A maintenance day has to do with how many calories you consume that day, not the food you eat. You eat the amount of calories it takes to maintain your current weight. So you're neither creating a calorie deficit nor a calorie surplus. For most women this is between 1600-2400 cals depending on your age, weight and activity level. It will most certainly be above your Spark range because that is your "weight loss" range.
The theory is; when you eat at a calorie deficit for a prolonged period of time, your body tries to achieve homostasis and adjusts to the low calorie intake (lowers your BMR). So weightloss becomes slow or stagnant. Eating at maintenance a few times a week helps boost your metabolism again (increases BMR).
In my own experience it has been a very effective plateau buster. I don't have a "free-for-all". I eat the same way I always eat, healthy choices with treats in moderation, just more calories. I used to have them on my strength training days but I think I'm finding I'm most hungry the day after an ST day so I'm thinking of experimenting with when I have them.
Which leads me to the next benefit of maintenance days. I attribute a lot of my success in building muscle while on a calorie deficit to calorie cycling between a deficit and maintenance
Edited by: JENNILACEY at: 5/28/2013 (08:19)
Take your focus off the Marshmallow. www.leangains.com/2010/01/marshmallo
"Toning" is marketing muscles to women who are afraid if they pick up a barbell, they'll leave the gym looking like She-Hulk. If you don't want to get bulky, lift heavy!
I can bench Nicole Richie, eat more than she does in a day before noon, I have a good 20 lbs on her but could still wear her pants.
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