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Eat For Your Goals [Maintenance]

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Today is possibly the most important in the Eat For Your Goals series because today we address Maintenance.

Maintenance is the act of keeping the shape you're in right now. Some people are always in a maintenance phase without even trying. Others are in maintenance, even though they want to lose weight or gain muscle. So, this phase can be tricky or easy, depending on who you are and what your consistent habits are.

Depending on how you arrived at your maintenance phase, there are slight variations on how to manage it.

Following fat loss:

If you've lost a significant amount of fat (>50#), then I recommend testing your metabolism to find out your new resting metabolic rate. 

As you become a smaller human, you're metabolic rate falls. This is normal and expected. But some people diet to extremes and cause their metabolism to drop significantly. Your current metabolism is important to know when entering a maintenance phase.

You will want to remain active in maintenance. Recommended minimum activity is 150 minutes of moderate activity per week or 75 minutes of higher intensity activity per week. Ideally, this isn't too different from your activity while in fat loss phase. 

How to Eat for Maintenance After Fat Loss:

  • Increase your calories modestly - start with 100 calories per day (if you keep them low, you might continue to lose weight until you reach the next plateau - see Fat Loss guidance)
  • Continue assessing your progress on a weekly basis: is your average weekly weight increasing? continuing to decrease? staying flat? Adjust your calories or activity accordingly.
  • Focus on nutrient-dense foods (vegetables, fruits, lean proteins)
  • Keep proteins high: 1 palm-sized serving 3 to 5 times daily (twice that for people over 200#). Continue protein supplementation if needed.
  • Eat starchier carbs (potatoes, grains, pasta, bread) after a fasting period (breakfast) or after 60+ minutes of moderate to high intensity activity. 
  • Enjoy a treat meal once a week, but this day should still have nutrient-dense foods as the main focus. Keeping this day as a modest treat day can prevent Maintenance Phase from turning into Weight Gain Phase!

Following muscle gain:

After gaining significant muscle, you might choose to enter a fat loss phase before shifting into maintenance. Your choice depends entirely on your preferences.  

The key point to Maintenance for maintaining muscle is continuing to eat enough protein. The more muscle you have, the more protein you'll need. And, the more carbs too -- carbs supply the energy muscles need to do their jobs. Protein supplies the structure to repair and build. 

We recommend a metabolism test because you'll have a higher metabolism than prior to your muscle gain phase -- especially if you kept up with your cardio conditioning - and you'll need to know how much to eat to meet your new physique's needs.

How to Eat for Maintenance After Muscle Gain:

  • Decrease your calories modestly while keeping protein high - start with 200 calories per day (if you keep them high, you might continue to gain weight until you reach the next plateau - see Muscle Gain guidance)
  • Continue assessing your progress on a weekly basis: is your average weekly weight increasing? continuing to decrease? staying flat? Adjust your calories or activity accordingly.
  • Focus on nutrient-dense foods (vegetables, fruits, lean proteins)
  • Keep proteins high: 1 palm-sized serving 3 to 5 times daily (twice that for people over 200#). Continue protein supplementation if needed.
  • Eat starchier carbs (potatoes, grains, pasta, bread) after a fasting period (breakfast) or after 60+ minutes of moderate to high intensity activity. 
  • You might choose to start or continue creatine supplementation.
  • Enjoy a treat day once a week, but this day should still have nutrient-dense foods as the main focus. Keeping this day as a modest treat day can prevent Maintenance Phase from turning into Fat Gain Phase!

If you missed any of the other Eat For Your Goals emails, you can find links to the content below. 

  1. Weight Loss vs. Fat Loss
  2. Performance & How to Carb Load Correctly
  3. Muscle Gain

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