How to Calculate Maintenance Calories / Diet Break Macros!

In the world of fitness and nutrition, understanding your maintenance calories is crucial to achieving your health goals. Whether you are looking to lose weight, build muscles, or simply maintain your current physique, calculating your maintenance calories and diet break macros can provide a roadmap to success. In this post, we will dive into the step-by-step process of calculating your maintenance calories and how to incorporate diet breaks into your routine to optimize your results. So, if you are ready to take charge of your health journey, let’s get started!

🍏Diet Breaks – How to calculate your new maintenance calories for a diet break? 🤔

If you’re new to my Channel, WELCOME and Thank you for supporting me 🙏🏼🙂

I like science 🧬 🧫 and my goal is to help as many of you guys as possible make positive changes to your nutrition 🍣 and training💪🏽⛹🏼‍♀️, and thus improve your overall body composition and enhance your performance be it for a chosen sport 🥎 or just optimizing day to day living!

I’ve already shared a multitude of videos on my YouTube Channel about optimal methods of fat loss, including an depth discussion about the recent notion known as a ‘DIET BREAK’.

A diet break is a defined period of time during a diet (ideally 7 days), where we increase our calories to our current ‘maintenance intakes’, and this has been shown in scientific literature to help attenuate the negative adaptions often seen to our resting metabolic rate during a continuous calorie deficit.

A diet break has also shown to help retain or preserve a greater % of lean body mass while undergoing a diet for weight loss when compared to continuous dieting methods.

I’m often asked how to calculate your macros for a diet break, as our true maintenance is constantly changing, so this video explains the math ✍🏼 and logic 🧠 behind the calculation, so you can accurately calculate your own macros so you don’t overshoot and gain weight, or continue losing weight during your scheduled diet break.

Remember☝🏽, for the above to be effective in minimizing metabolic adaption and helping preserve lean mass, we are trying to select calories that are right at your maintenance (your weight should remain stable, no loss or gain).

If you have questions please comment below !
Also check out my other videos on Diet Breaks here on my YOUTUBE channel!

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How to Calculate Maintenance Calories / Diet Break Macros


Maintaining a healthy weight requires a balance between calorie intake and energy expenditure. Generally, an individual’s caloric intake is determined by their basal metabolic rate (BMR) and physical activity level (PAL). BMR is calculated by considering an individual’s age, height, and weight. However, figuring out the exact calorie deficit or surplus is tricky, as there are various factors affecting an individual’s metabolic rate. This leads us to the calculation of maintenance calories. This article will guide you through the process of calculating your maintenance calories and diet break macros.

What are maintenance calories?

Maintenance calories are the number of calories an individual needs to maintain their current body weight. It’s a caloric intake range that’s specific to the individual. Consuming fewer calories than you need leads to weight loss, while consuming more calories than you need results in weight gain.

To calculate maintenance calories or total daily energy expenditure (TDEE), we use the Harris-Benedict formula. This formula allows us to calculate an individual’s BMR and multiply it by a PAL coefficient. The BMR calculated is then multiplied by the PAL coefficient, which accounts for an individual’s physical activity level, to determine the total calories required for their daily activities.

The Harris-Benedict formula for men is as follows:

BMR = 88.4 + (13.4 x weight in kg) + (4.8 x height in cm) – (5.68 x age)

TDEE = BMR x PAL coefficient

The Harris-Benedict formula for women is as follows:

BMR = 447.6 + (9.2 x weight in kg) + (3.1 x height in cm) – (4.3 x age)

TDEE = BMR x PAL coefficient

How to calculate TDEE?

To calculate TDEE, you need to first calculate your BMR by using the Harris-Benedict formula. Then, multiply your BMR by a PAL coefficient. The PAL coefficient ranges from 1.1 to 2.5, based on an individual’s physical activity level.

Step by Step Guide to Calculate TDEE

  1. Calculate the BMR using the Harris-Benedict formula.
  2. Select your PAL coefficient:
    • Sedentary (little or no exercise): 1.2
    • Lightly active (light exercise or sports 1-3 days/week): 1.375
    • Moderately active (moderate exercise or sports 3-5 days/week): 1.55
    • Very active (hard exercise or sports 6-7 days/week): 1.725
    • Extremely active (very hard exercise or sports and physical job): 1.9
  3. Multiply your BMR by PAL coefficient to find TDEE.

For instance, if a sedentary individual weighs 70 kgs, is 175 cm tall, and is 30 years old, then their BMR would be:

BMR = 88.4 + (13.4 x 70) + (4.8 x 175) – (5.68 x 30) = 1610.8

TDEE = 1610.8 x 1.2 = 1933 calories

What are Diet Break Macros?

Diet break macros (DBM) is a strategy that involves increasing an individual’s caloric intake above maintenance calorie level for a specific period. This strategy helps individuals recover from the calorie deficit achieved during their weight loss journey. Diet break macros are calculated based on an individual’s maintenance calorie level.

To calculate DBM, we need to consider the percentage increase from the maintenance calorie level and multiply it by the maintenance calorie level.

Step by Step Guide to Calculate DBM

  1. Calculate your maintenance calorie level as discussed earlier.
  2. Decide the length of your diet break (usually 1-2 weeks).
  3. Take a percentage of your maintenance calories range by using the following guidelines:
    • 10-15% calorie increase for a 1-week diet break
    • 20-30% calorie increase for a 2-week diet break
  4. Multiply the percentage chosen in step 3 by your maintenance calorie level.

For example, suppose an individual’s maintenance calorie level is 2000 calories per day. In that case, they can use the following formula to calculate their DBM:

10% increase = 2000 x 0.1 = 200 calories
15% increase = 2000 x 0.15 = 300 calories

Therefore, if an individual plans for a 1-week diet break, they should increase their calorie consumption by 200-300 calories per day above their maintenance level.


1. Why is it important to calculate maintenance calories?

Calculating your maintenance calorie level is crucial as it helps you determine the number of calories you need to maintain your current weight. This knowledge is essential if you’re looking to achieve a body weight goal or maintain your current weight.

2. What can affect my maintenance calorie levels?

Various factors, such as age, height, weight, gender, and physical activity level, influence your maintenance calorie levels.

3. Can I lose weight by eating my maintenance calories?

No, consuming your maintenance calories leads to weight maintenance. To lose weight, you need to create a calorie deficit by consuming fewer calories than your maintenance calorie level.

4. How frequently can I take diet breaks?

Individuals can choose to take diet breaks as frequently as they want, given that they’ve achieved their desired weight. However, a 2-week diet break after 5-6 weeks of a caloric deficit is a suitable strategy.

5. What should be my calorie consumption after a diet break?

After completing the diet break, individuals should return to their maintenance calorie level. This maintains the weight reached after the weight loss period.


Calculating your maintenance calories and diet breaks macros might seem confusing, but understanding these concepts is essential for achieving long-term weight management goals. By knowing your maintenance calorie level, you can create personalized nutrition plans and monitor progress effectively. Diet break macros allow your body to recover from the calorie deficit while ensuring that you maintain the weight achieved during the weight loss period. Use the steps outlined in this article to calculate your maintenance calories and diet break macros, and before you know it, you’ll be on the path to a healthy and sustainable lifestyle.

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