THE MEAT OF YOUR WEIGHT AND BODY COMPOSITION CHANGES MAY COME DURING A DIET, BUT THE LIFESTYLE CHANGE YOU SEEK IS FOUND WITHIN THE TWO SURROUNDING SLICES OF TIME: THE PRE-DIET AND POST-DIET MAINTENANCE PHASES. DISCOVER JUST HOW IMPORTANT THESE TWO PHASES ARE IN SETTING YOU UP FOR A SUCCESSFUL DIET THAT YIELDS LASTING RESULTS!
The number of people who diet each year – some of which diet as many as four to five times per year – is alarming. But even more alarming is the number of people who regain the weight they worked so hard to lose. According to a study published in the International Journal of Obesity, nearly 80 percent of those who diet regain the weight they lost within a year.1 And even more baffling, another study found that of those who do regain weight they previously lost – which is 80 percent of people just a year later – one in three ends up weighing more than their original pre-diet weight.2
Pretty distressing, right?
The problem isn’t that we don’t know how to diet. It’s that we don’t know what to do before and after a diet – two phases that are far more valuable in my opinion – to ensure short and long-term success. The pre-diet period serves as an integral time to develop a foundation of healthy, sustainable eating habits. This is a necessary educational component that promotes long-term healthy eating and weight maintenance behaviors.
The post-diet period serves as a period to restore the many harsh diet-induced adaptations by taking a break from dieting altogether. Continuing to extend the time of your diet, or hopping back on a diet too soon after finishing another can have significant long-term consequences that impact your ability to lose weight for years to come.
If you don’t learn how to set yourself up for long-term success before a diet, nor how to maintain the weight you do end up losing, you’re instead setting yourself up for a lifelong battle with your weight and relationship with food. Discover the two periods I believe to be more important than the diet itself and learn how each plays an integral role in helping you to successfully lose weight and keep it off!
THE PRE-DIET PERIOD
Losing weight is relatively simple. If you consciously decide to eat less and move more, the number on the scale will decrease. However, the big question here is whether you’re able to sustain whatever actions you took to maintain this weight loss.
For almost 80 percent of people who diet, the answer is no. So, how can we reduce this number? By focusing on educating rather than dieting every single person who is overweight.
Dieting is a major physical and psychological stress. And trying to learn new eating and exercising skills under a tremendous amount of stress is less than ideal. It’s like trying to ride your bike without training wheels for the first time in from of the entire elementary school. Yeah, not happening.
A pre-diet focus on developing the foundation of healthy, sustainable eating habits provides you ample opportunity to practice portion control and diligent decision making. By focusing on developing these skills prior to a dieting phase, you not only significantly increase the likelihood of success during your diet, but of mastering how to eat healthily and confidently for life.
THE POST-DIET MAINTENANCE PHASE
After a few months of successful dieting, you’re ready to transition out of a dieting phase and into a phase more commonly known as a “maintenance” phase. The purpose of this phase is to normalize and restore your metabolism and hormone levels from a long period of dieting (a diet decreases your metabolic rate as well as your thyroid and testosterone levels). Even more, this phase serves as a mental and physical reprieve from the stress of dieting.
You can learn more about the physiological changes that take place during a diet in my blog post titled, “The Worst Mistake You Can Make After A Diet.”
I cannot stress the importance of this phase enough. It’s far more important than the dieting phase itself. Dieting blindly without a plan to transition into a maintenance phase may be costly. The longer you spend in a calorie deficit, and the further calories are reduced, the harsher the diet-induced adaptations I described above become. This is a recipe for binge behavior, and ultimately, rapid weight regain. No Bueno.
Furthermore, bypassing a maintenance phase in favor of hopping from one “type” of diet to another will set you up for failure from the start. If you bypass a maintenance phase, or, come out of a maintenance phase too soon, you’ll ultimately end up having to reduce your calories even further than before just to initiate weight loss because your metabolism and hormones have yet to catch-up and normalize. This is a recipe for skyrocketing hunger and fatigue, and ultimately inconsistency in your diet.
Psst, you can learn a lot more about the ideal length of your maintenance phase in my video “How Long Should I Stay On Maintenance After A Diet?”
The focal point of this phase is a gradual increase in calories. When done appropriately and patiently, you’ll soon place yourself in a position where you’re eating near your original pre-diet number of calories, yet, weighing near your end of diet weight. And in time, you’ll have set yourself up to successfully maintain this weight for the long-term, or to transition to another dieting phase.
THE DIET SANDWICH
The diet may be where the meat of your progress is made, but it should always be sandwiched between to maintenance phase slices of bread.
Did I try too hard?
Anywho, without acknowledging and executing these two invaluable phases before and after a diet, your likelihood of maintaining your success is much lower. Take the time to educate yourself and to patiently approach making a lifestyle change that will yield favorable weight and body composition changes rather than rushing in riding the high of some purported quick fix.
If you’re looking to strengthen the foundation of your nutrition knowledge, check out TNT Nutrition University. TNT Nutrition University is your home to premier online video courses, featuring researched- back facts and actionable takeaways presented in bite-size, two to four-minute videos.
And if you think you need more, send me an email to learn more about premier 1:1 nutrition coaching.
- Kraschnewski, J. L., Boan, J., Esposito, J., Sherwood, N. E., Lehman, E. B., Kephart, D. K., & Sciamanna, C. N. (2010). Long-term weight loss maintenance in the United States. International Journal of Obesity, 34(11), 1644-1654.
- Dulloo, A. G., Jacquet, J., & Montani, J. P. (2012). How dieting makes some fatter: from a perspective of human body composition autoregulation. Proceedings of the Nutrition Society, 71(03), 379-389.