Diet Soft Landings
When you reach your target weight with your low carb diet, its reason to celebrate! Remember though, you cant go back to eating like you used to eat or you will go back to being as obese as you used to be! Losing the weight is only half the battle, the other half is keeping it off! Just a little more work when your diet is “over” can keep you from having to do the whole agonizing weight loss thing over again.
The soft landing can be used, and should be used, with any weight loss diet. Just as you had to train yourself the proper portion sizes to lose weight, you need to train yourself what the proper portion sizes to maintain weight are. If you are someone who is doing a low-carb diet, its even more important because *what* you eat is going to change. You need to start planning now for when you have reached your target weight and go off the diet because unless you make some serious changes, the fat you lost will come right back on. What you need to do is what I call the “soft-landing”. Rather than a flash-cut from low-carb to your old eating habits in one day, spread out the transition over a month. Start by using my calorie calculator to find out what your maintenance level of calories is and then do the math to figure out how many more calories that is than what you are eating now on your diet – lets assume thats 800 calories different. Each week you add 1/4 that, so in our case, the first week “off” the diet we only get to increase eating by 200 calories a day. This lets your system slowly adjust, but more importantly, it lets your brain adjust to the new portion sizes. By the time you are on week 4 of the soft landing you will again know your proper portion sizes just like you did during your diet.
If you are coming off a low-carb diet, you need to slowly phase carbs back in too. As you start phasing carbs back in and increasing calories, do so slowly and in a sane fashion. Do the same thing as we did with calories. Using my my calorie calculator with the macros set to your desired post-diet carb macro, calculate how many grams carbs you will get per day. Do the math and see how many more grams carbs that is that what your current low carb diet provides – lets assume that its 160 grams of carbs more. The first week you are “off” the diet, you add 1/4 of that number of carbs – in this case, we get an additional 40g carbs a day. Learn which carbs have a low glycemic index and lots of fiber and restrict your carb intake to those. Actually, low GI and high fiber often go hand in hand as its the fiber that slows digestion so its a double benefit – fills you up with no calories AND it makes the food high GI. Your carbs should be coming from things like beans, oats, quinoa, peas, lentils, for the most part. If you start eating high GI carbs like candy, cookies, chips, and Wonder bread then your weight is going to balloon right back where it was.
Keeping the bodyfat off long term requires lifestyle changes and learning to enjoy low calorie density foods. Find ways to keep up that exercise you were doing during your weight loss or at least find ways to incorporate walking into your everyday life. Use that soft landing to help you retrain your eating habits so you dont have to do the whole unpleasant diet thing over again!