159 Comments

  1. Hi Andy,
    I’ve been on a program for the last 10 weeks (of my own doing). I am very happy with the results I have obtained. I’ve lost about 20-25 pounds and have more energy and feel so much better than I did 3 months ago! My question is: while I know that it is important to add calories back in, I am finding it difficult to eat more than what I am currently eating. I enjoy my diet and plan to add some calories in but will still be in a deficit. Is this safe?

    1. Hi Marcey, yes, absolutely. Highly unusual though for someone to lose 20-25 lbs in three months and feel too full to up their caloric intake though. Could be a mental thing more than a physiological one.

      If you still have plenty of fat to lose (you were obese when you started this), there’s no reason why you can’t just continue. You’re feeling energetic and full after all.

  2. Not a question, just wanted to say thank you for what an incredible resource your site has been! I’ve been going to the gym and played with all kinds of ‘diets’ since I was 18. I’m 31 now, cut alcohol out in the new year and counting macros has given me so much control, I am 9 weeks into a cut and I can see my goal in sight. This will be the best shape I’ve been in, I am happy and enjoy all the same foods within reason and moderation 😀 Thank you!

  3. Hey Andy,
    I’m coming off my diet in a week or so and then i have 3 weeks left before my holiday. I’m still planning to lose fat, but i want to eat the foods i want to when I’m on my holiday since i’ve never been there before. The current deficit i’m in is around 800 calories from my new maintainence. How do you recommend i ramp up my caloriesas quickly as possible with minimal fat gain and muscle glycogen gain. I am expecting fat gain, since I haven’t left much time. Thanks in advance.

    1. Technically, add in your caloric deficit, then another ~200 kcal to account for DCM-NCM. This will bring you to maintenance. Easier said than done when away and eating out and you could easily over eat. Some ideas:
      • It takes a while for your brain to signal that you are full. So, make a conscious effort to chew your food slowly. Ideally, eat some salad first, followed by protein, and then the carbs after.
      • It will be very hard to count or have any idea about fats or the macros in sauces. You just have to guess.
      • Take some protein powder with you so that you can take some if the protein portion in restaurants isn’t large enough. Don’t be afraid to leave things on your plate.

    2. So do you recommend I just increase my calories to my maintenance for the three weeks? Instead of increasing progressively increase all at once for three weeks.
      Thanks for the advice.

    3. Sorry For asking all these questions. Just got one more. Do you find the new maintenance calories through some calculator online or do you advise a way on how to do it above, post diet? Sorry for all the questions you’ve been very helpful.

  4. Hi Andy

    Great stuff here – really appreciate your website and articles!

    You mention going back up to maintenance calories after a diet, but I saw in one of your examples (Chandler) that the key to his results were a very slow reverse diet post cut.

    Just wondering why you don’t include any information about reverse dieting?

    I am coming off of a my cut 24%bf to 11% bf — about to transition to a slow bulk and looking to minimize fat gain and wondering if it’s best to just go back up to maintenance like you mention in the article, or add back the calories slower to get back up to maintenance with a reverse diet. Thank you!

  5. Hey Andy,

    First thanks for your website. It is has so much information and is written so well that I can now read and start to get a proper understanding of how all my nutrition and training goes together. I am hoping you can give me some advice…

    On average the last 7 weeks I have been losing 971gram per week.

    I’m thinking ahead for my maintenance plan now though – so based on the information I have now I would need to make a 1070kcal daily calorie increase. Seems like a lot and is pretty intimidating, so hoping you can give me some advice.

    [Note: I shortened this to the key points for the sake of other readers. – Andy]

    1. Your math is correct, Kim. You can add that in via a mix of primarily carbs and fats.

      Note that the maximum rates of weight loss I’d recommend in a fat loss phase is 0.5-1 % of body weight per week to avoid muscle mass losses; the leaner you are the lower. I’d recommend you read this.

    2. Thanks Andy for the quick response. I’ve now read your downloadable book – its great thanks again 🙂

  6. Carlos Vanegas

    I have been on an aggressive cut for 5 weeks @ 1200 kcal/day, if I ignore the week 1 progress (assuming water loss) I come down to 2.2 lbs/week of average weight loss for the last 4 weeks. Following your math I would start by moving to 2,300 kcal/day.
    During the cut I was working out 5 days a week for 45-60 mins. 3 days of high intensity resistance training and 2 days of HIIT. I want to go back to regular 3 day weightlifting split for maintenance. How do I account for the decrease in workload when estimating the initial maintenance calories?

