Why Does my New Program Have Slightly Different Calorie and Macronutrient Targets Than My Old Program, Even Though I Didn't Change my Goal?

Short answer: new programs are purely calculated based on your current expenditure, but weekly updates include a bit of intelligent smoothing

When you check in each week (on a coached or collaborative program), MacroFactor’s coaching algorithms will adjust your nutrition targets based on changes to your calculated energy expenditure. But, you still might want to create a new program without changing your goal, in order to adjust your macronutrient targets, or to change your calorie shifting strategy.

When you create a new program, your calorie targets will likely change a bit, even if you haven’t changed your goal. At first that might seem confusing: Shouldn’t your recommendations be up-to-date if you’ve been checking in each week? If so, why would creating a new program change your calorie targets?

Thankfully, there’s a simple explanation.

Program updates are informed, not determined, by expenditure changes

Program updates are mostly based on expenditure changes, but MacroFactor’s coaching algorithm also has an additional intelligent smoothing layer. This additional smoothing logic helps ensure continuity of your program, and helps the coaching program avoid over-corrections if your expenditure is fluctuating.

For instance, let’s assume that you were consistently losing a pound per week while eating 2000 Calories per day. That would imply that your expenditure is approximately 2500 Calories per day. However, even without any lifestyle changes, your weight might stall for three weeks due to fluid retention, constipation, or just pure randomness. So, if you’re no longer losing weight while consuming 2000 Calories per day, that would imply that your energy expenditure had also dropped to 2000 Calories per day, and you’d need to eat 1500 Calories per day to keep losing a pound per week.

However, an actual 500 Calorie change in energy expenditure is unlikely over such a short period of time. So, MacroFactor’s coaching updates effectively “hedge their bets.” Instead of dropping your energy intake recommendations by 500 Calories over those three weeks, your recommendations might only change by 200-300 Calories. So, if your energy expenditure is actually decreasing, your program updates will still be directionally correct (i.e., your recommended energy intake will still decrease), but if your energy expenditure isn’t actually decreasing (or isn’t decreasing at quite the rate implied by your weight and nutrition data), you won’t be put on a caloric roller coaster where your recommendations drop by 500 calories in three weeks, only to increase by 500 calories over the next three weeks.

In short, there are some intelligent guardrails in place within MacroFactor’s coaching logic to ensure that your week-to-week adjustments help move you in the right direction, without over-reacting to short-term weight fluctuations.

New programs are purely based on your current expenditure and goal

However, when you create a new program, your initial energy intake target is solely calculated based on your expenditure and goal at the moment when the program is created.

So, to illustrate, you might be on a maintenance program with an expenditure of 2400 Calories, and a Calorie intake target of 2350 Calories because your calculated expenditure had recently increased substantially in a relatively short period of time. Since the coaching logic helps smooth out those fluctuations, your intake recommendations had not increased quite as quickly as your calculated expenditure. But, if you were to create a new macro program without changing your goal, your energy intake recommendation on your new program would be 2400 Calories, since it’s calculated based on your expenditure when the program is created.

Long story short: If you create a new macro program without changing your goal, and your energy intake targets change a bit in the process, it’s because week-to-week adjustments are calculated with an additional layer of smoothing, whereas energy intake targets on a new program are calculated based on your calculated expenditure at the time when the program is created.

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