You’ve done all the hard work. All hours of cardio have finally paid off and you’ve reached your weight goals. In another scenario, you are happy with your current figure but you fear turning fat sometime in future. Losing weight is tough but sustaining a healthy weight is a different demon altogether. Worry not, the first and most important principle to understand is energy/calorie maintenance i.e. how much calories you expend vs how much calories you eat in a day. That’s it. As simple as that. If you roughly eat enough as you expend, your weight shall be maintained.
So what’s the catch? Almost all of us have seen someone go on a starvation diet and lose weight, only to gain it back or even worse, getting fatter or falling ill in the process. We have to understand that the body loses weight primarily in terms of fat, muscle and water. So it’s not only the fat burning down but your body is also losing muscle and bone mass, especially if you are not doing any resistance training. In research studies like this, high protein intake, especially from dairy sources is shown to help in preventing lean body mass. Ways to not lose muscle during weight loss is an in-depth topic in itself. Coming back, lack of micronutrients may also cause someone to become weaker or even garnish deficiencies during their diet control program . A healthy diet program must take care of micronutrient requirements of the body while cutting macros (carbs, fats and protein) to induce a calorie deficit.
The problem with yo-yo dieters is that they create a calorie deficit to lose weight but also reverse it when they go back to their usual food patterns and in the process, create a calorie surplus. So now, their energy intake becomes greater than their energy expenditure and hence they gain weight back . Also, in absence of resistance training, most of the gained weight will be fat. So, if you were 90 Kg and eating 2000 calories before you lost weight and now you are 80 after completing your body cut, you should not go back to your 2000 cal diet (given your energy expenditure is the same) or you will just go back to the same weight of 90 Kg. One has to adjust his/her maintenance calories according to the new weight of 80 Kg to maintain that weight.
Another case scenario is that of a person joining the gym for a few months, losing some weight, quitting the gym, gaining it all back and blaming the gym for unsustainable results. The problem is a little different here. Calorie intake is same throughout the program but the calorie expenditure decreases after quitting the gym hence making one gain weight. If you are decreasing your physical activity for some reason, you should also decrease your calorie intake accordingly.
So the axe swings both ways, up your expenditure or lower your intake while ensuring that you are getting essential nutrients and not getting injured/sick in the process. A dual strategy of doing both gives most impressive results.
In Lucem Scientiam,