    1. • The HIIT is going to burn ~70-110 kcal per 10 minutes.
      • If you were performing 40 minutes on those two sessions, that’s only 560-880 kcal you were burning extra per week from it. This equates to a mere 80-125 kcal daily difference when split across your week.

      You could adjust for this, but I wouldn’t bother. The maintenance calculation is an estimation anyway and will need to be fine-tuned.

  7. This is awesome! I’m here to find out my diet break calories since I’m going to be travelling – thought it’d be perfect to do a diet break and try new foods too.
    Thing is, is I won’t have a scale. Just measuring tape.

    over 8 weeks I’ve lost 10lbs and have been eating an average of 1625cals (some weeks 1500, some 1800).
    Can you tell me if this is the correct way to figure out maintainance?

    10lbs/8wks = 1.25lbs/wk loss
    1.25 x 3500 = 4375cals
    4375cals / 7days = 625cal deficit
    1625 + 625 = 2250 cals

    Does this mean I maintain at 2250cals?

    1. The way you’ve calculated the math is correct, but I’d base the calculation on the last four weeks of weight loss only. In the first week you started dieting, you’ll have had some weight losses due to water losses and gut content changes and if you include that in your calculation it’ll be a little too high.

  8. I found your article as I was searching for information on moving from cutting to maintenance macros. I know your site is geared toward men, so if you have a resource you feel will work better for a female, I would take any referrals. My delima is that I successfully accomplished my cutting goals (I followed cutting macros for 5 months) and I love the results I got, but since hitting my goal weight, I have had a hard time sticking to macros for any length of time so I can make an accurate increase of macros to maintenance. I’m not sure why I can’t stay as focused and dedicated now like I did for the past 5 months. Do you see this happen with your clients who move from cutting to maintaining, and if you do, how do you have them get past it?

    1. Do you see this happen with your clients who move from cutting to maintaining, and if you do, how do you have them get past it?
      – No, not generally. The transition to maintenance and then bulk phases are as important as the cut phase and we have this in mind from the outset. Not having that in mind, or rushing things, is what gets people in trouble.

      In terms of action steps from here: Eat as you have been for the two weeks. Track your calorie intake. Track your weight. Adjust your caloric intake up or down by 50 kcal for every 0.1 lb you gain/lose. That’s approximate maintenance.

  9. Andy,
    If someone loses 10 lbs and then adjusts their calories so that their weight “stays put”. Would this be another type of maintenance? Would there be any disadvantages to this approach?

    1. Andy,
      Sorry, I didn’t explain my question clearly.
      Example A: I go from 200lbs to 190lbs. Then I eat enough calories so I stay at 190.

      Example B: I go from 200lbs to 190 and then I start eating my estimated maintenance calories. Upon doing this my weight increases due to the factors that you mentioned in the article. I end up weighing 195-200lbs, but I am leaner than when I started.

      Are there any drawback to using approach A?

    2. In example A, you wouldn’t stay at 190 because you’ll re-gain water and muscle glycogen. Thus, if 190 is your walk around weight target, you’ll need to go a little lower.

    3. Andy,
      I was hoping there was a way to get to my goal weight without having to lose an additional 5-10lbs. I guess not.
      Thanks for explaining.

  10. Can the type of diet effect how much weight will be gained when going back to maintenance? i.e. if you lose weight with a high carb diet are you likely to gain back less weight that if you diet with a low carb diet?

    1. If by weight you mean ‘fat mass’ then no, there will not be a difference assuming the calorie changes are equal. However, carbs bring with them 3-4g of water as they are stored as muscle glycogen. So, a diet that has a higher fluctuation in carb intake will have a higher overall weight change.

    2. Thanks Andy! I can’t believe that you are still answering questions years after the article was written. That is dedication! I appreciate your help!!

  11. Hi Andy,
    Great article, but I guess I’m not quite understanding how in week 3, in the example, the weight goes from 179.6 to 179.9, but the paragraph below says that there’s a 0.6 lbs loss. From week 2 to week 3 it looks like a 0.3 lbs weight gain. I’m sure I’m missing something. Can you clarify? Thanks!


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