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Weaning yourself off a low-calorie diet may be a daunting prospect, especially if you've finally reached your ideal weight. Naturally, you don't want to run the risk of gaining weight, thereby losing the effects of all of your hard work, but you know you need to return to a more standard caloric intake. Get your doctor's approval to make dietary changes, and then use a few simple guidelines to transition off your low-cal diet in a healthy way.
Determining Calorie Needs
To maintain your weight as you wean off your low-cal diet, determine the number of calories you'll need daily. The Healthy Women website recommends calculating your caloric requirements based on current weight. Multiply your current weight in kilograms by 30. One kilogram is 2.2 pounds. If your current weight is 100 pounds, then divide that by 2.2 to get a total of 45.45. Round this down to 45, then multiply by 30 to get a total of 1,350. In this example, 1,350 would be the number of calories needed each day to maintain your weight as you wean off the low-calorie plan.
Following Food Pyramid
The University of Cincinnati's Healthy Weight Center recommends that people coming off a starvation type diet should follow the USDA's Food Guide Pyramid as a guideline for adding small portion sizes of highly nutritious foods to their diet. The Food Guide Pyramid recommends that you eat at least one serving from each of five major food groups each day. The general recommendation is two to three servings of meat, poultry and fish, two to three servings of milk, yogurt and cheese, three to five vegetable servings, two to four fruit servings, and between six and 11 servings of bread, rice and pasta. The USDA includes a "Fats, Oils and Sweets" group that should be used only sparingly, so no daily serving amount from that group is recommended.
An overly sudden change can be counter-productive when you are weaning off a low-calorie diet. Gradual changes are key. For example, if your daily calorie target is 1,800 and you've been eating only 800 calories daily on your low-cal diet, add a few hundred calories at a time rather than suddenly going from 800 to 1,800 in a day or two. Add your additional calories gradually to avoid unnecessarily big changes to your metabolic rate and to your weight.
The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services recommends physical activity for all people who are healthy enough to do so. When coupled with healthy eating, exercise will yield health benefits and can help you maintain a healthy weight as you wean off a low-cal diet. According to the Physical Activity Guidelines for Adults, adults need a minimum of 150 minutes of medium-intensity aerobic activity weekly, or alternatively 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity each week. This exercise should be done daily or every other day rather than all at one time. The Physical Activity Guidelines also recommend adding strength training exercise for all of the muscle groups at least twice weekly.