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Thread: Discretionary Calories

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Golden, Colorado

    Default Discretionary Calories

    Mel.....or you have at your fingertips a general formula or "Rule of Thumb" for determining discretionary Calories?

    You know what I mean, right...... that percentage of TDEE that a person has to play with over and above basic nutritional requirements.

    I have a feeling I've read or heard about such a thing (mainly in the context of alcohol consumption) but can't for the life of me remember where.



  2. #2


    The USDA description attached is based on the IOM recommendations for discretionary calories.

    s far as EtOH is concerned, I limit women to 1 drink per day with no more than 5 drinks per week (that's ~1000 extra calories of essentially fat) and men to 2 drinks per day with no more than 7 drinks/week (~1400 kcals); I also limit EtOH choices to beer, wine (unfortified), or straight liquor (0 calorie mixers are fine but no juice, colas or liqueurs).

    If I have a client who consumes more than 1000 discretionary calories per day (which is very common), I start by cutting those in half and that is the first and only dietary change I make in the first 2-4 weeks. After they acclimate to that change I set about increasing nutrient density while decreasing the caloric density of their diet. My goal is to get the majority of my clients to consume less than 10% of their total estimated carbohydrate needs as refined carbs (white flour, white rice, sugar, HFCS, agave, honey, maple syrup, brown rice syrup, cane juice, ect.).

    Ideally my clients would not drink any EtOH and would avoid all refined carbs (especially sweeteners) but hey some people insist that they need their daily cookie/ice cream or glass of wine with dinner.


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