You have faithfully followed your eating plan for the past 12 weeks to get to this wonderful place - so what now? How do you eat in a way that stops fat loss but prevents fat gain? What the hell is a maintenance diet anyway?
Here are a few options you can consider. Try all of them and stick with one or mix them up depending on your mood.
☆ Increase calories by 250 calories a day then check how you look after a week and adjust up or down from there.
Best: if you have been on a linear (same calorie level every day) fat loss diet or if you eat pretty much the same thing every day.
Drawbacks: no flexibility for meals out or times when unplanned food jumps into your mouth by accident.
☆ Cycle your calories from high to low
Best: if you have been carb/calorie cycling for fat loss and you enjoy the odd meal out.
Drawbacks: high days can sometimes turn in to binges. Low days make you hungry and if you have to eat in a deficit to make up for the binge, you are hungrier for longer.
☆ Eat the same calorie level 5 days out of 7 and have 2 free meals on the other 2 days
Best: if you are used to free meals as part of your fat loss plan (Body for Life etc.)
Drawbacks: free meals can turn into binges and then you have to eat in a deficit for the rest of the week.
☆ Instead of a free day once a week, have a very low diet (non training) day to make up for any overindulgence and to remind yourself where you don't want to have to go back to (deficit world)
Best: if you can handle hunger if it is only for one day.
Worst: if being really hungry makes you over eat the next day to compensate or if your only rest days are on the weekend.
☆ The totally made up complicated H, L, M calorie cycle with training I have named +3/-2 plan.
Best: for anal types like me
Worst: for relaxed types who need spontaneity
Here is the explanation [it's complicated so skip it if you can't be bothered]
The cornerstone of the plan is the BASE calorie range. This should equal your total body weight in pounds multiplied by 14.
Example - 125lbs * 14 = 1750.
This number is the average daily calories for the week and represents your starting maintenance level. This is for training/weight lifting days.
On the days you don't need as much fuel (recovery days) you eat at BASE minus 2. Your total body weight in pounds multiplied by 12 (Base/14 minus 2 = 12).
Example - 125lbs * 12 = 1500.
On the days you need refueling (mid week and week end for convenience and flexibility) you eat BASE plus 3. Your total body weight in pounds multiplied by 17 (Base/14 plus 3 = 17).
Example - 125lbs * 17 = 2125.
There are 4 different calorie days in a week.
You can set them up in any order you want, but you need to keep the correct number of days. This is the default template (the example in italics)
You can adjust the BASE number either up (still getting leaner *15 or 14.5) or down (getting softer *13 or 13.5) depending on your results but you must continue to +3 and -2 in the same ratios in order to average out at your maintenance level.
If you made it this far you get a very special gift - a big fat kiss ♥ and a reminder to love ya skinny bones!