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Dietary Intake Phases: Maintenance to Surplus

Eating MORE is something that can set off a red flag or a lot of resistance with a potential new client, but achieving (and maintaining) a maintenance dietary intake phase is necessary for so many reasons.

Once a client achieves their maintenance calories, there's sometimes a need to bump things up just a bit more -- hello SURPLUS. You may be wondering...why in the world would someone want or need to eat more than their body needs to maintain their weight? Wouldn't that cause weight gain? The answer isn't a simple yes or no for that one, but hopefully the next few paragraphs will help better understand when and if a surplus is needed for your goals to be reached.


Understanding Why a Surplus Phase May Be Needed

There are two primary goals associated with the transition from a maintenance dietary intake phase to a surplus dietary intake phase:

  1. To continue improving hormone regulation and metabolic adaptations that were being prioritized within the maintenance phase

  2. To focus on muscle tissue growth and strength improvements

Similar to the benefits of a maintenance phase (see this post to read about that), a surplus dietary intake phase alleviates stress on the body by ensuring the body is well-fed and fueled for both training and recovery. In this phase, clients often see a decent level of food flexibility -- meaning that more travel, social events and even vacations can occur without really having to drastically change intake. Knowing that they are already eating ABOVE what their body needs allows for more intuitive eating opportunities as well as untracked meals.

The images below show a real-life client situation where they were taken from a maintenance phase to a surplus phase in order to focus on increasing muscle tissue for the first time in their life:


While weight may increase during this transition of phases, that doesn't necessarily mean that body composition won't improve. In fact, the opposite can easily happen when muscle tissue growth is being prioritized (as well as recovery). The client case study above is a perfect example of this.

This phase isn't always necessary and that's something as a coach we will walk you through. When it is, there can be some mental hurdles to really work through -- especially knowing that some weight may be added to your frame. Again, that's where the coach comes in and (should) walk you through what to expect and focusing on more appropriate forms of progress (i.e. strength improvements, endurance improvements, body composition measurements).

Stay tuned for the next dietary intake phase transition - surplus/maintenance to deficit - a transition phase that is the most sought after transition. While it may be the most popular, as you've take some preliminary steps to get to that point.

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