The daily caloric requirement or FCG represents the total amount of calories consumed by an individual in a day. The FCG is calculated based on the basal metabolic functions. And the physical activity performed. And is therefore essential to establish a correct maintenance diet.
The maintenance diet is a balanced diet that takes into account the fact that the quantity of calories introduced corresponds to the actual daily energy requirement of that given subject. And has the purpose of keeping the bodyweight unchanged.
Usually, the maintenance diet is used at the end of the slimming phase to keep the achieved goals constant. A high percentage of subjects who have lost weight during the weight loss phase tend to return to the initial weight: some take a few months to recover most of the weight loss. Others can increase it very slowly, for example buying half a kg/year.
Where to start for a proper maintenance diet?
It must be said that no type of diet can be processed without having calculated the caloric requirement (FCG) of the subject.
To determine a person’s FCG, it is necessary to know his daily calorie consumption, ie the number of calories consumed each day. Daily calorie consumption is an individual measure and depends on various factors mainly related to lifestyle, such as:
the basal metabolic rate, that is the energy spent to make the organs work (such as breathing, heartbeat etc);
the energy needed to perform daily physical activities (such as working on the computer, cooking, playing sports, washing, etc.)
the energy spent to digest and absorb food, also called diet-induced thermogenesis (TDI). TDI is often overlooked in the general calculation of daily caloric needs. Because it has little effect (about 10% of the total daily energy on daily caloric consumption).
Calculation of daily caloric needs
To calculate the FCG and subsequently establish a correct maintenance diet. It is necessary to have a measure of basal metabolism that is determined by the application of specific formulas.
Once the basal metabolism has been defined. It is then necessary to know the type of physical activity performed by the subject during his day (for example, a sedentary or physically demanding job).
The set of work and extra-work activities define the level of physical activity of an individual. There are different levels of physical activity that have been simplified according to the guidelines of the World Health Organization in light, moderate and heavy. These levels are also distinguished by sex and age.
Having said this, the relationship between daily caloric needs. And caloric intake is simple and direct:
If the caloric intake is greater than the daily caloric requirement. It means that you take more calories than necessary. And in this way, the bodyweight, in the long run, will tend to increase.
Finally, if the caloric intake corresponds to the daily caloric requirement. One is in a situation of equilibrium and therefore the body weight, in the long run, will tend to remain stable.
To lose weight it is necessary to carry out a hypocaloric diet. In which the calories are taken with the diet are lower than those that are consumed. In order to burn the calories of body stock that accumulate in the form of fat. To lose more fat.
It is also essential to follow an adequate physical activity that will tend to increase the lean mass with the double success of toning the muscles. And increasing the basal metabolic rate, the latter fact which – for equal hypocaloric diet – will allow a greater loss of weight, intended as a percentage of fat mass.
The characteristics of the maintenance diet
The difference between a slimming diet and a maintenance diet lies mainly in the number of calories it provides to the subject. This diet is by definition normocaloric: this means that it responds exactly to the daily caloric requirement. Which is to the number of calories that the subject needs to maintain the achieved weight over time.
The maintenance diet provides a caloric intake that varies from subject to subject. And a supply of vitamins and mineral salts appropriate to age, sex, and physiological conditions. This means that there is no universal maintenance diet since this is formulated on the basis of the needs of the individual.
In general, the diet is more flexible compared to the slimming diet: the weight of food is low. And there are no particular food exclusions, except for chronic diseases.
In its formulation, the maintenance diet must ensure the correct subdivision of the macronutrients. Which, for a healthy lifestyle, for a person without particular pathologies, is made up of 50% carbohydrates, 20% proteins, and 30% fats.
And low-calorie food supplements in a maintenance diet that can provide, in case of lack, the nutrients necessary for the body’s daily needs.