Your Nutrition Plan for Weight Maintenance

Congratulations on reaching your goal weight! This article will help you figure out how to use SparkPeople’s tools just as effectively to maintain your weight as you have used them to lose that weight in the first place. Make sure you’re logged in now so that the links below will work for you.

Step 1: Update Your Calorie Range
Now that you’ve lost weight and are working to maintain that success, you’ll have to adjust your weight goal to get a new calorie range for weight maintenance.

Action Steps:
  1. Go to your Start Page.
  2. Locate the Track Weight & Other Measurements button under Step 1.
  3. Click the Edit Goals button underneath it.
  4. On the next page, simply plug in your new weight as both your “current weight” and your “target weight.” Then change the “by when” date so it’s at least six months down the road.
  5. Click the “Save Your Changes” button to update your program and return to your Start Page.
If it’s been a while since you’ve updated your fitness goals, now’s the time to make sure they are accurate too. The amount of exercise you do will affect your calorie needs, so here’s how to update your fitness goals for accuracy.

Action Steps:
  1. Go to your Start Page.
  2. Locate the Track Fitness button under Step 1.
  3. Click the Edit Goals button underneath it.
  4. On the next page, make sure the amount of cardio exercise you currently do (and plan to continue with) is accurately entered.
  5. Click the “Save Your Changes” button to update your program and return to your my Fitness page.
Updating your weight and fitness goals will recalculate your recommended calorie range, if necessary, to provide you with enough calories to maintain energy balance and stabilize your weight. You can find your new calorie range at the bottom of your my Trackers column on your Start Page and on your my Nutrition page. Here are a few other things to keep in mind:
  • Your recommended calorie range for maintenance may or may not change very much. If you updated your weight a regular basis and/or slowed down your rate of weight loss as you got closer to goal, your calorie range probably won’t change much.
  • If you’re planning to make any future changes in the amount of exercise or activity you do on a regular basis, you’ll need to update your exercise goals again (using the action steps above), because changes in your activity level will affect your calorie needs. SparkPeople recommends that you don’t make any major changes in your exercise program during this initial period of transitioning into maintenance mode. Learn more about exercising to maintain your weight.
  • If your calorie recommendations increased significantly, it is important for you to work your way up to your new range gradually. SparkPeople recommends that you add no more than 200 calories to your daily intake initially, and then you wait for at least a week to see what happens. Repeat this until you reach a calorie level that stops your weight loss but doesn’t cause a weight increase.
Step Two: Restart Your Experiment of One
Like your weight loss calorie range, SparkPeople’s recommendation for weight maintenance is an estimate, based on general formulas and statistical averages. You'll need to see how things go for a while to know if it’s right for you, or then adjust it if necessary. Reaching your goal weight and shifting into maintenance mode is a BIG change, for both your body and your mind. So we recommend that you do pay attention to how both react to this new situation. Some of the physiological reasons for being especially careful at this stage of the game are explained in the article Maintaining a Healthy Weight.

Research shows that people who succeed at keeping the weight off tend to track the same details (like calories eaten, portions, exercise and weight) that they did when losing the weight. As you work to keep the weight off, your chances of being successful go up dramatically if you:
  • Check your weight frequently (at least weekly). The goal here is not to panic over every small increase in your weight—it’s normal for it to fluctuate from day to day during maintenance just as it did during weight loss. But while you’re in the process of trying to identify your energy (calorie) needs, you’ll need to spot any upward trends in your weight before you get to the point that you need to go back to weight loss mode. Most successful maintainers weigh in at least weekly, and start tinkering with their nutrition and workouts if they see a significant gain (or loss) for two weeks in a row.
  • Track your daily calorie intake—at least for a little while. It probably won’t be necessary to do this for very long, but it’s a very good idea to double check yourself for a while just to make sure you’re counting everything, estimating portions accurately, and covering all your nutrition needs—especially if you’re making substantial changes in how much you eat and/or exercise.
  • Make changes one at a time, and in small increments. If your weight loss doesn’t stop or you start gaining weight, you’ll need to figure out the best way to change things. You won’t be able to tell what effect any particular change is having if you make a bunch of them at once, so try one thing at a time and give yourself a chance to see what works.
  • Maintain your social support network. People who abandon the support systems and activities they used to lose weight are much more likely to regain the weight than people who stay in contact. So don’t assume that reaching your goal weight means you don’t belong at SparkPeople anymore. Helping others do what you’ve done is one of the best ways to help yourself maintain your own achievements.