The term maintenance calories is thrown around a lot. For
those that don’t know, your maintenance calories are the amount of calories
that you shouldn’t lose or gain weight on. But exactly how much is that?
There are theoretical maintenance and practical maintenance
calories. They aren’t always equal because of variations in people’s
Theoretical maintenance calculation:
BMR x Harris-Benedict multiplier (Here is an easy calculator
to figure it out for you http://www.bmrcalculator.org/)
For example, if you are a 6’ 200lb 25 year old male, your BMR is 1931 calories and, if you
work out 3-5 times per week, your theoretical maintenance calories are 2993 calories per day.
On the other hand, your practical maintenance calories,
based on your current individual metabolic rate may be lower than that
calculated number or above. The concept that many people don’t get is that your
metabolic rate is not static. You can speed up (or slow down) your metabolism.
For example, if you are a 6’ 200lb 25 year old male, and
you’re working out 3-5 times per week and you are gaining weight eating 2500
calories per day, then your practical maintenance calories are actually lower
than your theoretical calories, meaning your
metabolism is running slow.
So how can you speed up your metabolism?
Limiting stress, adequate and high quality sleep, increased water intake, increased gut health by eating enough fiber, making sure you’re getting enough of each vitamin, and performing cardio regularly. All of the miscellaneous things that you might not consider.
By taking each of those into consideration, and optimizing
them, your theoretical maintenance calories and practical maintenance calories
should approximate each other.
The actual macronutrient breakdown is controversial, but a
safe breakdown to promote lean body mass and minimize fat mass is: 1g protein/lb lean body mass and splitting
carbs and fats evenly or based on food preference. For example, if you are
a 6’ 200lb 10% body fat 25 year old male with a theoretical and practical
maintenance calorie count of 3000, your macro breakdown should look similar to
180g protein, 280g carbs, 130g fat.
Numbers to remember:
1g protein = 4 calories, 1g carbs = 4 calories, and 1g fat =
3500 calories = 1lb. If you lose/gain 1lb per week, you’re
in about a 3500 calorie deficit/surplus.