Here's How To Maintain Your Body Fat Level After Dieting, Without Having To Restrict What You Eat
After working so hard to lose body fat, the last thing you want to do is pile it all back on. So whether your goal is to hold on to a single-digit body fat percentage, or simply to not slip back into your old ways, this article will teach you how to maintain your body fat level, while eating more food.
After all, you don't want to feel like you're on a perpetual diet, right? And you're not alone.
In fact, many people struggle to eat more after losing weight. Psychologically, you associate more food, with more calories, and more calories with an immediate increase in body fat and weight.
But that need not be the case. You can have your cake, eat it, AND maintain your body fat level.
In this article, you'll discover how dieting impacts your weight, and what's likely to happen during the post-dieting phase. More importantly, you'll learn the 4 simple strategies to maintain a healthy body fat percentage, 365 days a year. Follow the advice in this article and you'll:
- Understand the impacts of dieting on your metabolism.
- How increasing your calories can impact weight, but NOT body fat.
- 4 practical strategies to maintain your current body fat without feeling constantly restricted.
So, if you want to find out more, read on.
And if you'd prefer to listen to the audio version of "How To Maintain Body Fat While Eating More Food", click the play button below.
The Impact Of Dieting On Trying To Maintain Body Fat
Dieting is a stressor on the body.
Your body doesn't want to restrict calories and lose body fat. So natural defence mechanisms are triggered during the dieting process. Essentially, these are designed to make you eat more and move less. The exact opposite of what you're trying to achieve.
If only the body worked the same way when it came to putting weight on! If that were the case, you wouldn't even need to worry about dieting in the first place.
But arguing with evolution is a futile exercise, so let's just deal with the situation.
Metabolic adaptation (or Adaptive Thermogenesis if you want the posh title) is the process by which the body starts to down-regulate certain functions in order to maintain a higher body fat level.
This might lead phrases, such as "Starvation Mode" to pop into your head. However, this isn't the case. In fact, Starvation Mode is a complete myth (sorry to break it to you). It's Metabolic Adaptation that's occurring here.
Typically experienced when weight loss exceeds 10% of your original starting weight, Metabolic Adaptation manifests itself in the form of reduced energy expenditure. For example, you may feel more lethargic and naturally move less during the day. Consequently, this causes a reduction in the number of calories you burn. Therefore, you make think you're still in a calorie deficit, but actually you aren't.
So what's this got to do with maintaining body fat levels? Good question.
Increasing food calorie intake in the post-diet period starts to reverse these adaptations. And provided you don't overshoot your maintenance calories, you'll maintain body levels, while eating more and more food.
Sounds great, right?
Spontaneous NEAT Increases
This increase in calories and reversal of metabolic adaptation may cause an increase in the amount you move, thus increasing calories burned.
Extrapolating this out further, you can eat more food and maintain your body fat levels, WINNER! Although, don't be surprised if your body weight increases as you eat more. It's important to remember that body weight and body fat are not the same thing. And when you step on the scales, you're measuring more than changes in your body fat levels. For example, glycogen (stored energy) will fluctuate on a daily basis, potentially causing significant peaks and troughs in scale weight.
Ultimately, it's entirely possible to maintain your body fat percentage, despite total body weight increasing.
Although, word of caution... Don't expect to increase calories by 3,000 per day and expect that to miraculously be offset by a little extra walking.
Cortisol And Water Retention
As I mentioned earlier, dieting is a stress on the body. And cortisol is most commonly known as the stress hormone. Rising stress levels (not only as a result of dieting) can cause your cortisol levels to rise.
These increases in cortisol won't prevent you from losing body fat, but they may result in water retention, which in-turn affects your body weight.
Eating more food and pushing your calories up to maintenance can reduce the stress on the body, resulting in lower cortisol and water retention. Again, your body fat levels remain the same, but your overall body weight could experience a high degree of volatility. And this is why separating scale weight and body fat is crucial.
If you fear putting on weight, you'll be stuck in the diet loop forever. Once you understand the mechanisms at play, maintaining your body fat becomes much easier as you're no longer fearful of food, calories, and the numbers staring back at you on the scales.
Improving Sleep Duration And Quality
Lastly, there's a consideration for sleep duration and sleep quality.
A lack of sleep has many negative health impacts, including increased hunger drive, loss of muscle mass, and reduced training performance. And when it comes to maintaining your body fat percentage, it's important to optimise your sleep.
