For many people, diet and fitness plans have a start and end date, as if you just have to do the right things for your body for a certain period of time.
This is the reason why you see trends like 90-days fat loss challenges, 30-day strong core challenges, etc. However, such trends are not sustainable and won’t yield consistent results, unless you can build the changes into your lifestyle.
Let’s break down the process of dieting and weight loss - how it affects the body and what you should do once you reach your desired goal.
What Is Dieting?
A “diet” is a sort of nutrition regimen that puts your body in the so-called “caloric deficit”.
This simply means you are eating less food than your body needs to maintain its weight.
When you are in a caloric deficit, your body starts burning fat to compensate for that deficit of energy. (1)
And while for you this may mean looking better and feeling good about yourself, for the body it is controlled starvation. Whilst you are in this period of caloric deficit, your body recognizes that there isn’t sufficient energy and to deal with this problem it slows down all of its processes to ultimately preserve energy. (2)
The longer you are in a caloric deficit, the slower your metabolism gets and what was once your caloric deficit, eventually turns into maintenance calories.
Taking diet breaks of 2 weeks every 2-3 weeks of dieting can be used as a tool to mitigate the decreases in your metabolic rate.
These are periods of eating at maintenance, where no significant changes in weight should be observed.
Your Post-Diet Approach
As mentioned, throughout your diet your metabolism slows down, and you lose weight.
At one point, you will reach your desired body shape… and then what?
Well, the short answer is - keep doing what you were doing in the first place!
That is, being active, eating good food, recovering well, and staying hydrated.
Nevertheless, because your metabolism is slower at the end of your diet, there are things you have to do, in order to avoid sudden weight gaining.
Most people who lose a lot of weight, gain all of it, and some more back, in TWICE AS LESS TIME as it took them to lose it.
This is because, as already stated, people think of losing weight as a process with a start and end date.
And the truth is that it really isn’t. Weight loss is about a shift in habits, which is sustained over the long term and made a normal part of your self-care routine.
How To Keep The Weight Off
Here are our best tips to keep the weight off after losing it:
Slowly increase your calories
By slowly upping your food intake, you will signal to the body that it is safe, has energy, and can speed up its processes.
If you give the body too much energy, ie food, too suddenly, you will gain some fat.
On the other hand, if you increase food gradually and keep activity high, your metabolism will skyrocket!
2. Gradually increase training intensity
During a period of weight loss, your training intensity is slightly lower due to the deficit of energy.
After you have reached your desired shape, you can transition into adding more food to your daily nutrition plan but also increasing training intensity.
This means, not only increasing the weight, but also the number of sets, repetitions, and times you reach muscular failure – depending on the type of training you are doing.
3. Monitor, adjust and stay consistent
Keeping good track of your nutrition and workouts after your diet is over is essential if you want to keep the weight off.
Quite simply, your main goal is to avoid spikes in weight gain - just like you avoid weight loss spikes during fat loss periods.
You will see me say time and time again – consistency is key.
Weight loss is a gradual process to which the body responds by slowing down its metabolic processes.
As you exit the diet you are in a state where your metabolism is slower and you are more prone to gaining all the weight back.
Therefore, this is where it will benefit you to gradually increase your caloric intake and training intensity while keeping track of your progress and adjusting the plan along the way.
In doing all of this, you maximize the possibilities for you to lose weight and keep it off, creating a new set of behavioral patterns and habits.