Monday, January 21, 2013

Setting a Caloric Goal

I've certainly posted on this topic before, but it's what I'm thinking about and reviewing for myself right now.  Most people approach caloric intake in one of two ways:  They pick a number for any number of reasons; this number is usually a very low number like 1000 or 1200 calories.  Others do what I call "backward math."  They calculate the number of calories needed to maintain their current weight (basically, your BMR), and then subtract from that the caloric deficit needed to affect a pound (or two) a week weight loss.

The first idea is just a bad one.  It's arbitrary, does not account for height or weight or age or activity and just plain is a set-up for yo-yo dieting.  Some people can maintain very low calorie diets but they use special supplements designed to keep them feeling full.

The second idea is better than the first, for sure, but still leaves something to acknowledge.  If you have 100 pounds to lose, you can sure lose a pound or two a week but if you have 10 pounds to lose, maybe not. In addition, it's a bit arbitrary; why would the calendar dictate a choice about the number of calories you need to sustain you?

Many years ago on Fat2Fit Radio, I heard that the best way to set your caloric goal is to set it at the weight you need to maintain your goal weight.  For example, I am 5'11" and 53 years old.  A healthy weight for me would be 155.  Using the BMR math, that puts my maintenance calories at 1660.  Therefore, if I eat only 1660 calories a day, I will lose weight and when I get to my goal weight, I will already be used to maintaining.  It makes so much sense, doesn't it?

Using "goal weight math," I have set my daily caloric range at 1500-1660 calories.  I like to have a range because it keeps me from eating one more thing to make my goal if I'm not really hungry.  It also gives me a little wiggle room for any BLTS (bites, licks or tastes) I may forget to record.

I have been eating at this range for about 3 weeks (with a couple of exceptions) and I have not really been hungry.  I'm eating very well out of my "box" and that is certainly helping me feel full. I have had more bread recently than my plan calls for but will just forgo it in the coming weeks.

There have been two side benefits to this out of the box eating:  First, I am not having those insulin spikes I get when I eat a lot of refined carbs or sugar.  No more post-dessert nap taking!  Secondly, I notice that my personal focus on fruit and vegetables has rubbed off on the older girls and they are snacking more on these items as well.  Have you built your box yet?

Try setting your calorie range from your goal weight maintenance calories and let me know how it works out for you!

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