Sustainability is statistically the hardest part of fat loss, we all know what to do to lose weight, or body fat should I say but the data shows that nearly 45% of people who lose weight end up reverting back to their normal weight or gaining more within a year and that number rises to 68% when you look at 5 years post fat loss so what is it that trips us up and why do we end up sabotaging our hard work? When you go through a dieting phase so you will cut your calories down in order to shift body fat but then when you come out of the back of that, when you have hit your fat loss goal or you have nailed your event your approach to training and dieting will shift, which is a given as life is all about balance and you like everything in life you roll through phases, phases of being high stress at work when deadlines are due followed by holidays, winter is followed by summer, fun boozy sessions are followed by filthy hangovers and your diet is no different so you get times of lowering calories in order to drop body fat followed by times when you will either raise back to maintenance or increase increase in order to try and build a bit of muscle and these phases are what are known as the cutting and bulking cycles in the bodybuilding sphere. Now you can't always be in a position of "cutting" which means cutting body fat as being low on calories as we know makes you low on energy as all food is is energy and life will just be less enjoyable because you'll always be overly conscious of what you're eating and drinking and never be able to take your foot of the proverbial diet acceleration pedal so before we talk about what to do after a diet I'm going to speak about a great way to make your diet easier, more enjoyable and as a result more sustainable at that is by including diet breaks. Diet breaks are exactly what they sound like, a break in your diet. Studies have shown that on average people who have implanted diet breaks are able to lose nearly 4 kilograms of extra body fat but also are able to maintain their new low weight for a considerable longer amount of time. Diet breaks are usually implemented every 6 to 9 weeks depending on a few variables firstly is how much weight you have to lose or your starting point, secondly how long are you planning on dieting for so are you going to take 3 months, 6 months out to get shredded as this will impact how hard you'll have to diet and thirdly are you suffering from diet fatigue as if you are at that point where you have been dieting for ages you know the feelings where you're just drained from it and really can not be arsed cutting your calories any more or even dieting anymore because you're just fed up with it and obviously if you're feeling like that then that is the time when a diet break comes in handy. So how to structure it. Now a diet break isn't a free ticket to go ballls to the wall and devour all the foods you love and crave everyday no, because realistically all that's going to do is drastically increase the length of time you will need to diet for as you will spend the next how ever many weeks after the diet break trying to undo all the damage you did so instead of this what you'll have to do is work out your new maintenance calories (I'd use an online calorie calculator like the one on bodybuilding.com) which is the calories you'll need to maintain your new bodyweight as these will change when your bodyweight reduces. When you have found this you will make sure that you stick to those calories and just loosen the more restrictive nature of your diet so if you want a few glasses of wine with dinner with your other half enjoy then and enjoy the few finer things in life it's basically just taking a week out to eat basically normally so that you reduce that diet fatigue. I'd structure them around events coming up like holidays, weekends away or birthdays and other things of that nature so you dont have to struggle through on lower calories and not drink or eat anything or get up to do cardio incase you did slip up the night before. That leads me to coming off the back of a diet, there's a few ideas on how best to go back to upping your calories in order to not put the body fat that you lost back on so first and foremost one thing you should focus on is what were the habits and behaviours that you changed in order to lose weight and maintain those as a lot of the time people will diet down to their goal body shape and then when they nail their goal they go back to eating and drinking how they used to and doing the same things that got them out of shape in the first place so don't stop doing what worked for you. What I have found to be the most successful thing with a lot of my clients is to reverse diet which is basically adding in calories weekly so you will add in see how you progress over a week then add again and so on and so forth until you get up to your maintenance calories and if you just want to maintain your body weight then I'd suggest just holding it there, keep training and doing what you do to optimise your health and fitness and just see how your bodyweight and body fat changes over the next few weeks, if it stays basically the same then keep the calories there, if it gets a bit high then drop the calories down a touch and if you end up losing more increase them. This is literally a game of critically analysing and adjusting and I k ow you will ask how many calories you should add and this is the old it depends answer as it does depending d on a few factors such as your height, weight, muscle mass, genetics and sex etc so as a rule of thumb aim to add between 50 and 150 cals in a week. If your a smaller lady with a lighter build add 50, if you're a 5'10 lad with an athletic figure I'd go for 100 and if you're 6'4 and fairly well built I'd go for 150 and again just adjust on the feedback you get from your body.