Sleep deprivation in a calorie deficit can alter the % of weight loss that comes from body fat. In fact, if you are chronically sleep deprived, you can expect MOST of your weight loss to come from body fat. Therefore, if your body has inefficient substrate utilisation your body fat percentage may alter even in the post-dieting phase.
So make sure you get some sleep if you intend to keep a hold of those gains.
Plus, if you are well-rested your workouts may be more effective and burn more calories. Another mechanism for enabling you to maintain your body fat level while eating more food.
4 Steps To Maintain Your Body Fat %
Now you understand more about the mechanism involved in the dieting and post-dieting process, here's 4 practical strategies to help you maintain your body fat percentage throughout the year.
1. Calculate Your New Maintenance Calories
The first step in successfully maintaining your new-found level of body fat is to calculate your new maintenance calories.
As you've lost weight, your BMR will have reduced. Don't worry, this is normal and nothing to panic about. Although, it does mean you will have a new maintenance calorie target. And to help you calculate what your new number is, click here to use my free online calorie calculator.
You can reverse diet up to this number if you want, but there's no need to. Jumping straight back up to the new number is equally fine.
2. Create Sustainable Habits
As part of my online coaching programme, clients are guided through an initial 12 week course that builds sustainable habits. These habits are designed to instil the lifestyle change needed to maintain results, long after the dieting phase is over.
It's important to start embedding these habits from day one. Leaving it until after you've lost the body fat is arguably a little late.
For example, habits that prioritise food quality, non-tracking methods of calorie management, and high-levels of activity are all important.
3. Create Structure And Discipline
Whether it's training or nutrition, structure and discipline will help you maintain the body fat level you've achieved. So make sure you continue to follow a structured training programme. And give yourself some semblance of structure with your diet. This doesn't mean you need to track calories for all eternity, but meal timing and methods of portion control may help.
4. Create Routines
Morning and evening routines are great. And they help build on points 1 & 2. Being consistent with what you do each day helps establish a healthy lifestyle that feels effortless. So think about what you can do each morning to kickstart your day the right way. And pay attention to your evening routine too. Journalling has been a breakthrough habit for me, and I'd highly recommend you give it a try.
Either that, or you can go full Patrick Bateman...
The Bottom Line On How To Maintain Your Body Fat Percentage
You can maintain a healthy body fat percentage through the implementation of basic nutrition and habit strategies. Remembering to separate body fat from body weight helps you become more confident in eating more, without the fear of undoing all your hard work.
The maintenance diet is an underrated aspect of a healthy life. You and many others may not have given a second-thought to how you'll exist after you've achieved your goal.
But you could argue it's the MOST important part of the process. After all, the goal is maintenance, not continuous dieting. If you do things the right way, you'll spend much longer at maintaining body fat than you will losing it.
So investing time into acquiring the tools needed to live a leaner, healthier life for good, is time well spent. And if you want to find out more about how I help my clients achieve this, click here to discover more about The Lean Life Method and The Lean Life Uni.
Here's What To Do If You Want To Build The Most Muscle Possible Over The Next 12 Months
After reading this article, you might be excited at the prospect of transforming your physique. And to do that, you need training, nutrition, and mindset to be aligned.
Through my online coaching programme, The Lean Life Method, I'll help you lose fat, build muscle, and build the body you've been striving for. Ultimately, taking the guesswork out of training and nutrition so you can live a leaner, healthier life for good.
With The Lean Life Method, you’ll learn a simple, stress-free way to lose fat, build muscle, and feel more confident and healthy than ever before, without torturing yourself in the gym, avoiding wine and pizza, or killing your social life in the process.
And I understand the fact you're unsure about coaching. After all, you've spent thousands on pills, powders, and programmes that delivered nothing. So what's different about me?
The simple truth is this... I get results and I'll teach you everything you need to know so you can maintain those results. So answer me this.
- How much precious time are you spending trying to figure out what's right, instead of making progress?
- Are you sick and tired are you of never seeing the results your hard effort deserves?
- How much stress and frustration is your lack of progress adding to your life?
A lack of clarity might be holding you back from living the leaner, healthier life you deserve.
Schedule A Consultation Call
Click here find out more about the results, people just like you are getting with the programme. And if you feel like my personal 1:1 support and coaching could bridge the gap between where your are now and what you're trying to achieve, schedule a free consultation call. But don't worry, there's no hard sell. It's an opportunity to find out if we're a good fit to work together.
So, if you're even the slightest bit interesting, click here for more information.
But for now, all I’ll say is, keep living the Lean Life. And I’ll see you soon.