Banking calories is more of a concept to help you manage calories than a well-defined weight-loss plan. You can use the analogy of saving and spending to bank calories one day in order to spend -- or consume -- them another day. Banking calories gives you flexibility and may motivate you to stick with a diet, which is an important benefit because adhering to the calorie plan determines your success. However, banking calories makes it easier to fall into some common diet pitfalls.
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Determine Calorie Goals
Before you can bank calories, you’ll need to define your daily calorie goals. The best way to lose weight -- and keep it off -- is to reduce at a gradual and steady rate of 1 to 2 pounds each week, recommends the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. To reach this goal, reduce your caloric intake by 500 to 1,000 calories daily. The recommended intake before deducting calories for weight loss is 1,600 to 2,400 calories daily for women and 2,000 to 3,000 calories for men, according to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010. Whether you need the lower or higher amount depends on your age and activity level.
Weekly Banking Plan
Multiply your daily calorie goals by seven to establish your maximum weekly calorie intake. Bank calories throughout the week by eating fewer calories than your daily goal for one or more days, then using them to eat more than your usual calories another day. As long as you don’t exceed the weekly limit, you can splurge a little on a meal or two without ruining your diet. Keep a diary of what you consume and tally the calories each day. While this is mostly to be sure you stay within your goals, keeping a diary is also associated with a better chance of losing weight, reports the McKinley Health Center.
Use as a Daily Guide
Banking calories helps you plan how to spend your calories for the day. If you usually drink a soda, switch to water and bank the calories for a nutrient-rich snack later, recommends the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Bank calories by eating less at a midmorning snack to allow for a larger snack in the stretch from lunch to dinner. Just be sure to track your calories each day. And remember that you don’t have to consume the calories saved. If you reach the end of the day and haven't used them, boost your weight-loss results by leaving them permanently in the bank.
Drawbacks to Banking Calories
Banking calories makes it hard to get into the habit of following a balanced diet, while making it easy to eat an unbalanced diet. You may bank nutrient-rich foods, splurge on less healthy items at the end of the week and fail to get all the nutrients you need. It also ignores the concept of portion control, which is key to long-term weight maintenance. Banking calories can cause a drop in energy, and you may crave sugar later when your brain needs energy. It’s easy to lose count of calories, especially if you spend banked calories at a restaurant. Use calorie banking with caution or wait until after you lose weight and work it into a maintenance diet.