Goal setting is a fundamental part of staying in shape. Doing a diet or transformation for a 12 week period is all very well but at the end what do you do? This is a guide to staying in shape post-diet which surprisingly, is one of the most common times for people to get out of shape!
Typically as you head into the final weeks of the diet you will have tapered down your calorie intake to a level where it isn’t sustainable or healthy to maintain for a long period of time. Therefore when you finish you need to have a new diet in place ready. However, I prefer to call this a ‘lifestyle change’ rather than a ‘diet’ because that very word insinuates temporary. So envisage this scenario, you are 20lbs lighter, 100% leaner, looking healthier and you feel great with how you look but you cannot stomach another week eating the same food. This is potentially dangerous to your progress because as soon as you ‘finish’ you are inclined to gouge yourself on foods you have craved and eat a month’s worth of food in a day! NOT GOOD! This is what I suggest you do!
The day you officially reach the end of your transformation enjoy a cheat meal with your loved ones, even over indulge a bit so by the end of the meal you feel a bit worse for wear. This should instantly make you think twice about all that food you have planned to eat all in one day. Remember, if you have been eating relatively low carbs and then you are shovelling 100s of grams of fast sugary carbs your stomach is going to be in knots. Therefore the day after you cheat meal I advise you continue on your ‘healthy’ lifestyle diet.
If you have been cutting out fruit and dairy I would suggest you introduce these back in gradually. For example, throw some berries and ½ a banana in your oats for breakfast and have a pro-biotic yogurt as well. The idea is to build up to a diet where it is ‘healthy’ for you as a human and also healthy for your body fat levels. You don’t want to throw all that hard work away overnight. With this said, I would recommend for 95% of you to have high quality slow burning carbohydrates with your first 3 meals for the week after you have finished your diet. Low G.I carbohydrates with your breakfast, mid-morning and lunch meals is going to help keep your metabolism fast and it will also help keep your muscle glycogen levels full. Bearing in mind for the last couple of weeks you have probably depleted your muscles of glycogen to an extent, this amount of carbohydrates will feel like a lot. For your remaining meals of the day I would recommend sticking with green fibrous carbohydrates with protein and high quality fats to ensure your body isn’t converting carbohydrates to fat or holding on to a lot of water. This can happen if you eat too many carbohydrates after a low-carb diet depending on your genetics.
In the second week of your post-workout diet I would suggest adding high quality slow burning carbohydrates to your fourth meal of the day, which should be your pre-workout meal. In regards to maintaining a lean physique I would advise you limit your complex carbohydrate intake to these meals. This way you know that most of the carbohydrates you eat through the day will be torched in the gym and through your cardio. On the subject of cardio, I would recommend keeping your cardio going at least 5 days of the week for around 30 minutes a day. To keep any cravings at bay I would also allow for one cheat meal a week, including a dessert so that you can maintain this lifestyle for a long period of time. If you love chocolate, it is only a matter of time before you binge like a maniac if you don’t allow yourself any treats!
In regards to supplements I would advise taking the likes of CLA, Udo’s Choice Oil, Glucosamine and L-Glutamine along with your protein to aid your recovery. After a transformation your body is probably a little worn out, therefore you need to ensure your joints and muscles can recover adequately so you can carry on training to maintain your new and improved physique!
To conclude, after you have hit your goal at the end of your transformation I recommend you enjoy a cheat day where you have a blow-out!!! After this you should continue with your cardio and eat a balanced diet to maintain your new shape and to avoid a rebound which could potentially have you back to square one within a week or two! Well done on your transformation, now enjoy your favourite foods and then start eating like an athlete again!