Dropping or completing a diet plan doesn’t have to mean ditching your results. You still want to maintain all of the muscle you spent those months building. And, don’t worry, it is entirely possible to remain as healthy, fit and happy as you were when dieting. Learn how to successfully transition from a strict eating regimen to a more moderate, post-diet life.
The End Of Your Diet
You counted down the days, swore off bad habits, watched the needle on the scale steadily drop, and you reached your weight-loss goal. Congratulations! You can go ahead and give yourself a well-deserved pat on the back, you earned it! After weeks of fending off cravings, withstanding hunger pangs, and pre-packing healthy meals, your hard work has paid off.
Now what? The first thing crossing your mind might be, “Let’s eat!”—namely the greasy, fried, overly sweetened foods you banished for months. You can certainly loosen the reins a bit, but not too much. Otherwise, your transformation may be for naught. Not only do you risk regaining the weight, but you also put your health at risk.
Not sure how to transition from a strict diet to a maintenance plan? No problem. Ease into this new lifestyle with our top four post-diet tips for a smooth transition to healthy, maintenance-style eating.
Slowly Increase Your Calories
The first thing you want to do is slowly increasing your caloric intake over the next few weeks. Don’t immediately start eating 2,000 calories after a steady 1,200 calorie diet and expect to do fine. To lessen the likelihood of regaining body fat, bump your calorie intake up by 100-200 calories per week until you’re at maintenance level. The only exception: short-term dieting. If your diet only lasted a week or two, recovering from metabolic adaptations should be minimal.
Expect Some Digestive Stress
If you dieted for a month or longer while decreasing your carbohydrate intake, you can expect to experience some digestive distress when adding certain foods back into your diet, such as grains and potatoes. Many people often mistakenly think they’ve somehow developed an insensitivity to a particular type of carbohydrate (such as gluten).
In reality, their body has just cut back on the enzyme production needed to break these types of foods down. Give your body a chance to catch up and return enzyme production to normal. Once that occurs, digestive issues should decrease or go away. If you still experience problems after 2 to 3 weeks, look into digestive enzyme supplementation support or consider reducing your intake of certain foods.
As you transition to eating at maintenance level, make sure to stay active. It’s the only way to build and maintain muscle. Some people make the mistake of increasing their food intake and decreasing their exercise frequency or intensity, which can be a bit too much all at once. Remember, if you start eating more and moving less, you run a higher risk of weight gain. Instead, focus first on increasing your calories. However, you shouldn’t abandon all exercise. Even if you just want to maintain your body weight, a regular exercise program is still incredibly important for your overall health.
Add Nutrient-Dense Foods To Your Diet
When it comes to choosing which foods to add back into your diet, favor healthier items. Some people add back in all the junk food they used to eat, which sets bad habits back in place. While indulging here and there is fine, focus on adding back clean, calorie-dense foods you might have cut out while dieting.
Foods such as nuts, healthy oils, fatty varieties of fish, rice, pasta, potatoes and higher-sugar fruits could top the list. Enjoying these once-off-limits foods will give you far more bang for your buck than pizza, chips and creamy pasta. Keep it healthy and at a happy medium. You’ll not only feel better, but you’ll look better as well.
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