How do I set my calorie goal?

Answered by Douglas Hiatt

Setting a calorie goal is an important step in managing and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. It helps you create a balance between the calories you consume and the calories you burn, ultimately leading to weight loss, maintenance, or even weight gain depending on your goals. Now let’s dive into the details of how you can set your calorie goal.

Step 1: Establish Your Caloric Baseline
To start, you need to determine your current caloric intake. This can be done by tracking your food and beverage consumption for at least seven consecutive days. Use a journal, mobile app, or online tool to record every item you consume, including portion sizes.

Step 2: Take an Average of Those Days
After the seven days of tracking, calculate the total number of calories you consumed during that period. Then, divide the total by seven to get your average daily caloric intake. This average will serve as your baseline.

Step 3: Set Your First Calorie Goal at 90% of the Average
To begin your journey towards your desired weight, set your initial calorie goal at 90% of your average daily caloric intake. This reduction allows for a gradual and sustainable approach to weight management. For example, if your average daily intake was 2000 calories, your initial calorie goal would be 1800 calories (90% of 2000).

Step 4: Meet That Goal at Least 4 out of 7 Days
Consistency is key when it comes to reaching your calorie goal. Aim to meet your calorie goal at least four out of seven days in a week. This flexibility allows for occasional indulgences or social events without derailing your progress. It’s essential to find a balance between enjoying life’s pleasures and staying committed to your goals.

Step 5: Check the Scale
After a couple of weeks following your calorie goal, check your weight on a reliable scale. This step helps you assess whether you are moving in the right direction. Keep in mind that weight fluctuates due to various factors, so focus on the overall trend rather than day-to-day changes.

Step 6a: Average the Previous Two Weeks
To further refine your calorie goal, average your calorie intake from the previous two weeks. This longer-term average provides a more accurate representation of your progress and allows you to make adjustments if necessary. If you’ve been consistently meeting your initial calorie goal and are satisfied with your weight loss or maintenance, you can continue with the same calorie goal. If desired, you can gradually adjust your calorie intake based on your progress and future goals.

Remember, setting a calorie goal is just one component of a healthy lifestyle. It’s essential to focus on consuming nutrient-dense foods, staying physically active, and listening to your body’s hunger and fullness cues. Additionally, consulting with a registered dietitian or healthcare professional can provide personalized guidance and support on setting and achieving your calorie goal.

I hope this detailed explanation helps you in setting your calorie goal and embarking on a successful journey towards a healthier you. Remember to be patient, stay motivated, and make sustainable changes for long-term success.