How to Maintain Weight After Dieting

How to maintain weight

Most weight loss efforts do not provide long-term weight maintenance. These results support the assertion that some view weight loss as a transitional period of time and do not recognize the need for constant changes in lifestyle and dietary habits. Diet-limited weight loss creates many different biological adaptations, including, but not limited to, increased hunger, decreased satiety, suppression of energy expenditure, and altered circulating hormone levels that are known to affect weight loss and maintenance. These adaptations inevitably trigger weight regain unless permanent lifestyle changes are created. Therefore, let’s see how to maintain weight after dieting!

How to Maintain Weight after Weight Loss?

how to maintain weight loss

Be in a Calorie Deficit

To achieve successful weight loss, a person must develop and maintain a diet that creates a calorie deficit. If this vital criterion is not met at first, the person will fail in their weight loss efforts. The physiological optimal approaches to weight loss and maintenance are not known at this time.

Regardless of what may or may not be physiologically optimal, there is ample evidence that dieting, regardless of diet type, is an important factor in weight loss success.

In addition to understanding the importance of creating a calorie deficit is the recognition that some degree of cognitive restraint must be instilled on the dietary side in order to achieve successful weight loss.

Westenhoefer suggested that cognitive limitations can be divided into two categories, defined as “tight control” and “flexible control”. Tight control is usually an all-or-nothing approach to a person’s eating and dietary behavior, while ultimately (negatively) affecting their weight; while flexible control is usually a more moderate approach to this behavior.

Strict Weight Loss Diet Interferes With Maintaining a Healthy Weight

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People who take tight control of their diet exclude “forbidden” foods from their daily diet, thereby narrowing the variety of foods consumed.

Tight control is associated with dichotomous thinking, in which the individual exhibits an “on/off” mentality, and any minor deviation from the plan can lead the individual to “turn off” the diet.

This shutdown usually results in increased levels of disinhibition (overeating), snacking, or bad luck.

In addition, strict restraint allows for little variation in food choices and is usually associated with higher levels of unplanned compulsiveness and less successful weight maintenance.

In line with this, Palascha and colleagues concluded that dichotomous beliefs about food and nutrition may be associated with severe dietary restrictions, which in turn interfere with people’s ability to maintain a healthy weight.

Maintain Weight, Diet, and Exercise

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For physically trained individuals looking to improve their physique by reducing fat mass while maintaining/gaining lean mass, the best practice recommendations suggest a moderate calorie deficit with a relatively high intake of dietary protein.

With macronutrients (proteins, carbohydrates, and fats) that provide high protein intake and sufficient energy for moderate energy restriction, an individual can tailor their diet to suit their own preferences, lifestyle, and spontaneous life events, potentially leading to increased adherence and dietary intake freedom.

Recent studies have shown the value and increased likelihood of success in weight loss and long-term maintenance by adopting a flexible form of restriction while dieting.

Flexible Diet vs Strict Diet: Comparison

Another study was published in 2021, whose primary goal was to compare the effects of flexible versus strict dieting in exercising people.

Its secondary goal was to monitor post-diet weight recovery during the ad-libitum phase.

Twenty-three men and women (25.6 ± 6.1 years; 170 ± 8.1 cm; 75.4 ± 10.3 kg) completed a 20-week trial consisting of a 10-week diet phase and a 10-week follow-up phase.

Participants were randomized to a flexible diet (FLEX), consisting of non-specific foods (anything within the planned macro), or a rigid diet (RIGID), consisting of specific foods.

Participants stuck to an energy reduction of ~ 20% of maintenance calories during the first 10 weeks of the intervention and were instructed to eat ad libitum (as desired) for the last 10 weeks.

Body composition and resting metabolic rate were assessed 5 times: (baseline, 5, 10, 16, and 20 weeks).

All participants trained with weights and did the same amount of cardio.

During the 10-week diet phase, both groups significantly reduced their body weight, by about 3 kg, which consisted mostly of fat mass. However, there were no significant differences between the two groups for any variable during the diet phase.

study on How to maintain weight

There were no significant differences in resting metabolic rate between the two groups. 

The authors suggest that as long as the caloric restriction is not severe, relatively high protein intake, and resistance training is performed, adverse metabolic adaptations can be minimized, regardless of a flexible or rigid diet approach to caloric restriction.

Flexible or rigid dietary strategies are equally effective for weight loss during a calorie-restricted diet in free-living, healthy individuals.” – the authors summarize.

While after the diet lean body mass gains were greater in the FLEX group, there were no significant differences in the amount of time spent on strength and aerobic exercise, and there were no significant differences in protein intake and total calories between the two diet groups.

In the absence of a clear physiological rationale for an increase in lean body mass, in addition to the lack of a standardized diet during the post-diet phase, we refrain from attributing the increase in lean mass in the FLEX group to their type of diet during the weight loss phase. 

We recommend investigating the additional physiological effects of flexible diets and weight recovery in lean people in the future.”

Thus, in the new study, the authors found no benefits of a “flexible” diet over a “rigid” one, either during the weight loss phase in fat loss, eating behavior, and basal metabolic rate, or thereafter, despite the potential benefits.

On the other hand, this is further confirmation that the basis of the diet is energy deficiency plus adequate protein intake.

The choice of specific food items under these conditions is not critical.

How Many Calories Are Needed to Maintain Weight?

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The main mistake of all improperly formulated diets is the excessive cutting of nutrients, which has an extremely negative effect on the functioning of the body. Therefore, if you have a desire to lose extra pounds for vacation or summer, it is better to start taking care of your nutrition in advance. So you can stick to the most comfortable regimen and not worry about sudden compensation and weight gain after the end of the diet.

More specifically, we advise you to calculate your daily calorie intake using the following formula:

Your weight × 35 = your daily calorie requirement

See also – Calorie Calculator and Formulas Don’t Work

Subtract 200 kcal weekly from this number until you see a dynamic of minus 0.5-1 kg of your own weight per week. Such weight loss is considered to be the most comfortable and harmless to health.

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