Yipppeee! Congratulations, the diet is over. You have made it to your goal, you look amazing, you feel great and you can finally fit into your favourite budgie smugglers for holiday.

Now what?

You are left in the ‘no mans land’ of dieting, you have no immediate goal and you are probably craving a chocolate biscuit or two.

We have a couple of options at this point, and they can have severe consequences relating to how much your belly hangs over your trousers.

Option 1: You can bulk buy all the foods you have deprived yourself over the last 12 weeks, close the curtains and have an all you can eat food orgy for one. Wake up 48 hours later from a food coma with a biscuit moustache, feeling guilty and 12 lbs heavier. As you can imagine, I am not recommending this option.

Option 2: You could bring calories back up to maintenance carefully and controlled. Enjoy your new lower body fat percentage and the confidence that goes with it. Side effects to this option may include wearing your t shirt a lot less.

 I hope we can all agree, that option 2 seems like the most sensible option.

But how?

Depending on how aggressive your diet has, been depends how much you can increase your food intake. Hopefully you have been tracking your calories during your diet (if not, why not?), as this will give you a guide to how many you need to add back in.

If you have been balls deep in a calorie deficit and went for an aggressive approach to dieting, I would recommend increasing your calories by 25-35%. If you have gone for the soft touch and only just put the tip in, then I would recommend adding 15-20% of your calories.

This may need some tweaking up or down, and should be monitored over time.

The aim should be to get back up to maintenance as quickly as possible. This is where all the fun stuff happens, like social events, energy to perform decent workouts and maybe even a beer or two. Don’t drag out the diet than absolutely necessary because you are scared of the scales going up a pound or two. Get back up to maintenance, enjoy life and move on to your next goal.

Be aware that your new maintenance calories will likely be lower than your old maintenance calories at your heavier bodyweight. Your body doesn’t need as much food to maintain less bodyfat/muscle. The lighter you are, the less calories you will need to maintain.

When to maintain

There are going to be certain occasions when a maintenance period could be helpful.

Any of these options would be worthy of a maintenance diet:

If you have been dieting for 3 months + and progress has slowed to a snail’s pace.

If you are getting sick of tired of dieting (not just finding it a bit tough).

If progress has stalled for more than 4 weeks.

If you have a busy social calendar coming up.

If you have hit your goal.


Instead of piling all of your weight back on that you have tirelessly lost over the last few months, take a different approach. A carefully calculated maintenance period will alleviate any diet stress, keep your new bodyweight and the smart physique that goes with it. This time will allow you to push the reset button, make a plan for your next goal and continue life with a smile and skip in your step.

If you need help with setting an exit strategy to your diet, you know what to do. Click here for online coaching and here for 1 to 1 personal training. Go on click it, I dare ya!