Weight Maintenance? Why You Need Some “Loss” Days to Balance Inevitable “Gain” Days.

Unless you live with otherworldly consistency, even “weight maintenance” will have small ups-and-downs. Some days, calories from food and drink exceed those you burn. For maintenance, then, you need other days when calories burned exceed those consumed.

Here’s an illustration of how inevitable—and how high-impact— “calorie surplus” days are. And then, suggestions for how to balance them with modest, measured “calorie deficit” responses.

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Most people agree “dieting” rarely works. Usually, lost weight is regained. Instead, seek gradual achievement of healthy weight via sound, sustainable nutrition (and exercise, bro). And then consciously, actively seek weight maintenance.

But unless you live with otherworldly consistency, even “maintenance” will have small ups-and-downs. Some days, calories from food and drink exceed those you burn. For maintenance, then, you need other days when calories burned exceed those consumed.

Sure, let’s acknowledge not all calories are created equal. And weight alone, without considering body type and muscle/fat mix, isn’t the only thing that matters. But all that granted, if you routinely take in more calories than you’re burning, even by a little, you’ll eventually gain weight you don’t want.

Here’s an illustration of how inevitable—and how high-impact— “calorie surplus” days are. And then, suggestions for how to balance them with modest, measured “calorie deficit” responses.

CALORIE SURPLUS DAYS: WHY THEY’RE INEVITABLE (even HEALTHY, IN A WAY)

Monday breakfast through Friday lunch, you avoided most refined sugars and flours, and high-saturated-fat things. You ate good carbs, lean proteins, healthy fats, and fruits & vegetables. You avoided overeating, and stayed hydrated.

Congratulations, man. Sincerely. This week, you did a lot for your long-term health. And shorter-term, you improved your physical performance capabilities, plus how you look and feel.

Now it’s Friday evening, though. Over the next 48 hours, you will likely: Have a few drinks (maybe both weekend nights); Eat 1+ bigger, less-healthy restaurant meals; and/or Have extra desserts or snacks (while out, or watching sports, or at a BBQ or kid’s birthday party).

Within a normal guy’s life, these things aren’t bad. You’re having fun, spending time with friends and family, not “obsessing” on nutrition and making it a source of stress in and of itself. For these reasons, I often have a “pig day.”

CALORIE-SURPLUS DAYS: HOW THEY ADD UP

For most of us, the occasional calorie-surplus day is part of leading a normal and well-balanced life. But unless counter-balanced, these days add up, dude.

Example: Say my work-week nutrition/exercise plan, on top of my individual base metabolic rate has me roughly in calorie balance. Then assume, over the weekend, I have just three more drinks, one higher-calorie meal, and one incremental snack/dessert.

The extra booze is 300-600 calories (beer more, wine and liquor less – unless you mix liquor with caloric things). Let’s say it’s 450, and the larger meal and extra snack/dessert kick in another 450. By the way, this 900-calorie total is conservative vs. what any kind of “living large” weekend might include. But for our purposes, let’s use 900.

So, what’s 900 extra calories? About ¼ pound weight gain (each surplus of 3,500 calories = one pound). So if my typical weekend = 900-calorie surplus and I don’t counter-balance it, each month I gain a pound and each year I gain 12 pounds.

Even if I have just a 150-calorie surplus each weekend, I’d still gain two pounds per year. That may not sound like much…is “20 pounds per decade” more attention-getting?

Holy s**t. It’s not hard to see how two-thirds of American adults are overweight (and one third are “obese”), according to the U.S. National Institute of Health.

To avoid this, you either need to have weekends (and business trips and business dinners and holidays and vacations) feature the same discipline as a normal day…OR, you need to compensate on normal days.

Since my xample weekend was plus 900, compensating means I need minus 900 over the next five days (180 per day). For a ~2,500 calorie total many guys target, that means “minus” days need to be about 7% fewer calories.

I’m making this sound more scientific than it needs to be. The simple message: some days are “gain” days, so others need to be “loss” days. If you keep frequent tabs on your weight or how your clothes fit, you can be more intuitive and less mathematical.

CALORIE-DEFICIT DAYS: OPTIONS FOR ACHIEVING THEM WITHOUT “DIETING”

Whether you’re in intuitive or math mode, you need calories-deficit days. Here are ways to achieve them without extreme “diet” behavior.

1. Drink only water (if not already doing that as a baseline). Calories from beverages are either “empty” (soft drinks, alcohol) or “less valuable than solid equivalents” (fruit juices, which compare negatively to the underlying fruit from a calories and nutrition perspective).

If you drink milk or milk-based drinks, this might be an exception. But, you still may be better off with an alternative on calorie-deficit days, e.g. almond milk.

Diet drinks? The calories math says they work. But some studies suggest they provoke a sweets/calorie craving that undermines their benefit. Also, longer-term effects of artificial sweeteners aren’t fully understood.

2. Eat like normal…just a little less. This is easy for “measured” things like oatmeal (about half the time, I eat 20% less than normal of my killer oatmeal). For other things, consciously put a bit less on your plate. Or if it’s something you buy prepared like a sandwich or restaurant meal, leave a little bit uneaten.

I know this is hard—I’m a charter member of the Clean Plate Club. But this is a discipline you can impose on yourself, and once you do, it gets easier.

3. Eat like normal, but reduce or leave out something high-calorie. Like bread or cheese, especially. Then sub in something that fills you up, but with fewer calories (and often, better nutrition anyway). Examples: VEGETABLES and lean protein.

4. If you snack (I do), cut out one snack and space other eating occasions out more. Use the clock here, as in “I won’t eat lunch until 1:30 pm today.”

