YOU CAN MAKE GREAT PROGRESS EATING AT YOUR MAINTENANCE CALORIES TOO!
Maintenance calories represent your total daily energy expenditure or, in layman terms, the amount of calories your body burns in a day. Adhering to the concept of "calories in calories out" if you burn 1,900 calories on an average day your maintenance calories will also be 1,900, and all things remain equal. However, things aren't so black and white regarding maintenance calories, especially if you're a beginner fitness enthusiast.
For the sake of today's discussion, I will refer to a diet as a reduction or increase in calories for the goal of weight change which makes eating exactly how many calories you need the ANTI-DIET. That said, body transformations generally have one of two goals, losing weight or gaining weight. In each instance, according to conventional wisdom, you either have to deduct calories or add calories to your maintenance calorie number to achieve your desired results. However, what if I told you that you could lose weight and add muscle without dieting? The notion goes against nearly everything you've been told but it's certainly possible.
Newbies tend to have more leeway regarding body transformations, so it's totally possible to make massive changes without dieting and here's why. When you're just starting your fitness journey, your body has more fat to lose, and your muscles are more susceptible to stress. The more fat you have to lose, the easier it is to lose. Stated differently, the leaner you become, the more difficult it is to lose incremental body fat. The concept holds true for muscle gain as well. Muscle stress results in muscle gains and the newer you are to lifting the more likely your muscles are to react to even lower levels of stress. In a nutshell, you can make considerable progress without dieting because your body isn't as conditioned at this early stage. Unless you have a timing goal eating at maintenance is an incredibly viable strategy.
Pros of eating maintenance calories...
No caloric deficit
Cons of eating maintenance calories...
So here's how all of this anti-diet talk looks on paper. For the sake of imagery let's say you are a 26-year-old 5'5" biological female that weighs 140lbs and you don't work out. Through dieting and exercise, you can safely lose about a half a pound per week by eating about 1,400 calories per day. However, if you take the anti-diet approach plus exercise, you can eat about 1,700 calories per day and still make significant progress, albeit over a longer period. You can easily find your maintenance calories or TDEE by using a macronutrient calculator.
There are different strokes for different folks, and you should cater your weight loss strategy to your personal needs. For fitness to become a lifestyle, it must be sustainable, and this post serves to illustrate that conventional advice about weight loss doesn't always paint a complete picture.