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I’ve reached my goal weight, so how many calories should I consume to maintain it?

Illustration: Sarah Wilkins

Congrats! You made it to your goal weight, but now what?

The great thing about the Cooking Light Diet is that it’s designed for not only weight loss but also for a healthy lifestyle. You can continue using your weekly menus even once you reach your goal weight by just adding extra calories. There’s no exact formula for how many extra calories to consume, because this depends on your calorie level, rate of weight loss, and activity level. But here’s a general guide: 

A pound of weight equates to roughly 3,500 calories. So if you have been losing an average of 1 pound per week, this means you’ve had a weekly calorie deficit of 3,500 calories (or roughly 500 calories per day) through lower calorie intake and increased activity. Assuming activity is going to stay about the same as when you were losing weight, I recommend that individuals start by adding 200 to 300 calories each day to their meal plan. Why not add 500 calories? Once you hit your goal, it’s easy to become more relaxed and less diligent with portion sizes, so 200 to 300 extra is often the best starting point. If you continue to lose once adding in these extra calories, slowly add an additional 100 calories per day each week until you stop losing weight. Also, remember these extra calories should come from healthy foods. Easy ways to consume these calories in is to slightly increase grain, protein, fruit, or dairy servings at meals or add an extra snack.