Updated: Sep 16, 2021
Figuring out how to help clients all comes back to energy balance. Energy balance is when someone's energy in (food/calories) is weighed against their energy out (calories burned through bodily functions and activity). If the goal is weight loss, you should be in a calorie deficit so your energy in should be lower than your energy out. If your goal is weight gain, it's the opposite, and if you want to maintain your weight but eat healthy foods then they should be equal.
"The reason things like intermittent fasting or restrictive diets work initially is because they put you in a calorie deficit - but they aren't sustainable"
When you consume more calories than you burn, your body stores those calories as fat which increases your weight. In order to be in a calorie deficit, you can do more physical activity to burn more calories, you can consume fewer calories (within reason, no extreme dieting here), or both. The reason things like intermittent fasting or restrictive diets work initially is because they put you in a calorie deficit - but they aren't sustainable. Many people end up gaining the weight (and more) back after a crash diet because they're hungry, have low energy, and when it's over they go back to their original habits. Part of the deal when you get a nutrition coach can be the weight loss part, but also getting back to an energy balance where you can maintain all that progress you worked so hard for!
How do I figure out how many calories someone should eat? That's a more in depth answer and is really dependent upon the person. I calculate a client's Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE) which means how many calories they burn in a day. That is based on height, weight, age, and activity level. Then I consider their goal and adjust their calories to be in a deficit or a surplus as needed. From there, I consider your food preferences and put together some options to meet your caloric (and macronutrient) needs for the day.
There's a lot of math, science, and clients' personal preferences that goes into each of the plans I create. That being said, as you make your way on your wellness journey and your end goal changes, be sure to let me know so we can make updates. Your goal is my goal and I'm here to help YOU!