The thought of increasing calories after successfully dieting scares many people because the thought of gaining back all the weight is at the front of everyone’s mind.
First of all, you can’t always be dieting. The psychological reasons are because it is easy to diet in small phases (i.e. 12 weeks). These dieting phases are strategized to help create nutritional structure and, for the most part, is straight forward enough to follow. Anything longer and you are more likely to lose control and completely fall off your program and revert back to old habits.
The physiological reasons behind being able to diet for short periods of time is because the human body will eventually adapt to the point where fat loss is no longer happening. This is due to a number of hormones in the brain that adapt to the diet by altering the nervous system, thyroid, and your metabolism as a whole.
By increasing calories after a successful fat loss phase, we help our metabolism recover and normalize many of the corresponding hormones so the next phase of dieting will be just as successful.
So how do we try to reset our metabolism without gaining weight? The reality is you’ll probably gain a very small amount back. That is normal. When you look at the big picture, the tiny bit of weight you gained over the successful completion of your diet is a hardly noticeable. In fact it is fractional if you do it correctly.
So what do I suggest if you’re new to maintenance? Here are some tips:
i) I suggest using a portion of your plan to keep some sort of dietary structure. But don’t start counting calories or macros. You’re on a break.
ii) Then I suggest using FREE MEAL strategy more regularly (responsible portion control and healthier options). Don’t be afraid.
iii) Absolutely keep training and hitting the gym because this is an opportune time to actually increase muscle mass because of your increased calories (more muscle = more fat burning).
iv) How do you keep things in check? For WOMEN, use a pair of fitted pants to gauge your progress – if the pants are getting tight, reduce food portions by 20%. For MEN, use your belt and watch your waist line. Reduce portions if things are getting snug. For BOTH, use the mirror!!!
v) ENJOY MAINTENANCE
With regards to food intake while on maintenance – the bottom line is to NOT OVERTHINK IT. But it’s also extremely important to NOT OVERDUE IT.
I’ve been on maintenance for a couple of months. This is my Post Workout small Chicken Burrito loaded with fresh vegetables, some cheese, limited burrito sauce, no sour cream, and plenty of hot sauce. Oh…and NO GUILT! Also no weight gain. No make-up either 🙂