If you’re a brand new MacroFactor user, you might think that your initial expenditure and energy intake recommendations are either too high or too low.
There’s a pretty good chance that you’re correct.
When you first start using the app, your initial estimated expenditure is calculated using a standard formula that accounts for the demographic, anthropometric, and exercise/lifestyle information you entered during onboarding. That’s the best available process for estimating energy needs before you’ve logged enough weight and nutrition data to generate much more accurate recommendations. But, as we’ve thoroughly detailed in other articles, the standard formulas that are used to estimate energy needs have the potential to generate large individual errors. That’s ultimately why MacroFactor’s expenditure and coaching features exist in the first place: you can generate far more accurate estimates of energy expenditure from weight and nutrition data, than from demographic, anthropometric, and exercise/lifestyle data.
So, if you think your initial expenditure estimate or energy intake recommendations are too high or too low, here’s what you can do:
1) Enter a manual initial expenditure
If you think you already have a pretty good idea of your daily energy expenditure, you can enter your own value, which will override the equation-derived estimate generated during onboarding.
2) Log prior weight and nutrition information (if you have it)
After 3-4 weeks of consistently logging your weight and nutrition, MacroFactor will be able to estimate your energy needs much more precisely. But, if you’ve already been logging your weight and nutrition information, you can back-fill approximately 3-4 weeks of your recent data to fast-track this process. The most convenient place to back-fill prior data is the “Data & Habits” screen.
3) Eat mindfully and intuitively for a few weeks
If you don’t want to bother with entering a manual initial expenditure, and you don’t have prior weight and nutrition data, and you also think your initial energy intake recommendations are too high or too low, no worries!
MacroFactor’s program adjustments are based on changes to your expenditure, and your expenditure is continuously updated based on your weight and nutrition information. So, as long as you’re logging your weight and nutrition, MacroFactor will be able to hone in on an accurate estimate of your energy needs, even if you’re not following the recommendations of your current macro program. That’s one of the hallmarks of Adherence Neutral coaching.
So, you could simply eat the amount you believe to be appropriate for the first 3-4 weeks that you’re using the app. Be sure to check in each week to receive program updates. After 3-4 weeks, you can be confident that MacroFactor’s recommendations are fully informed by your actual weight and nutrition information, rather than the basic demographic, anthropometric, and exercise/lifestyle information you entered during onboarding. So, at that time, you can start following the app’s recommendations more closely.
4) Check your goal
If your energy expenditure looks right to you, but your recommended energy intake seems too high or too low, check the goal you set when creating your program. Ultimately, your energy intake targets are the product of your expenditure and your goal.
So, for instance, if your energy expenditure is estimated to be 3000 Calories per day, and you're confused why your energy intake target is just 1500 Calories per day, it's very likely that you set an aggressive goal of losing about 3 pounds per week. That rate of weight loss would require a very large energy deficit (around 1500 Calories per day), so it would require a pretty low energy intake target, even if your expenditure is reasonably high.
In this scenario, you'd have two options: a) accept that you will need a pretty low energy intake target in order to achieve your desired rate of weight loss, or b) reduce your target rate of weight loss. In the scenario above, your energy intake target would be around 2000 Calories per day with a goal of losing 2 pounds per week, or around 2500 Calories per day with a goal of losing 1 pound per week. For most people, most of the time, we'd recommend reducing your target rate of weight loss if you find yourself in this situation.
5) Other possibilities – calorie floors, energy surpluses, and dynamic maintenance
If you already checked your goal, but you still think your energy intake targets are too high or too low (while also thinking that your expenditure is correct), there are three other possible explanations.
First, it's possible that your desired rate of weight loss would necessitate energy intake targets below your Calorie floor (in which case, you might think your expenditure looks correct, but your energy intake recommendations are too high).
Second, it's possible that you're aiming to gain weight, and you think your recommended energy surplus is too small (in which case, you might think your expenditure looks correct, but your energy intake recommendations are too low). You can read more about bulking here.
Third, it's possible that you have a maintenance goal, but you're currently outside of our maintenance range (in which case, you might think your expenditure looks correct, but your energy intake recommendations are either too high or too low). You can read more about dynamic maintenance here.