Maintenance is one of those questions that we probably get 10 different times throughout any given day – and rightfully so. It’s kind of a confusing to talk about staying the same when most people know us as a diet program. But people see others talking about it, and they want to know more about this weird world where you no longer cut away food – and maybe even add food back in.
This piece should hopefully answer just about every question you’ve ever had about maintenance.
What is Maintenance
The “Maintenance phase” of a diet is probably the most difficult part of this whole eating journey. It’s where you’ll be working hard to stay the same and as you can imagine, where motivation can die. It’s not like the cutting/fat loss/leaning out phase where you’re motivated by the scale and the mirror. It’s not like the building/massing/bulking phase where you’re motivated by gym progress, scale changes, and the mirror. Maintenance is a whole different animal. It will test your willpower, it will test your “why”, and for some, it will not be worth the effort required to stay in this land forever. My goal here is to give you a little more insight on what it is and why you should stay here.
When am I ready to maintain?
First up, how do you know when you’re ready for maintenance? Some can argue after certain periods of dieting but I don’t know if there is a right answer to that. Some say 12 weeks some say longer but I personally try not to put timelines on it. There are too many variables to do that. Instead, I put “look and feel” first. Specifically how lean you are or how sick of dieting (being in a deficit) you are.
The look is usually visible abs. We all have them but for many of us, they’re hiding. Once you can see them and you’re happy with that, you may be ready to maintain. The other is feel. This can be a tough one because true diet exhaustion and being slightly bored are different.
What I mean is this: There is a difference between being truly ready to maintain and just not wanting to eat less to lose fat. Unbearable hunger, real sadness, and declined performance are some key indicators. Not because your friends are going out drinking and you want to take a break 😉
So basically, if you are at a place where dieting further just to get a little bit leaner, lighter on the scale, or whatever that is for you isn’t worth the tradeoff of feeling serious hunger, skipping out on your social life, or seeing further drops in your performance, then maintenance and eating more food is probably a thing you should start thinking about.