If you’ve been dieting to lose fat (also known as cutting), you are probably pretty familiar with the realities of eating fewer calories than you might otherwise like.
As we’ve covered many times before, if you want to lose weight, then you need to be eating at a caloric deficit.
When you cut through all of the mainstream dietary quackery, the only way to truly lose weight is to take in less energy than your body uses each day.
This is simply a fact, so I won’t belabor it too much here.
The good news is that weight loss is a pretty reliable process if you consistently give your body less energy than it needs.
However, the bad news is that this generally means that you don’t get to eat as much as you want.
And you certainly wouldn’t be the first person to ask yourself if it’s all worth it…
Sure, you like how much better you look – and how much better you feel – but you hate eating only 1800 calories a day.
In the short-term, you’ve learned to live it with; however, the idea of doing this forever sounds like a pretty depressing lifestyle choice.
Well, if you’ve been feeling this way, then I’m here to tell you that you can put your fears to rest.
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Quite simply, the diet that allows you to get the body you want isn’t the diet that you need to eat to maintain that very same body.
Yes, once you’ve reached your desired level of leanness, you’ll be able to keep that scale weight and percentage of body fat eating a greater number of calories.
Let me explain.
How Not To Maintain Your Desired Level of Leanness
Before I go into all of this, though, I want to cover a common pitfall that many guys (understandably) fall into.
That is, they reach their desired weight, or level of body fat, feeling like they’ve finally made it to the finish line.
…and not a moment too soon.
At this point, many guys tend to slip back into their old eating habits if they’re not careful.
This doesn’t usually happen overnight, but gradually it’s very easy to revert back to your former eating patterns if you no longer have a specific weight loss goal keeping you in check.
And this is compounded by the fact that most diets people follow are unsustainable, and require herculean efforts of willpower to maintain long-term.
So soon enough, the weight starts to insidiously creep back on…
At first you may not notice, until one day your pants start feeling tighter again.
You finally decide to step on the scale and are shocked to see that you’ve gained a significant amount of the weight back!
This is obviously discouraging, and can make a lot of people feel like they’re caught in a ‘damned if you do, damned if you don’t’ dietary bind.
When you’re actively dieting you may be losing weight, but you feel dissatisfied with the amount you can eat.
And when your diet has come to an end, you begin eating more – at which point you start steadily gaining weight until it bites you in the ass and you feel like you’re back where you started.
Does this sound familiar?
If so, don’t worry, you are not alone here.
This common phenomenon is also known as ‘yo-yo dieting’, and is one of reasons why many people come to regard maintaining a ‘diet’ as short-term and unsustainable.
But it doesn’t have to be like this.
How To Stay Lean While Eating More Calories
The truth is that once you’ve shed the fat, you CAN maintain your weight and keep that level of body fat eating considerably more.
But it can’t be an all out binge – and you must approach it in the right way.
Remember, when you were dieting to lose fat, you were by definition eating fewer calories than your body needed.
For most guys, this means eating at 10-25% below your Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE), which is the total amount of energy your body needs to sustain itself.
Therefore, it follows that once you’ve lost the amount of weight you want to lose, you can move back to eating at your TDEE without gaining any weight.
This will typically mean eating 15-20% more calories than you were eating during your diet!
So if you were eating roughly 1800 calories per day, and losing approximately 2 pounds per week on your diet, then you’ll find that you can start eating roughly 2100-2200 calories per day without gaining any of that weight back.
It Gets Even Better
Now if this was all there was to it, it would still be good news.
However, that’s not the end of the story…
You see, when you eat at a caloric deficit for a period of time, your body tends to start working against you.
What you perceive as highly-desirable weight loss, your body will instead look at as the beginnings of starvation!
For that reason, as you lose weight, certain hormones (such as leptin), will cause your metabolism to slow down.
This means that at the end of a fat loss diet, your body will be burning fewer calories per day than it was at beginning of your diet.
Thankfully, once you’ve reached this point, you can reverse the damage and speed up your metabolism using a process known as ‘reverse dieting’ – resulting in an even higher TDEE.
If you do this correctly, you’ll be able to eat even more calories per day, while still maintaining the same body weight and body fat percentage.
I’ll be covering reverse dieting more extensively in a follow-up article shortly – but the important point to take away for now is that once your fat loss diet is over, you can consume more food without piling the fat back on.
You just have to employ the right strategies, and not go completely overboard…
So if you’re in the middle of a diet and eating fewer calories than you might like, you can take comfort in the fact that you won’t need to eat like this forever.
Are you currently dieting and finding it hard to stick to? Tell us about your challenges in the comments below.