to eat at the level that it takes to maintain your ideal weight - therefore you never get off that amount of food. Once you hit maintenance, you're already eating at that level.
When you are deliberately creating a deficit, it is not appropriate to continue eating that way at maintenance. Obviously that would still be in deficit of your needs.
There are SP members who really play with the calories a lot -- for example one day 900 cals, next day 2000 cals, next day 1100 cals, next day 1850 cals, etc. They do seem happy with it. I think it's one of those things that you get to when other ways don't work? I have no real evidence for this, but it's the sense I have; maybe they were struggling to lose when they kept their calories the same day by day so decided to try something very different as an experiment, and kept it if it worked. This is just a guess though. Personally I try to keep my calories pretty much the same every day, right around 1220, and then 1-2 times/month, I have a "cheat day" where I eat about 2400-2600 calories. That's why my average is over 1300 even though I eat close to 1200 every day. The cheat day blows up the average and then I spend the next two-four weeks pulling it back down. This could be considered calorie cycling by some definition because of the cheat day thing; also because the 1-3 days after my cheat day, I often undereat (900-1100 calories). I do cheat days because I like to carb load once in a while to try to free up some fluid retention in my body (I tend to lose a lot of fluid after that and I almost always lose an extra pound or two). Not everyone can throw off fluid by carb loading though.
A lot of this stuff is trial and error. I've been on the weight loss "journey" off and on since 2006 so I've had a lot of time to experiment!
3/16/13 9:21 A
Personally, I've never used calorie cycling on purpose-- where you eat at the top of your range for a certain number of days, and then eat at the bottom of your range for the rest of the days. I've found it easier to just stick to staying within my range, period. Sometimes (especially when my range was really low, when I wasn't hardly exercising at all) some days I'd be hungrier and eat at the top of my range and other days it was easy to stay near the bottom. "Accidentally" calorie cycling, maybe.
But I must say, I never hit a plateau. Just lucky that way, I guess. Some weeks I didn't lose much of anything (one tenth of a pound maybe) but every week that I stayed within my range and did the exercise I told Spark I was going to do (burned the calories), I lost. Just my personal experience; lots of people do hit a plateau and then try different things to shake stuff up. I will say that when my loss slowed down, I tried to exercise a little more-- we're talking 10 or 15 minutes a day, not an hour more at a go.
Every person's journey is going to be different and some of it is going to be "feeling your own way" to find what works for you. The fabulous thing about Spark is that there are a gazillion articles on here, about just about everything you can think of related to eating good and exercising. And a supportive community, to boot.
Unident - yea, I misunderstood the warning, and assumed that it was just going to wipe my "track other goals" items, which I wasn't as concerned about. Oh well. Live and learn. At least it was only 5 weeks' worth of data.
On a related note, I wonder if you may know - I had seen that you can get a summary report of your calorie and nutrient summary, but is there a way to get a summary of the actual food diary, or would one need to copy it out day by day to get that? Just wondering, as it could be a useful thing to review in summary form
Nausikaa - thank you so much for sharing what works for you! That is certainly helpful, and exactly what I was looking for - ideas on what others have found to work for them. I had felt some freedom in having a wide range, and will certainly continue experimenting on what works best for me in terms of sticking to the middle, lower, or upper levels, or varying day to day. Thank you for the added idea of also trying to stick to a small range that's an average. All good stuff to try!
Thanks too for the point on what to expect at maintenance - though to be honest, that point feels so far in the future to me that it certainly goes into the "I'll deal with it when it comes!" category. :) Congrats on having gone such a long way and getting so close to goal!
One question - when you talk about calorie cycling - how have you seen that work? I've read before that it can work for some folks to shake up their body's expectations, as it were, by eating different cal amount day to day. Would you happen to have any pointers to that? Again, just building up my arsenal of things to try to see what may work for me.
As far as your 2nd question, about setting calorie range. One thing that works for me is I can't use as large of a range as SP gives. I find it distracting to be trying to stay in a range of (for me personally) 1260-1610 which is a range of 350 calories; to me it is wildly different to eat 1260 or to eat 1610 and since developing healthy habits/routines is a big part of this for me, I do best when my calories are more constant day to day (others do calorie cycling which is the opposite of this). Instead, I pay attention to my daily calorie average over time. I started doing it this way on Nov 1, 2012 so I can tell you that today, as of Nov 1, my average daily intake is 1309 calories. I know that if today I eat more than 1309, it will push the average up; if I eat less than 1309, it will pull the average down. I am aiming to keep my average between 1305 and 1320. That works for me because a 350 calorie range is just crazy high for me PERSONALLY. It works really well for others. I think that is just a personal thing each one of us needs to figure out.
