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Maintenance Calories? Starting Strength

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created March 25, 2012 at 7:18 PM

I'm 21, 5'11, 205 lbs and male. I'm lucky if I get 1800-2000 calories a day. And this has wreaked havoc on my body. I've had hypothyroid and testosterone issues since June, and I've posted about it before (Trying to find the link). I'm having mental health issues, depression, low energy, etc. Some of this has been alleviated by increasing carbs (used to eat around 40-60, now up around 140-160.)

I'm a week into starting strength and really want to be successful. The Harris-Benedict calculator has me at 3258 calories for maintenance (moderately active). Can someone please convince me that this is right? I think I have an eating disorder that prevents me from crossing that 2000 calorie line, even though I know objective that that deficit is too large, and I've been eating too little for too long, to get stronger/loss fat.

Thanks guys.

645be4f772c65ed78832224d35222893

(364)

on March 26, 2012
at 02:18 AM

So, I'll quit under eating haha

9f54852ea376e8e416356f547611e052

(2957)

on March 25, 2012
at 10:33 PM

I had good success with LeanGains recomposition, which is +20/-20% (a deficit when training 3 days a week). Many do an LG cut, which is +10/-35, but I started losing strength after three weeks, and stopped it - and it wasn't significantly faster than recomp.

Bec9f1560dc7d0050b0dbfdaef33a9ce

(60)

on March 25, 2012
at 09:36 PM

And like I said, I've been eating around 2000 a day, hence the health problems. What's a good deficit then? Maintenance or slightly above on lifting days, and slightly below on off days?

9f54852ea376e8e416356f547611e052

(2957)

on March 25, 2012
at 09:26 PM

If your TDEE is 2900 cals, and you plan on eating a 10-30% deficit every day, that's a pretty drastic cut, and you will lose strength and muscle mass with almost certainty.

Bec9f1560dc7d0050b0dbfdaef33a9ce

(60)

on March 25, 2012
at 08:59 PM

The numbers I gave were TDEE (BMR x activity level), not just BMR.

9f54852ea376e8e416356f547611e052

(2957)

on March 25, 2012
at 08:50 PM

37. TDEE=Total Daily Energy Expenditure, it's higher than BMR by definition. 2900 sounds more reasonable, but still high as BMR. I'd recommend counting your calories and doing body measurements and taking pics to track your progress. If your BMR is indeed 2900 cals, eating 2600 and 2200 cals on on/off days will result in a HUGE deficit, and you will lose strength for sure. If you do LeanGains, you need to cycle calories around TDEE, NOT BMR.

Bec9f1560dc7d0050b0dbfdaef33a9ce

(60)

on March 25, 2012
at 08:16 PM

First, how old are you? And what does TDEE mean? I am a student. I sit a lot in class and at my internship, but I walk a few miles a day to and from class. I lift heavy 4 days a week, play racquetball for 1.5-2 hours once or twice a week, and try to run a mile for time once a week. I recalculated with Harris-Benedict fro slightly active, instead of moderately active, and got 2890 calories. That seems more reasonable. I figure eating 2400-2600 on working days and 2000-2200 on rest/easy days would be sufficient.

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2 Answers

2
9f54852ea376e8e416356f547611e052

(2957)

on March 25, 2012
at 07:54 PM

3258 can't be right unless you work in construction or are an athlete.

I highly doubt you are "moderately" active by the standards set in calorie calculators - people typically over-estimate their activity level - I sure did. What do you do for living? If you have an office job and lift three days a week, you are "sedentary" (yes, the term pissed me off, too). This is a multiplier of 1.2 to get from BMR to TDEE.

Plugging in your numbers to Andy Morgan's calorie formulas I get a BMR of 2100 and TDEE of 2500. You do need higher calories than maintenance to gain in strength, but 700 cals is most likely way overkill as maintenance, causing you to gain fat.

If you truly are serious about getting stronger while losing fat, note that you need a lot of discipline to accomplish that. LeanGains is a proven method, it has worked well for me.

I don't know what kind of issue you have with eating enough calories, but liquid cals (maltodextrin and protein powders) were a great help for me. I went cold turkey on powders at beginning of this year, and haven't seen the need for them. If the issue is appetite (it was for me), lifting heavy will fix that.

FWIW I'm an inch taller than you, and started at two pounds heavier a year ago than you are now. I'm now 72kg, same height. I've used a TDEE of 2000-2500 during my cut, depending on my weight, and saw gains in my lifts throughout the year. I do (home) office job, lift heavy three days a week.

Bec9f1560dc7d0050b0dbfdaef33a9ce

(60)

on March 25, 2012
at 08:16 PM

First, how old are you? And what does TDEE mean? I am a student. I sit a lot in class and at my internship, but I walk a few miles a day to and from class. I lift heavy 4 days a week, play racquetball for 1.5-2 hours once or twice a week, and try to run a mile for time once a week. I recalculated with Harris-Benedict fro slightly active, instead of moderately active, and got 2890 calories. That seems more reasonable. I figure eating 2400-2600 on working days and 2000-2200 on rest/easy days would be sufficient.

9f54852ea376e8e416356f547611e052

(2957)

on March 25, 2012
at 08:50 PM

37. TDEE=Total Daily Energy Expenditure, it's higher than BMR by definition. 2900 sounds more reasonable, but still high as BMR. I'd recommend counting your calories and doing body measurements and taking pics to track your progress. If your BMR is indeed 2900 cals, eating 2600 and 2200 cals on on/off days will result in a HUGE deficit, and you will lose strength for sure. If you do LeanGains, you need to cycle calories around TDEE, NOT BMR.

9f54852ea376e8e416356f547611e052

(2957)

on March 25, 2012
at 10:33 PM

I had good success with LeanGains recomposition, which is +20/-20% (a deficit when training 3 days a week). Many do an LG cut, which is +10/-35, but I started losing strength after three weeks, and stopped it - and it wasn't significantly faster than recomp.

Bec9f1560dc7d0050b0dbfdaef33a9ce

(60)

on March 25, 2012
at 09:36 PM

And like I said, I've been eating around 2000 a day, hence the health problems. What's a good deficit then? Maintenance or slightly above on lifting days, and slightly below on off days?

9f54852ea376e8e416356f547611e052

(2957)

on March 25, 2012
at 09:26 PM

If your TDEE is 2900 cals, and you plan on eating a 10-30% deficit every day, that's a pretty drastic cut, and you will lose strength and muscle mass with almost certainty.

Bec9f1560dc7d0050b0dbfdaef33a9ce

(60)

on March 25, 2012
at 08:59 PM

The numbers I gave were TDEE (BMR x activity level), not just BMR.

0
Cf416725f639ffd1bb90764792ce7b8a

(2799)

on March 26, 2012
at 12:37 AM

I think Rippetoe's youtube videos are highly informative, but I'm not sure doing squats 3 days a week is a great idea for everyone. Particularly if they're under eating.

645be4f772c65ed78832224d35222893

(364)

on March 26, 2012
at 02:18 AM

So, I'll quit under eating haha

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