The most vulnerable time for anyone that is losing weight, is the MAINTENANCE PHASE.
There are many ways to lose weight, many of which are not remotely healthy and amount to starvation. Some of these dramatically reduce our resting metabolic rate as the low amount of calories and meals spaced out too far apart place our bodies in a conservation mode that it interprets as a fasting state. The weight can come off as we had hoped, but once we start eating again after a poorly designed diet (which is usually just like we did before with the same large portions and high carb load), all of the weight returns PLUS more.
Once the resting metabolic rate has dropped from a poorly executed diet, eating the same calories daily that you did before the diet are now too many (based on your new, lower metabolic rate) so you gain even more easily than ever. This is the basis of the yo-yo effect of dieting.
For example, if your resting metabolic rate (basal metabolic rate) was 1400 kilocalories burned per day while at rest, but your weight loss program consisted of one sparse meal per day of only 500 kcal, much of your energy needs not only came from burning fat but also from muscle wasting to provide you with additional fuel (called gluconeogenesis). When muscles waste, the resting metabolic rate goes down. For illustration purposes, let’s say that your metabolic rate goes down to 1200 kilocalories burned at rest per day. This means that you could eat 1400 calories per day prior to the diet without gaining weight. Now that your metabolic rate is 1200 kilocalories per day, if you eat 1400 calories per day and are not exercising, you are over-eating 200 calories per day. Since it takes 3,500 calories (above your resting metabolic rate) to add a pound of fat to your waistline, in just a little over 17 days, you will gain a pound, in 3 months you will gain a little over 5 pounds, in a year a little over 20 pounds and so on. If you eat 500 additional calories/day, in a year you can gain 52 pounds and so on.
It is VERY IMPORTANT to have a well-crafted diet that does not decrease your muscle mass or slow your metabolism or you will have to eat next to nothing to keep from gaining weight.
The strategy for maintenance then becomes a MEASURED and VIGILANT process to make sure that you do not undo all of the hard work that you have done and re-gain all of that weight and more.
1) Keep your total carbohydrates per day LOW. (If you used a ketotic low carb diet to lose weight which is eating less than 50 grams of carbs per day, you may be able to ultimately eat about 75-100 grams of total carbs per day without re-gain. Test out carefully your specific carb tolerance amount per day that will cause you to gain weight if you exceed that amount. If you start to gain at any specific carb amount, drop it back by 10 grams per day and stay at that level. Some people may have to eat even less than 75-100 grams of carbs per day in maintenance to avoid re-gaining weight, depending on their own individual carb tolerance level.)
2) Keep your protein level at about 0.6-.9 grams per pound of current weight per day for the rest of your life. Protein is an essential building block for all of our cells and helps to not only keep muscle mass intact, but helps to manage hunger. For example: If you now weigh 200 pounds, keep your protein between 120-180 grams per day. Eat too much protein and it turns to glucose. Keep the protein amount level.
3) ALWAYS pair protein with carbohydrates. NEVER eat a naked carbohydrate, to avoid a glucose spike that results in insulin production and fat storage.
4) NEVER eat more than 15 grams of carbohydrates total in any one meal and wait about 2 hours at least before eating anything else. It takes about 2 hours for insulin to process the previous meal, so avoid making your pancreas overwork by forcing it to crank out more insulin. Remember, over-production of insulin ALWAYS means FAT STORAGE of that meal!NEVER SKIP BREAKFAST!
5) Eat breakfast with a balance of protein, fat, and carbs within 1 hour of awakening to stimulate your metabolism. (At least have a protein shake).
6) Eat a small meal or snack containing protein, fat, and a small amount of carbs every 3-4 hours while awake.
7) Do not skip any meals or snacks. When you skip meals your body goes into conservation or fasting mode and the metabolic rate slows down which means you have to eat even less to maintain your weight.
8) To avoid hunger and to prevent ongoing weight loss, add dietary fats to your diet until satisfied or satiated, not until full. A small amount goes a long way. (Such as butter, coconut oil, avocado, avocado oil, olive oil, canola oil, cheese, some animal fats, nuts and seeds).
9) Eat slowly and until satisfied, again, not until full. It takes about 20 minutes from the time that you start eating, for the signal to reach your brain to tell you that you have had enough to eat. SLOW DOWN!
10) Use a small plate or bowl instead of a dinner plate or conventional sized bowl to keep portions low.
11) If at any point you are extremely hungry OR are horrifically craving carbs, in your most recent meal you have just eaten too much, too many carbs, or both. Review your previous meal and correct the carb amount or size on your next meal.
12) In general, meat portions should be no bigger than the palm of your hand in any one meal (open hand minus fingers and thumb and same thickness).
13) Veggie portions in any one meal should not be any bigger than your tightly closed fist. If you are eating starchy vegetables again (potatoes, peas, beets, etc.) keep the portions under 1/2 cup in any one meal.
14) Lettuce portion for salad should never be more than 2 cups at a time with any vegetable addition to the lettuce less than 1/2 cup at a time to avoid a glucose spike with that meal.
15) If you choose to eat any high carb foods, limit yourself to a SMALL portion-controlled item and only one time per week. Do not allow yourself to indulge in high carbs in any amount on a daily basis. Best to pick a specific day of the week and stick with that day. Look forward to that day and plan the item that you want to indulge in. The next day, eat mostly protein and fat and very few carbs so that you can shed the carbs that are now stored in your liver as glycogen from that indulgence. (STAY OFF THE SCALE since your weight will be up from the necessary water retention to store those extra carbs in the liver).
16) Weigh yourself once a week the day BEFORE your indulgent day. This is a more accurate assessment of your true weight (first thing in the morning after urinating or having a bowel movement and in the nude).
17) If your weight stays up 2 pounds at the end of a week on the day before your indulgent day, assess your eating and back up on portions and carb amount before you gain anymore! It is easier to lose 2 pounds than 20 pounds!
18) Learn how to use substitutions for your favorite high carb foods and how to incorporate them into recipes. Make your own low carb version of the foods you loved before that are high in carbs.
19) Practice what to say to avoid indulging in high carb foods or alcohol when dining out with family, friends, or work social functions. Keep strong, consistent, and hold your ground politely. No one in any situation is worthy of destroying your health. If they are your friend or truly care for you, they will want you to be healthy. You can accompany them and socialize without joining in the same food or drink. If they continue to insist on your indulging in high carb foods or excessive alcohol, you may need to find new friends, a different job, or spend less time with those particular family members.
20) Think of high carbs like a recovering alcoholic would think of alcohol; one bite of certain trigger foods can send you spiraling down. Remain vigilant!
21) Exercise regularly! Try to include 20-30 minutes of resistance training 4-5 days a week to keep up your muscle mass (which keeps your metabolic rate at rest up) and at least 30-45 minutes of cardio workout 3-4 days a week minimum. A daily routine of varying exercise activities and alternating muscle groups is the best way to make this a habit that you won’t break.
22) Never exercise on an empty stomach! Your body will breakdown muscle for fuel which will lower your metabolic rate, sabotaging your exercise efforts.
Plan maintenance very carefully and methodically. If you need the help of an expert, keep a consultant on board with you. This is truly the most important part of weight loss and if done well, will ensure your success at keeping it off.
SMALL, FREQUENT MEALS
KEEP CARBS LOW
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