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  • I've seen people discussing an "old" and "new" method of calculating calorie ranges on SparkPeople. How do I know which method my account is using and which option is right for me?
When it comes to weight loss/management, there is no one-size-fits-all approach. We know that different techniques work for different people, and every SparkPeople member is acting like a scientist in an "experiment of one" to discover what works for them. That's why SparkPeople offers two different methods of determining your daily calorie range. Members can switch to either option at any time based on preferences and effectiveness. You may find that one option works well for a while, but later want to experiment with the other method to jump-start your results, for example. Throughout your journey, our team of coaches and supportive members will be here to help you make the best choice and reach your goals.

We'll explain both calorie options in detail here so you can decide which is right for your body today.

There are two great options you can choose from to determine your daily calorie range. You can only be in one option at any given time. We recommend following one method for at least a few days (maybe even a few weeks) to notice whether that calorie range works for you. (To see which option is currently selected on your account, or to change your settings, visit your "Account/Email Preferences" page.

OPTION 1: Turn "on" communication between your Fitness Tracker and your Nutrition Tracker. With this option selected, all of the calories burned that you track via the Fitness Tracker (or using an activity tracker synced with your SparkPeople account) will get added into your daily calorie range. The amount of calories you can eat each day will increase when you track your fitness.
Note: This is the default option for all members who joined the site after 7/10/13.
Things to Consider about This Option
  • This approach may provide a more accurate calorie goal for people who are generally sedentary (no exercise, limited mobility, etc.), people who have very active jobs, people who are in "weight maintenance" mode, people who have a fitness/activity tracking device synced with their SparkPeople account, and people who exercise at high levels—especially endurance athletes who do large amounts of exercise on a single day.
  • Some people may find this approach to be motivational—a reason to commit to exercise and to track your workouts on the Fitness Tracker, both of which are healthy habits. In our experience, we often see that people who are doing even small amounts of consistent exercise are more likely to feel better and see more positive improvements.
  • This approach will allow you to eat more calories on the days you work out. A lot of people feel better and perform better when their daily caloric deficit isn't so large.
  • Every day that you track fitness, your calorie range will change. You will not know how many calories you could eat each day until you track your fitness for that day.
  • Eating back all of the calories you burn from exercising may still help you lost weight—or it might not. You may need to experiment a little to find the "sweet spot" in your adjusted range that works for you.
  • We recommend aiming for the middle of your adjusted daily calorie range for best results. Consistently eating at the high end of your range may slow down or stop weight loss for some people.
OPTION 2: Turn "off" communication between your Fitness Tracker and your Nutrition Tracker. With this option selected, the fitness you track will NOT affect your daily calorie range, and you will have one consistent calorie range to aim for every single day. Under this method, our system assumes you are generally sedentary, so if you do exercise consistently, you should edit your fitness program settings to indicate how much you exercise on a weekly basis (so your daily calorie goals are as accurate as possible).
Note: This is the default option for all members who joined the site before 7/10/13.
Things to Consider about this Option:
  • This approach may provide a more accurate calorie goal for people who have more than 50 or less than 20 pounds to lose.
  • You can still track your workouts on the Fitness Tracker, but your calorie range will not adjust to compensate for very active days.
  • You will have one consistent calorie goal to aim for each day (rather than a variable goal).
  • This approach is designed to increase your caloric deficit when you exercise.
  • We recommend experimenting with eating at the low, middle or high end of your calorie range using this method to find what makes you feel best and still gives you results. You may want to eat near the upper end on days that you exercise, or closer to the middle or lower end on days you are sedentary.

Whatever method you choose, SparkPeople strongly believes in the benefits of consistent exercise and that it can help people reach many goals. Our experts and members can answer your questions about this topic and more in the Diet & Nutrition Message Boards.

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