5. Don’t eat after dinner. This cuts out a snack, but also helps your body avoid late-night calories that don’t get metabolized as well as those eaten while physically active. An emptier stomach is also better for sleeping.

6. Stay hydrated. Good for all kinds of reasons. But especially when applying any of the above, hydration helps deal with minor hunger sensations.

GAIN DAYS, LOSS DAYS: MAKE THEM PART OF weight maintenance

In the OlderBeast quest (feel great, look our best, keep getting happier, and live long), we need new philosophies and disciplines.

This awareness of calorie balance, and evolving a lifestyle where each “up” has its corresponding “down,” is an important example.

It’s Monday morning as I write this (and I had a great weekend, thanks). So on my end, and maybe yours too, it’s time for some weekday penance.

 

“Nobody told me there’d be days like these.” (John Lennon, Nobody Told Me-click to listen)

If you think this would be useful to others, please help spread the word about OlderBeast by sharing this post with the social media buttons below. THANKS, MAN.

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How to Overcome “That Sluggish Feeling” When It Threatens Your Workout Plan

There are a bunch of reasons why you might NOT work out today. Some are good, and many are not-so-good. Of all possible reasons, the one I really hate works like this.

1. You plan to work out that day. Then as the planned time nears, you start to feel a physical and/or mental sluggishness. Nothing dramatic, but you just don’t feel like working out. You start to flirt with the idea of taking the day off, considering various possible justifications.

2. But rather than explicitly, decisively declaring a day off – sometimes you need one, even if unplanned – you let minutes tick by without moving toward your workout OR deciding not to. Deep down, you might know what you’re doing, but you don’t admit it to yourself.

3. Then all of a sudden, voila, it’s “too late” for your workout. You missed the window of time you had before your next work, family or personal obligation. Even though you caused this, you don’t feel glad about the “can’t workout now” reality. You immediately feel like you’ve let yourself down.

This ever happen to you?  If so, you just fell victim to That Sluggish Feeling (“TSF”).  

I’ve devised a new response to TSF when it strikes. I don’t seek to move directly from sluggishness to exercise. Instead, I do a short, easy “bridge” activity in-between, to change my energy and get me into a better frame-of-mind to decide if I’m really, intentionally going to skip that workout. Here’s how it works.

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This At-Home, Full-Body Strength Routine Will Keep You Heroic Past 40 (and 50, 60…)

I’m always surprised at how focused the strength workouts are for guys doing traditional weight training as their main fitness thing. “What are you working on today? My left bicep.”

OK, I exaggerate. But old-school “lifting” does often focus on 1-2 things per workout (like chest, legs or back) while assuming you lift 4-5+ times per week.

But what if you’re a 40+ guy trying to balance strength, endurance and flexibility? (And not as fixated on getting Hulk-like as maybe you once were?). In that case, you aren’t well served by old-school strength training patterns.

Yeah, bootcamp-style classes address this need by working all-over strength in single sessions (strength-focused HITT does too). But at $10-20+ per session, each decade of training this way twice a week is a $10-20K+ proposition. I like attending such classes from time to time, for learning and for variety. But I’d rather spend my $10-20K per decade somewhere else, man.

So. With non-strength fitness/wellness needs rightly occupying part of your week, you need to work more body parts in fewer strength-focused days. And you need a long-term-sustainable strength routine you can do on your own, without driving and paying every time.

Put these needs together, brother…and you arrive at a key pillar of OlderBeasthood, regardless of whether you’re coming from a strength-focused, endurance-focused, or limited-fitness starting point. The full-body, at-home strength workout.

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I Experimentally Reduced Cardio in My Fitness Mix – Here’s What Happened

There are good reasons for cardio-intensive guys to move to a better mix of endurance/strength/flexibility in the fitness mix.

Overtraining on cardio – especially without super-disciplined rest and nutrition regimes – can wear down your body, contribute to muscle loss, and allow development of imbalances that make you more prone to injury.

Also, in our time-challenged lives, too much cardio usually implies too little strength and flexibility training. And maintaining muscle tone and staying limber are huge parts of looking and feeling our best, and maximizing longevity, as we move through life’s second half.

And one big concern about reducing cardio – gaining weight/fat – may be misplaced. Evidence is emerging that strength training (with at least a somewhat-intense cadence) burns fat as well as, or better than, cardio.

With these things in mind (but still needing to overcome a “cardio reduction paranoia” mental hurdle), here’s what I changed and what I learned.

2 Comments
  1. mitch singer 2 years ago
    Reply

    I’ve just finished March Madness (trainer had all his clients do this), a month of deficit days. No starch (really tough), no excess carbs (grapefruit was ok) Only green vegetables (I cheated with carrots and onions – i mean come on!!) any protein (that was the easy part) and limited healthy fats – Cheese was ok (thank god for that!) I started the month at 227.2 (my highest weight in my life) and ended the month at 215.2. Down 12 lbs. My goal is to lose 1 – 1.5 lbs per week until I reach 205. I need to add sushi back in my diet – raw fish is simply not filling.

    • Mark Teitell 2 years ago
      Reply

      Mitch, THAT is hard work that you’re describing! And great progress, man. Building on what you’ve done (and what you WILL have done when you reach 205), my two cents is: mix in the occasional “deficit day” within your business-as-usual, so that you never again have to be in the type of hard-core you’re describing. In addition to being less brutal, avoiding a return to “weight loss” rigors is better for maintaining your muscle strength and endurance! And, all the carrots you can eat, Bugs. -Mark

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