I have about 20 lbs to lose. At one point I had over 100 to lose. But even after I lose all of it and reach my goal weight, my calorie average should stay 1305-1320. This is a little-discussed aspect of weight maintenance. (Especially ignored by SP.) Statistically, weight maintenance is most successful when you continue to eat the same calories you ate when you were losing weight (according to the National Weight Control Registry). So I'm preparing myself for that mentally, i.e., I will never, for the rest of my life, get to eat more than that. It sucks but it seems to be borne out by the scientific evidence so, oh well.
Kris you advised the user to "Reset My Goals". This entirely resets the programme, removing all tracking thus far. That was not actually what they needed. :(
To have the site recalculate your goals (rather than manually reset) at any time, simply save the Weight Goals page or the Fitness Goals page. Those two pages are used to caculate your range, so much to the chagrin of those who do prefert to use their own calculated range, it changes any time you save either of those pages.
IGNI13 your intake will not go down as you lose weight, it'll go up. It's a common misconception. Your body does require less calories the less it weighs - to MAINTAIN the current weight. Since you're losing, you'll eat below even that, and as you need to eat closer to maintenance the lower you get you'll actually increase your ranges as you lose weight.
The site allows any rate per week of loss up to 2lbs. Simply put a goal date that reflects the rate you want. If you have 12 lbs to lose and want 1lb/week then put a goal date 12 weeks out. If you want 2lb/week then put a goal date 6 weeks out. If you want 1.5 then put a goal date 9 weeks out. Etc.
Fitness Minutes: (40,111)
25,379 3/15/13 9:47 P
How does it wipe it out? Does it not show the food that you have been eating over the time prior to changing it? I've never adjusted mine other than manually so don't know.
Thanks Kim... but note to others: doing this WIPES OUT YOUR WHOLE FOOD LOG!!! After a moment of panic, I'm just going to chalk it up to experience and start that log over. Oh well, I was actually looking forward to looking at my first5 weeks of food logging to see what worked... Oh well, starting over.
SP only gives 1- and 2-lb ranges, and it feels to me that my comfortable calorie range would be in the middle of the two...
Anyone know of a way to do that, other than entering your own numbers?
And if so - where do you go to find those numbers...?
Fitness Minutes: (40,111)
25,379 3/15/13 8:56 P
The 1200 calories per day for women is the starting point. Your current weight and honest estimate of the exercise planned is also very important. Add into that a realistic goal of when you want to lose the weight by. Don't go aiming for a quick loss, but rather something like 1/2 to 2lb per week because then it is a healthy way of doing it and far more likely to stay off, and you are more likely to stick the lifestyle change.
If I remember correctly you will need to go to your Start Page click on Account/E-Mail Preferences at the top. The page that comes up, scroll down to Reset your Goals and click on that. Put in your current weight details, and be realistic about the time frame. An aggressive weight-loss can cause your calories to be very low, and not putting in enough, or too much exercise, impacts on the calorie range, too, so be totally hones and realistic.
Good luck, Kris
Fitness Minutes: (1,059)
3/15/13 8:01 P
i just re adjusted it after i did my weigh in. It suggested that i may want to re calculate my calories after loosing weight because i may need to eat less well i have to eat more i had a hard time keeping up with the original calories it had suggested. it gives you a link when you loose about 10 pounds to up date and then hit save at the bottom of the page
When I first started on SP, the calorie range that was suggested to me seemed too low, so after checking some other sites and from past experience I put in my own range. While that seems to be working ok for now, I'm curious on a couple of things:
1) How do I re-set my calorie range to what SP suggests? When I go to "Edit Nutrition Goals" and click the "edit" button, it lets me re-enter my own values, but I don't see a way to re-set it to what SP recommends
2) What have you found to be "good advice" about setting your calorie range? I know that it gets lower as you lose weight, and the recommendation is that women not go below 1200 and men not below 1600. I know that, just like anything else, this is likely quite individual in terms of where folks do the best, but as someone who has c. 150 lbs to lose (140 now! :), I'm curious if anyone has any "best practices" in this area.
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