It’s Time to Reverse Diet
It’s Time to Reverse Diet
If you follow me on social media, you probably know that I recently began a reverse diet, and I made a promise to blog the entire journey.
I wanted to keep this first one less about me, and more on the topics of explaining mostly what it is, how to do it, what to expect, and any other questions you might be curious about.
So, here we go friends!
What is a Reverse Diet?
A reverse diet basically means the opposite of a caloric deficit. It’s when you ADD calories in, instead of taking them away.
The point of this process is to help build your metabolic capacity.
What does that non-sense mean exactly? Building the metabolic capacity means you’re increasing the calories that your body can consume and maintain weight at (I.e. if you want to bring you capacity up from 1,500 cals/day to 2,000/day).
How is this possible you ask?
What a lot of people don’t understand is that your metabolism adapts and changes over time based on your consistency (or lack there of) and along with every time you diet.
When a reverse diet is done slow enough and meticulous enough you give your metabolism time and a chance to adapt to the added amount. If you adapt to the added calories, you’ve succeeded at your goal of increasing your metabolic rate (I.e. the amount of calories you can consume daily and maintain weight at).
How to Reverse Diet
Reverse dieting is done through meticulous macro counting (hitting a set amount if protein, fats, and carbs on a daily basis). All macros have calories, therefor it’s a lot like calorie counting except on a deeper level.
In scenarios where someone needs to approach this process more slowly, they might add in anywhere from 5-10g of carbs and 1-2g of fat on a WEEKLY basis.
For someone who seems to be responding well and is very consistent with hitting their macro targets, they might be able to add in 15-25g of carbs and 3-5g of fat on a weekly basis (protein typically stays roughly the same). Everyone is going to respond differently and will need to approach this differently based up a number of factors.
Through my own experience of reverse dieting clients over the last 4 years, I’ve noticed a couple trends:
- Those who have gone through more harsh diets and extreme dieting methods, typically have to take this process much slower because their bodies are more sensitive to calorie additions.
- Those who already have an efficient metabolism and haven’t put themselves through several yo-yo dieting extremes tend to respond the best and are able to add at a much quicker pace and see results easier.
Many studies have yet to be done on this topic, and the above is my pure speculation through personal experience thus far.
You Might Need to Reverse Diet If:
- You live a lifestyle that requires a lot of calories: I.e. you’re someone who has a very busy schedule. You travel a lot. You’re obligated to entertain customers through dinners & drinks. You attend a lot of social gathers and banquets where food & drinks are the center of the event – thus it’s incredibly hard for you to stick to your maintenance calories of (for example) 1,500/a day. And if you go over that amount regularly, you begin to gain weight. If your lifestyle requires more calories than your personal maintenance amount, you can expect to continue gaining weight over time unless something is done about it.
- You’ve reached a weight loss plateau and have run out of calories to cut from: I.e. you’re now consuming a low amount of calories such as 1,200 or less and you can’t seem to lose anymore weight NOR can you bare to drop calories any lower and sustain it.
- You’ve reached your goal weight, but now you want to be able to maintain it easier without dieting so low. You did it. You reached your goal and now you’re ready to maintain, but the problem is you’ve adapted to a low amount of calories and you don’t want to have to eat so little the rest of your life.
- You feel like you’ve been dieting your whole life but yet your results show nothing close to your efforts. Usually this means your metabolism is in the shitter due to all of the extremes you’ve put it through, and it needs some TLC.
- You currently average (for example) around 1,500-1,600 cals/day, you exercise regularly, you’re maintaining currently, and only want to lose a small amount of weight such as 5-10 pounds. That may sound like a hefty amount of calories to some people, but it really isn’t if you’re about to go into a dieting phase. Reason being is if you want to lose 1 pound a week, you have to decrease calories by 500 a day from your maintenance level. Now you’re looking at consuming only 1,100-1,200 a day, which yes is doable (yet miserable), but what happens when you plateau and you’re only halfway to your goal? Now you’re new maintenance levels are at 1,200 because your metabolism has adapted and you still have another 5 pounds to lose…but yet there’s not many calories left to cut from and you don’t have any more time in your schedule to add in more exercise. Think of your calories as like a gas tank. Do not go on a road trip when you only have half the amount of gas that its going to require you to get there. Otherwise, you’ll get halfway and be stuck.
- You just finished a bodybuilding competition diet, and you need more food NOW. Realize that even though you’re lean and shredded right now, your metabolism has adapted with every calorie drop you’ve made and is running much slower than you think (that’s why you’ve had to diet so low to get as lean as you are right now). NOW is the most vital time to reverse diet and do it RIGHT. You need to have even MORE discipline now than you did during your competition diet to truly make leeway on your metabolism.
What to Expect When Reverse Dieting
As mentioned above, everyone responds differently, and it all typically boils down to 2 things:
- The efficiency of their current metabolism
- The persons consistency (or lack of)
Some people lose weight
- I’ve seen losses as high as 10-15 pounds throughout a 3-5 month period
- I’ve seen 4-7 pounds lost throughout a 6 month period
Some people maintain weight
- The scale might fluctuate between a pound or two, but that’s just what the scale does daily based upon a large number of factors that have noting to to with body fat loss or gains
- I’ve seen their scale weight maintain, but inches lost
Some people gain weight
- I’ve seen people gain 2-5 pounds slowly over several months (some of that being muscle, some being body fat)
- I’ve seen people not lose body fat, but gain muscle therefore the scale rises (inches go down and they look better than they did when they started even though the scale is higher)
- I’ve seen people not keep consistency as high of priority as they should, and gain unnecessary body fat throughout the process.
- Once you end your competition diet, you need to expect and be okay with adding a good 5lbs (for bikini girls) fairy quickly. It’s not healthy physically nor mentally to try to stay stage lean long term.
- After that, a good average I suggest aiming for is to add 2lbs per month post show. Month #1 might have a higher average weight gain, but month #2 might be less therefore it all evens out. Therefore 3 months post show, you’re doing fantastic if you’re up around 6-8 pounds from stage weight.
For the most part, how your body responds to a reverse diet is usually out of your control, however the one thing that you CAN control and makes the biggest difference in your outcome is your consistency of hitting macros day in and day out.
Reasons to Reverse Diet
To increase your metabolic capacity.
To make dieting easier.
To make weight loss POSSIBLE.
To be in control of your body & metabolism.
To gain muscle.
To prepare for a long-term competition prep.
To be able to eat food without fear.
To increase you quality of life and make it easier to enjoy events and vacations without stressing about weight gain.
In my opinion, reverse dieting can often be harder than actually dieting in a deficit.
Reason being is because progress is MUCH slower or even invisible throughout the reverse which can be extremely demotivating and disheartening when you’re putting so much time in effort into it.
Just remember that though you may not be able to physically SEE changes that are being made, that doesn’t mean you’re not making progress. The point of this process is to increase your calories while generally maintaining weight. That obviously isn’t something that can be seen, but I can promise it’ll be worth it.
Next time, I’ll go over why I’ve decided to reverse diet, what my long-term plan is, and how things are going thus far.
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