Once patients have reached the maintenance stage, “calorie banking” is a very practical approach to help them balance their food intake for life. It stems from the idea that we live in a society that is basically five days on and two days off (referring to a work or school week).
Once a patient has lost weight and wishes to go on maintenance, their caloric food intake is slowly increased to 1,200 calories for women and 1,500 calories for men. At this time we start to talk about the calorie banking principle.
Let’s say that a female patient has gotten down to 130 lbs. Her approximate caloric needs to maintain this weight would be 1,700-1,800 calories. If we were to increase her intake to that level, there would be no room for extras (as we all know, it is usually the extras that are responsible for weight gain). Once we outline the 1,200-calorie plan, we get our patients, over the following week, to see whether there would be any extra food choices they would like to add to this (for example, another bread serving which would add about 70 calories). We need this input because we want them to feel that their food intake will be adequate for the five main days of the week.
This then would work out to be about 400- 500 fewer calories per day that they would need to maintain their weight. We now transfer this 2,000-2,500 calories (representing the five days) into a theoretical calorie bank that they can spend and draw from on the weekend (or any other time during the week when they have extras).
Therefore it is basically a way to balance your “food intake account” for the week, just like you would balance a real bank account.
For men, we apply the same principle but use a 1,500-calorie diet as a base.
Always keep in mind that these numbers are approximate, and that wat’s important is understanding and applying the basic “calorie banking” principle. We also strongly emphasize to our patients the importance of ongoing maintenance visits (weekly at first, then every two weeks, then three weeks and finally monthly) to ensure that the “calorie banking” idea is working for them.
Weight maintenance is a life-long balancing act. In reality, we have to work on balancing our food intake (i.e., energy intake), our activity and exercise (i.e., energy expenditure) and our water intake for life. Above all, we have to keep positive attitudes and motivation (I always say that the best exercise of all is to keep our head going!).
I’m confident that applying the above ideas including the “Calorie Banking” principle will be key factors in your life-long weight-control success.