Weight maintenance is something that many are confused by. They often feel if they don’t continue to work as hard and diet as fastidiously as they did while losing weight that they will gain the weight back. This is not the case. While you should still count calories, eat healthy food, and continue to exercise you don’t have to be so rigorous.
Weight loss and weight management are both still a simple game of addition and subtraction a.k.a calorie counting. The key difference is that for weight loss you need to achieve a calorie deficit as in burn more calories than you take in. And for weight management you simply need to eat the same amount of calories you are burning. Weight management is obviously easier because you don’t need to eat as little or burn as many calories from exercise because you no longer require a calorie deficit for weight loss.
Take me for example: I burn around 2000 calories a day when I exercise so I can eat up to 2000 cals a day and not gain weight. Conversely, if I had weight to lose and I wanted to take off around two pounds a week I would need to create a calorie deficit of 1000 calories a day. (there’s 3500 cals in a pound) That means if I consumed 1200 calories a day I would still need to work harder and burn 2200 calories to hit my target weight loss goal.
The first thing you need to do is figure out how many calories you burn in a day. There are several factors you need to account for: your BMR, which is the amount of calories your body burns via involuntary bodily functions like breathing or your hair growing. You can get this number by simply googling BMR calculator, entering in your height, weight, age, gender and voila – a fairly accurate number will be spit out.
Then, calculate your AMR, which is the amount of calories your body burns throughout the course of your day (without exercise). This is often greatly influenced by your job. If you are a secretary you probably won’t get a huge bump from your AMR, but if you are a construction worker your AMR would be big. The third factor is the most important because it’s the variable you can really affect – exercise. Look at your daily activity, before exercise, on a scale of 1-4. As I mentioned, 1 is relatively sedentary, 4 is extremely active. 2 would be moderately active, like a sales person, and 3 would be active, like a fitness trainer for example. Once you have selected your number put a 1. In front of it. For example, I am a level 3 so I would be a 1.3. Then multiply that number to your BMR. So if my BMR is 1300 and my AMR rate is 1.3 my total AMR before fitness would be 1.3 x1300 = 1690.
The last factor is fitness. If you are working out at a decent intensity, on the conservative side give yourself 10 calories a minute. So if I do 30 hardcore minutes in the gym my total daily burn is 2000 calories. If I eat 2000 calories I won’t lose or gain weight. Hence, weight maintenance.
If all this math seems complicated, there are many different devices and apps that can help you track this. The Jillian Michaels app syncs up with MyFitnessPal to help you track your calories in and your calories out in order to make this as simple for you as possible. And, all the recipes in the JM app meal plans already have the calorie allowances listed so the work is done for you. And the workouts are designed for optimal calorie burn to help you get results quickly.
Now, beyond the math, it’s a matter of common sense. Obviously food quality does count over time. Your metabolism is simply your biochemistry and crappy overly processed chemical laden foods will definitely mess up your metabolism if you don’t eat clean. The golden rule here is 80 / 20. Make 80% of your daily calories healthy foods and 20% can be treat foods (wine, burger, cookie etc.).
So that’s the skinny. Literally. Don’t overeat more calories than you burn in a day and use common sense with your food choices. And that is weight management 101. Mystery solved.