The suc­cess and effec­tive­ness of los­ing weight large­ly depends on going through these stages.

The key to losing weight

It has long been known that the key to a suc­cess­ful weight loss diet is an ener­gy deficit, that is, con­sum­ing calo­ries below the main­te­nance lev­el. Main­te­nance calo­ries are the num­ber of calo­ries you eat dai­ly with­out gain­ing or los­ing weight. A per­son who has decid­ed to lose weight through nutri­tion­al cor­rec­tion should begin with its def­i­n­i­tion. After all, if you don’t know your main­te­nance calo­ries, how will you know how many calo­ries to cut from your diet?

This is impor­tant infor­ma­tion to know. Ran­dom­ly cut­ting calo­ries is not a good idea. It’s best to plan your nutri­tion strat­e­gy ahead of time to max­i­mize fat loss and main­tain mus­cle mass and metab­o­lism.

(Read also: Why is it impor­tant to con­sid­er pro­teins, fats and car­bo­hy­drates when los­ing weight)

There are two com­mon ways to cal­cu­late main­te­nance calo­ries.

“Quick method”

The first method is the so-called “fast method” (also known as the “imper­fect method”). This is when you use the RMR (rest­ing meta­bol­ic rate) pre­dic­tion equa­tion to esti­mate your main­te­nance lev­el. Almost all fit­ness sites use it. It works in two steps.

Step 1: Assess your RMR. You can use one of the equa­tions to pre­dict RMR (the Har­ris-Bene­dict for­mu­la is pop­u­lar).

Step 2: Mul­ti­ply this val­ue by the activ­i­ty fac­tor — this fac­tor depends (AF) on how much you move. Use the hint:

  • Seden­tary lifestyle: AF = 1.2
  • Light phys­i­cal activ­i­ty: AF = 1.375
  • Mod­er­ate phys­i­cal activ­i­ty: 1.55
  • Heavy phys­i­cal activ­i­ty: 1.725
  • Very hard phys­i­cal activ­i­ty: 1.9

This will give you your esti­mat­ed main­te­nance calo­rie lev­el. By sub­tract­ing 15–20 per­cent from it, you will get your esti­mat­ed caloric deficit at which you can lose weight.

(Read also: What is the most effec­tive diet for los­ing weight?

Individual method

This approach will allow you to deter­mine your main­te­nance calo­rie intake as accu­rate­ly as pos­si­ble. It con­sists of four stages.

Step 1: Do every­thing you nor­mal­ly do. Don’t change any­thing about your lifestyle for two weeks: eat as you usu­al­ly eat, train as you usu­al­ly train.

Step 2: Track your calo­ries (and macronu­tri­ents) every day. Record all the calo­ries (and macros) you con­sume from food and drink. Then, after two weeks, deter­mine your aver­age calo­rie intake per day.

Step 3: Weigh your­self every morn­ing. Weigh your­self dai­ly, imme­di­ate­ly upon wak­ing and after using the restroom. Make sure you are wear­ing the same type of cloth­ing when weigh­ing your­self.

Step 4: Cal­cu­late your aver­age weight over two weeks. Take your aver­age body weight for the first sev­en days and com­pare that val­ue to your aver­age body weight for the sec­ond week. Deter­mine whether you gained, main­tained, or lost weight by com­par­ing your first week’s aver­age weight to your sec­ond week’s aver­age weight. If you have main­tained your pre­vi­ous weight, then the num­ber of calo­ries you con­sumed is your main­te­nance caloric intake.

If you gained weight dur­ing these two weeks, then the num­ber of calo­ries you con­sumed (cal­cu­lat­ed in step 2) was too high, and your actu­al main­te­nance calo­ries are low­er than you typ­i­cal­ly con­sumed dur­ing these two weeks. If you lost weight dur­ing those two weeks, then your caloric intake was too low and your actu­al main­te­nance calo­ries are high­er than what you con­sumed dur­ing that two-week peri­od.

It’s valu­able to take the time to real­ly eval­u­ate your main­te­nance calo­ries. If you know this num­ber and are going on a diet, all you have to do is reduce your calo­ries by 15 to 20 per­cent of your main­te­nance lev­el, while being sure to exer­cise and eat high-pro­tein foods.

(Read also: 10 signs that mean it’s time for you to go on a diet)

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