After the diet - keeping the weight off
Lets talk weight loss. There are a LOT of diets out there that work fast which is why so many people love them despite the short term health issues they present. Low carb is fine and works well for weight loss, you just have to remember the statistics in order to keep from being one of them. Something like 90% of those who lose weight on low carb diets gain it all back within a year. Knowing that you can prevent joining the 90% with what I call a “soft landing”. This is a problem common to all diets but its far worse with low carb diets. For most people, keeping the weight off is much, much harder than taking it off in the first place!
As long as your doctor is fine with it, its ok to use any of the many unhealthy low-carb diets that help you lose fat fast. Remember, the diet may be unhealthy but carrying around an extra 100 pounds of fat your whole life is worse. BUT there is something far unhealthier than either of these things ... and that is both. If you continually yo-yo diet gaining 100 pounds, then losing it with an unhealthy diet, its far, far unhealthier than just staying fat in my opinion.
When most people reach their weight loss goal, they congratulate themselves and nearly dislocate their shoulder slapping themselves on the back. It IS something to be proud of but the back slapping is very premature because the hardest part of weight loss comes AFTER the weight is already been lost. How is that possible? Its because most people relax and go back to their old habits after a diet. The same eating and exercise habits that made them a hundred pounds overweight in the first place. The problem is that all these effective fat loss diets teach you absolutely *nothing* about good nutrition. The key to long term weight control is lifestyle change and that includes good nutrition as well as incorporating fitness into your everyday life.
The hardest thing about the soft landing is that motivation is gone. You have already achieved your goal, why should you work hard again? You worked hard and "deserve" some treats now, right? Thats the battle and why the soft landing is the hardest part of weight loss.
The Soft Landing
However you lost you weight doesn't matter - Atkins, paleo, low-carb, grapefruit, or whatever. The soft landing starts 5 pounds before you achieve your weight loss goal and is the slow transition from "diet" to "life". In a moon landing, you don't wait till you are 100 meters above the surface then brake like crazy and hope you stop in time, you have a programmed burn to give you a safe landing with a minimum of fuel consumption. In a similar fashion, you cant just end a diet by chowing down on pizza after pizza - you will crash and burn. You need a nice orderly transition from your strict caloric deficit diet to a healthy nutritional plan that has you at maintenance calories eating mainly unprocessed foods that don't leave you feeling deprived in any fashion.
When you are 5 pounds from achieving your weight loss goal, set aside a complete Saturday you can work undisturbed. Start by calculating how many calories you were consuming a day during your diet, you may already know this. Now calculate what your maintenance calorie level will be when you are 10 pounds lighter and the diet is over using my calorie calculator. Be completely honest in step 5 when it asks how much cardio you will be doing. If the cardio ends when the diet ends, you need to know that. The difference between your dieting caloric intake and your maintenance caloric intake will probably be somewhere between 200 and 600 calories - not that much honestly.
Now sit down and read about nutrition. Design the nutrition plan for the rest of your life without causing feelings of deprivation and starvation. A good plan will have lots of vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and lean meats. A good nutrition plan wont have a lot of sweets, empty calories, fried foods, or packaged snack foods.
OK, now design your soft landing. Lets say on your diet you are eating 2000 calories and your maintenance caloric level is 2500 calories, subtract them, that gives 500 calories. Over the next 10 weeks you will slowly increase your caloric intake until at the end of the 10 weeks you are at 2500 calories. In this case, each 2 weeks bump your caloric intake by 100 calories. Using the foods you will be eating for the rest of your life, design that meal plan that gives you your 2100 calories.
What you will find is that because your new healthy meal plan has lots of fiber from all the vegetables and whole grains, you will find yourself feeling very satisfied. This 10 week period is the "nutritional training ground" to teach you the proper foods and the proper portion sizes you need to maintain your weight. At the end of the 10 weeks you will have hopefully broken your old eating habits, learned new healthy ones, and know the proper portion sizes to maintain your weight.