When you stop living on a diet plan, it doesn’t mean you want to give up all your results. You watched your scale give you smaller and smaller numbers, you gave up some habits, counted calories and days and you’ve finally reached your goal. Now, you can sit back and be relieved – you deserve it! After weeks of not eating anything you like, resisting your fridge and packing meals with increasingly more green in them, you are finally at the finish line.
So, what now? You might want to dig into a cheeseburger with fries or a pie, and while that is okay to a certain degree, it’s definitely not the recommended course of action. You can loosen up but just a bit – you don’t want all those pounds coming back and jeopardizing your health! In this article, we’re gonna look at six tips that will help you switch from a strict diet plan to a maintenance one. The end goal is to help you ease into healthy life that will help you maintain your current form.
#1. Slowly Increase the Number of Calories You Consume
It seems counterintuitive, but in order to have your caloric intake at maintenance level, you have to get there step by step. Jumping from 1200 calories per day to over 2000 is never okay, and should never be done. Instead, to reduce the chances of regaining body fat, increase your calorie intake by 100-200 every week until you reach your maintenance level. There is just one exception to this – short term diets! If you were on a diet for a week or two, your metabolism barely needs to recover, so you should be fine.
#2. Your Digestive System Will React
If you slashed your carbs while on a month or so of dieting, expect your bowels to give you some trouble when you start eating foods such as potatoes and grain again. A lot of people think they’ve somehow grown insensitive to a specific type of carb, such as gluten, but that doesn’t mean they’re right – your body just scaled back production of the enzyme needed to break that carb down. Make sure to give your body enough time to normalize your enzyme production, and when that happens, your digestive issues should disappear, or at the very least, become less of a threat. If you’re having problems 2-3 weeks after your diet, I suggest reading a bit about digestive enzyme supplementation or cutting back on some foods that cause this discomfort.
#3. Stay Active
When you go into maintenance, make sure to keep being active. Adopting a sedentary lifestyle along with increasing your food consumption will shock your body and sometimes it can be too much. If you eat more and move less, you will almost certainly gain weight back. So, focus on raising your calories and then when your body has adapted to maintenance, you can cut back on cardio, without removing it entirely of course. Exercising is vital to your health and should never be completely disregarded.
#4. Eat More High-Calorie Food Packed With Nutrients
You’ll have to pick what foods are you going to allow to return to your diet, and it’s really important to add the healthier ones. Don’t throw back all that junk food – it’s just a return to your bad habits. It’s not catastrophic to indulge every once in a while, but make sure the staple of your means consists of clean, calorie-dense foods that you probably cut off when you started your diet. These are your typical nuts, rice, oils, pasta, potatoes, high-sugar fruits and some fatty fish. Eating these foods will provide a lot of drastically better results than eating, say, pizza or burgers. The healthier you are, the better you will look and feel!
#5. Stay On Top Of Yourself
When you’re eating to maintain, you might need some practice and you might even see your body weight go up and down as you adopt the new diet plan. Make sure to watch those oscillations and to keep your weight within 2-3 pounds of your goal weight in order to keep your results in the long term. If you notice you’re gaining weight, cut back on food and start working out more – waiting until you’re 10 pounds over your maintenance weight is useless and will only result in you losing all your self-confidence and results. You can cut one or two pounds of fat without much hassle if you just pay attention to what you consume and how much exercise you’re getting, but if you want to lose 10-15 pounds you’re going to need a full diet plan.
#6. Don’t Panic When You Regain Some Weight
It’s natural to see a small weight increase after your diet. In the first week, your weight will be normalized as your body fills up its stores of glycogen, which was probably low because of water retention and your diet. Don’t worry about adding 2-4 pounds, but make sure that your weight doesn’t go up more than that. Most people can and will stay closer to their target weight, but some won’t. If you wanted to lose weight to remove body fat, you probably will, but you’ll gain some weight to assist your body in maintaining a healthy and practical level.